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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.

Thanks.. But No Thanks

Many scholars have observed that the recession has taught many a person the true values of life. We no longer take our retirement nest egg or kids’ college funds for granted. We listen a little more to the sorrows and challenges of others. Certainly, there is a silver lining to the recession.

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In this week’s portion of Eikev the Torah instructs us to thank G-d after we have eaten, as it is written, “And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the L-rd, your G-d, for the good land He has given you.”  This is the Biblical command for what is commonly referred to as Birkat HaMazon or “bentching” (Grace After Meals).

The Sages added to this obligation stating, “One should… Read More »

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Yesterday the campers at Camp Gan Israel of Boise went on a trip to Wahooz Family Fun Center. Amongst the many activities and attractions are various arcade games, which seem to be a highlight for children (and adults) of all ages.  The most popular games provide tickets – redeemable for prizes – in return of a good score.

The first time my son was old enough to grasp what these games were, he had a great complaint against the machines. “Why is it,” he questioned, “that sometimes the machine gives a lot of tickets and sometimes just a few, or none at all?!”

I explained that the machines produce tickets based on performance. If you do well, you’ll get a lot of… Read More »

Visions and Baseball Gloves

My two sons are at the ages where sports reign supreme. They are finally ready for their own baseball gloves.  And they have let my wife and me know that.

We decided that receiving the mitts would be contingent on how well they studied. It’s especially important to create incentives for academic diligence, in particular Torah study, during the summer months. 

I was about to tell them that when they learned a specific amount of Tanya by heart, we would purchase the gloves for them. But then my wife reminded me of the meaning of this Shabbat. It is the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’Av, the day of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem. It is considered a tragic day in Jewish history and is marked by… Read More »

Spreading the Wealth

With all the free-agent hype in the NBA this week, one wonders if the landscape of professional basketball may change dramatically. Actually, with one superstar announcing his move to a team now loaded with stars, it seems likely.

All this causes one to wonder? Is it healthy for the sport to have the best talent concentrated in so few places?

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In the Torah portion of Mas’ei we read about the apportioning of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Each tribe is given an inheritance. Except for one. The tribe of Levi is not given a portion in the land. Instead, 48 cities are designated as Levite cities. These cities were spread out among the provinces of all the tribes.

The Levites were not punished with the lack… Read More »

Mystical Steganography

The headlines this week brought us back some forty-plus years to the Cold War era. The federal government arrested an alleged ring of Russian spies acting on U.S. soil for years.

One amazing revelation about modern-day espionage is the hi-tech methodology employed. As it becomes more and more difficult to snoop, many countries are reportedly resorting to satellite imagery, audio intercepts and unmanned aircraft.

One method of sharing information with fellow moles and handlers is steganography, the art of sending hidden messages in such a way that no one, apart from the sender and intended recipient, suspects the existence of the message. Gone are the days when slaves’ heads were shaved, tattooed and then the hair… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.