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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Sefer Bamidbar

Balak – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Understanding One’s Personality through Zodiac Signs

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 18, 2024

דָּרַ֨ךְ כּוֹכָ֜ב מִיַּֽעֲקֹ֗ב “There shall step forth a star out of Jacob” (Bamidbar 24:17). This question is taken from a WhatsApp group in which Rabbi Linzer responds to halakhic questions from rabbis and community members. QUESTION—New York I was informed by someone that there are ways to understand one’s personality based on the zodiac signs.…

Don’t Play Dumb With Me!

by Rabbi Daniel Blumenthal Hoffman
Posted on July 18, 2024

If you read the pshat, or simple meaning, of the story of Bilaam, he seems to be a slow learner, but redeemable as a person. He accepts the request of Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Jewish people while providing the caveat that he can only say what God tells him to.…

Chukat – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Reinterring a Corpse Buried in an Otherwise Reserved Plot

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 11, 2024

וַתָּ֤מָת שָׁם֙ מִרְיָ֔ם וַתִּקָּבֵ֖ר שָֽׁם: “and Miriam died there, and was buried there” (Bamidbar 20:1). This question is taken from a WhatsApp group in which Rabbi Linzer responds to halakhic questions from rabbis and community members. QUESTION—Minneapolis, MI A man was mistakenly buried in a plot reserved for a distant relative (his second wife’s cousin).…

Spare the Rod

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted on July 11, 2024

Why are Moshe and Aharon barred from entering the Land of Israel? What was so wrong about hitting the rock? After all, God explicitly tells Moshe to take his staff with him when going to speak to the rock (Bamidbar 20:8).…

Korach – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Cloth Covering on the Shulchan During Keriat HaTorah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 4, 2024

וַיִּקַּ֞ח אֶלְעָזָ֣ר הַכֹּהֵ֗ן אֵ֚ת מַחְתּ֣וֹת הַנְּחֹ֔שֶׁת אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִקְרִ֖יבוּ הַשְּׂרֻפִ֑ים וַיְרַקְּע֖וּם צִפּ֥וּי לַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ “And Eleazar the priest took the copper fire-pans, which they that were burnt had offered; and they beat them out for a covering of the altar” (Bamidbar 17:4). This question is taken from a WhatsApp group in which Rabbi Linzer responds to halakhic questions from rabbis and community members.…

Korach’s Surprising Legacy

by Rabbi Aaron Finkelstein
Posted on July 4, 2024

Growing up, Korach came up twice a year. At summer camp Korach was a biblical archvillain. Campers and staff would read this parasha and derive lessons about holiness, jealousy and power. During one memorable year, a group of counselors organized an unauthorized staff meeting in an attempt to create a more democratic leadership structure at camp.…

Shelach Lecha – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Giving and Changing Hebrew Names

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 26, 2024

וַיִּקְרָ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה לְהוֹשֵׁ֥עַ בִּן־נ֖וּן יְהוֹשֻֽׁעַ “And Moshe called Hoshea ben Nun, Yehoshuah” (Bamidbar 13:16). QUESTION-Chicago A couple, both Jewish, whose wedding I officiated at had a son two years ago. He was circumcised by a mohel on the eighth day but at the pediatrician’s office as a procedure.…

Leadership and Representation

by Rabbi Michael Gordan
Posted on June 26, 2024

Parashat Shelach-Lecha contains few mitzvot. Of its two mitzvot asei, positive commandments, the first is challah, the commandment to take a portion of a dough made from the five grains and give it as a gift to the priests. The Torah introduces this concept with the phrase “בבאכם אל-הארץ” in English—“when you come to the land.”…

Behaalotecha – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Making Sushi on Shabbat

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 20, 2024

זָכַ֨רְנוּ֙ אֶת־הַדָּגָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־נֹאכַ֥ל בְּמִצְרַ֖יִם חִנָּ֑ם אֵ֣ת הַקִּשֻּׁאִ֗ים וְאֵת֙ הָֽאֲבַטִּחִ֔ים וְאֶת־הֶֽחָצִ֥יר וְאֶת־הַבְּצָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הַשּׁוּמִֽים: We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for free; the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic (Bamidbar 11:5) QUESTION May one roll sushi on Shabbat?…

Lonely at the Top

by Dr. Michelle Friedman, MD
Posted on June 20, 2024

Chapter 11 of Parsahat Behaalotecha shocks the reader with a description of the nadir of Moshe Rabbenu’s life. Trouble starts with his flock, the newly freed former slaves grumbling right after their miraculous nighttime exodus. The peoples’ dissatisfaction worsens with a litany of nostalgic reminiscences about delicacies they enjoyed in Egypt and is followed by a pathetic barrage of complaints about the manna.…

Naso – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Birkat Eirusin When the Bride or Groom Cannot Drink Wine

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on June 13, 2024

מִיַּ֤יִן וְשֵׁכָר֙ יַזִּ֔יר חֹ֧מֶץ יַ֛יִן וְחֹ֥מֶץ שֵׁכָ֖ר לֹ֣א יִשְׁתֶּ֑ה he shall abstain from wine and strong drink: he shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink (Bamidbar 6:3) QUESTION—South Central, USA I’m officiating at a wedding, and the kallah said she can’t drink wine or grape juice.…

The Elevation of Holiness

by Jason Goldstein
Posted on June 13, 2024

There is a paradox in the Torah’s description of a nazir. One the one hand, someone who takes a vow of nazirut, and is therefore forbidden to drink wine, cut his hair, or come into contact with a dead body, is “holy to Hashem” throughout the entire term of separation (Bamidbar 6:8).…