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.

A Trail of Evidence

This past Wednesday Mrs. Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s stepsister, addressed several hundred people in Idaho Falls. It was a remarkable evening, both moving and eye-opening.

One participant asked Mrs. Schloss, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, what is her response is to those that deny that the Holocaust ever happened.

Her response was curt and to the point: “The Nazis took many photos.”

The Nazi regime was very organized and also quite obsessed with documentation.  They went to great lengths to record the atrocities they carried out, whether for their own pleasure or paranoia.

I found this response outstanding. She did not say, ‘Well, I was there so it must have happened.’ This, of course is true as well.… Read More »

Help Yourself

The Talmud records a debate between the Roman governor Turnusrufus and the great Sage Rabbi Akiva:

Turnusrufus asked Rabbi Akiva: "If your G-d loves the poor, why doesn't He feed them?"

Said Rabbi Akiva to him: "So that we should be saved from purgatory (in the merit of the charity we give)."

Said he to him: "On the contrary: for this you deserve to be punished. I'll give you an analogy. This is analogous to a king who got angry at his slave and locked him away in a dungeon, and commanded that he not be given to eat or to drink; and a person came along and gave him to eat and to drink. When the king hears of this, is he not angry at that person...?"

Said Rabbi Akiva to him: "I'll give you an analogy. T…Read More »

Mobile Torah

While camping this week in the Sawtooth wilderness, I woke up and davened.  It was surreal to put on tallis and tefillin surrounded by the jagged, majestic Sawtooth Mountains and Ponderosa pines. Reciting the words from the siddur about G-d recreating the world every moment means a lot more when we are so intimately in touch with His imprint. No wonder they call it G-d’s Country.

I was, however, interrupted during my prayers.  A lady wanted to know exactly what I was up to. And why, she inquired, was I wearing those antennae on my head? Did it give me a better connection to G-d? After explaining to her the meaning of tefillin, she exclaimed in wonderment, “My sister is very religious, but when she comes out to the woo… Read More »

Between Life & Martyrdom

When Rabbi Akiva was taken out for execution, it was the time for the recital of Shema, and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of Heaven by reciting the Shema. His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, ‘You shall love the L-rd, your G-d… with all your soul’, which I interpret, ‘even if He takes your soul.’  I said: When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfill it?

On Tisha B’Av we read about the cruel murder of the Ten Martyrs, including Rabbi Akiva. As the above quote from the Talmud indicates, he was eag… Read More »

Unprecedented Unity

Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir quietly pulled President Richard Nixon aside and insisted that her job was much more difficult than his.

When he sneered that America was a country of over 250 million people, she replied, “You may be the president of 250 million people,” she said, “but I’m the prime minister of five million prime ministers.”


The democracy in Israel is indeed a very colored one, with nearly as many political parties as there are seats in the Knesset. But recent events may have changed that, at least for now.

Polls in Israel indicate an unprecedented level of unity.  There is over 95% support for the current military operation. And Jews worldwide are awakening to the reality … Read More »

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