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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.

Morality Without Religion?

“Rabbi,” I’ve been told, “I know someone who is religious and is nasty to others, cheating them of their money.”

“Rabbi,” I’ve been told, “I’m not the religious type. But, I would never disrespect someone.”

So, can you be moral without being religious? Can you be religious without being moral?

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First of all, I’d like to cast away the labels. The term ‘religious’ is virtually abhorrent to me. Some excel in one area, others in another area. I will let G-d decide who is better: the person of great character that does not have a good relationship with G-d or the pious person of prayer who is lacking in his relationship with humans. Judging… Read More »

Merging Two Worlds

History repeats itself.

Amazingly, history repeated itself exactly the same way at exactly the same time. Nearly 500 years after the first Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians, the Romans destroyed the second Beit Hamikdash on the very same day.

Can it be merely a coincidence?

Or is there something about this day, the Ninth of Av, that contains so much misery within it?

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This week’s parsha Devarim is the beginning of the longest speech in history. Sometimes, short speeches are the most memorable, as in Gettysburg in 1863. But this speech is an entire volume of our holy Torah. And it was delivered by Moshe over a period of 37 days, the very last days of his life.

The first four books of the Torah… Read More »

The Cave of Life

The world watched in amazement as 12 boys and their coach were rescued in dramatic fashion from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. It was an intriguing story with a great ending.

The valor of the Navy SEALS and divers, the stamina of the boys, the selflessness of the countless volunteers and the efforts of thousands of rescue workers all contributed to this incredible rescue.

But, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of those boys. After a week or so in the cave, with no light, no food, and no strength – how do you continue to hope?

The only hope they had was that others were thinking of them, frantically searching for them. Imagine the relief they felt the moment they were found. They still didn’t know… Read More »

Claiming Your Moment

Raymond Zack. Kitty Genovese. Wang Yue.

These are just a few famous examples of the Bystander Effect. In each case there were many bystanders who observed a crime or tragedy and did nothing.

Social scientists have labored to understand and explain this enigma.

In many instances the bystanders have simply remarked, “If no one else was doing anything, I figured I did not need to either.”

Some might even point to the Torah, quoting from Mishlei (Proverbs), “Do not stand in the place of great men.” If people of greater stature than me are doing nothing, I don’t need to act.

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This week’s parsha, Pinchas, tells us a different story. A terrible plague broke out amongst the Jewish people due to… Read More »

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