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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.

Expelled from Sinai

There is a saying in Yiddish, “Az gut iz gut, iz beser nisht beser?!” This translates to, “If good is good, is better not better?”

Put simply, this is a reminder to always strive for better, never to suffice with what we have accomplished.  The Rebbe taught that in material matters we should always be satisfied with our lot. But when it comes to our spiritual journey, being satisfied is a shortcoming. It’s a fault to be strictly avoided.

In the twenty-first century it might be tempting to fall into a state of complacency. Relative to historic terms, we Jews are safe and successful. We have an identity and are accepted by Western society. We are comfortable and aren’t worrying about our… Read More »

To Vow or Not to Vow?

“I promise not to eat any more ice cream this month.”

“I promise not to go on vacation this year.”

“I promise not to attend the social this week.”

Do you think these are good vows to undertake? Or do you feel they are ill-advised?

***

At the beginning of this week’s double Parshiyot of Matot and Masei, we are taught the rules of oaths.

In Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers, vows are considered a safeguard of restraint. By prohibiting yourself (through vows) from indulging in even that which the Torah permits, you can effectively fulfill the Torah’s command to “sanctify yourself [even] with that which is permitted to you.”

As the Talmud states, “Asceticism leads to… Read More »

Daily Highlights

 Have you ever gone on an exhilarating hike or thrilling adventure and felt a sense of true euphoria? Have you ever eaten the prefect diet for a day and felt totally connected to your body? Have you ever spent a sacred moment with a loved one and felt completely one with each other?

During those "highs" your entire being sensed a type of perfection and ease with the core of your being. We strive for these highs and sometimes abhor the "lows" of the daily grind.

But, let's ask ourselves: Can our body survive on "highs" alone? Are the highs sufficient to keep us going until the next one?

We may be tempted to answer yes, but that would only be fooling ourselves.  Without constant human… Read More »

Against All Odds

 In 1924 Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn gathered nine of his followers for an urgent, confidential meeting in his Leningrad home.

The Soviet Union was crushing Jewish practice. Rabbis were fleeing Soviet Russia en masse.  Jewish schools, mikvahs, synagogues and butchers were all being forcibly shut down.  The largest Jewish population in the world was slowly being repressed into abandonment of their faith and tradition.  Rabbis, teachers and mohalim were sent off to Siberia, never to be heard from again. The future of Judaism looked desperate and devastating. On pain of death, Jews were simply giving up on their traditions.

With millions of Jews disconnected from their roots, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad asked for a… Read More »

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