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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.

Two Way Street

One day, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov instructed several of his disciples to embark on a journey. The Baal Shem Tov did not tell them where to go, nor did they ask; they allowed divine providence to direct their wagon where it may, confident that the destination and purpose of their trip would be revealed in due time.

After traveling for several hours, they stopped at a wayside inn to eat and rest. Now the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples were pious Jews who insisted on the highest standards of kashrut; when they learned that their host planned to serve them meat in their meal, they asked to see the shochet (ritual slaughter) of the house, interrogated him as to his knowledge and piety and examined his knife for any possible blemishes. Their… Read More »

Seven or Eight?

What happens when days and nights are blurred into one? I remember the difficulty of sleeping in S. Petersburg, Russia in the summertime when it doesn’t get dark at night. The White Nights cause a surreal feeling that challenges one’s natural rhythm of time and order.

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In this week’s parsha Shemini, which means “eighth,” we read about the eighth day of inauguration for the Mishkan, the holy Sanctuary.  For seven days, Ahron and his priestly sons were initiated into the service by Moshe.  On the eighth day they finally were allowed to perform the rituals on their own.

What is the significance of the seven days and the eighth day? And, why are the first seven days in one Torah portion and the… Read More »

Redefining Freedom

Can a slave be free? Can a free person be a slave?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

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A couple days ago we began Counting the Omer. It’s a 49-day count until Shavuot. What’s the connection between this mitzvah and the festivals that it links, Passover and Shavuot?

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The enslavement in Egypt was horrific. Yet the Jewish people survived. They were now finally free.  What would they do with this freedom? How would they act as free people?

People who are released from an institutional setting after many years often suffer from a failure to adjust to their newfound freedom.

What plan, if any, did G-d have to prevent… Read More »

Education and Sharing Day 2017

Governor Otter and Mayor Bieter have both proclaimed today, April 7, 2017, to be Education and Sharing Day in Idaho and in Boise, respectively.

They follow a long tradition of proclaiming the Rebbe’s birthday, 11 Nissan, as a day of reflection and commitment to the values of education and good deeds.  Every United States President since 1978 has made this annual proclamation for Education and Sharing Day USA.

The Rebbe, the only rabbi to receive a Congressional Gold Medal, emphasized that education should not be limited to the acquisition of wisdom and pursuit of a career. Education, the Rebbe taught, must build character and ethics.

As a student of the Rebbe, it’s natural for me to think of the Rebbe in terms of… Read More »

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