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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

Crying on Rosh Hashanah

Though rarely spoken about, one of the more fascinating themes of Rosh Hashanah is that of tears. The haftarah of the first day recounts the story of Elkanah and his wives Chana and Penina. Each year, they make the trek to Shilo to bring offerings to God, and each year Chana is mocked by Penina for not having children.…

Moving from the Real to the Ideal Copy

In the Time of Coronavirus

The Torah commands us in the laws of Shmita for the first time in Shemot 23:11: “And six years you shall sow thy land, and shall gather in the fruits thereof. But the seventh year you shall relinquish it; that the poor of your people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat.…

Where Does True Religiosity Start?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 30, 2021

What behavior do we identify as religious: performing the ritual mitzvot, or the interpersonal ones? The answer, experientially and attitudinally, has been the former. Ritual mitzvot are distinctive. They set us apart from the rest of the world; they identify us as Jewish.…

Shabbat and Fair Trade Chocolate

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 22, 2021

The giving of the Ten Commandments was an earth-shattering, never-before-experienced event. God revealed Godself directly to the entire Israelite people. It was the most profound Divine-human encounter to have ever occurred, never again to be repeated in world history. But while the event itself was never repeated, the telling of that event most definitely was.…

The Connecting Gate

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 16, 2021

The Book of Devarim–also known as Deuteronomy–presents us with a paradox. This book is completely Moses’s words: It is his valedictory speech to the Israelites and at the same time the divine word of God. How can both of these things be true? …

Use Your Words, Not Your Hands

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 1, 2021

Pinchas is synonymous with zealotry in the name of God. And that is scary. Throughout history, zealotry has led to violence: murderous attacks, lethal Crusades, and horrific acts of terror, all done in the name of God. Such actions have destroyed innumerous individuals, cultures, and communities, and have raised profound questions as to the morality and values of the religions that could promote such behavior.…

Believing is Seeing

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 24, 2021

The rabbis tell us in Pirkei Avot (5:22) “Whoever has….an ayin tova, a good eye….is a student of Avraham; whoever has an ayin ra’ah, a bad eye….is a student of Balaam.” Avraham sees well, whereas Balaam sees poorly. How so? On the face of it, the stories of Avraham and Balaam are parallel.…

Can We Un-Stick Old Patterns?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 17, 2021

The transition into full adulthood, with its incumbent privileges and responsibilities, is often a long process. In recent years there has been increasing recognition of a stage of life between adolescence and adulthood; this stage has been called the “odyssey years.”…

Two Faces of Kedusha

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 10, 2021

The Torah emphasizes time and again that the Jewish people are holy. At their birth as a covenantal people at Mt. Sinai, God declares, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). In the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim, framing chapters dense with mitzvot, we read, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev.…

Where’s Our Mesirat Nefesh?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 3, 2021

As Modern Orthodox Jews, we espouse both serious Torah study and the pursuit of secular knowledge, all in the service of God. We have both feet firmly planted in the world of tradition and we are full members of broader American society.…

Is Inclusion a Jewish Value?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on May 27, 2021

Is inclusion a Jewish value? The answer seems obvious. God enjoins the Israelites, “You shall have one standard for stranger and citizen alike” (Leviticus 24:22). Those who might otherwise be at the margins of society are to be equal members. My wife, however, hates the word “inclusion.”…

What Do You Stand For?

Rabbi Ovadya Hedaya (1889-1969) was a rabbinic judge and kabbalist, the Sefardic rabbi of Petah Tiqua, and the recipient of the Israel Prize for Rabbinic Literature (1968). Rabbi Hedaya was born in Halab, Syria, and moved to Jerusalem at the age of nine.…