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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Moadim/Holidays

Maintaining the Purity of Shoah Memory

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 25, 2016

Survivors of the Shoah encounter the experience through what can be called “pure memory.” Their relationship to the event is direct, with very little intervening. As we move further away from the Shoah, and we who were not there seek to remember, symbols may be required to help us.…

Holy Imperfection

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 5, 2016

Acharei-Mot details the special avodah, the sacrificial rites, that the High Priest performed on Yom Kippur to affect atonement for the Jewish people. However, as the Vilna Gaon noted in Kol Eliyahu, the Torah only introduces the connection to Yom Kippur at the very end of the lengthy description of this special avodah.…

Who Invited Matzah?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 21, 2016

A major part of what makes the Seder evening so powerful is the way in which the symbolic mitzvot—reclining, dipping, drinking four cups of wine, eating the marror and the matzah—bring the Pesach story to life and how the story, in turn, gives depth and meaning to these mitzvot and rituals.…

Have You Done Your Korban Pesach Yet?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 1, 2016

Parashat Parah commemorates the process of purification that would precede the bringing of the korban Pesach. Appropriately, sometimes we read it at the end of Parashat Shmini, which describes how, after the completion of the dedication of the altar, the sacrifices would henceforth be desired and received in Heaven: “And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (Vayikra 9:24).…

Reading God in the Megillah

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 23, 2016

We often speak of the clergy as “klei kodesh,” literally, “holy vessels.” There is something beautiful about this as it allows us to see them as vessels for connecting with God. But at the same time, there is something dehumanizing about this label.…

Piety and Power – A Combustible Mix

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 10, 2015

The gemara asks, “What is Chanuka?” (Tractate Shabbat, 21b). The answer given is well known: the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. But according to Maharal, this answer makes no sense (Hidushei Aggadot, ad loc.). First, since when do we have holidays to celebrate miracles?…

Beginning the Torah Cycle Anew

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 1, 2015

Simchat Torah is the second day of Shmini Atzeret. Indeed, in Israel the two are celebrated on the same day. In some Sefardic and Chassidic communities, the themes are also merged to a certain degree. For example, some shuls do hakafoton the night of Shmini Atzeret and on Simchat Torah.…

Cleansing the Temple, Cleansing our World 

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on September 21, 2015

Published in the Jerusalem Post on Sept. 28, 2008 “For on this day he shall atone for you to purify you; that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” (Lev. 16:30) This verse appears at the end of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur, when we leave all of our this-worldly pursuits behind, even food and drink, a day that is totally devoted to God, and a day we are promised atonement for our sins.…

More Kingship, Less Judgment

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on September 10, 2015

Rosh Hashanah is a Yom HaDin, a Day of Judgment. We will stand before God, and God will take measure of our deeds of the past year. This characterization of the day opens and frames the Zikhronot of Musaf: “Atah zokher ma’aseh olam, u’foked kol yitzurei kedem,” “You, God, remember the deeds of everyone in the world, and recall all those from previous times … and regarding the countries it will be said which is for sword and which is for peace, which is for hunger and which for abundance, and all creatures are recalled, to be remembered for life or for death.” We engage in the process of teshuvah because of this impending judgment, assessing our behavior, owning up to our wrongs, feeling true remorse for our sins and misdeeds, and making an honest commitment to act differently in the future.…

Setting Up to Move Out

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on May 21, 2015

Prepared for publication from remarks made at the 2015 YCT Annual Tribute Dinner in honor of Sharon and Steven Lieberman. Many people today would be happy to set up camp at the foot of Har Sinai permanently. Just think about what it was like: We had received all the mitzvot; the Mishkan was built; the sacrifices were being offered on a regular basis; and the camp’s boundaries had been delineated, and it was protected.…

Who are the Main Characters of the Hagaddah?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on April 1, 2015

The central mitzvah of the Seder night is sippur yitziyat Mitzrayim, telling the story of the exodus from Egypt. The simplest way to do this would be to open Shemot and read the narrative directly from the Torah. This experience would certainly be more engaging than reading the story in the Haggadah – there is greater detail in the Torah, the plot is more dramatic, and, as one of my students recently pointed out, there are the characters, the actors who make the story interesting.…

The Weight of Sin

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on October 2, 2014

Sin and atonement are very abstract, colorless concepts. When we discuss such things, we tend to do so in relation to other abstract concepts: “Sin is an act of transgressing God’s will or commandment; atonement is the act of divine forgiveness, or of becoming reconciled and at one with God.” All of this is true, but spoken about this way, these concepts remain without shape and form.…