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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

Words that Create Worlds

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

Words have power. They can cut deep, creating lasting scars in one’s psyche, or they can comfort, console, encourage, and inspire. Words can also convince and persuade when used in a cogent argument, as when the daughters of Tzelafchad approached Moshe to voice their claim of inheritance over their father’s land in last week’s parasha.…

Pinchas: Zealot-Prelate or Priest of Peace?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

Parashat Pinchas has much to say about zealotry and peace, and the messages certainly remain worthy of examination today. Consider the following situation: A religious zealot witnesses a person flagrantly violating religious standards of behavior. Acting in the name of God, she picks up the nearest available weapon and violently slays the sinner.…

Oh, Say Can You See?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

Speech is central in the story of Balak and Balaam, from Balaam’s blessings to the talking donkey. But as much as this parasha is about talking, it is also about seeing. “And Balak the son of Beor saw, va’yar, all that Israel had done to the Amorites.”…

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

Much ink has been spilled by the commentators—classical and contemporary—to explain Moshe and Aharon’s sin of smiting the rock, but the matter remains quite opaque. Greater clarity can be gained by comparing the story of the smiting of the rock in our parasha with the hitting of the rock in Parashat Beshalach.…

Being Holy or Becoming Holy

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

As published in the Jerusalem Report, July 11, 2016 Is kedusha, holiness, a good thing or a bad thing? Certainly, in its privileged and particularist expressions it can lead to conflict, discord, war and violence. Fights over who has rights to sacred ground, which religion is holy and whose scripture is sacred have plagued us for centuries and have been the cause of immeasurable loss of life.…

It’s Good Because I Say So

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

The story of the spies returning with their evil report is well known, but the reason they were punished is not commonly understood. What did they do wrong? They reported what they saw accurately. Ramban suggests an answer. The key, he says, is in their use of the word efes, “however”: “However, the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great” (Bamidbar 13:28). Ramban…

Holy War

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

Now in the third parasha of Bamidbar, the Children of Israel have not moved since the middle of Shemot. God has descended upon Mount Sinai, proclaimed the Ten Commandments, laid the civil laws before all, and commanded the building of the Mishkan and its attendant laws.…

And Moses Struck the Rock

by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot
Posted on July 5, 2016

The failure of Moses to lead the Jewish people into the promised land constitutes a central tragedy of the second half of the book of Numbers and the book of Deuteronomy. The ambiguous circumstances surrounding both his loss of the reins of leadership and his disqualification from entry into the land add to the reader’s sense of frustration and wonder.…

Spymasters: The Haftorah of Parshat Shelach

by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot
Posted on July 5, 2016

Joshua Ch. 2 is the middle of a section of a larger unit (Ch. 1-4) that makes up the first part of the book of Joshua. In a word, this first unit of four chapters can be entitled: The Narrative of the Entry of Israel into the Land.…

Jewish Blood Is Not Cheap

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Although the Torah often points out the infinite value of every human life, this week’s parsha gives a clear message about the value of Jewish life. We are told that no one will be permitted to murder Jews with impunity. In the Shirat Hayam (Song at the Sea), Moshe (Moses) and the Jewish people use three expressions to describe the downfall of the Egyptians.…

A Message of Inclusiveness At The Foot of Mt. Sinai

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

  The Torah tells us that at the moment of revelation all the Jews at Sinai were able to see. (Exodus 20:15) Is it possible that of the several million there was not one single person who was blind? Here Rashi responds and states that in fact a miracle occurred.…

The Integral Connection Between Prayer and Action

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

The Talmud states that the source of prayer is the biblical phrase: “And you shall serve Him with all your heart.” (Deuteronomy 11:13) Service is usually associated with action. One can serve with his or her hands or feet but how does one serve with the heart?…