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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

Two Stages of Marriage

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 12, 2010

As is well known, there are two stages of marriage, kiddushin and nissuin. Kiddushin is referred to in the Torah as erusin, and nissuin is referred to as either kicha, taking (“Who is the man who has betrothed a woman and not taken her” – Deut 20:7) or beulat ba’al, a woman who has had sex with her husband (see Deut 22:22-23).…

Kiddushin as a Speech Act

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2010

The act of kiddushin, the giving of the ring, is accompanied by a verbal statement – harei at mekudeshet li bi’taba’at zo ki’dat Moshe vi’Yisrael, “behold you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moshe and Israel.”…

Freedom for What?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2010

“And they came to Marah, and they could not drink the waters of Marah because they were bitter… And the people murmured against Moshe and Aharon saying, ‘What shall we drink?'” (Shemot 15:23-24). Parshat Beshalach is the parsha of the apex of the Exodus, as it relates the Splitting of the Sea, the drowning of the Egyptians, and the Song on the Sea.…

The Interdependence of Actions

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on January 23, 2010

In this week’s portion, the Torah begins to present commandments given to the Jewish people. One wonders why so many commandments are proscribed in such detail. The Sefer Ha-Hinukh (13th century) offers a comment that reveals a basic message about the purpose of commandments.…

Kiddushin: Acquisition or Partnership?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 22, 2010

When studying kiddushei kesef – kiddushin through the giving of an object of value – one must ask: is kiddushin is an actual kinyan, act of acquisition, or not? The two sides of this question can be seen in the development of the practice of giving a ring.…

Leading the Jewish People with a Commitment to Justice

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 8, 2010

“And it was during those days that Moshe grew up and he went out to his brothers, and he saw in their travails.” Thus begins Moshe’s emergence from the house of Pharaoh and his setting himself on the path that would lead to becoming the leader of the Jewish People, our Lawgiver and Teacher.…

Understanding Kedusha Through Hilkhot Chanukah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 18, 2009

When studying Chanukah, we often study the classic sugyot from Mesekhet Shabbat (21b-23a). However, a more obscure sugya – “The violators (pritzim) came and profaned it” in Avoda Zara, 52B – provides important insights as well. Based on this verse from Ezekiel 7:22, the Gemara states that when the Beit HaMikdash was violated in the time of the Hasmoneans, the altar lost its sanctity and, when the Hasmoneans were victorious, they needed to dismantle and bury the now desacralized altar.…

God’s Hand and Our Responsibility

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 18, 2009

The story of Yosef and his brothers continues in Mikeitz when Yosef is taken from the dungeon and raised to be the viceroy of Egypt. It is then that his dreams begin to become reality, as his brothers come to Egypt and bow down to Yosef, eventually bringing their youngest brother, Binyamin, with them.…

Symmetry in Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 11, 2009

The mitzvah of onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, raises the issue of the symmetry or asymmetry of the halakhically-defined sexual relationship. The Gemara discusses at length the husband’s obligation to have sex with his wife (at regular intervals or when she indicates that she is interested) based on the Biblical obligation of onah.…

Yaakov, Striving and the Miracle of Chanukah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 11, 2009

In parshat Veyeishev, Yaakov, having finally endured the hardship and travails in the house of Lavan, and having finally returned to his homeland, the land of Canaan, and having reconciled with his brother Esav who (implicitly) agreed to relinquish his claim to the land, is now able to finally settle in the land of his fathers and to put all his troubles behind him: “And Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.”…

“And He Was Limping on his Thigh” – Paying the Cost of Integrity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 4, 2009

Parshat VaYishlach opens with Yaakov preparing to confront Esav on his return to the Land of Canaan. We, as the reader, are eager to find out not only whether Yaakov will emerge unscathed, but how Yaakov will achieve this goal. Will this encounter differ in character from his last one with Esav, twenty years ago?…

Two Approaches to Marital Sex

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 4, 2009

The mitzvah onah, the mitzvah of marital sex, is defined in the mishna in Ketuvot as fixed, regular times that a husband must have sex with his wife. However, another definition emerges from other Talmudic passages – that the husband must have sex with his wife when he sees that she desires it, and this is referred to as lisameyach et ishto bi’dvar mitzvah, to give pleasure to his wife with this mitzvah act.…