Rabbi's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's Blog

Rabbi Mendel's blog features his Dvar Torah (Torah lesson) column from the weekly E-TORAH, ocassional musings and other articles that he authors from time to time.
Your comments are welcome.

Over 150 signed up for Rabbi Pickle!

The Pickle Making Factory on Sunday, January 31 is quickly filling up.  We have received over 150 reservations to date and will soon close reservations.

Sign up now.

A Treetop Observation

My children are at the age that tree-climbing is a favorite sport.  It's no wonder that in my family there's some unique longing for the New Year for Trees.

My son Dovid claims that the thrill is not only the accomplishment, but also the view from up top.

What is the treetop view?

Tu Bishvat, the fifteenth of Shvat is celebrated by Jews as the New Year for Trees.  It has always struck me as amazing that we Jews have so many New Years.  In addition to Rosh Hashana we also have the new year for months, trees, contracts, installment of kings, tithes and more.

The Talmud states that the new year for animal tithes is on Elul 1 and for planting and sowing on Tishrei 1. But none of these other new years seem to get as much… Read More »

Rabbi Pickle Comes to Boise

The Idaho Statesman ran a story today on the Kosher Pickle Making Factory that we will be holding on Sunday.

Check it out here.

Stockholm Syndrome Version Aleph

A two-year-old scared his family one summer by disappearing during their lakeside vacation. More than a dozen relatives searched the forest and shoreline, and everyone was relieved when they found little Matthew playing calmly in the woods.

"Listen to me, Matthew," his mother said sharply. "From now on when you want to go someplace, you tell Mommy first, okay?"

Matthew thought about that for a moment and said, "Okay. Disney World."


Scanning the flight plan of the Jewish people heading from Egypt to Israel, it would seem that somebody was snoozing that day at air traffic control. The journey they took reminds me of the route I was once forced to take in Zambia when the street I was traveling on… Read More »

Bay State Blues & Wyoming Scavenger

Thanks to the high birth rate amongst Chabad families, we often have reason to celebrate a new family addition with family and friends. One such party was held this past Sunday in Jackson, Wyoming.

Esther and I piled the kids in the car (ok, minivan) for the 380 mile trip at 3:00 am so we could arrive in time for the baby celebration our colleagues and friends, Rabbi and Mrs. Zalman and Raizy Mendelsohn, were holding in honor of their daughter Chana’s birth.

The experience was wonderful. Meeting fellow Jews in the Wild West, spending quality time with my colleagues from Wyoming and Montana (Rabbi & Mrs. Chaim and Chavie Bruk of Bozeman also drove in – and they too deserve a Mazal Tov on the recent adoption of a baby girl… Read More »

My Gas Station Synagogue

As I read the news this morning of a US Airways flight that was diverted and made an emergency landing in Philadelphia due to a passenger praying in tefillin, I was reminded of my own experiences praying in public. In fact, just this week I was traveling home from Wyoming and stopped to refuel at a gas station when I noticed the sun approaching the mountaintops. Realizing I had a limited amount of time to daven (pray) Mincha (afternoon service), I immediately prayed right there under the Shell banner. I’m sure it was the first time for many Southeast Idaho residents to see a Jew in a yarmulke praying.

Inevitably, such incidents resurrect the debate about Jews praying in public.  Some argue it’s unbecoming to turn an… Read More »


I was once trying to enjoy a presentation to no avail. The couple in the row in front of me was chatting so loudly I could not hear the discourse at all. Unable to bear it any longer, I tapped the man and said, “Excuse me, I can’t hear.”

“I should hope not!” he retorted sharply. “This is a private conversation.”


In recounting the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people, the Torah tells us about a double miracle that occurred in the seventh plague of hail. This was no simple hailstorm, as we read in this week’s portion Va’eira, “And there was hail, and fire flaming within the hail” (Shemot/Exodus 9:24). Usually fire and water don’t get… Read More »


Those familiar with college football could not help but feel some nostalgia as Boise State pulled another trick play out of its bag to pivot to victory in this year’s Fiesta Bowl. The daring fake punt on a fourth-and-nine, nicknamed “Riddler”, broke the stalemate of a tied game by setting up the winning touchdown. It also brought back memories of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl when the Broncos’ repertoire of gadgets included the likes of Hook-and-Lateral, Statue of Liberty and a spontaneous post-game marriage proposal.

Undoubtedly, it was a game-changing play.

In life, we are also frequently attempting to break the stalemate of a tied game. How often are we seeking some outstanding event that will lift us out of our… Read More »

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