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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.

Starting Over or Starting Again?

When I play a board game with my children, they (and I!) are sometimes tempted to start over in middle of the game. If it’s not going well, and defeat is in the air, you may also be interested in throwing in the towel to start over.  Perhaps a new game will offer better luck and a shrewder attempt.

But, of course, it isn’t fair to start over just because I’m currently losing.

In the grand game of life, as well, we often start over.  When I feel like I’ve failed at something, I hope a fresh start will bring better results.

However, what if everything is going swell? If I’m winning, would I want to start over? Is it ever advisable to start over when you are head?

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This week we will, once again… Read More »

Guilt or Joy?

If you would just watch Woody Allen movies and read Bernard Malamud novels you might believe that Jewish guilt is one of the cornerstones of our belief system.  To kvetch and worry is a favorite Jewish pastime.  It is encoded in our DNA.

As the famous joke goes: How many Jewish mothers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? The Jewish mothers’ quick rejoinder is, “Don’t worry about us. We’d rather sit in the dark.”

But is it? Is guilt meant to occupy such a lofty pedestal in Judaism?

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Sukkot is considered by the Torah as the Festival of our Rejoicing. Why are we so happy on Sukkot?

In fact, Sukkot is followed by Simchat Torah – considered the most joyous time of year in the Jewish… Read More »

Sermon or Song?

So Yom Kippur has come and gone.   Hopefully, it was moving, inspirational and meaningful.  Hopefully, I am – at least in some measure – a different and better person.

But, let’s be honest. That was a lot of sermons.  The rabbi just did not stop speaking!

So, let me pose this question: Which do you prefer? A sermon or a song?

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This week Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Apparently, songs have officially been characterized as literature. As the Nobel committee explained, he earned it for “having created new poetic expressions.”

Bob Dylan is a music legend. But he’s also a Jewish boy whose real name is Robert Zimmerman. And he is very proud of his Jewish identity.… Read More »

Perfection?

They say that the closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application.

Yet, in many ways, the Torah declares that at least one person reached perfection.

In this week’s parsha, Vayelech, Moshe – on the last day of his life - declares, “Today I am one hundred and twenty years old.” The Talmud teaches that the emphasis of “Today,” is due to the fact that it was Moshe’s birthday. On the very day he was born (the 7th of Adar), he also passed away.

The fact that Moses died on his birthday indicates that the years of his life were all full; even his last year of life was not left unfinished. The sages teach us that this means that Moses lived his life to its fullest, not… Read More »

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