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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Personal Status & Identity

Labels Are for Grocery Items, Not People

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 14, 2016

Parashat Metzorah continues to detail the laws of tumah, impurity, that can occur to people and that would require them to maintain their distance from the Mishkan. The parasha opens with the case of the metzorah, the person afflicted with the skin disease of tzara’at, and how he is to become pure: “This shall be the law of the metzorah, the skin-diseased person, on the day of his becoming pure” (Vayikra 14:2).…

Are Patients Still People?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 7, 2016

The Torah spends a great deal of time addressing the phenomenon of tzara’at, spots on the skin that can render a person ritually impure. A person with such a spot needs to have it inspected by a kohen to determine if it is indeed tzara’at, and if it meets certain criteria, the kohen will declare the person impure.…

A Marriage of Equals?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 19, 2015

In the Torah story of Avraham’s servant and his interaction with Rivka, her brother, and her mother, we saw that society in Padan Aram had an unusual family structure. As a matrilineal society, households were comprised of the children of the same mother, and the head of the household was the mother’s oldest brother, perhaps at times working in conjunction with the matriarch.…

The Ger, Inclusion, and True Religiosity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 5, 2015

Recent events in Israel force us all to question what true religiosity means. Is it measured by the degree to which we separate ourselves from larger society, by the stringencies we adopt, or by how fervently we pray? Or does how we treat other human beings, how we relate to those at the margins, play a large part in how we measure it?…

A Tzara’at Survivor

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 22, 2015

The double parasha Tazria-Metzorah details the laws of tumah, any impurity that would require people to maintain their distance from the Mishkan. The primary focus is on the metzorah, a person afflicted with the skin disease tzara’at, and how he is to become pure. …

Women and an Ethos of Diversity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on May 10, 2013

Good Hodesh!  I hope you are all well and are getting ready for the upcoming Chag.  As we know, Shavuot, from the Rabbinic perspective, celebrates the day of the Giving of the Torah.  Interestingly, while the simple sense of the verses indicate that it was the men, and not the women, who were being addressed in the lead up to Matan Torah (“Prepare yourselves for the third day – do not draw close to a woman”), Hazal underscore that women were equal participants in standing at Har Sinai and receiving the Torah (“‘So you shall say to the house of Jacob, beit Yaakov‘ – these are the women.” – Mechilta of R.…

Pesach – How to Transform the World without Losing Yourself in the Process

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 8, 2011

I would like to share my reflections on a profound Sfat Emet on the topic of Pesach and personal identity.   I found this piece to be particularly meaningful in the context of my comments on parshat Metzorah.  Here is the text: כי זכירה היא נקודה פנימית שאין בה שכתה.…

The Person with Tzara’at and Objectification of the Other

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 1, 2011

In parshat Shmini, after the Mishkan was dedicated, the Kohanim were given the charge to “distinguish between the holy and the profane, and between the ritually impure and the pure” (Vayikra 10:11).  That is, they must protect the Mishkan from those who are ritually impure and thus they must know all the laws the pertain to ritual purity and impurity.…

Defined by Ourselves or Defined by Others?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 30, 2010

If the book of Breishit is about family, then the book of Shemot is about nationhood. While it opens with re-enumerating the children of Yaakov, the narrative immediately turns to the birth and the history of the Israelite nation. The very phrase bnei Yisrael undergoes a metamorphosis in the first verses.…

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.…

People Cannot be Aggregated

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 12, 2009

Parshat Ki Tisa opens with a census and the requirement to give money rather than to be counted directly.   What – other than superstition – is the point of this?  I believe that the Torah is telling us a critical message about the worth of each person. …