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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

Was Rivka a (Gasp!) Feminist?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 4, 2015

When Avraham charges his servant to find a wife for Yitzchak, the servant asks a strange question: “Perhaps the woman will not desire to follow me to this land. Should I return your son to the land which you came from?” (Breishit, 24:5). …

Passionate Judaism or Rational Judaism?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 30, 2015

Do we want a religion of fire or ice, of passionate religious fervor or sober, detached rationality? In many ways, Modern Orthodoxy has chosen the latter. This goes beyond an emphasis on the intellectual, on prizing Talmudic scholarship and broad academic achievement.…

Wanted: Partners, Not Followers

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 21, 2015

Avraham and Noach stand in stark contrast to one another. Noach was a follower. He did what he was told, exactly what he was told, no more and no less. He was told to build an ark, “and Noach did all that God had commanded him” (Bereishit, 6:22).…

Unity Not Uniformity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 14, 2015

“And from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the entire Earth” (Breishit, 11:8). What was the sin of the Tower of Babel, and why was it necessary to scatter them and create many languages? Are not geographical distance and the differences of language and culture the primary bases of misunderstanding and fear of the other?…

Breishit: A Story of Growing Up

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 8, 2015

When the world was freshly minted and created, we heard the refrain with each act of creation, “And God saw that it was good,” and that the world as a whole was “exceedingly good.” Then, humans came and made a mess of everything, and a different refrain is heard: And God saw “massive was the evil of man on the earth, and all the thoughts of his heart were only evil the entire day” (Bereishit 6:5).…

A Living Covenant of Torah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 9, 2015

Parashat Netzavim opens with a gathering together of all the people of Israel to enter into a covenant with God. The Torah goes out of its way to make it clear that every single person is present and accounted for: You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and your stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of your wood unto the drawer of your water.…

Mixed Blessings?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 2, 2015

In the middle of the extended section on the calamities and curses that will befall the Israelites if they fail to observe the mitzvot, we find a curious set of verses: Because you served not the Lord your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shall you serve your enemies which the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things (Devarim, 28:47-48).…

When Does Less Become More?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 12, 2015

Twice in the book of Devarim, Moshe warns the people to keep the totality of the Torah, not adding to or detracting from it. In Parashat Re’eh we read, “Whatsoever I command you, that thing you shall observe to do; you shall not add to it, nor diminish from it” (13:1), echoing a parallel prohibition in Parashat Va’Etchanan (Devarim, 4:2).…

The Ger, Inclusion, and True Religiosity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on August 5, 2015

Recent events in Israel force us all to question what true religiosity means. Is it measured by the degree to which we separate ourselves from larger society, by the stringencies we adopt, or by how fervently we pray? Or does how we treat other human beings, how we relate to those at the margins, play a large part in how we measure it?…

Why Do We Fast?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on July 30, 2015

Why do we fast? The general understanding is that it acts as a spur for teshuvah, repentance. This explanation works for the fast days examined in the Talmudic tractate of Ta’anit – fasting during times of drought, locust, and the like – but what about the fast days that commemorate tragic historical events?…

When Does the Oral Torah Begin?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on July 22, 2015

What happens when we repeat a story or lesson in our own words? Does it improve with the retelling, or does it worsen? Is the message lost, or is it made more relevant? What is the point of retelling? Why not repeat things verbatim?…

Looking Back to Move Forward

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on July 15, 2015

After forty years of wandering through the wilderness, the Children of Israel arrive at the Plains of Moab. The Promised Land is so close they can almost taste it, and most of Parashat Masei is devoted to what awaits them on the other side of the Jordan.…