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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I grew up hearing a famous story about Rabbi Schneur Zalman (known as the Alter Rebbe), founder of Chabad and his son Rabbi Dovber, his successor (known as the Mittler Rebbe), related to this week’s parsha Ki Tavo. The parsha includes a very harsh section called the tochacha (rebuke or admonition). In it Hashem spells out the troubles that await us should we fail to follow in the ways of the Torah.

The story, as told by the Previous Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn:

The Alter Rebbe himself was the regular Torah-reader. Once he was away from Lyozna on the Shabbat of parsha Tavo, and the Mitteler Rebbe, then not yet Bar Mitzva, heard the Torah-reading from another. His anguish at the curses in the tochacha (section …Read More »

Double Standard

No one likes double standards.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as the saying goes.

It’s easy to spot double standards when comparing two different people, societies or cultures.

But, is it possible to have a double standard in one person? Is it possible for me to treat myself to a double standard?


In this week’s parshah Ki Teitzei we are taught about many mitzvot. Some are only between man and G-d and others are between man and his fellow. One such example in the realm of business ethics is, “You shall not keep in your pouch a stone and a stone, one large and one small.” Honesty in business is something the Torah reminds us about on several occasions.

Here, however, the wording … Read More »

Safe Zone

Camping with my children at the shores of the river in the Sawtooth National Forest gave me a wonderful opportunity to fish, enjoy Hashem’s beautiful outdoors and spend quality time with my children. There really isn’t much better than learning a maamar (Chassidic discourse) before the sun rises at a campfire in the middle of the wilderness.

The truth is that right here in Boise I can fish, marvel at natural beauties and spend quality time with my children.

My wife, who was home with our 3-week old daughter, asked me to check in with her and let her know we were okay. With no cell phone service, we had no way of doing so. We traveled about 30 minutes to the nearest town and found a store with Wifi, so I could send a message to… Read More »

A Child’s Love

As a parent of 9 children, I’m often asked how I have enough time to give them each enough attention.

“Simple,” I often answer.  “I don’t have a TV.”


Showering our children with love, guidance and care is a full-time job. Every child deserves full-time love.  The mistake we make in our self-centered universe is that every child needs full time exclusive attention.  Sadly, parents err on both sides of the coin. It takes tremendous dedication and humility to be there all the time for every child and not turn our children into self-serving monsters.

As a thought experiment, let’s say my child/parent is on the other side of the world and I cannot communicate with or see them for a y… Read More »

Bribing G-d

Traveling throughout Africa, I sometimes faced one of the ethical dilemmas of developing countries. Corruption is so rampant in certain places, that people are stopped for no reason by the authorities, all with the goal of extracting a bribe. As an American, I often stood out as a target for this type of extortion. I eventually learned the proper tools to largely prevent these confrontations.

But, it often left me wondering whether this was considered ‘giving a bribe.’ The Torah bans bribery, for obvious reasons. But, if you are living in a corrupt society, and are forced into a situation, is it then justified?

I am reminded of all the pious Jews of yesteryear, who needed to bribe authorities to save their … Read More »

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