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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

Rabbi Eliezer vs. Rabbi Akiva: Two Models of Torah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on April 23, 2010

The seventh chapter of Sanhedrin ends with a powerful aggadata: When R. Eliezer fell sick, R. Akiva and his companions went to visit him… The Sages, seeing that his mind was clear, entered his chamber and sat down at a distance of four cubits.…

What Is Most Dear to Us that We Bring to God?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 19, 2010

Parshat Vayikra introduces us into the world of korbanot. The institution of sacrifices is a very difficult concept for many today. How do we understand why God would want or need sacrifices? And even if they are for us, as a way to connect to God, the acts involved in bringing sacrifices – slaughtering, sprinkling the blood, burning of the fats – seem much too bloody, gory, and smelly to constitute an elevated religious experience.…

Korban Pesach Nowadays

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 5, 2010

Parshat Parah, a special maftir read before pesach, is read to remind us of the period of purification that preceded the bringing of the korban Pesach on the 14th of Nissan. While for most of us, this is a reminder of a thousands-year-old practice that became obsolete with the destruction of the Temple, this is not true for all.…

How to Encounter God? Build a House.

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 19, 2010

Parshat Terumah begins the second half of the book of Shemot, and from here on in the book of Shemot has one focus: the building of the mishkan:“And they shall make me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8).…

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.…