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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Shemot

The Divine Plan of the Ten Plagues

by Rabbi Avi Weiss Posted 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 Weiss Posted 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 Weiss Posted 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 Weiss Posted 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 Weiss Posted 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 Weiss Posted 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.…

Even the Darkest Moments Contain Sparks of Home

by Rabbi Avi Weiss Posted on May 21, 2016

The Biblical term for midnight, the time Moshe (Moses) says God will slay the first born, is ka-hazot ha-lailah (Exodus 11:4). Different interpretations are given for the prefix ka, which gives us the key as to the true meaning of this term.…

Everyone is Entitled to the Highest Level of Justice

by Rabbi Avi Weiss Posted on May 19, 2016

Watching Moshe (Moses) judge the Jews from morning to night, Yitro (Jethro), Moshe’s father-in-law, offers sound advice. He tells Moshe that if you continue trying to judge everyone, you surely will wear away-it is too difficult a task. Yitro suggests that Moshe appoint other judges, who will share the burden.…

Building a Space for God – and for Us

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 10, 2016

The building of the Mishkan is finally completed as the book of Shemot draws to a close. This climax has been in the making for a long while; practically half of Shemot is devoted to the commands and building of the Mishkan.…

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on March 3, 2016

After the dramatic and potentially catastrophic events of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Tablets, God’s wrath and Moshe’s prayer, God’s revelation of God’s Glory to Moshe, the re-giving of the Tablets, and the rays of light emanating from Moshe’s face, parashat Vayakhel returns to the disrupted narrative stream: the commanding and the building of the Mishkan. …

Names, Not Numbers

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on February 25, 2016

Over the course of two parshiyot, the Torah has described the construction of the Mishkan and the making of the priestly garments in great detail. Parashat Ki Tisa is introduced with a seemingly unrelated theme: a census of the people in which each person will pay a half-shekel.…

Do Clothes Make the Man?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer Posted on February 17, 2016

After completing the detailed description of the Mishkan and its furnishings in Terumah, the Torah turns to the priestly garments to be worn by Aharon and his sons in Tetzaveh. The two parshiyot open in very similar ways. In commanding the building of the Mishkan, the Torah also states the purpose it is meant to achieve: “And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell in your midst” (Shemot, 25:8).…