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.

A Yiddishe Mamme

A man calls his mother in Florida. "Mom, how are you?"

"Not too good" replies his mother, "I've been very weak".

The son asks, "Why are you so weak?"

She says, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."

"That's terrible" says the son, "Why haven't you been able to eat?"

The mother answers, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food in case you should call me."


I am continuously amazed at how seemingly-insignificant details of the Torah contain powerful lessons about life.  This week’s parsha Vayechi provides a remarkable example. Though it’s not ostensibly about mothers, it reminds us how much we ought to cherish our mothers!

**… Read More »


Tonight marks a special date on the Chabad calendar.  In 1987 a Federal Court ruled in favor of the Chabad movement, in a case of the theft of hundreds of volumes of precious and rare Torah books that had been taken from the central Chabad library in Brooklyn, NY.

The library was collected by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn.  And it was a relative of his that secretly spirited away the books. The ensuing court case focused on who owned the library; was it the Chabad community or personal family members of the Chabad leadership? The result of this case would have a major impact on Chabad in particular and also on libraries of all Jewish or religious groups. The Court ruled that the community and not the … Read More »

Which Side Would I Be On?

I was discussing the Chanukah story with some eighth grade boys last week.  I explained why we celebrate 8 days of Chanukah, about the miracle of the oil. One boy boldly stood up and said, “No Rabbi, you’re wrong! It’s not just the 8 days that the oil lasted. And it’s not just the miraculous victory of the weak and few versus the mighty and many. The real reason for celebration is that the Maccabees decided to search for oil. They could have simply given up. We celebrate (also) because they had the courage and determination to search for holy oil. And that’s why G-d made it last eight days – because they searched!”

It’s a profound statement. And, in a way, he was right.

Let me explain.

Read More »

Thank G-d!

As Chanukah approaches, we get excited about the spirit of the holiday. After all, Chanukah is a fun holiday. We don’t need to sit in Shul fasting all day. Nor do we need to go on a strict diet and stuff our face with matzah in record time. Who could complain about latkes, donuts and Chanukah gelt?

The miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of oil. The menorah burned for eight days instead of one. It’s also the miracle of the few versus the many. The tiny Maccabee militia defeated the huge Greek-Syrian army.

But more importantly, it’s a miracle of faith and spirit. After all, what were the Macabees fighting for? It wasn’t for the right to cook gefilte fish and chopped liver – they likely did not exist then. … Read More »

Winning the No-Win Situation

“None of the above.”

That’s often the answer we give when faced with tough choices.  When placed between a rock and a hard place, what should we do? Throughout history, Jews have faced these types of challenges.

No-win situations are never pleasant.  Even when we know the outcome, we cringe. Certainly, when the results are unknown, we balk at the moment.

How can I get the courage to speak up when a colleague is hurting someone else? Either way, I’ll end up hurting someone…


In this week’s parsha, Vayishlach, Yaakov (Jacob) faced a similar dilemma. He was returning to Israel after a long absence.  34 years prior he fled because his brother Eisav (Esau) sought to kill him. When he he… Read More »

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