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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

I’ve Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 13, 2012

The beginning of the book of Shemot sees the Children of Israel enslaved, oppressed, and at the risk of decimation.  The foundation for their salvation is laid in the birth of Moshe, his being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter, and his venturing out to see the affliction of his brothers.   …

Torah as a Way to Know God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 1, 2012

How exactly can a finite human being, rooted in her physicality, connect to an infinite, non-physical God?  This question is one that the Torah grapples with throughout the second half of the book of Shemot.  God commands for the building of a physical Mishkan to house the Glory of God enveloped in the cloud. …

Yosef the Tzaddik, Religious Arrogance and the Miracle of Chanukkah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 23, 2011

Yosef is known throughout Rabbinic literature as “Yosef the Tzaddik.”  This phrase alludes to the verse in Amos (2:6), “their selling the Tzaddik for silver”, which is understood to be referring to brother’s selling Yosef for the 30 pieces of silver. …

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. …

Mesechet Berachot: Speaking of Christianity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 18, 2011

On the very first page (2b) of Mesechet Berachot, the Gemara discusses, on a bit of a tangent, the statement of the father of Shmuel that it is forbidden to go into partnership with a  non-Jew, lest non-Jew will be required to take an oath to verify his claim in a dispute, and this oath will be taken in the name of a foreign god. …

“Let’s Not Forget Mamre”

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 11, 2011

In a parasha that contains the stories of the birth and binding of Yitzchak, and the overturning  of Sodom, I wish to write about a seemingly trivial point. The pasuk states (Breishit 18:1): וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ ה בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א  And the LORD appeared unto him in the palace of Mamre Mamre, I believe, is the unsung hero in Vayeira. …

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. …

The Price of Freeing Captives

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 28, 2011

The following piece was written shortly after the release of Gilad Shalit in 2011.   Many people found themselves asking whether Gilad’s release was worth the cost of freeing of over one thousand terrorists.  Many newspaper articles and opinion pieces were written on this topic as well, with the large majority of them coming down in favor of this decision.  …

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.” Now, humans have come and made a mess of everything, and a different refrain is heard: “And God saw that “massive was the evil of man on the earth, and all the thoughts of his heart were only evil the entire day.” (Breishit 6:5).…

Cleaning the Temple, Cleaning our World

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 6, 2011

This is an emended piece that I wrote on Yom Kippur and the Temple Service which was originally published in the Jerusalem Post Magazine, on Sept 28, 2008. “For on this day he shall atone for you to purify you; that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” (Lev.…

Teshuva or Sacrifices – How to Repair 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).…