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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Devarim

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.…

Anti-Zionism As A Cover for Anti-Semitism

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 25, 2016

Three covenants (brit) are mentioned in the Torah, the covenant of the pieces (Genesis 15), the covenant of Sinai (Exodus 19), and the covenant of our portion, which was made just prior to our entry into Israel (Deuteronomy 29). Truth be told, they each contribute to the making of the nation of Israel.…

Each One of Us Is Like the Tree of the Field

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

The Torah’s sympathetic attitude toward ecology surfaces in a law legislating conduct during war. Parshat Shoftim says: “When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it, to seize it, do not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them, for from it you will eat and you shall not cut it down.”…

To What Can the Love Between God and His People Be Compared

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on May 21, 2016

  The love between God and His people is often compared to the marital relationship. So the prophet Hoshea describes God, declaring: “And I will betroth you to Me forever” (Hoshea 2:21). The Song of Songs is similarly viewed as an allegory for the relationship between God and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people).…

A Living Covenant of Torah

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 9, 2015

Parashat Netzavim opens with a gathering together of all the people of Israel to enter into a covenant with God. The Torah goes out of its way to make it clear that every single person is present and accounted for: You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and your stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of your wood unto the drawer of your water.…

Mixed Blessings?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 2, 2015

In the middle of the extended section on the calamities and curses that will befall the Israelites if they fail to observe the mitzvot, we find a curious set of verses: Because you served not the Lord your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore shall you serve your enemies which the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things (Devarim, 28:47-48).…

When Does Less Become More?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 12, 2015

Twice in the book of Devarim, Moshe warns the people to keep the totality of the Torah, not adding to or detracting from it. In Parashat Re’eh we read, “Whatsoever I command you, that thing you shall observe to do; you shall not add to it, nor diminish from it” (13:1), echoing a parallel prohibition in Parashat Va’Etchanan (Devarim, 4:2).…

The Ger, Inclusion, and True Religiosity

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on August 5, 2015

Recent events in Israel force us all to question what true religiosity means. Is it measured by the degree to which we separate ourselves from larger society, by the stringencies we adopt, or by how fervently we pray? Or does how we treat other human beings, how we relate to those at the margins, play a large part in how we measure it?…

Why Do We Fast?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 30, 2015

Why do we fast? The general understanding is that it acts as a spur for teshuvah, repentance. This explanation works for the fast days examined in the Talmudic tractate of Ta’anit – fasting during times of drought, locust, and the like – but what about the fast days that commemorate tragic historical events?…

When Does the Oral Torah Begin?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on July 22, 2015

What happens when we repeat a story or lesson in our own words? Does it improve with the retelling, or does it worsen? Is the message lost, or is it made more relevant? What is the point of retelling? Why not repeat things verbatim?…

A Torat Emet and a Torat Chaim

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on September 5, 2014

Ki Teitze is a parasha densely packed with mitzvot. Of course, just because there are all these laws does not mean that it is always clear what their parameters are or how they are to be implemented. Should determining this be done only through technical and formal rules, or do values and underlying principles play a role?…