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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.

When Every Vote Really Counts

We live in a democracy. We live in a blessed democracy that values freedom and morality.

Part of living in a democracy is the notion of one person, one vote. Through representative government our individual voices are heard.

But, what if the overwhelming majority votes for values that are anathema to mine? What if I vote but everyone else votes otherwise? Do I still count?

(This questions holds true for pure democracies, republics and other forms of representative government).

We may, at times, feel that although we live in a democracy, it does not represent my personal values, goals or lifestyle. To take this to an extreme, such was certainly the feeling of many Jews in Europe during the Holocaust. Hitler was, after all… Read More »

Constant Reminders

Nowadays we don’t see too many people walking around with strings on their fingers. But we do have many modern-day equivalents.  Our goal may not be the superstitious paranoia of yesteryear, but we are desperately trying to remember things.  Alarms, smartphones, family and friends may often serve this role.

In Judaism, we have always relied on tactile reminders. In contrast to modern gizmos of efficiency, Jewish aides don’t simply serve as tools.  Rather, they are the keys to our souls.

Wearing tefillin and lighting Shabbat candles are physical rituals; palpable cues that we can see, feel and touch. But, their role is not simply to remind us about our history and tradition.

The taste of bitter herbs on… Read More »

Whatever

When offering my son a special treat for his academic accomplishments, I gave him a choice of flavors.  “Whatever,” was his response.  But when I later delivered the apple flavor, he insisted he wanted grape. I reminded him that he was given a choice but that now it was too late. “If you really wanted grape, why did you say, ‘Whatever?’”

***

When G-d instructs the Jewish people to build Him a Sanctuary He says, “Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me a donation; from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My donation.”

This week’s parsha, Teruma, describes the many details of the Mishkan.  The Jewish people were very… Read More »

Bigger Than Me

On Sunday we had a guest lecturer from Ohio. Rabbi Nochum Mangel spoke about the Torah’s view on immigration.  While immigration is an issue that secular people and courts will undoubtedly have an opinion about, we learned that many of the principle concerns are indeed addressed in the Torah.  For example, the Torah addresses the morality of borders, security, cultural cohesion and economic impacts – amongst other relevant factors.

As one participant noted, “I’m amazed at how the Torah’s perspective is so logical, yet so G-dly. It takes the heated discourse and transforms it into a holy endeavor.  It really helped me rid myself of the vitriol that this topic arouses.”

***

We often view… Read More »

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