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.

Thawing a Heart

In Boise’s harshest winter in decades, we have had our share of small challenges.  One morning I awoke to discover that we had no water in our home.  One pipe supplying our well tank had frozen overnight.  I was able to use a hair dryer and space heater to thaw the pipe, but for some reason that didn’t solve the problem. I eventually learned that the system needed to be emptied, shut off, and then restarted in order for the pressure to build and supply the home with water.

Even after the external challenge of freezing temperatures was eliminated, there still was an internal challenge of creating pressure and restarting the flow of water.

This experience made me think that sometimes in life we have both external … Read More »

Meaningless Work

Today, a new era begins in the United States of America.  For the first time in eight years, we will have a new president. Depending on your political persuasion (or lack thereof) this might be good news or bad news.

But, one thing is certain – different it will be.

Donald Trump has promised to undo much of President Obama’s agenda.  Without debating the merits of such an approach, at least some of it is doable. If Mr. Trump winds back President Obama’s executive orders, some of his achievements may be for naught – just as President Obama erased some of President Bush’s policies. This is the reality of a democracy.

It must be a humbling feeling for a past President – accustomed to the power o… Read More »

Coming Full Circle

Sometimes we feel like life is linear, leaving behind what once was.

But, other times, we sense that we end up exactly where we began. It may be good, or not-so-good. But, it seems to happen in some fashion quite frequently.

Perhaps it’s a relationship. Maybe it’s a career. Or a place.

What does that say about our destiny?


In this week’s parsha, Vayechi, we find two such examples.  And both are about burial.

When Yaakov (Jacob) was buried in Israel, Eisav (Esau) his brother came to protest the funeral procession, claiming that he was the rightful heir to the final resting spot in the Cave of Machpelah.  An argument ensued. Before Yaakov’s sons were able to produce documentation, a deaf grandson of… Read More »

Intent or Act?

Driving in this week’s winter storm can prove hazardous. My family had the challenge of traveling over a mountain pass in the snow. Fortunately we had snow tires and chains with us.  We made it through the mountain pass uneventfully, except that it took about three hours instead of one hour. I didn’t have the expertise to put on the chains, but there were chain installers that were happy to do so for a fee.

The problem was that after we exited the chain-required area, we needed to take off the chains. I tried my luck, but let’s just say that I’m better at deciphering a page of Talmud.

With no chain installers in the area, I stopped one of the nearby truck drivers who happily came over and helped take off the c… Read More »

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