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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

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.…

Yitzchak: The Father of Continuity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 20, 2009

Yitzchak’s story is one of the major themes of parshat Toldot. Until now, the stories involving Yitzchak have really been stories of other people – Avraham offering up Yitzchak at the akeida, and Avraham’s servant finding a wife for Yitzchak. Now, finally, it is Yitzchak’s turn to write his own story, to have his own narrative.…

Hilkoht Niddah: Welcoming Mikvehs

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 20, 2009

The source of tvilah, immersion, is complex. Interestingly, the Torah never states explicitly that a niddah, zavah, or a woman who has given birth has to immerse in order to become tahor, ritually pure, although it is assumed throughout the Talmud that this requirement exists and that it is Biblical.…

“Will the Judge of the Earth not deal justly?!” – Arguing Ethics with God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 6, 2009

Parshat Va’Yera has many powerful stories and images, but perhaps the two most powerful are the story of Avraham arguing with God to save Sodom and Amora, and the story that is climax of the parsha, Avraham offering Yitzchak up as a sacrifice.…

Tzniut: Whose Obligation?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on November 6, 2009

The topics of hirhurim and tzniut, of illicit sexual thoughts and modesty, have deep implication. The Gemara (e.g., Avoda Zara 20b, Berakhot 24a) focuses on the man’s sexual thoughts as potentially resulting from seeing or looking lustfully at women, but does not address the issue of women’s sexual thoughts.…

“And he believed in God” – Faith in God or Faith in Miracles?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 30, 2009

We are told that Avraham was given 10 tests and withstood all of them. There is no doubt that in Lekh Lekha Avraham has many trials, but it is somewhat of a question of whether he withstood them all or not.…

Women in the Synagogue – the Mechitza and the Ezrat Nashim

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 30, 2009

Regarding mechitza we find 3 models in the achronim. There are those that say that it is to prevent kalut rosh – levity (based on the Gemara in Sukkah regarding the simchat beit HaShoyeva, the festival on Sukkot for the water drawing).…

The Power of Names

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on October 23, 2009

In parshat Noach, the months get great play. All the events of the flood are dated by the month in which they occurred – “in the seventh month,” “in the tenth month,” and so on. However, as is clear from Rashi, because of the lack of proper names for the months, it is very hard to know which months are being referred to.…

A Silent Rosh Hashanah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 14, 2009

Occasionally, the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat. And so, after a month of blowing shofar in anticipation of this great day, we celebrate the first day of Rosh Hashanah in silence. For most of us, this is greatly distressing – the very character of the day and our experience of its profundity are created through the blowing of the shofar, and we must sacrifice this for what seems like a minor concern – lest a person might forget and carry the shofar in the public domain.…