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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.

At the Threshold

As we are at the threshold of Passover, I am reminded of the threshold that the Jewish people stood at 3330 years ago tonight.

The festival of Pesach derives its name from that momentous night when G-d passed over the homes of the Jewish people. By skipping the Jews, Hashem spared them and then delivered them from Egyptian bondage.

But, prior to that, Hashem insisted that the Jews mark their doorposts with the blood of the Pesach offering. Ostensibly, this was to differentiate between Jewish homes and Egyptian homes. But, Almighty G-d certainly doesn’t need a physical marker to know where the Jewish people reside! So, why the sign on the doorposts.

As the Jews found themselves on the eve of liberation, they were confronted… Read More »

Virtually Reality!

One of the items that stands out the most on the Seder plate at Pesach is the zero’ah, the shank bone. A nicely roasted piece of meat stares at us all night long, yet we do not eat from it. True to the theme of the evening, it invites the question: Why do we have it if we are not permitted to consume it?

The reason for the zero’ah is to remind us of the Pesach offering in which every Jew was obligated to participate when the Beit HaMikdash stood in Jerusalem. Since we cannot offer the Pesach sacrifice today (due to the destruction of the Temple), we are not permitted to eat any roasted meat, so as not to mimic the offering.

There are many peculiar rituals performed at the Seder simply to pique our (children’s)… Read More »

Individual Citizen

Am I primarily an individual or a part of the collective?

As an American it’s a relevant question.

As a Jew it’s a very relevant question.

Especially at this time of year when we prepare for Pesach.

Passover celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from bondage in ancient Egypt. Certainly, as a member of the Jewish people it has meaning. But, does it have meaning to me as an individual?

***

This week we begin studying the third Book of the Torah, Vayikra. It’s also the name of this week’s parsha.

In it we learn about various sacrifices, some communal and some individual.

The fact that G-d demands both personal sacrifices and collective sacrifices tells me something critical. My identity is… Read More »

The Precious Mundane

In the Torah few are the instances of repetition. In short, the Torah is stingy on words. Each word carries deep meaning and application.

Yet, this week, we read in the two parshiyot of Vayakhel and Pekudei some seeming redundant words. In fact, in these two relatively lengthy parshiyot we find a virtual verbatim repetition of the construction details of the Mishkan. We already had two entire parshiyot, Terumah and Teztaveh, dedicated to this. Last time it was G-d’s instruction how to build the Tabernacle. This time it’s the Jewish people fulfilling those commands.

In other words, if the Torah would have simply stated something along the lines of, “The Jewish people did as G-d had commanded,” we would know… Read More »

Tied at the Hip

In the story of Purim, everything was reversed. Instead of Hama destroying the Jewish people, he was destroyed. Instead of Mordechai being the first to fall, he was the first to rise up.

But, the Megillah tells us, he did not rise up alone. Rather, due to the fact that Mordechai was respected so much, the Jewish people as a whole were venerated. As the leader of the Jewish people, he lifted them up with him.

This week’s parsha, Ki Tisa, tells us a similar message.

After the Jewish people had sinned with the Golden Calf, G-d instructed Moshe to, “Go Down.” According to the Midrash, Moshe was commanded to descend from his lofty position. He was excommunicated from the Heavenly Tribunal.

We know that Moshe was not… Read More »

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