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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.

Know Your Crowd

In public life, being correct is not always a guarantee for success.

This week, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney told the Brits that he did not feel they were adequately prepared to host the Olympics. Instantly, the tabloids in London pounced on him.

Whether he was right or wrong is irrelevant (he does have some Olympic organizing experience; see Salt Lake City 2002). What matters is that he offended the sensibilities of the English people. And that may cost him dearly.

Sometimes, it’s more important to know your crowd than to be spot-on.

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The opening words of this week’s parsha Devarim – which also serves as the beginning of the final book of the Chumash – are: “These are the words which… Read More »

Israel & the Jews

When I heard the tragic news of a bomb attack on a bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, images of the carnage and destruction of the bomb attack at the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya (2002) immediately flared up in my mind. My wife Esther and I were scheduled to host a Chanukah party at the Paradise Hotel just days later. Instead, we were tending to the traumatized victims, coordinating with Zaka for the transport of the deceased and dealing with security for Israelis remaining in Kenya.

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These gruesome terror attacks underscore the unique and perhaps odd relationship between Jews and Israel. 

I know many Americans who are concerned about the atrocities occurring in Sudan, Syria and many other places. Laudable as it is… Read More »

When Bad is Good

When cooking at home, my wife often reminds to choose the lesser of two “evils” as much as possible. If it’s a choice between margarine and olive oil, go with the latter. If the options are sugar versus corn syrup, go with the former.

Truthfully, too much olive oil is no good either. But compared to margarine or shortening it’s looking mighty holy.

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In this week’s Parsha of Pinchas we read about Moshe’s final view of Israel. He was, after all, denied entry into the coveted land. The Torah states:

The Lord said to Moses, "Go up to this mount Abarim and look at the land that I have given to the children of Israel.

And when you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, just as… Read More »

Covering the Bases

In this week’s Parsha of Balak we read of the attempts by Balak to hire Bilaam, a non-Jewish prophet – for the sole purpose of cursing the Jewish people.

He began his failed endeavor by saying, “Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east saying, ‘Come, curse Jacob for me and come invoke wrath against Israel.’”

Rashi explains the double expression, “He told him to curse them with their two names, for perhaps one of them was not their distinctive one.”

In American lingo this is called covering one’s bases. In case the curse against Yaakov is ineffective, at least the blasphemy against Yisrael will take hold. And vice versa.

Ultimately, he… Read More »

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