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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Shemot

Does the Torah Approve of Slavery?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on February 7, 2013

Does the Torah approve of slavery? Consider what Wikipedia says on the topic of Jews and Slavery: “Judaism’s religious texts contain numerous laws governing the ownership and treatment of slaves… Jews continued to own slaves during the 16th through 18th centuries, and ownership practices were still governed by Biblical and Talmudic laws.” And perhaps most troubling: “In the modern era, when the abolitionist movement sought to outlaw slavery, supporters of slavery used the laws to provide religious justification for the practice of slavery.” These statements are completely accurate.…

Knowing and Experiencing God

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 18, 2013

“And in order that you should relate in the ears of your children and your children’s children how I have made a mockery of the Egyptians and my signs that I have placed upon them, and you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ex.…

A Thought on the Parsha

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 3, 2013

“And you, go, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and you will take out my nation, the Children of Israel, from Egypt.” (Shemot 3:10). Moshe encounters God at the burning bush and he is commanded by God to be the person, the leader, who will take the people out of Egypt.…

How Covenant Frames Obligations

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on February 10, 2012

After crossing the Red Sea, seeing the drowning of the Egyptians, experiencing the first hardships of the desert, and receiving the quail and the manna from God, the Children of Israel have finally arrived at their first destination, Mt. Sinai. While the Land of Israel still awaits, their initial demand to leave Egypt was to worship God, and that worship takes place here, in the desert, at the foot of Har Sinai: “When you take this people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain.” (Shemot 3:12).…

I’ve Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 13, 2012

The beginning of the book of Shemot sees the Children of Israel enslaved, oppressed, and at the risk of decimation.  The foundation for their salvation is laid in the birth of Moshe, his being saved by Pharaoh’s daughter, and his venturing out to see the affliction of his brothers.   …

Torah as a Way to Know God

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 1, 2012

How exactly can a finite human being, rooted in her physicality, connect to an infinite, non-physical God?  This question is one that the Torah grapples with throughout the second half of the book of Shemot.  God commands for the building of a physical Mishkan to house the Glory of God enveloped in the cloud. …

Who Built the Mishkan?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 8, 2011

In the final verses of the book of Shemot we are told that “the Tabernacle (the Mishkan) was erected,” and that “Moshe erected the Mishkan.” The Midrash contrasts these two verses and describes what happened behind the scenes and who was really behind the construction of the Mishkan: Because when they had finished the Mishkan, none knew how to set it up.…

The Sanctity of Space

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on February 4, 2011

This week’s parsha – Terumah – and the many parshiyot that follow focus on creating a Mishkan, a Sanctuary, a sanctified space, a dwelling place for God. The idea that a space can not only be sanctified, but even contain – as it were – the Divine presence, is beyond our ability to comprehend.…

Sanctity of Space and Sanctity of Time

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on January 28, 2011

There is barely a pause which separates the theophany of the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, in parshat Yitro, to the myriad of laws and the nuts-and-bolts mitzvot of parshat Mishpatim. How are we to understand this sudden transition? Where is the kedusha, the holiness, the human-divine encounter, that follows Sinai, that can be considered a continuation of the Revelation?…

Defined by Ourselves or Defined by Others?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 30, 2010

If the book of Breishit is about family, then the book of Shemot is about nationhood. While it opens with re-enumerating the children of Yaakov, the narrative immediately turns to the birth and the history of the Israelite nation. The very phrase bnei Yisrael undergoes a metamorphosis in the first verses.…

Blinded by the Light

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 12, 2010

Parshat Vayekhel-Pikudei opens with the second story of the Mishkan. After having been commanded by God in the building of the Mishkan in Terumah-TiZaveh, Moshe now, in turn, commands the people to build the Mishkan. They follow his command with enthusiasm, give large donations, and build the Mishkan.…

Korban Pesach Nowadays

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on March 5, 2010

Parshat Parah, a special maftir read before pesach, is read to remind us of the period of purification that preceded the bringing of the korban Pesach on the 14th of Nissan. While for most of us, this is a reminder of a thousands-year-old practice that became obsolete with the destruction of the Temple, this is not true for all.…