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.


Esther and I are often asked what is the most challenging part of living as a Chabad rabbi and an observant Jew in Boise, Idaho. How do you manage without all the kosher foods you are accustomed to? Do you really need to travel 5 hours to the nearest mikvah? Do your children resent not having any friends ‘just like them?’

I was privileged last week to attend the annual Kinus Hashluchim – the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. At the conference, the opening of a permanent Chabad center in Kampala, Uganda was announced. Chabad is now officially in 100 countries!

Having spent time in Uganda as a ‘Roving Rabbi’ in the Chabad Summer Peace Corps program, I know it’s not an easy assignmen… Read More »

Heavenly Eavesdropping

Overheard in a Tel Aviv restaurant:

Customer: Is this restaurant kosher?

Big, burly, tattooed proprietor: Look at the picture on the wall of the man with long, white beard and huge kippa on his head. That’s my grandfather! Of course it’s kosher!

Customer: Well, if your grandfather was behind the counter serving me and you were a photo on the wall, maybe I would trust the kashrut and eat here! But, not the other way around.

I could imagine that if someone bumped into Eisav (Esau) and questioned his spiritual bona fides, he would point to his yichus (lineage). Son of Yitzchak. Grandson of Avraham. Brother of Yaakov. That is some pretty serious pedigree.


Lots of people tell proudly of their Bubby’s gefilte fish and … Read More »

Imperfect Perfection

It’s considered the longest story in the Torah. Well, at least the most drawn out.

Avraham dispatches his servant, Eliezer, to the land of Charan to find a suitable match for his son Yitzchak.  Eliezer prays to G-d for success, asking for a sign.  In a remarkable scene Rivka shows up immediately and fulfills the sign.

What’s remarkable about this story is that the Torah repeats it – in full detail – again, when Eliezer tells the story himself to Rivka’s family. The Torah dedicates 67 verses to this episode! Contrast that with the two verses the Torah dedicates to the mitzvah of mezuzah, for example. There are hundreds of details to know about affixing a mezuzah – but just two verses. Or, the s… Read More »

Holy Hospitality

The Talmud teaches an interesting tradition about nail cutting.  When trimming fingernails, says the Talmud, one should not leave the trimmings lying around. The clippings represent the lowest form of human life. (Our nails – the furthest extremity of the human body - grow, but don’t feel pain when cut.) As such, they invite negative energy when detached from the body. The Mytsics and the Talmud, therefore, encourage proper disposal of nails.

This is what the Talmud states about nail cutters:

One who buries them is considered a Tzaddik (righteous). One who burns them is considered a Chassid (pious). One who throws them down is considered a Rasha (wicked).

The Talmud is suggesting that the superior method of disposal is b… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.