June 19, 2024
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Rabbi Dov Linzer to Visit Davar Institute In Teaneck as Scholar-in-Residence

Rabbi Dov Linzer of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) has an exciting summer ahead. Between his upcoming residency at Davar and his upcoming book with journalist Abigail Pogrebin, the president and rosh yeshiva has been busy synthesizing both halachic and philosophical perspectives—on top of his already packed schedule. Next Shabbat, Parshat Bechukotai, Rabbi Linzer will be visiting the Teaneck-based think tank Davar Institute as a scholar-in-residence to speak on a range of engaging topics, and hopefully get audiences excited about his new book on the weekly parsha: “It Takes Two to Torah.”

Rabbi Linzer recalls working with Davar back in the early days of the institute, some 15 years ago, after meeting founder Larry Krule at a conference. Since then, he has spoken at the institute a number of times, and was recently asked to return as a scholar-in-residence. Due to the amount of traveling he does on behalf of YCT, Rabbi Linzer was unsure of his availability, but ultimately found that this stretch of time—at the beginning of the summer, when school ends—would be a great opportunity for a visit to the Teaneck community.

“I love teaching in Teaneck,” he shared with The Jewish Link. “I also love the types of challenging questions that I get from those who come to Davar, and I’m very excited for that.”

The Shabbat visit is scheduled for May 31 to June 1, and Rabbi Linzer has settled on three different topics to cover. Erev shabbat will feature a halachic discussion on the difference between sex and gender, and Shabbat morning Rabbi Linzer will speak on wedding ceremonies; but he noted that perhaps the session he is most looking forward to is the one he will present at Mincha, entitled “Teshuvot From the Field and Battlefield: Answering Questions From Our Rabbis in the US and Israel.”

“As a rosh yeshiva, I get so many questions from rabbis all across the field,” Rabbi Linzer explained. “We decided to create a WhatsApp group where our graduates can ask their pressing questions. Not only is it a great opportunity for me to keep a connection with them, but it allows me to answer those questions publicly on this forum, so that everyone can learn from these unique cases and understand the responses. I’ve taken these discussions from the WhatsApp group and I’ve formulated a talk that gets people to think critically about relevant issues.”

Rabbi Linzer continued that while visiting students and graduates, he takes the field questions that he’s received and poses them to the group, asking them to analyze based on their own knowledge and observing the different perspectives that arise from the discussion. “It’s a really different learning experience…whereas in a normal class, there’s a lot of factual information, this is more insightful and requires a lot of creativity.” Rabbi Linzer has enjoyed this format so much that he is even compiling a book based on the WhatsApp questions, set for release next spring.

For his scholar-in-residence stay at Davar, he noted, Rabbi Linzer plans to focus the questions from both the WhatsApp group, as well as Israel-related questions he has fielded since October 7, specifically from his cohort of graduates who have been living there and facing challenges everyday.

As for the other lectures he is planning at Davar, Rabbi Linzer hinted that they too are related to the myriad questions he has received from graduates working rabbinical roles in the field.

Specifically, the book that Rabbi Linzer has been compiling for a spring release is centered on the questions related to life cycle events: birth, brit milah, bar mitzvah, death and, of course, weddings, the last of which he will be spotlighting during his Shabbat morning shiur.

“June is wedding season,” Rabbi Linzer stated. “So not only is it timely, but weddings are broadly relevant…and I think this topic will have the most impact. There is so much material to cover—from the ketubah to the ceremony—and people are looking for answers to so many sensitive questions that come up during the planning process.”

Though not officially part of the speaking tour for his new book, Rabbi Linzer’s upcoming visit to Davar comes just a few short months before its release. Along with journalist and author Abigail Pogrebin, “It Takes Two to Torah” explores the Five Books of Moses in a dialogue format, outlining an animated conversation between an Orthodox rabbi and a Reform writer. The book is based on a series of discussions between Rabbi Linzer and Pogrebin which originally took place on the Tablet Magazine podcast, and is set to release on September 10.

“We’ve really enjoyed a nice friendship over the years,” Rabbi Linzer said of his co-author. “Our dynamic is warm and friendly, but we can challenge each other and learn from one another. People really seemed to enjoy it. Plus, we’re not there to represent our respective movements as offering an ‘Orthodox perspective’ or a ‘Reform perspective’; we are approaching the topics with our own personal understandings and engaging each other in that way.”

Rabbi Linzer’s goal with “It Takes Two to Torah” goes beyond promotion and pre-orders. “We really just want people to understand the importance of hearing other perspectives. The real hope is to create a model of broader engagement that people will use in their own educational programming.”

That model of broader engagement is something which Rabbi Linzer always seeks to utilize in his lectures and classes; and is to be expected at his scholar-in-residence Shabbat at Davar Institute next week. For more information, contact Davar via www.davar.com.

“It Takes Two to Torah: An Orthodox Rabbi and Reform Journalist Discuss and Debate Their Way Through the Five Books of Moses” by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Abigail Pogrebin is set to release on September 10.

 

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