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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Rooting for the Underdog?

The New England Patriots beat their own record and will appear on Sunday in their eleventh Super Bowl. With the same head coach and quarterback for the past 18 seasons, this is a tried and tested team. If there is a dynasty in American Football – they are it.

They will face off against a team that has recently moved to a new city, has the youngest head coach in the league and a relatively inexperienced team.

So, are you rooting for the reliable favorite or the upstart underdog?

It’s popular today to root for the underdog. First of all, an upset is a great surprise. But also, the rags-to-riches storyline is one that humans love to fall in love with. Perhaps we see some of ourselves in it.


In this week’s p… Read More »

Don’t Hesitate

We live in an era and culture of endless noise. We absorb so much information, we really can’t keep track of it anymore.

The modes of communication are endless. The options of who to interact with have no boundaries. The sheer volume of information we are fed is overwhelming.

All of this begs the question: How much of what we hear do we actually act upon? Are we becoming desensitized to what we see and hear?


This week’s parsha Yitro is a coming of age parsha for the Jewish people. G-d chooses the Jewish people to safeguard the Torah. We select G-d as our supreme authority. The Jewish people become a people at Sinai, in the most momentous event in all of history – the Giving of the Torah.

For all the fanfare about … Read More »

Cause Célèbre

We go through many miracles in life. Every breath is a gift from G-d.

But, imagine escaping unscathed in a 23-car collision. Or, you missed a flight, only to discover the tardiness saved your life. You survive wrongful imprisonment in a third-world country. You beat the odds and recover from a life-threatening illness.

In those instances, we feel impelled to offer up some extra thanksgiving to our Creator.

In Judaism, we have a special prayer called Hagomel, which is recited for these types of events.


Looking back at Jewish history, perhaps the greatest communal act of thanksgiving occurs in this week’s parsha Beshalach. In fact, this Shabbat is also known as Shabbat Shirah, the Shabbat of Song – due to the famous song of… Read More »


At midnight three weeks ago parts of the federal government shut down. At midnight tonight it will be 21 full days, the longest shutdown in US history.

Without getting into the merits or politics of the shutdown, there is a certain mystique about the clock striking midnight.

The secular new year began at midnight on January 1. The 24-hour day begins at midnight. Midnight has clearly set itself apart as a special time. Why?

The truth is that the modern concept of telling time, from 12:00 am until 11:59 pm, is artificial. Virtually no days are precisely 24 hours. 12:00 am is rarely the actual middle of the actual night.

For example, tonight the midpoint between sunset and sunrise will be at 12:52 am, not 12:00 am.

The artificial tim… Read More »

Fire & Water

When fire is placed under a pot of water, the water boils. But if the water and fire get too close to each other, they can longer join forces. Either the water will be evaporated or the fire will be extinguished.

An exception to this rule occurred in the seventh plague that Hashem brought upon Egypt. We read about the plague of hail in this week’s parsha Va’era.

Hail is a relatively common occurrence. In some climates hail may be the size of golf balls! But, still, this hardly feels like a message from G-d. What was so harsh and unique about this plague that would cause Pharaoh and his people to learn a lesson?

The Torah adds one detail that makes this hail stand out: “So there was hail, and fire flaring up within … Read More »

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