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.


This weekend we will finally move into our new facilities of the Chabad Jewish Center. We are celebrating with an open house Lag BaOmer BBQ on Sunday.

I say finally because the original plans had us moving in mid-December, so it’s been a long time coming.

In some sense it must be providential that we are at last settling in during the counting of the Omer.

In fact, this week’s Torah portion, Emor, speaks of the mitzvah to count the Omer. Our tradition teaches that the 49 days of counting the Omer correspond to the 49 days that the Jewish people counted from when they left Egypt until they received the Torah at Sinai.

In modern times anticipating a great event such as a new year or a rocket launch is marked by counting d… Read More »



The first of this week’s two Torah portions is called Acharei Mot, or “after the death,” based on the opening verse, “And G-d spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron's two sons, when they drew near before the Lord, and they died.”

Why do we name a Torah portion in such a fashion? What message is there in this name that the Torah wishes to convey?

Much ink has been spilled on the meaning of death, the effects of tragedy and the Jewish approach to mourning. Certainly there are lessons to be learned from the death of Aaron’s two sons. But the Torah’s emphasis on after death, versus death itself must mean more.


This past Sunday was the funeral of Esther’s paternal grandmother, Mrs.… Read More »

Real-Life Pinocchio

My children love reading the Where’s Waldo books. Some of them are easier than others. I must admit that I still have trouble with the page in one of the books where the real Waldo is hiding amongst all the other Waldos. It’s one thing to pick Waldo out of a crowd. But it really is a skill to discern between a fake Waldo and a real Waldo.


In this week’s Torah portions of Tazria and Metzorah we read about an ancient spiritual ailment called Tzaraat. Many translators use the word leprosy to describe Tzaaat. But really it was a spiritual illness that physically affected the body in similar fashion to leprosy. The Talmud teaches that the punishment of Tzarrat resulted as a consequence of Lashon Harah … Read More »

Mazal Tov!

Mazal Tov to Esther's sister Mushky Shusterman (from New York) on her engagement to Yossi Raskin of London, England!

We are so excited for you! May you merit to build a true Jewish home, founded on the pillars of Torah and Mitzvos. May your lives be one forever.

The wedding will, G-d Willing, be held in New York on June 22.

Mazal Tov! 

Holy Cow

As I shopped in a supermarket today in Boise, I noticed some Israeli products. Always on the prowl for more kosher products, I inquired if they carried more products from Israel. The lady working the counter was kind enough to show me around and point out what she called, “all the kosher products.” Pulling out a pastry with Hebrew writing on it she said, “Here’s another kosher product.”

Looking more closely I realized that while it may be produced in Israel where the national language is Hebrew, and while it may be caked in Hebrew lettering, it did not bear a mark of kosher certification.


What indeed makes a product kosher or non-kosher?

The full answer would be too voluminous for this short t… Read More »

Pesach Snow

As I read the Haggadah this Pesach, I paused at the recounting of the Ten Plagues. Certainly, then, as today, there must have been skeptics amongst the Egyptians. The cynics probably wandered about proclaiming that the bizarre water turning into blood was a phenomenon that occurred every once in a while; that the fire and hail was just an aberration.

As we look around the world as we know it, we are often tempted into such beliefs as well. Nature runs its course so, well naturally, that we tend to take it for granted and forget that a Divine Being is responsible for it all.


This past Tuesday, Jews around the world made a change in their prayers. We switched from the winter prayer of “Mashiv haruach umorid hageshem” (… Read More »

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