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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

One Step at a Time

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on April 20, 2012

When we read Parashat Shemini, we are in the middle of the counting of the Omer–a process of seven weeks of seven days–until we finally arrive at Shavuot.  This counting marks the time – in Rabbinic thought – from the Exodus to the revelation of God and the receiving of Torah at Har Sinai.…

How Covenant Frames Obligations

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on February 10, 2012

After crossing the Red Sea, seeing the drowning of the Egyptians, experiencing the first hardships of the desert, and receiving the quail and the manna from God, the Children of Israel have finally arrived at their first destination, Mt. Sinai. While the Land of Israel still awaits, their initial demand to leave Egypt was to worship God, and that worship takes place here, in the desert, at the foot of Har Sinai: “When you take this people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain.” (Shemot 3:12).…

I’ve Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 13, 2012

The beginning of the book of Shemot sees the Children of Israel enslaved, oppressed, and at the risk of decimation.  The foundation for their salvation is laid in the birth of Moshe, his being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter, and his venturing out to see the affliction of his brothers.   …

Torah as a Way to Know God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 1, 2012

How exactly can a finite human being, rooted in her physicality, connect to an infinite, non-physical God?  This question is one that the Torah grapples with throughout the second half of the book of Shemot.  God commands for the building of a physical Mishkan to house the Glory of God enveloped in the cloud. …

Yosef the Tzaddik, Religious Arrogance and the Miracle of Chanukkah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 23, 2011

Yosef is known throughout Rabbinic literature as “Yosef the Tzaddik.”  This phrase alludes to the verse in Amos (2:6), “their selling the Tzaddik for silver”, which is understood to be referring to brother’s selling Yosef for the 30 pieces of silver. …

To See and to Acknowledge

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 16, 2011

Yosef’s brothers, not content with the treachery of throwing him in the pit and then selling him to the Ishmaelites, proceed to engage in a cover-up.   Using the very cloak that was the target of their jealousy, they dip it in the blood of a kid goat, and send it to their father:  “And they said, ‘This we found. …

Give Truth to Yaakov

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 2, 2011

Give truth to Yaakov, loving-kindness to Avraham…” (Micah 7:20), the prophet Micha asks of God, and thus, in kabbalistic literature, Avraham comes to represent the attribute of chesed, loving-kindness, while Yaakov represents the attribute of emet, truth.  While it is not at all difficult to see how Avraham is associated with loving-kindness  – witness his welcoming of the angelic guests –  it is quite challenging to see Yaakov as embodying the principle of truth. …

When God is Seen and Not Heard

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 18, 2011

After the climactic event of the akeida, the Torah turns its attention to more quotidian matters,  the death and burial of Sarah and the finding of a son for Yitzchak.  In this shift, and in this transition to the next generation, a number of the major characters move off the scene. …

“Let’s Not Forget Mamre”

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 11, 2011

In a parasha that contains the stories of the birth and binding of Yitzchak, and the overturning  of Sodom, I wish to write about a seemingly trivial point. The pasuk states (Breishit 18:1): וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ ה בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א  And the LORD appeared unto him in the palace of Mamre Mamre, I believe, is the unsung hero in Vayeira. …

Chosenness with a Universalist Impulse, Universalism with a Focus on Family

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 4, 2011

After two failed attempts at directing humanity to a life of holiness and goodness, God, in Lekh Lekha, begins the grand experiment that will be the narrative of the entire Torah and the story of the People of Israel.   With the generations of Adam, God stepped back to see if human beings, having chosen to “know good and evil,” to think and choose for themselves, could choose for themselves a life of holiness. …

How Humankind Became Adults: The Challenges of Knowing Good and Evil

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 28, 2011

It is just a few hundred years since the world has been created, and everything has gone to pot. 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.” Now, humans have come and made a mess of everything, and a different refrain is heard: “And God saw that “massive was the evil of man on the earth, and all the thoughts of his heart were only evil the entire day.” (Breishit 6:5).…

Teshuva or Sacrifices – How to Repair our Relationship with God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on September 23, 2011

Parshat Nitzavim always falls immediately before Rosh HaShana, and appropriately so. For it is in this parasha that the Torah speaks at great length about the power of teshuva: “And you will return to the Lord your God and obey God’s voice… you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul” (Devarim 30:2).…