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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.

Playing with Fire

My daughters look forward to Friday. Truth be told, it’s a day with lots of work for them. Since it’s Erev Shabbos there’s a plethora of chores to get done. Cooking, cleaning, setting the table, baths and fresh clothes – Erev Shabbos is a busy day for everyone in our household.

Yet Mushka and Chavie are excited because they will usher in the Shabbat with the lighting of the candles. They can’t wait until their little sister Shaina grows up a bit and joins them! Starting at three years old, they each light their own candle.

We once had a guest that frowned at this tradition. “How can you let a three-year old kindle a fire?” she exclaimed. “Aren’t you teaching her bad habits?”

Read More »

Ketchup or Salsa?

 Did you know that today more salsa is sold in the United States than ketchup? That tortillas are more popular than burger and hot dog buns?  According to a recent AP story, tacos and burritos have become so ubiquitously "American," most people don't even consider them ethnic.

We live in a changing world. Within that world we live in the greatest melting pot in history, America.

As Jews, we are certainly thankful to be living in the most free and welcoming country in the history of mankind.  We, too, have contributed to the diet of American fare. From bagels to pickles, we have left our mark.

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As we celebrate the integration of numerous cultures into our great United States’ culture, we realize that… Read More »

Initial Contact

There is a famous anecdote about George Washington’s youthful years. Once he chopped down his father’s cherry tree. When confronted by his father, he readily admitted his misdeed. “I can't tell a lie, Pa,” he is quoted as replying.

Interestingly, this story only surfaced after George Washington’s death. Having become the great general and President of the United States, there was obvious interest in his childhood. Biographer Parson Weems interviewed acquaintances that knew him half a century earlier to discover this gem of a story.

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This week’s parsha Lech Lecha opens with G-d’s dialogue to Avram. He is commanded to leave his homeland for another unknown land. Avram eagerly complies with… Read More »

Captain Noach

 Most ships have captains. Most ships have rudders. Many ships have sails. Most ships have a wheel.

In fact, a ship without any of the above is not much of a ship at all.

Yet this is precisely the type of ship we read about in this week’s parsha, Noach. When the Almighty decided to destroy the world – sparing Noach and his family – He did so with a flood.  Noach was commanded to build a teivah, an ark.  The teivah had no wheel, no sails, no rudder and no captain.

Why did G-d instruct Noach to build an ark and not a ship?  Wouldn’t it have been easier to navigate the challenges of the flood in a boat?

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Perhaps G-d purposefully designed the ark so that Noach would not be able to… Read More »

Captain Noach

Most ships have captains. Most ships have rudders. Many ships have sails. Most ships have a wheel.

In fact, a ship without any of the above is not much of a ship at all.

Yet this is precisely the type of ship we read about in this week’s parsha, Noach. When the Almighty decided to destroy the world – sparing Noach and his family – He did so with a flood.  Noach was commanded to build a teivah, an ark.  The teivah had no wheel, no sails, no rudder and no captain.

Why did G-d instruct Noach to build an ark and not a ship?  Wouldn’t it have been easier to navigate the challenges of the flood in a boat?

***

Perhaps G-d purposefully designed the ark so that Noach would not be able to navigate. … Read More »

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