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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

The Shalshelet: The Musical Note With A Deep Message

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Words have the power to express ideas. But as expressive as words can be, they can sometimes be limiting. Often music can give soul and meaning to ideas that words cannot. This concept is also true with respect to the melody (trop) used to read the Torah.…

Why Are We Called Yehudim?

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

It is commonly known that the reason that we call ourselves by the name Yehudim (Jews) is because most of us come literally from the Kingdom of Judah, or more specifically the tribe of Judah. Yet, there is a deeper reason why we have continued to use this term specifically when there are countless other names that our people and religion could go by.…

The Importance of Tears

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

When Yaakov (Jacob) meets his son Yosef (Joseph) after seventeen years of separation the Torah states, “And he wept on his neck” (Genesis 46:29). Since the sentence speaks of only one individual crying, “and he wept,” who is the Torah referring to?…

The Unique Character of the Grandparent Relationship

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Notified that his father Yaakov (Jacob) is sick, Yosef (Joseph) takes his sons Ephraim and Menashe to see their grandfather. As they enter, Yaakov proclaims “mi eileh?” “Who are these?” (Genesis 48:8). Having already been in Egypt for 17 years, is it possible that Yaakov didn’t know the identity of his grandsons?…

In a Place Where There is No Humanity, Stand Tall and Assert Yours

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

After being raised in the Egyptian palace, Moshe (Moses) goes into the field and sees an Egyptian smiting a Jew. In the words of the Torah, “He looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no man (ish) he smote the Egyptian” (Exodus 2:12).…

The Divine Plan of the Ten Plagues

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Although the plagues may seem like random punishments, they are actually a Divine plan to teach the Egyptians some fundamental lessons. Consider for example the first plague of water turning into blood. It can, as the Midrash points out, be seen as an attack on the Egyptian god, the Nile River.…

The Mishkan as a Vehicle to Our Connection With God

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of blessed memory, points out that prayer and prophecy are two sides of the same coin. While both involve dialogue between the human being and God, there is one major difference: In prophecy God initiates the dialogue, while in prayer, the human being is the initiator.…

The Ultimate Arbiter of Checks and Balances

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Built into an open democratic system of government is the idea that too much power should not be invested in any one individual. Such a policy leads to dictatorship and the forcing of a community to comply to the demands of one person.…

God Actually Desires Our Demands

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

Is it appropriate to challenge God when things are going wrong? The role of the prophet is usually associated with transmitting the word of God to his people. Yet there are times when the prophet takes on another role—that of the defense attorney for the people of Israel, protecting Am Yisrael and cajoling God to intercede.…

Details Give Us Equal Access to the Divine

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

No less than seven portions are dedicated to the building of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial service offered there. One wonders why so much detail? This is especially troublesome when compared to the dearth of Biblical verses dealing with arguably, more relevant subjects such as Jewish ritual and Jewish ethical principles.…

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.…