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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.

A Royal Wedding

A reported two billion people tuned in today for the royal British wedding. I'm fortunate enough to be living in a TV-free home, so I am not part of that estimate.

Did I miss out on much?

Well, the media sure seems to believe so. Kisses and dresses aside, the big deal seems to be about a Prince marrying a commoner. That mean someone without “yichus” made it to the inner circle. In Hebrew and Yiddish “yichus” connotes prestigious pedigree.  Tevya worrying about his daughter marrying a “nobody” is the embodiment of “yichus” psychosis.

That means Kate Middleton tying the knot with Prince William is no small feat.

Is it really so?

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This week’s Parsha, KedoshimRead More »

Jumping Ahead

As my children grow, I am spending more time with them playing sports. On one such recent exercise, I found myself coaching them on some football skills. One element I taught them was that the quarterback sometimes will throw the ball past the current location of the receiver in order that the ball will arrive at the destination at the same time as the receiver does. Throwing ahead is actually throwing on target. It also encourages the receiver to give it his best, knowing that he has to run with precision and speed to make the catch.

As we celebrate Passover, I am reminded of the need to “throw ahead.”

The reason that the festival is called Passover – even though it was but one detail of the Exodus – is… Read More »

EGYPT: Third Party Intervention

The protests in Tahrir Square and the ensuing change in government have given hope to the advance of new values and opportunity in Egypt. The jury may still be out on whether the final destination will be what Western powers desire, but most hope it is a step forward.

In neighboring Libya the situation seems even more complicated. Years from now the debate may yet persist on whether outside military intervention was the best option. Is it helpful, wise, or necessary for third-parties to be involved in such conflicts? If yes, to what extent? There are strong arguments on both sides, and the dynamics are intricate.

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Rewind 3300 years. Egypt was going through an uprising then as well. Moshe had recently arrived on… Read More »

Tall & Humble

In explaining the need for a person stricken with Tzaraat to utilize both cedar wood and hyssop for purification, the Midrash explains that since he has exalted himself like a cedar, he should humble himself like a grass. In other words this week’s parsha of Metzorah instructs the use of both a tall tree and a shrub to symbolize the need for humility. After all, Tzaraat is an ailment brought on by Lashon Harah, speaking ill of someone – so its remedy is a good dose of modesty.

But if the point is that he should display true humbleness, why is the cedar part of the purification process?

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To better understand this let’s consider the fact that the Torah labels Moshe the humblest of all people to walk this earth.… Read More »

Cleaning House

Events in the Middle East leave us wondering how the region will look in a year or two. Current uprisings and transitions in many Arab lands give rise to the speculation of whether we will be so fortunate to live in a more peaceful world.

Some argue that democracy is inevitable in our new internet-driven global community. It’s only a matter of time before the despots are deposed and the masses are empowered. Others caution that revolutions may – intentionally or not – empower radical Islamists or lead to ongoing conflicts.

Perhaps our own history can shed some light on the process of transition.

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This Shabbat is known as Shabbat HaChodesh. On it we study the final of four distinct Torah readings, leading… Read More »

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