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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

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.   This topic – how high of a price to pay for securing the freedom of a captive – is actually a topic that arises in the Gemara.…

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.”…

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.”…

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).…

What Makes Rabbinic Legislation Binding?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 16, 2011

The entire chapter of HaSholeach (the fourth chapter of Gittin) is devoted to Rabbinic legislation and institutions enacted for the sake of tikkun ha’olam, “fixing the world.”   It is thus worth considering the basis for the rabbinic power to legislate.  What makes rabbinic legislation binding? …

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.…

Mitzvot and their Interpretation: The Role of Values and Narrative

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 12, 2011

Ki Teitze is a parsha densely packed with mitzvot. A new mitzvah appears almost every few verses, and sometimes even more frequently. It is, in a way, the parshat Mishpatim or the parshat Kedoshim of Devarim. Now, of course, just because there are all these laws does not mean that it is always clear what their parameters are or how they are to be implemented.…