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 Two Way Street?

 Spending time in New York is always a wonderful opportunity to improve my patience.  Being spoiled for over a decade with virtually no traffic in Boise, I’m at a disadvantage when I attempt to navigate the streets of New York.  Traffic, offensive driving, delays and tolls are just some of the inarguable ‘perks’ of New York’s roadways.

Add in the ubiquitous one-way streets, and planning to get somewhere barely ever takes the amount of time you had anticipated.  Traversing Manhattan a couple days ago, I spent fifteen minutes driving around one block. When I arrived at the corner, I saw that I could not turn onto the one-way street during certain hours of the day. So I had to spend another ten minu… Read More »

Bigger and Better

This coming Sunday we will observe the darkest day on the Jewish calendar – Tisha B’Av – which commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.  This day embodies the exile and suffering that Jews have endured for nearly two millennia.

Actually, the ninth of Av occurs tomorrow, which is Shabbat. In this case the Tisha B’Av observances are largely delayed until Sunday.  

While it’s easy to blame the Babylonians and Romans for our current predicament, Jewish tradition maintains that everything ultimately happens by Divine decree.  In fact, Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah declares in the name of G-d, “Behold, I send and I will take all the families of the north, says the Lord, a… Read More »


In the double Torah portion of Matot-Mas’ei we read about the apportioning of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Each tribe is given an inheritance. Except for one. The tribe of Levi is not given a portion in the land. Instead, 48 cities are designated as Levite cities.  These cities were spread out among the provinces of all the tribes.

The Levites were not punished with the lack of a homeland; rather they were privileged to serve as beacons of spiritual light throughout the land.  (They also were better equipped to receive the Levitical gifts – saving on travel time and costs).

                      &… Read More »

Fiery Passion

On a camping trip this week with our extended family, our children were excited to build a campfire.  Fire safety is an important part of constructing a campfire. I explained to them that the heat of the fire can be dangerous.  I also explained the results of throwing items into the fire. Being that the fire burns on fuel, we need to be careful about what we put in to fuel the fire.

At my son’s suggestion that we throw in an entire bottle of lighter fluid to make the fire really big, I countered that it would indeed make it big, but it would have two problems. Firstly, it would be very dangerous. Since it is highly flammable it would create such a large fire that we may not be able to control.  Secondly, it would only … Read More »

What Others Have to Say

Alfred Nobel, the benefactor of the Nobel prizes may not have donated his wealth toward such a noble cause without first seeing his own obituary. Well, sort of.

Alfred invented dynamite, which drastically changed the nature of construction and mining. As a result, he became very wealthy.

Dynamite, of course, had other uses, and it wasn't long before military authorities began using it in warfare.

He found out what others thought of his invention when, in 1888, his brother Ludvig died. Somehow, Alfred’s obituary was printed instead, and he was scorned for being the man who made millions through the deaths of others. One newspaper commented that "the merchant of death is dead." The obituary went on to describe Nobel as a ma… Read More »

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