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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.

Yizkor: Looking Ahead

The last days of Pesach celebrate two subsequent events to the Exodus from Egypt. One happened a week after the Jews departed Egypt. The other will, G-d Willing, happen very soon.

When Pharaoh realized that he had let the Jews go, he had a sudden change of heart and decided to chase after them with his army.  In the end, the sea split and his army drowned. The Jews were finally completely free. This event is relived each year on its anniversary, the Seventh Day of Passover.

The Jewish people continued onward to receive the Torah and, 40 years later, enter the Holy Land.  They built the Bait Hamikdash (Holy Temple) at G-d's behest and stayed until it was (twice) destroyed and they were expelled. Fast forward nearly 2000 years… Read More »

Egyptians, Romans and Jews

My son Dovid, who just turned 13 yesterday, is a firstborn. The final plague in Egypt was the death of the firstborns. Because the Jewish firstborns were spared, it is customary to fast on Erev Pesach unless there is a substantial, joyous, Jewish celebration.  One such event is a siyum, the completion of an entire Tractate of Talmud, which can take many months to learn.  Since, this is a major mitzvah and celebration, eating overrides the fast. 

Dovid completed the Tractate Makot. Esther and I are so very proud!

At the conclusion of the Tractate, Rabbi Akiva is in the company of fellow Torah scholars. The other rabbis are dismayed at the great revelry and success of Rome, while the Jews suffer. The Rabbis are also crying… Read More »

Tall and Humble

We are all familiar with the distinction between matzah and chametz. Chametz, which is leavened and rises, represents ego and arrogance. Matzah, which is flat and virtually tasteless, represents humility.  The lesson of Passover is to introduce humility to our lives. Chametz is verboten because it represents the terrible characteristic of haughtiness.

But, what about the rest of the year?

If chametz is so deplorable, why is it ever permitted? Why doesn’t Pesach last all year long?

***

In this week’s parsha, Metzorah, we learn the laws applying to one who has spoken lashon harah, literally translated as “evil talk.” Lashon harah is defined as true, yet derogatory, speech about a third party.

To make amends… Read More »

Constant Reinvention

One of the most profound realizations that I came face-to-face with in Israel is the amazing resilience of the Jewish people.  Against all odds, we are still here. Against all odds, our people are thriving in a very hostile neighborhood. Against all odds the desert is blooming.  Against all odds, Yiddishkeit is flourishing.

Having just returned from Israel, I am convinced it isn’t just historical.  Every day in Israel is another resilient experience.  The ability to adapt, to recreate, to relive and revive is something one senses daily in our holy land.

While others have come and gone, we are still here.  Many argue that it is our constant devotion to our faith that keeps us going. It is our unwavering… Read More »

Holiness Abounds

Walking through the streets of Jerusalem one cannot avoid feeling a connection to our people.  Stepping on stones that are not hundreds,but thousands of years old - and knowing that my ancestors walked on these very stones - is simply an experience that words fail to convey.

 Standing over a mikvah more than two thousand years old, I feel the message of  this week's parsha Shemini coming to life. We learn about the laws of mikvah, ritual purity and kosher, among others, Passing by one kosher restaurant after another, I sense the firm commitment of our people.

 There is much to be said about the dedication of an entire nation, in a sea of enemies.  Some of the mitzvahs in this week's parsha are chukim… Read More »

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