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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.

Dancing with Books

Ironically, it was the Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine who famously wrote, “Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.” Heine sadly abandoned his Jewish faith. But, fast-forward over 100 years and, in 1933, his own books were burned by Germans.

Jews have been called the “People of the Book.” Undoubtedly, Judaism has the largest and oldest corpus of written tradition. The Torah is still the best-seller of all time.

It makes sense, then, that we greatly value our books.

We study them, we revere them, we kiss them, and we keep producing them.

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It’s no surprise then that we celebrate completing – and starting – a Torah study cycle. This is precisely what we do on… Read More »

Muddy Boots

“Sukkah is the only mitzvah that a person enters into with their muddy boots,” according to an old Chassidic saying.

Chassidic sayings are known to be witty. But, more importantly, they often share profound messages in few and simple words.

This is a cute quip, but does it have a deeper meaning?

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According to the Talmud, the mitzvah of Sukkah is considered an “easy mitzvah.”

I know in the modern era you can order a pop-up sukkah, but anyone that’s built a kosher sukkah knows that it takes effort and time to build a sukkah. It’s not free to build a sukkah either, not even for a pop-up sukkah.

So, what does the Talmud mean with its claim that Sukkah is an easy mitzvah?

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Usually, doing a… Read More »

Leaving a Legacy

This week’s parsha, Vayelech, is the shortest in the Torah.

In that spirit, here is a short thought on it.

Moshe is about to pass on from this world. It is the final day of a perfect life. So perfect, in fact, that he passed away on the exact same day he was born – 120 years later.

Instead of getting his own affairs in order, he is busy with the Jewish people. In fact, he had already handed over the reins of leadership to Yehoshua (Joshua).

Nonetheless, on his last day, Moshe delivers the written Torah (Five Books of Moses) to the Jewish people and instructs them about two mitzvot – Hakhel (gathering of all Jews every seven years) and the obligation to write a Torah scroll.

Both of the commandments are emblematic of… Read More »

Distractions

Distractions are a major concern in the 21st Century.

When driving, distractions can cause accidents, with severe and dangerous consequences.

When studying, distractions can cause us to lose focus and miss critical information.

Distractions can derail conversations and destroy relationships.   Distractions can ruin business deals and waste lots of time.

Nowadays, in the information age, there are so many distractions competing for our attention. It often takes a herculean effort to stay focused.

Psychologists and sociologists today are continuously assessing the effects of distractions on our society.

Sounds like a dismal view of reality, doesn’t it?

Not quite.

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This week’s parsha Nitzavim is the last… Read More »

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