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.
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Putting G-d in the Picture

We have a lot to be thankful for. Family, friends, health – life itself! We all owe a debt of gratitude for the goodness in our lives.

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciation.  I must have heard – and said – this hundreds of times this week.  The media, Facebook, phone conversations and checkout counters are all buzzing with thanks.

But one word I have not heard as frequently is the big G word – “G-d.” (In Jewish tradition we only spell out the word in sacred literature).

Why have we left G-d out of the picture?


The Baal Shem Tov once famously asked a porush (pious ascetic) how he was feeling. The porush was annoyed by this waste of time. But the Baal Shem Tov explained that G-d &ldqu… Read More »

Let’s Play “Knockout!”

The news has been full of “knockout” stories.   Many apparent knockout game attempts have occurred in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights.  My friend’s son barely escaped a knockout attack recently.

As I understand it, the rules of "knockout" are as follows:

1. A group of youngsters roams the streets.

2. One of the teens decides to prove his strength.

3. The adolescent selects an unsuspecting passer-by as his victim.

4. The teen punches the stranger as hard as he can, hoping to completely knock him or her down with a single blow.

5. Sometimes, another member of the group records the event and posts a video of the "achievement" online to be sent around and "celebrated.&qu… Read More »

A Perpetual State of War

Should the United States strike a deal with Iran?

Secretary of State John Kerry has been promoting negotiations that he believes will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He also said that a bad deal is worse than no deal. According to Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu it is an absolutely terrible deal. A majority in the US Congress has voiced opposition to the deal currently on the table.

It seems that both the US and Israel agree that Iran should not be allowed to become a nuclear power. But how you get there is the question. Ultimately, many pose the question as follows, “Are we meant to be in a perpetual state of war with Iran?”

For the US the answer to that question is easier than for Israel. The USA isn’t… Read More »

The Reluctant Shepherd

A boy comes home from Hebrew School and asks his mother to help him with his Hebrew homework.  She stares blankly at the page of strange letters and suddenly bursts into tears.  “I’m sorry I don’t know Hebrew,” she says.

“Don’t worry Mom,” the young boy replies, “I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I can call my friends for help with my homework. Their parents were raised in observant homes. They know Hebrew; they know the Torah.”

“No, my son,” she says. “These are not tears of sadness. They are tears of joy, because I know that one day you will be able to teach your children. I embraced Yiddishkeit late, but you will have the tools to give your childr… Read More »

To the Depths of the Earth

It’s not often that I can seek counsel from any of several thousand rabbis. This is my good fortune this weekend as I draw inspiration, obtain advice and fraternize with colleagues from around the world.  From Vancouver to Slovakia; from Australia to Boston – the rabbis have descended on Brooklyn. Almost 4000 of them.  I am taking a break from the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim to share something I learned.

What amazes me most about the conference is the testament to the Rebbe’s interminable vision for every Jew.  Each rabbi is unique. Some speak French, some English, some Chinese. But we all speak the language of the Rebbe.  Every Shliach (emissary) carries that selfsame commitm… Read More »

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