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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.

The Mysteries of the Sea

"Everything that exists on land also exists in the sea,” states the Talmud.

Shortly after their Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people were faced with a dilemma. Pharaoh was chasing after them and the mighty sea was standing before them. Miraculously, the sea split and the Jews traveled through to safety while the Egyptian army drowned in the raging waters that came crashing upon them.

The Talmud also states that the Jewish people witnessed a revelation of G-dliness unparalleled by even the prophet Yechezkel/Ezekiel. Is there perhaps a connection between witnessing the hidden depths of the sea and experiencing a divine revelation?

The mystics teach that the depths of the sea represent the “Hidden Worlds.” This means… Read More »

It's All in the Matzah!

Even the most ignorant Jew is likely familiar with matzah on Pesach. Ask a child and she will tell you why we eat matzah on Passover: Because the Jews left Egypt in haste and their dough did not have time to rise. In commemoration of the unleavened bread that our ancestors ate upon leaving Egypt, we relive the experience by abstaining from leavened bread and eating matzah at the Seder.

The explanation is right on – but it still leaves more unanswered than answered.

Imagine if it so happened that the Continental Army was only able to eat berries during the Revolutionary War. Now imagine that on July 4 it would be forbidden for a week to eat any other fruit save for berries. We would need to scrub our homes clean from other… Read More »

Some Things Last Forever

I recently saw a short video about the iPad. Actually it wasn’t really about the iPad. It was about toilet paper.

A husband is constantly telling his wife about the greatness of the iPad, as a replacement for her sticky notes, paper, books, Sudoku and more. Soon he learns that some things – such as restroom supplies – cannot be supplanted by virtual reality.

***

In this week’s parsha Vayikra the Torah lays out the laws of sacrifices. There were many categories of sacrifices in the Bais Hamikdosh (Holy Temple). Some were communal; others were private. Some were for festivals; others were for sins. Some were from animals; others were of fine flour.

The Talmud points out that it is said of a large ox, "A… Read More »

Help Yourself!

Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn once was asked by his father, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, to travel someplace in order to assist a businessman in need.

Upon returning he declared to his father, “I have fulfilled your request. I helped this fellow in the best way possible.”

“You are mistaken,” his father replied. “You did not help the businessman. You helped yourself. The Almighty helped the businessman and you merited to serve as His messenger.”

***

In the double parsha of Vayakhel-Pekudei , we read about the contributions to the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Jewish people were very generous and donated more than sufficient materials for its construction. In fact, Moshe commanded them to stop. It… Read More »

The Hope of Sequestration

There’s a lot of hand wringing and finger pointing happening in Washington today. Politicians are nervously shifting blame on one another as the looming reality of the sequester takes hold.

The sequester was meant to be a poison pill so bad that it would force Congress and the President to act in order to avoid it. But apparently, either the poison is not that bad or our elected officials’ willpower is that bad. The question remains as to the effect of the sequester on the economy and American society.

Perhaps a bigger question, however, is, “Can we collectively take responsibility for the financial mess?” It’s easy to fault others. But, even if you are right, it often falls short of solving the… Read More »

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