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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Devarim

Whoring After Foreign Gods

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 26, 2016

Much of the book of Devarim is devoted to warning the people against being seduced by idolatry when they enter the land. It is often hard for us to appreciate why idolatry was such a temptation in the past. To better understand the attraction, we must look more closely at the metaphors and images the verses use in the exhortations against it.…

So, What’s the Story With… Christianity?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 26, 2016

Last week we explored how the Torah’s prohibitions against idolatry fall into two categories: 1) the belief in and worship of foreign gods and 2) the representation or worship of God through an image or any physical concretization. These recur throughout the book of Devarim in regular warnings against the seductions of idolatry, and we find them again in Parashat Eikev: The graven images of their gods you shall burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.…

Friends, Romans, Countrymen: Lend Me Your Money

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 26, 2016

If asked which mitzvah obligates us to help the poor, we would immediately respond, “The mitzvah of tzedakah.” There’s only one problem: no such mitzvah exists in the Torah. Nowhere in the Torah does it say that if a poor person asks us for money, we must give it to him.…

What is the Basis for Rabbinic Authority?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 26, 2016

What is the basis for Rabbinic authority? Why do we follow the Talmud? Why is the Rabbis’ interpretation of Torah mitzvot binding on us? The Talmud tells us that the answer to some of these questions can be found in our parasha.…

A Rabbi and a Scientist Walk into a Room…

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 26, 2016

Can new discoveries in science and advances in technology bring about changes in halakha? The question is not whether halakha can address phenomena that did not exist in the time of the Talmud, such as electricity, surrogate motherhood, and organ transplants; that is the regular work of halakha.…

What’s Wrong with “Doing it For the Money?”

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted on September 7, 2016

Does every mitzvah contain an implied tefillah for bracha and hatzlacha? Should it be that way? Parashat Ki Tavo with the brachot and the tochecha is a classic place to ask this question because if we take those things seriously, why do we do mitzvot?…

How Could We be Commanded to Commit Genocide?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted on September 6, 2016

Amalek, as it appears in the פשט of the תנ”ך and in חז”ל and the later Midrashim is a tribe that raids others both for status and for economic necessity. The only way to be safe from a tribe with this kind of predatory culture is to destroy it entirely because any remnant will rebuild the tribe with the same rapacious culture.…

He Said, He Said

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 15, 2016

There are many differences between the stories that are retold in the book of Devarim and their earlier appearances in the Torah. How are we to explain this? If we read in Bamidbar that sending the spies was God’s idea and in Devarim that it was the people’s, it would seem that one version has to be wrong.…

The Importance of the Land of Israel

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Over and over the portion of Ekev emphasizes the importance of inheriting the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:1, 9:1). Why is Israel so crucial to our covenant with God? In the end, the goal of the Jewish people is to do our share to redeem the world.…

Adding and Subtracting From the Torah: The Rabbi’s Role in the Legal Process

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

The portion of Re’eh gives us a curious mitzvah. It tells us not to add or subtract to the commandments (Deuteronomy 13:1). This seems to go against the idea of the ongoing development of Jewish law on the part of the rabbis (See Deuteronomy 17:8-13).…

The Role of the Jewish King

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Whether appointing a king is legally obligatory or not is a subject of great controversy. But whether it is or is not, the Torah recognizes that it is human nature that people will ask for leadership in the form of a king (Deuteronomy 17:14).…

The Challenge of Morality in the Face of War

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

“All is fair in love and war.” Not so in Judaism. In fact, the test of moral standards is not how one acts when things are peaceful, clear and smooth. Such instances do not by and large require moral strength. Rather the test of moral integrity truly presents itself when facing difficult situations.…