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.

Optical Illusions

The internet erupted yesterday with a huge debate about a little dress.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s what happened. Someone posted a photo of a dress asking what color it was. Interestingly, many people saw it as blue and black while others saw it as white and gold. The dress, in fact, is blue and black. Yet – according to polls – a majority of people saw it as gold and white. And a lot of people saw it both ways at different times.

So, what happened?

In short, it’s an optical illusion. Many have weighed in on exactly what compels some people to see it one way versus another. The bottom line, however, is that sometimes our brain tells us to view something differently than what we see with o… Read More »

Bricks and Mortar?!

We Jews are known for bringing ethical monotheism to the world. At a time when the standard bearer for spirituality was prostrating oneself to idols of stone, we insisted on devotion to an invisible G-d.  While others were trying to curry favor with the sun and stars, we were emphasizing fidelity to the one Master of heaven and earth.

Jews of all walks can rattle off the Shema, the basic Jewish prayer, proclaiming the oneness of our Creator.

It seems rather odd, then, that this week’s parsha Teruma is all about building a home for G-d.  We read about the gold and silver; the wood and the wool. All of it was used to create the Mishkan, the traveling Sanctuary that was a precursor to the Bait Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Je… Read More »

Turning the Tables

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the third Chabad Rebbe, known as the Tzemach Tzedek) once noticed something extraordinary about his Chassid (follower), Reb Yisroel, a simple storekeeper in Polotzk.

"What have you been up to?" he asked.

After some insistence, Reb Yisroel explained, "The last time I was here, I listened intently to the mystical lessons of the Rebbe.  Being a simple man, I did not understand every word of it. But one teaching I grasped was that our forefather Avraham, because of his abundant acts of kindness, had taken over the job of G-d's attribute of supernal kindness. I was so taken with these words that, although I am in no need of money, I went to my fellow shopkeeper, Nachman, and took out a lo… Read More »

Measure for Measure

In this week’s parsha, Yitro, the Torah tells us that Moshe’s father-in-law Yitro (Jethro) heard of all the greatness that the Almighty did for the Jewish people. He then decided to join the Jewish people.

When he arrived, he declared (Shemot/Exodus 18:11), “Now I know that the L-rd is greater than all the deities, for with the thing that they plotted, He came upon them.”

What in particular convinced Yitro that the one invisible G-d of the Jewish people was greater than any other deity?

Rashi, based on the commentary of Onkeles and the Talmud, explains that the Egyptians planned to destroy the Jews with water (by throwing the babies into the Nile River), and they themselves were destroyed with water (by drowning a… Read More »

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