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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Moadim/Holidays

Piety and Power – A Combustible Mix

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 10, 2015

The gemara asks, “What is Chanukah?” (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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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 Linzer Posted 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.…

The Teshuva of Kingship

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 23, 2014

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, many of us are preparing for this Day of Judgment by engaging in the traditional process of teshuvah, of repentance. This process, as described by the Rabbis, is one that is focused inward. It involves serious self-reflection: assessing our behavior over the past year, truly regretting our sins and misdeeds, and committing to act differently in the future.…

A Thought on Pesach

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 11, 2014

I would like  to share the following thought for Pesach in memory of Rivka Haut, z”l, who passed away a little over a week ago.  Rivka was, as a recent obituary put it, a fearless warrior, a warrior for the cause for justice for agunot and for creating a space for women within the Orthodox community.…

A thought for Shabbat Shuva and Yom Kippur

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 21, 2012

The relationship between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is both obvious and complex. Obvious, in that Divine judgment and forgiveness are closely connected – we recognize that there is no one who can justify him or herself to their Creator, and thus a day of judgment requires a day of forgiveness which brings with it the Divine gift of atonement.…

The Obligations of Tzedek

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on May 24, 2012

(An earlier version of this appeared in the 5769 AJWS Chag v’Chesed) The holiday of Shavuot is generally assumed to commemorate the giving of the Torah, which occurred on the sixth of Sivan. In the Torah, however, Shavuot is only described as an agricultural holiday and occurs not on any particular calendrical date, but at the culmination of seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest season that occurs on the second day of Pesach.…

A Dynamic Faith of Gratitude

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on May 18, 2012

Yom Yerushalayim and Shavuot are celebrated a week apart. These celebrations mark two tremendous gifts that have been bestowed upon us: the gift of a unified Jerusalem as part of the State of Israel and under Jewish control, that we received only 45 years ago, and the gift of the Torah, that we received over 3000 years ago.…