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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Sefer Shemot

Torah as a Way to Know God

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted 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.…

How to Encounter God? Build a House.

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on February 19, 2010

Parshat Terumah begins the second half of the book of Shemot, and from here on in the book of Shemot has one focus: the building of the mishkan:“And they shall make me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8).…

Freedom for What?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 29, 2010

“And they came to Marah, and they could not drink the waters of Marah because they were bitter… And the people murmured against Moshe and Aharon saying, ‘What shall we drink?'” (Shemot 15:23-24). Parshat Beshalach is the parsha of the apex of the Exodus, as it relates the Splitting of the Sea, the drowning of the Egyptians, and the Song on the Sea.…

The Interdependence of Actions

by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Posted on January 23, 2010

In this week’s portion, the Torah begins to present commandments given to the Jewish people. One wonders why so many commandments are proscribed in such detail. The Sefer Ha-Hinukh (13th century) offers a comment that reveals a basic message about the purpose of commandments.…

Leading the Jewish People with a Commitment to Justice

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on January 8, 2010

“And it was during those days that Moshe grew up and he went out to his brothers, and he saw in their travails.” Thus begins Moshe’s emergence from the house of Pharaoh and his setting himself on the path that would lead to becoming the leader of the Jewish People, our Lawgiver and Teacher.…

People Cannot be Aggregated

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on March 12, 2009

Parshat Ki Tisa opens with a census and the requirement to give money rather than to be counted directly.   What – other than superstition – is the point of this?  I believe that the Torah is telling us a critical message about the worth of each person. …