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.

Forward Thinking

One of the items that stands out the most on the Seder plate at Pesach is the zero’ah, the shank bone. A nicely roasted piece of meat stares at us all night long, yet we do not eat from it. True to the theme of the evening, it invites the question: Why do we have it if we are not permitted to consume it?

The reason for the zero’ah is to remind us of the Pesach offering in which every Jew was obligated to participate when the Beit HaMikdash stood in Jerusalem. Since we cannot offer the Pesach sacrifice today (due to the destruction of the Temple), we are not permitted to eat any roasted meat, so as not to mimic the offering.

There are many peculiar rituals performed at the Seder simply to pique our (children’s) … Read More »

The Middle Path

As we prepare for Pesach – which invariably involves lots of cleaning – I am reminded of the dangers of Chametz. What is it about leavened bread that the Torah so abhors, requiring us to purge our bodies and homes from it for one week every year? And if it is indeed so despised, why is it kosher the rest of the year?

The prohibition of Chametz appears quite ironic: during Passover we are forbidden from consuming, benefiting from and even owning leavened products; but the rest of the year they are fully acceptable. Other non-kosher foods – the most infamous being pig – are only off-limits to eat, but we may derive benefit (such as a heart valve or feeding to your pets) from them.  So what does this super-st… Read More »

Tragedy in Toulouse

We were all struck this week with the tragic massacre in Toulouse.  

I really have no words when such terror strikes. The loss of life, the anguish, the sorrow. It is too much to bear.

Mrs. Eva Sandler, the widow and mother of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and their two boys has posted a statement, which can be seen here.

More news about this terrible tragedy can be found here, along with an article on finding our voice.

May Hashem avenge their blood and may He give the mourners comfort and heal the injured, including Ahron ben Leah. 

May there be peace in the world, and may be only experience goodness and kindness with Moshiach speedily in our days.

The Call for an Audit

In the current political cycle the enormous national debt and the deficit our country operates in has continuously been in the headlines. Republicans and Democrats alike agree that borrowing endlessly from the Chinese will not be productive for the United States of America.

At state and local levels as well, budgets are micro-analyzed to save governments and municipalities from financial disarray or collapse.

Activists and politicians on both sides of the aisle promote solving the – necessary or reckless –problem, either by cutting spending or increasing revenue. The outrage is pronounced – again on both sides of the aisle. Too much taxes or too little taxes.

Either way, the demand is that a balance needs… Read More »

Kony 2012

Spreading like wildfire, a YouTube video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, has been viewed by over 50 million people this week. Produced by a group called Invisible Children, it exposes one of the most wanted men in the world. Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, is sought by the International Criminal Court for the numerous atrocities including murder, sexual slavery and mutilation. But most glaring is the abduction of thousands of children. Over the last two-and-a-half decades, the LRA has abducted upwards of 25,000 children and forced them to serve as its soldiers.

The mission of the video? A call to action to find and arrest Joseph Kony, who has fled Uganda and is likely in the Sudan area.

The group that put together … Read More »

Embracing Challenges

One of my most awkward moments in yeshiva was when one of the Rabbis called me over and asked me about a subject matter I was not studying at the time. To me it seemed like a typical “gotcha” question; a tough Jewish trivia challenge at which I was bound to fail. Indeed, I was caught off guard and had no clue as to the answer.

The Rabbi sensed my frustration. Patiently, he sat down and explained to me, “I only asked you this question because I believed in you. I wanted to see you shine. I wouldn’t have asked it had I not held out hope that you would respond correctly. That would have given me the greatest nachas.”

His sincere explanation has stayed with me throughout life. Often, we look a… Read More »

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