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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.

Hijacked!

Recent attempts at peace in the Middle East have consistently met with roadblocks of some sort. In the latest round of talks Israel has pushed for one simple step from the PA – recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Apparently, that is asking for one thing too much.

Imagine, an entity wishes to make peace with a country but refuses to recognize that country. It’s like pirates hijacking a ship and flying their own flag on its mast, yet saying they are peace-seeking.

***

When reading the Parsha of Va’eirah this week, I thought about such dangers in a spiritual sense.

When approached by Moshe to allow the Jews to go serve G-d in the wilderness, Pharaoh said: "Sacrifice to G-d your… Read More »

Cultural Propaganda

During the final weeks of December I am not short on parents’ complaints that they are struggling with maintaining their children’s Jewish identity in a society so engrossed in its own holiday celebrations (nor am I oblivious to the challenge my own children face at this time). The commercialization and invasive, ubiquitous advertising – not to mention the peer pressure – makes it difficult for our children not to get caught up in the excitement that their friends, neighbors and – at times – relatives are experiencing. In fact, it is apparently a great challenge for many adults as well.

Certainly, we respect the right of others to practice their faith. And while we can kvetch about the… Read More »

Favoritism

One of the struggles we have every year during Chanukah is the issue of gifts. Aside from the debate on how many gifts to give our children, where does this tradition stem from, and gifts vs. gelt – there is another dilemma to deal with. That is the challenge of giving presents to all of our children without causing too much sibling rivalry or jealousy. Lately, we’ve been trying to focus more on shared gifts to eliminate such concerns.

I took a cue from this week’s Parsha of Vayechi, in which Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons Menashe and Ephraim. Jacob gives a greater blessing to Ephraim, the younger son. Over Joseph’s protests, Jacob switches his hands in order to place his right (stronger) hand on… Read More »

To Leak or Not to Leak?

The release of confidential American diplomatic cables by the Wikileaks organization (and the subsequent (unrelated) arrest of its founder), has brought much controversy to the fore. Debating the values of open government versus national security, many have weighed in on whether Wikileaks should be free to disseminate government papers. Some have argued for the indictment of Mr. Assange while others have advocated the freedom of the press.

Aside from national security interests, there is another great interest that the United States government has in preventing what has come to be known as CableGate, and that is simply embarrassment. The leaked cables have shed light on some compromising positions and offensive rhetoric within… Read More »

Chanukah Article in JTA

The Jewish Teligraphic Agency has published an article I wrote on Chanukah.  The link is below. It also appears in many Jewish newspapers across the country as a syndicated article from the JTA.

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/11/28/2741487/a-chanukah-in-mombasa

 The text is copied below as well.

Kindling a renewed spirit from the darkness of tragedy

By Mendel Lifshitz · November 28, 2010

 

BOISE, Idaho (JTA) -- In the days ahead, Jewish windows and doorways will glow with flickering flames. Large menorahs will stand tall in shopping centers and thoroughfares, joining thousands of such displays from Bangkok to Boise.

Contrary to some people's perception, these displays have not been designed for the… Read More »

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