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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

Engagement, Not Estrangement

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 22, 2021

What does it mean to live a holy life? Kedoshim opens with the words “קְדֹשִׁ֣ים תִּהְי֑וּ כִּ֣י קָד֔וֹשׁ אֲנִ֖י – You shall become holy because I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). The idea of holiness could–and has–been interpreted to mean that one should separate herself from this world, just as God is elevated above and fully separate from this world.…

Sending the Sick Outside the Camp

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 15, 2021

Who are our modern-day metzoraim, the people who are pushed outside of normal society and keep distant and hidden from everyone else?  The metzora is not a leper, but he is much like one. He has a serious skin disease and is sent outside of the Israelite camp, in an area that would eventually become outside of the city walls of the Land of Israel.…

Active Religion

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 1, 2021

What would it mean to take an active role in our religious lives?  The splitting of the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds) is the bookend to the story of the Exodus, just as the seventh day of Pesach is the bookend to the first day.…

Let Them Eat…? When the Day before Pesach Is Shabbat

Rabbi Shalom Messas (1909-2003), an influential Sefardi posek, served as both the Chief Rabbi of Morocco and Jerusalem. He succeeded his longtime teacher Rabbi Yehoshua Berdugo as Chief Rabbi of Morocco in 1945 at the relatively young age of thirty six, and in 1978, he was invited by Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rav Ovadiah Yosef to become the Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Jerusalem.…

Are Our Days Numbered? Is the Omer a Dangerous Time?

Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapira (1868-1937) was the head of the rabbinical court of Mukachevo in western Ukraine and the third Rebbe of the Munkacs Chassidic dynasty. His father, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira, the second Munkacser Rebbe, was the author of the Darkhe Teshuva, an important halakhic work, and his great-great grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov, was the author of the classic Chasidic work Benei Yissaschar.…

Does God Play Dice with the Universe? Games of Chance and the Theology of Purim

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted on February 25, 2021

Rabbi Yair Bacharach (1639-1702), one of the most important German halakhic decisions of the premodern era and author of the responsa, Chavot Yair, was a student of Rabbi Mendel Bass, (who was himself the student of Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, the Ba”Ch).…

If the Medium Is the Message, What’s the Message?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 11, 2021

When the Children of Israel stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, they famously declared “נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע – na’aseh ve’nishma – We will do and we will listen.” (Exodus 24:7). This phrase appears at the end of parshat Mishpatim, after all the laws that followed the Ten Commandments.…

The Discernment of Outsiders

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 4, 2021

Can someone from the outside see better than those on the inside? The word that introduces and is the catalyst for Yitro’s advice to Moshe is va’yar, to see -. “וַיַּרְא חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה – Moshe’s father-in-law saw.” (Exodus 18:14) This seeing is not merely observing.…

What Do We Mean By Faith?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2021

After the dramatic scene of the Egyptians being drowned in the Yam Suf, the Torah tells us, “Bnei Yisrael saw what the mighty hand that God had done in Egypt, וַיַּאֲמִינוּ בַּה’ וּבְמֹשֶׁה עַבְדּוֹ – and they believed in God and in Moshe, his servant.”…

cow in field , cow with flowers

Preserving the Cistern: Seeing the Earth as a Resource for All

Rabbi Shemuel ben Moshe de Medina (1505-1589) was Rosh HaYeshiva of the Thessaloniki yeshiva which produced some of the most important scholars and halakhic decisors of the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, he also served as the Av Beit Din, and in this role he was known for his humility and scholarship.…

Speech in Exile

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 14, 2021

Moshe complains to God that since speaking to the Israelites things have only gotten worse. God tells Moshe to return to the people and tell them that God will redeem them from Egypt and take them to be God’s nation. The people, however, are deaf to this message due to their hard labor.…

Magen-David, Jewish

Who (or What) Defines Us As a People?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 7, 2021

With the opening of the book of Shemot, we transition from Bereshit, the story of the family, to Shemot, the story of the nation. It is a shift in the meaning of “Bnei Yisrael,” from “the children of the man named Yisrael (Yaakov),” to “The Nation of Israel (the Israelites).”…