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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Machshava/Jewish Thought

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).”…

Silence; sculpture of face holding finger up to mouth for in a library

The Sound of Silence

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

A major theme in this week’s parsha is silence. Without a doubt, there is much talking – endless talking in fact. Yehuda begs Yosef to free Binyamin; Yosef breaks down and reveals all to his brothers. Yosef commands his brothers return with a message to their father; the brothers tell Yaakov that Yosef is still alive; G-d speaks to Yaakov; Yosef tells Pharaoh his brothers have arrived and prepares his brothers for that meeting, and on and on. …

old hands; black and white hands; holding hands

Preparing for Our Final Moments

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 24, 2020

How can we leave behind a blessing once we are gone? “Va’yechi” – and he lived. Yaakov has come to the fullness of his life and knows that he will soon die. He calls Yosef to his bedside and broaches a subject that maybe Yosef would have preferred to avoid – his death, and the burial arrangements that must follow.…

COVID and Clothing

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 17, 2020

Our clothes are closely connected to our body and our identity. They have the power to disguise who we are, represent who we are, and even shape who we are. Clothing plays an important role in this week’s parsha and in the prior ones as well.…

vaccine-shot, needle

Should I Make a Brakha When Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Question: Do I make a brakha when receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot or when it begins to be distributed in my city? If so, what brakha?   Answer: We should start by noting that the question you are asking is a halakhic one regarding the specific formulaic blessing of the Barukh atah nature.…

The Angels in Our Lives

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 10, 2020

Who have been the angels in our lives? At a critical moment in the story of Joseph and his brothers, there is a turning point that goes by so fast, that if you blink you’ll miss it. Joseph travels to Shechem to visit his brothers, yet he searches for them in vain.…

Sharing the Light: Is Religious Maximalism a Good Thing?

In the Time of Coronavirus

Chanukkah celebrates religious maximalism. We increase the number of lights each night to show that we will not just make do with the bare minimum of one light per night. In doing this, we remember the miracle of the oil, where the Jews at the time sought out pure oil, although impure oil would have sufficed under the circumstances.…