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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

Religious Passion, the Mikdash and the Temptation of Idolatry – Primary Sources

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 25, 2011

In connection with the recent posting on Parshat Shmini and the sin of Nadav and Avihu, I present these sources which speak to both sides of the tension between religious passion and boundaries, between the physicality of the Mikdash and religious experience and the temptation of idolatry.…

Tzav and Vayikra – Some Additional Thoughts

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 22, 2011

In another post we discussed the differences between Tzav and Vayikra, focusing on the order in which the korbanot are listed.    As a wrap-up of that discussion, here are some additional differences worth noting: Tzav’s discussion of the olah is very brief (6:1-6), without an enumeration of all the possible different animals.  …

Tzav – Two Perspectives on Korbanot

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 22, 2011

The beginning of parashat Tzav seems like almost an exact repeat of the beginning of parashat Vayikra.  Each parasha deals with the details and rituals of the different korbanot, and Tzav winds up seeming like merely a repeat of Vayikra. However, closer examination shows that while they deal with the same topics, they approach them from different perspectives. …

Who Built the Mishkan?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 8, 2011

In the final verses of the book of Shemot we are told that “the Tabernacle (the Mishkan) was erected,” and that “Moshe erected the Mishkan.” The Midrash contrasts these two verses and describes what happened behind the scenes and who was really behind the construction of the Mishkan: Because when they had finished the Mishkan, none knew how to set it up.…

The Sanctity of Space

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on February 4, 2011

This week’s parsha – Terumah – and the many parshiyot that follow focus on creating a Mishkan, a Sanctuary, a sanctified space, a dwelling place for God. The idea that a space can not only be sanctified, but even contain – as it were – the Divine presence, is beyond our ability to comprehend.…

Sanctity of Space and Sanctity of Time

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on January 28, 2011

There is barely a pause which separates the theophany of the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, in parshat Yitro, to the myriad of laws and the nuts-and-bolts mitzvot of parshat Mishpatim. How are we to understand this sudden transition? Where is the kedusha, the holiness, the human-divine encounter, that follows Sinai, that can be considered a continuation of the Revelation?…

Defined by Ourselves or Defined by Others?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 30, 2010

If the book of Breishit is about family, then the book of Shemot is about nationhood. While it opens with re-enumerating the children of Yaakov, the narrative immediately turns to the birth and the history of the Israelite nation. The very phrase bnei Yisrael undergoes a metamorphosis in the first verses.…

Character, Fate, and Free Will

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 17, 2010

In previous few parshiyot we have been exploring the character of the different protagonists in Breishit – Yaakov, Reuven, Yosef, and Yehuda. In this week’s parsha, VaYechi, which brings a close to the Yosef story and to the book of Breishit, we have an opportunity to explore the interplay between character, fate, and free will.…

Faith in God and Personal Responsibility

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on December 10, 2010

We saw previously that Yehudah and Reuven, while both taking initiative to deal with crisis situations, exhibited very different leadership styles. While Reuven was rash and impetuous, Yehudah thought things through carefully, and when he took on a responsibility, his word was his bond, and he would see the situation through to its resolution.…

“No Longer Shall Your Name be Yaakov, but Yisrael” – Personal Transformation while Living with our Past

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 18, 2010

Yaakov Aveinu is a challenging character – one who is traditionally associated with the quality of emet – titen emet li’Yaakov – but who often seems to more be a person of trickery or deceit.  From purchasing the birthright, to stealing the blessing, to using the staves with Lavan’s sheep, he, like his name, works around the truth to get to the desired end result. …

“This is None Other than the House of God” – Building a House that Endures

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 12, 2010

Yaakov runs away from his brother, falls asleep, has a vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder, and God appears to him and promises to watch over him.  He then wakes up and declares: “This is none other than the house of the Lord and this is the gate of heaven,” on which the Rabbis comment, “Not like Avraham that called [God’s place] a mountain, nor like Yitzchak that called it a field, but like Yaakov that called it a house”  (Pesachim 88a). …

Staying the Course, but Not Repeating Past Mistakes

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on November 5, 2010

Another year, we explored the theme of Yitzchak’s life as a continuation and institutionalization of Avraham’s vision: Yitzchak could not go out of Canaan – he could not explore new vistas. He had to stay in Canaan and invest all of his energies in building, in establishing, in redigging the wells.…