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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Are You a Burning Bush?

Are you a cedar tree, a flowering cherry tree or a thorn bush?

The Torah tells us that man is compared to the tree of the field. But, which tree are you most like?

Some human beings are like tall and firm trees. Some produce flowers or fruit. Some may be compared to bushes, humble plants, without the stature and majesty of a tree.

Just as trees possess roots, trunk, branches and leaves – people have beliefs, emotions, actions and influence on others.


In this week’s parsha Semot, Moshe meets his Creator at a burning thorn bush.

Why did G-d choose to reveal Himself to Moshe – and initiate the Exodus from Egypt, the birth of the Jewish people and the Giving of the Torah – through a burning thorn bush?

Rabbi S… Read More »

When Best is not Best

You might be the best swimmer in your high school class. You might even be the best swimmer in your state. And, you ought to be proud.

But, if your goal is to compete at the international level, you may find that “best” is a relative term.

You might be the absolute best employee in your company. But, if you have a PhD in neuroscience and are working at a car wash, you might believe that “best” is a relative term.


The name of this week’s parsha is Vayechi, meaning, “And he lived“ – referring to the last 17 years of Yaakov’s life. These last 17 years were spent in Egypt.

(Parenthetically, the Hebrew word טוב (Tov) has the gematria (numeric equivalent) of 17).

According to the Midra… Read More »


In 1985 librarians at the Library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad in New York realized that books were being stolen. Rare books and manuscripts were slowly disappearing.

It was soon revealed that a wayward relative of the Rebbe had been clandestinely entering in the thick of night, swindling books and selling them.

Eventually, a court case ensued. The defendant argued that he was ‘taking his share of the inheritance.’

On today’s date 32 years ago, 5 Tevet, the US Federal Court ruled that the books – collected painstakingly over many years by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe – belong to the Chabad movement.

On the surface it seems like an inheritance dispute.

But, amongst Chabad Chassidim “Hey Tevet” h… Read More »

G-dless Judaism?

After the Maccabees successfully drove the Greek-Syrians out and retook the Temple in Jerusalem, their first call of duty was reestablishing the rites of the Temple. They found lots of oil in the Temple, but only one jug that had the seal of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) still intact. We are familiar with the miraculous ending of the story – the oil lasted not one day, but eight. Hence, the eight days of Chanukah.

But, if the Greeks were aiming to prevent the Jews from practicing the Temple rituals, why not steal all the oil altogether?


A Rembrandt piece of art is auctioned for millions of dollars and original classic cars are sold for several hundred thousand dollars because of their unique quality and limited availability. Bu… Read More »

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