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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.

Hesitation

The Talmud lays out a key distinction between monetary cases and criminal trials. In financial cases (where a guilty outcome will only lead to financial penalties), once the panel reaches a verdict, it is announced and enforced immediately – regardless of whether it is a conviction or acquittal. However, in criminal cases the verdict of a guilty finding is always pushed off until the next day. If the verdict is acquittal, however, it is announced immediately and the defendant is released straightaway.

I can understand why we are more cautious in criminal cases than financial ones – playing with lives is more severe than civil or pecuniary matters. But, why delay the results? The court has already spent all the necessary… Read More »

Changing Course

There is a famous anecdote about George Washington’s youthful years. Once he chopped down his father’s cherry tree. When confronted by his father, he readily admitted his misdeed. “I can't tell a lie, Pa,” he is quoted as replying.

Interestingly, this story only surfaced after George Washington’s death. Having become the great general and President of the United States, there was obvious interest in his childhood. Biographer Parson Weems interviewed acquaintances that knew him half a century earlier to discover this gem of a story.

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This week’s parsha Lech Lecha opens with G-d’s dialogue to Avram. He is commanded to leave his homeland for another unknown land. Avram eagerly complies with… Read More »

Automatically

Once, when the Ba'al Shem Tov was raising money for charity, he knocked on the window of a home but then immediately went on his way without waiting for a response. Eventually, the resident of the home came to the Ba'al Shem Tov and gave him a donation.

Later, the Ba'al Shem Tov was asked: "If you needed that person's help, why didn't you wait for him to come to the window? And if you didn't need his help, why did you knock on his window?" The Ba'al Shem Tov explained: "G-d wants us to make a natural 'vessel' for His blessings. I accomplished this by knocking on the window. However, I had many important things to take care of, and I didn't have time to wait for him to come to the door, ask me what I need, etc. I already had… Read More »

Opportunity

What’s less healthy than only eating unhealthy foods?

Although virtually all dieticians will advise against only eating fatty foods, they will agree that it’s better to subsist on a lousy diet than on no food consumption at all.

When your doctor tells you not to eat foods that are high in cholesterol, she doesn’t mean to limit your food consumption entirely.

In other words, eating food is healthy, not unhealthy. It’s just that without some restrictions it can become unhealthy.

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This can help explain G-d’s first instruction to mankind.

This week we restart the annual cycle of Torah study with the parsha of Bereishit.

After creating Adam, G-d instructs him, “Of every tree of the garden you may… Read More »

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