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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

The Meaning of Hazak Hazak Ve-Nit’Hazek

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

The second book of the Torah concludes with the end of Pekudei. As the final words are recited, the assembled call out hazak, hazak, ve-nithazek, be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened. Indeed, we say these words when completing each of the Five Books of Moses.…

Our Mission to Turn Passive Fate into Active Destiny

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Why were Nadav and Avihu, two of Ahron’s (Aaron) sons killed? The Torah states their death came when they brought an eish zarah, a foreign fire into the Temple. (Leviticus 10:1) But what was the nature of this fire? Some maintain that because the prohibition against drinking is found in the sentences that follow their death, (Leviticus 10:9) the fire alludes to the possibility that Ahron’s sons served in the sanctuary while intoxicated.…

The Meaning of the Word Kadosh

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

How does one attain the status of kedusha (holiness), commanded in parshat Kedoshim? (Leviticus 19:2) Some maintain that the pathway to holiness is to separate from the real world. Suppressing the body is the only way the soul can soar. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik points out that this is the predominant approach of most faith communities.…

No Human Can Give All Answers at the Moments of Deepest Despair

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

This week’s Torah portion presents many rules pertaining to the Kohen (Jewish priest). Among these laws is the prohibition against any contact with the dead. Except for his closest family members, the Kohen cannot touch a dead corpse, be present at burial or even be in the same room as a dead body.…

Staying Close Infuses Life

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

In this parshat Behar’s prophetic portion, Jeremiah prophesied about the destruction of the First Temple. God commands Jeremiah to leave Jerusalem and travel to Anatot to buy a field from his cousin Chananel (Jeremiah 32). It can be suggested that when God told Jeremiah the Temple was doomed, Jeremiah clung on to the city.…

Why Do the Good Suffer?

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Parshat Bechukotai clearly states that good people are rewarded while evil people are punished. In the words of the Torah: “If you keep my commandments…then I will give your rains in their season…but if you will not listen to Me…I will bring terror over you” (Leviticus Chapter 26).…

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The Limitations of the Human Mind

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

There are differing opinions concerning the meaning of “chok” (commonly translated as statute), the type of law discussed at the beginning of Chukat (Numbers 19). Some maintain that “hook” is a law that although not understood today, one day in the future will be understood.…

Children Should Not Be Punished for the Sins of Their Parents

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

In this week’s portion, Balak King of Moab hires Bilaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22:5,6). A review of the history of Moab’s relationship with Israel reveals a terrible decline that in this portion reaches one of its lowest points. Moab is a descendant of Lot.…

The Power in Stepping Back

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

One way that people attempt to attain transcendence is by guiding their children on the path they began. Even Moshe (Moses), who was first and foremost committed to the nation of Israel and was the most humble of men, was hopeful that his own children would complete the mission he started and lead the people into Israel.…

One Action Can Make All of the Difference

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

In this week’s portion, Moshe (Moses) gives to the tribe of Reuven, the tribe of Gad and half of the tribe of Menasseh the entire Kingdom of Og, ruler of Bashan (Numbers 32:33). Interestingly, just before Moshe and the Israelites conquered the land of Bashan, the Torah records that God tells Moshe “fear him [Og] not” (Numbers 21:34).…

The Value of Living in the Land of Israel

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

The portion of Masei includes the sentence that speaks to the commandment of living in Israel. The key phrase is “and you shall take possession of the land and dwell therein” (Numbers 33:53). Rashi is of the opinion that this sentence does not constitute a command to live in Israel.…

Each One of Us Is Like the Tree of the Field

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

The Torah’s sympathetic attitude toward ecology surfaces in a law legislating conduct during war. Parshat Shoftim says: “When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it, to seize it, do not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them, for from it you will eat and you shall not cut it down.”…