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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Middot

To See and to Acknowledge

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 16, 2011

Yosef’s brothers, not content with the treachery of throwing him in the pit and then selling him to the Ishmaelites, proceed to engage in a cover-up.   Using the very cloak that was the target of their jealousy, they dip it in the blood of a kid goat, and send it to their father:  “And they said, ‘This we found. …

man sheep lamb korban pesach

Mesechet Chullin: Great Gift Giving

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 11, 2011

The end of Chullin deals with many aspects of the non-sanctified gifts to the kohanim – certain cuts of meat from slaughtered animals, and the first shearing of sheep.   A major theme that the meaning and valance of a gift is shaped by the manner in which it is given and which it is received. …

Chosenness with a Universalist Impulse, Universalism with a Focus on Family

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 4, 2011

After two failed attempts at directing humanity to a life of holiness and goodness, God, in Lekh Lekha, begins the grand experiment that will be the narrative of the entire Torah and the story of the People of Israel.   With the generations of Adam, God stepped back to see if human beings, having chosen to “know good and evil,” to think and choose for themselves, could choose for themselves a life of holiness. …

How Humankind Became Adults: The Challenges of Knowing Good and Evil

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 28, 2011

It is just a few hundred years since the world has been created, and everything has gone to pot. When the world was freshly minted and created, we heard the refrain with each act of creation, “And God saw that it was good,” and that the world as a whole was “exceedingly good.”…

Sacrifices, Teshuva and Our Relationship with God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 23, 2011

Parshat Nitzavim always falls immediately before Rosh HaShana, and appropriately so. For it is in this parasha that the Torah speaks at great length about the power of teshuva: “And you will return to the Lord your God and obey God’s voice… you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul” (Devarim 30:2).…

To Declare and To Confess

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 16, 2011

Ki Tavo opens with two rituals: the bringing of the first fruit, the bikkurim, where one declares his gratitude for God’s goodness, and the dispensing of the tithes at the end of three years where one states that he has dispensed these tithes according to the law.…

Chametz and Matzah: The Risks and Rewards of Engaging the World

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 22, 2011

The Torah calls Passover the “Feast of Matzot” and it commands us both to eat matzot on the first night and to not eat chametz, or leavened bread, for the entire 7 day holiday. The Torah’s prohibitions regarding chametz seem inordinately severe: the punishment for eating it is greater than for eating most prohibited foods.…

man sheep lamb korban pesach

Zevachim and Personal and Communal Obligations

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 18, 2011

The end of Zevachim addresses the issue of personal versus collective responsibility.  On 97b, the Gemara asks why a Kohen cannot eat the meat of a sacrifice that has absorbed the juices of an invalid sacrifice.  While it is prohibited to eat an invalid sacrifice, i.e.,…

Character, Fate, and Free Will

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 17, 2010

In previous few parshiyot we have been exploring the character of the different protagonists in Breishit – Yaakov, Reuven, Yosef, and Yehuda. In this week’s parsha, VaYechi, which brings a close to the Yosef story and to the book of Breishit, we have an opportunity to explore the interplay between character, fate, and free will.…

“No Longer Shall Your Name be Yaakov, but Yisrael” – Personal Transformation while Living with our Past

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 18, 2010

Yaakov Aveinu is a challenging character – one who is traditionally associated with the quality of emet – titen emet li’Yaakov – but who often seems to more be a person of trickery or deceit.  From purchasing the birthright, to stealing the blessing, to using the staves with Lavan’s sheep, he, like his name, works around the truth to get to the desired end result. …

Staying the Course, but Not Repeating Past Mistakes

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 5, 2010

Another year, we explored the theme of Yitzchak’s life as a continuation and institutionalization of Avraham’s vision: Yitzchak could not go out of Canaan – he could not explore new vistas. He had to stay in Canaan and invest all of his energies in building, in establishing, in redigging the wells.…

“Rather to my land and to my birthplace you shall go” – A Religion based on Family

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 29, 2010

Avraham, at the end of his life, is worried that Yitzchak find a proper wife, and sends his servant back to his homeland to find a wife from his country and his relatives.   Thus, Parshat Chayei Sarah is, in a way, a reverse lekh lekha. …