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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.

Holy Madness

A man was surprised to see an empty seat at the Super Bowl. He noticed a woman sitting next to the empty seat and made a remark about it to her. She looked at it tearfully and said, "Well, it was my husband's, but he died."

"Oh my!" he said. "I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm surprised that another friend or family member didn't jump at the chance to take the ticket."

"I know," she said. "They all insisted on going to the funeral."

***

We all have our insane moments, hopefully none as crazy as that grieving woman. But, honestly, how many times – a day – do we do something that we know is not good for us? How often do we ignore our mind in favor of our heart’s… Read More »

Hurry-Up Offense

It’s that time of year when people are starting to assess their New Year’s resolutions.  We may have made a few of them, only to discover that – three weeks in – we’re still lacking in fulfilling them. Experts debate the mindset of resolutions, some suggesting that they are great motivators while others argue that they wear us down.

So, what’s the bottom line? How can I do more and be more productive? How can I trim those ten pounds if I still love eating? How can I find the five minutes to put on tefillin daily if I’m always rushed in the morning? How can I set aside a few dollars each day for tzedaka if I haven’t organized my finances?

***

As the football season nears its grand… Read More »

The Bare Minimum

As parents, teachers, employers or simply human beings we often struggle with finding the right balance. Balance between reward and punishment. Balance between enjoyment and discipline. Balance between diet and obsession.

How do we ensure that we are not going overboard when punishing our child? When demanding of our employees? What we expect from others?

***

In the parsha Va’eirah, which we study this week, G-d begins letting Egypt know who’s in charge. First comes the plague of blood, then frogs and lice.  Seven more will follow.

The Torah describes the onset of the second plague as follows: “And Ahron stretched forth his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frog came up and covered the land of… Read More »

Terror in France

Today I feel a lot like Moshe.

As we try to sort through the raw emotions and pain of this week’s tragic terror events in France, we are left with lots of questions.  How could this happen? Will free speech survive? Is Europe to blame for allowing such elements to flourish? Will the West (and the world) overcome Islamic jihad? Are Jews in France (and elsewhere in Europe) safe? Is this a bellwether for what will happen in America?

But most of all, as we mourn with the families and friends of those whose lives were cut short by senseless barbarians, we ask, “G-d, where were you?!”

***

Searching for answers to this question, I looked in this week’s parsha, Shemot. In one of the most famous encounters of the… Read More »

Alive

Gladiators are a thing of the past. So are mummies.

History is rich with traditions, cultures and lifestyles that are essentially dead.

Relics of the past, they exist only in our history books and imaginations. When something dies, it hopefully is remembered but is no longer capable of actively contributing to society.

Taken in this context the name of this week’s parsha is rather strange. It’s called Vayechi, meaning, “And he lived,” referring to Yaakov, the Patriarch Jacob. However, the parsha is devoted almost entirely to his demise and the events surrounding it. In fact, it is the closing of the book of Bereishit (Genesis). It is the end of the era of the Patriarchs. Death and transition would seem more… Read More »

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