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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Shemot

Whose Religion is this?

by Rabbi Haggai ResnikoffPosted on September 9, 2016

It is a truism among us that keeping the Halakha is synonymous with doing God’s will. However, our sources provide a strong argument that this is not always the case. Some sources (like the Grand Inquisitor) suggest that God’s will should trump rabbinic authority.…

Jewish Blood Is Not Cheap

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 25, 2016

Although the Torah often points out the infinite value of every human life, this week’s parsha gives a clear message about the value of Jewish life. We are told that no one will be permitted to murder Jews with impunity. In the Shirat Hayam (Song at the Sea), Moshe (Moses) and the Jewish people use three expressions to describe the downfall of the Egyptians.…

A Message of Inclusiveness At The Foot of Mt. Sinai

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 25, 2016

  The Torah tells us that at the moment of revelation all the Jews at Sinai were able to see. (Exodus 20:15) Is it possible that of the several million there was not one single person who was blind? Here Rashi responds and states that in fact a miracle occurred.…

The Integral Connection Between Prayer and Action

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 25, 2016

The Talmud states that the source of prayer is the biblical phrase: “And you shall serve Him with all your heart.” (Deuteronomy 11:13) Service is usually associated with action. One can serve with his or her hands or feet but how does one serve with the heart?…

The Unique Character of the Holiness of Jerusalem

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 25, 2016

Parshat Terumah talks about the first synagogue of all time – the mishkan. Because the chasm between the finite human being and the infinite God is great, the mishkan was established so that there would be a tangible place where people could feel more intensely, more powerfully, the presence of God.…

In a Place Where There is No Humanity, Stand Tall and Assert Yours

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

After being raised in the Egyptian palace, Moshe (Moses) goes into the field and sees an Egyptian smiting a Jew. In the words of the Torah, “He looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no man (ish) he smote the Egyptian” (Exodus 2:12).…

The Divine Plan of the Ten Plagues

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

Although the plagues may seem like random punishments, they are actually a Divine plan to teach the Egyptians some fundamental lessons. Consider for example the first plague of water turning into blood. It can, as the Midrash points out, be seen as an attack on the Egyptian god, the Nile River.…

The Mishkan as a Vehicle to Our Connection With God

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of blessed memory, points out that prayer and prophecy are two sides of the same coin. While both involve dialogue between the human being and God, there is one major difference: In prophecy God initiates the dialogue, while in prayer, the human being is the initiator.…

The Ultimate Arbiter of Checks and Balances

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

Built into an open democratic system of government is the idea that too much power should not be invested in any one individual. Such a policy leads to dictatorship and the forcing of a community to comply to the demands of one person.…

God Actually Desires Our Demands

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

Is it appropriate to challenge God when things are going wrong? The role of the prophet is usually associated with transmitting the word of God to his people. Yet there are times when the prophet takes on another role—that of the defense attorney for the people of Israel, protecting Am Yisrael and cajoling God to intercede.…

Details Give Us Equal Access to the Divine

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

No less than seven portions are dedicated to the building of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial service offered there. One wonders why so much detail? This is especially troublesome when compared to the dearth of Biblical verses dealing with arguably, more relevant subjects such as Jewish ritual and Jewish ethical principles.…

The Meaning of Hazak Hazak Ve-Nit’Hazek

by Rabbi Avi WeissPosted on May 21, 2016

The second book of the Torah concludes with the end of Pekudei. As the final words are recited, the assembled call out hazak, hazak, ve-nithazek, be strong, be strong and may we be strengthened. Indeed, we say these words when completing each of the Five Books of Moses.…