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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.

CyberSpeech

For Rebecca Ann Sedwick it wasn’t the spoken word that led to her death. It was the digital word, cyberspeech. More specifically cyberbullying.  Rebecca was reportedly driven by messages that said “Why are you still alive?” and “Go kill yourself." She plunged to her death at a cement factory last year.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics states that victims of bullying were more than twice as likely as other kids to contemplate suicide.

So, which is worse: taunting words or derogatory tweets?

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In this week’s Torah portion, Tazria, we read about the consequences of Lashon Harah (evil talk, gossip and slander).

The Midrash explains that Lashon Harah is… Read More »

Unexpected Guests

I once came across the following Good Housekeeping advice: "Always keep several get well cards on the mantel. That way if unexpected guests arrive, they'll think you've been sick and unable to clean."

Seriously, imagine you suddenly got word that someone important was about to show up at your home. Would you relax with a book, confident that your home is perfectly ready? Or would you spring into action, cleaning, dusting and organizing?

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In the aftermath of the dramatic death of Nadav and Avihu in this week’s parsha Shemini, G-d commands the kohanim (priests) to, “Not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting.”

This resulted in a… Read More »

Soul or body?

One of the fundamental differences between Chanukah and Purim is the type of threat the Jews faced.  In the Chanukah story the Greek-Assyrians wishes to destroy Jewish tradition. So long as the Jews embraced Hellenism and disregarded the ‘foolish’ rituals of Judaism, they were utterly welcome. If not, they were not to be tolerated at all.

In the Purim story, however, Haman and his ilk did not wish to simply ‘rehabilitate’ and transform the Jews into good Persians.  His attempt was clear: annihilate all the Jews, young and old alike.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe defines this distinction as the two threats that Jews may face from our surroundings. One is an attack on the souls – our spiritual identity… Read More »

Spice it Up!

Every wonder why we dip the Challah into salt on Shabbat?

The truth is that it isn’t only Challah – but any bread. And it isn’t only Shabbat – but every day. In Jewish tradition every time we eat bread we should dip it in salt. Why?

This practice stems from a verse in this week’s parsha Vayikra, which speaks of sacrifices offered in the Mishkan and Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple).  The Torah mandates that, “You shall offer salt on all your sacrifices.”

Our table is considered an altar; our meal a sacrifice. Subsequently, we dip our food into salt. Since the Torah considers bread to be the staple of foods, we do so whenever we consume bread.

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Nowadays the Temple no longer stands in… Read More »

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