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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Torah

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.…

“Rather to my land and to my birthplace you shall go” – A Religion based on Family

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 29, 2010

Avraham, at the end of his life, is worried that Yitzchak find a proper wife, and sends his servant back to his homeland to find a wife from his country and his relatives.   Thus, Parshat Chayei Sarah is, in a way, a reverse lekh lekha. …

“Walk with Me and become perfect” – Being Perfect or Becoming Perfect?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on October 15, 2010

Avraham bursts onto the scene in the opening of Parshat Lekh Lekha.  He follows God’s command, goes to the Land of Canaan, and everywhere is calling out in the name of God, and bringing monotheism to the world. Late in the parsha, God appears to Avraham and commands him in the brit milah. …

The Problem with Perfection

by Rabbanit Devorah Zlochower Posted on April 30, 2010

When my son Netanel was a preschooler, he informed me that he was a member of a persecuted minority: he is left-handed. Discrimination is rampant, according to Netanel. In addition to the obvious—scissors, golf clubs, spiral notebooks—Netanel noticed something that had escaped his left-handed mother, his left-handed father, and his left-handed older brother.…

What Is Most Dear to Us that We Bring to God?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 19, 2010

Parshat Vayikra introduces us into the world of korbanot. The institution of sacrifices is a very difficult concept for many today. How do we understand why God would want or need sacrifices? And even if they are for us, as a way to connect to God, the acts involved in bringing sacrifices – slaughtering, sprinkling the blood, burning of the fats – seem much too bloody, gory, and smelly to constitute an elevated religious experience.…

Blinded by the Light

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 12, 2010

Parshat Vayekhel-Pikudei opens with the second story of the Mishkan. After having been commanded by God in the building of the Mishkan in Terumah-TiZaveh, Moshe now, in turn, commands the people to build the Mishkan. They follow his command with enthusiasm, give large donations, and build the Mishkan.…