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.
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Bright Darkness

Starting tonight we will light candles for ten days.

Yes, I know that Chanukah starts on Sunday evening.

And, I am aware that Chanukah is observed for 8 days, not 10.

But, this year, tonight is Shabbat and Chanukah starts on Sunday. So, tonight we will light Shabbat candles. Tomorrow night we will mark the end of Shabbat by igniting the flame at Havdalah. And on Sunday night, we will commence kindling the menorah for 8 days.

Although they are separate events, I think there is something symbolic in the 10 consecutive days of light we are blessed with this year.


To gain some perspective, let’s look at this week’s parsha, Vayeshev.

In a nutshell, it tells of the story of Yosef being sold – by his brothers – int… Read More »

Do-or-Die Details

It could be an eyelash. It might be a dirty fingernail. Leave it to a mother to find something to need rectifying. There’s always a strand of hair that needs to be moved just a tad over.

To a mother, even a small imperfection is a glaring problem. Every detail is a life-and-death decision.


In the Parsha Vayishlach, Yaakov is traveling with his family from Charan back to the Holy Land. The Torah tells us that, “And Yaakov was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Yaakov’s hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him.”

According to the Talmud, Yaakov was alone (away from his fa… Read More »

Holy Envy

One of the Ten Commandments is not to covet.

“You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or whatever belongs to your neighbor."

I’ve always wondered why the Torah needs to specify so many items. Why not just simply state, ‘Don’t cover anything that belongs to your neighbor’?


In Vayetzeh, this week’s parsha, we read about the birth of Yaakov’s children.

Leah gave birth to six boys and a girl. Rachel, meanwhile, was childless. The Torah says that after Leah delivered her fourth child, “And Rachel saw that she had not borne any children to Yaakov, and Rachel envied her sister, and she said t… Read More »

The Success of Blessings

Thousands of Rabbis posing for a group photo isn’t your average photo op. Nor, was it the highlight of my recent attendance at the International Kinus HaShluchim. A grand banquet with 5500 guests (the largest kosher sit-down dinner in New York!) is inspiring. But, it was not the high point. Even if my son, Ari, was invited on stage to announce the roll call (see here at minute 2:57:18).

Last Thursday night I got together with an intimate group of my colleagues and classmates. Some of them live in Massachusetts, China and California.

Hearing their personal stories and reconnecting with old yeshiva classmates was the real inspiration. I sat with my colleague from Thousand Oaks, California, Rabbi Chaim Bryski. We spent five years toget… Read More »

Endless Light

Last night, I met my colleague from Bangalore, India, Rabbi Tzvi Rivkin, at the annual conference of Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim in New York.

(Spoiler alert: His son and my son Ari will share a stage on Sunday night).

I learned that he moved with his family to Bangalore ten years ago.

It wasn't something he was planning on doing. In fact, he was eager to join the ranks of Shluchim - but not in India.

He had visited India to assist Rabbi Gavriel and Rivki Holtzberg, the Chabad emissaries to Mumbai. Ten years ago, Rabbi Holtzberg begged him to move to Bangalore, but Rabbi Rivkin did not feel that he was the right fit for an assignment as trying as Bangalore. Again and again, Rabbi & Mrs. Holtzberg tried to convince them to no avail.&nbs… Read More »

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