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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

What’s Wrong with a Corporeal God?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 9, 2016

The idea that plain matter can be imbued with divine essence is a fundamentally dangerous doctrine according to the Torah. It leads to the fallacy that matter, and particularly humans can speak with the divine voice. This is problematic both from a practical and a theological point of view.…

All that Glitters…

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 9, 2016

The building of the Mishkan naturally raises the question of why God needs all that gold and silver. What happened to מזבח אדמה תעשו לי? And if God doesn’t need it, is it to address a human need? And if that is true, why is there so little “splendor” in our בתי כנסת today?…

Whose Religion is this?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 9, 2016

It is a truism among us that keeping the Halakha is synonymous with doing God’s will. However, our sources provide a strong argument that this is not always the case. Some sources (like the Grand Inquisitor) suggest that God’s will should trump rabbinic authority.…

The Demands and Limits of Honoring Your Parents

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 9, 2016

The following sources relate to the story of Joseph in Parashat Vayigash, and compare his actions to what we know about the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. Ramban, Bereshit, ch. 42 יש לתמוה אחר שעמד יוסף במצרים ימים רבים והיה פקיד ונגיד בבית שר גדול במצרים, איך לא שלח כתב אחד לאביו להודיעו ולנחמו, כי מצרים קרוב לחברון כששה ימים, ואילו היה מהלך שנה היה ראוי להודיעו לכבוד אביו… It is astonishing: after Joseph lived in Egypt for many days, and was an officer and a ruler in the house of a great Prince of Egypt, how is that he didn’t send a message to his father to tell him and to console him.…

Deception and Connection: Why Do We Deceive Those We Love?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 7, 2016

Jewish values oppose lying, deception, and dishonesty as a rule. And yet there are some moments, when they are acceptable and maybe even preferable to the truth. It is obvious that we should not participate in dishonesty that causes damage to others, and even dishonesty that really has no negative consequences should be avoided.…

What Does It Take to Make a Match?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 7, 2016

There is a need in our community for a review of the criteria we use in selecting mates (values and personal traits rather than aesthetic and material concerns). In addition there is a need to reemphasize that making the choice is not enough- there is tremendous work that still needs to go into a marriage and that very work is the source of the love between the partners.…

How Far Can The Apple Land From The Tree?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 7, 2016

The principle of מעשה אבות סימן לבנים most famously propounded by the Ramban has relevance to us as parents and potential parents. Rather than seeing Avraham’s travels as a supernatural oracle for his children, I see the resemblance between Avraham’s life and the history of Israel as an example of the inevitability of parental modeling.…

What’s Wrong with “Doing it For the Money?”

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 7, 2016

Does every mitzvah contain an implied tefillah for bracha and hatzlacha? Should it be that way? Parashat Ki Tavo with the brachot and the tochecha is a classic place to ask this question because if we take those things seriously, why do we do mitzvot?…

How Could We be Commanded to Commit Genocide?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff Posted on September 6, 2016

Amalek, as it appears in the פשט of the תנ”ך and in חז”ל and the later Midrashim is a tribe that raids others both for status and for economic necessity. The only way to be safe from a tribe with this kind of predatory culture is to destroy it entirely because any remnant will rebuild the tribe with the same rapacious culture.…

He Said, He Said

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 15, 2016

There are many differences between the stories that are retold in the book of Devarim and their earlier appearances in the Torah. How are we to explain this? If we read in Bamidbar that sending the spies was God’s idea and in Devarim that it was the people’s, it would seem that one version has to be wrong.…

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.…