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.

Kosher Pigs

If I were to ask 100 Jews, “What is the most treif food you can think of?” I would probably get 100 similar responses. The pig, of course is the least kosher animal on the planet. Pork is the poster child for nonkosher food.

And, of course, there is ample reason it has earned this status. Perhaps, it’s due to the prevalence of pork as a consumed meat in the civilized world, tempting – but off limits – to Jewish people.

Or, due to the Torah singling it out in this week’s parsha. In Parshat Shemini we learn, “And the pig, because it has a cloven hoof that is completely split, but will not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you.” Any animal that does not chew its cud or have split hooves is… Read More »


Wow! The energy of Purim still pulsates through my being.

With over 125 people celebrating together on Thursday, we relived the story of Jewish pride and survival. We listened to the Megillah, a tale that is as relevant today as it was nearly 2500 years ago. We too must trust that Hashem is the one really in charge, not some frightening villain, nor even a queen in the palace.

We danced to the live music of local musicians playing traditional and modern Jewish music. Israeli, Chassidic, folk and ancient melodies reverberated throughout the room.

There was more mouth-watering food than we could consume – pastrami on rye, egg rolls, salads and hamantaschen to name a few.

The tzedaka box filled up as we remembered our less fortunate … Read More »

Balance of Power

Words cannot describe the immeasurable pain and grief coming out of New Zealand today.

Put simply, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and communities. They may be on the other side of the world – but it is ultimately our world. We all inhabit one world. Considering the select status that a place of religious assembly ought to have, this hits close to home.

As we read parshat Zachor this Shabbat, the special reading remembering the sinister acts of Amalek, we are reminded of the duty to eradicate evil from our midst.

Without debating the policy aspects, is there anything that is directly in my control that I can do?


The Midrash in this week’s Parsha of Vayikra, which tells the following parable… Read More »

Worth its Weight in Gold

Ten kilo of gold is worth over $400,000. The same ten kilos of twigs might not even be worth one dollar.

I imagine carrying the ten kilo of gold would be much more enjoyable than carrying the twigs.


This week’s parsha Pekudei records the sum of materials that the Jewish people donated to the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Interestingly, the Torah records the weight of all the items donated equally. In other words, the Torah does not record the value of the individual donations, only their weight. A kilo of copper costs under seven dollars today.

Why does the Torah only care about the physical weight of the donations? Isn’t there a significant difference between the values of different metals? How can we compare someone who donated … Read More »

Got Talent?

There are so many talent shows nowadays that it’s hard to keep up. Win and you receive instant fame. Plus, you might even get a shot at lucrative earnings.

The beauty of discovering an unknown talent certainly has its virtues. But, overall, are talent shows helping society more than harming us?


In this week’s parsha Vayakhel we learn about a special talent. A group of women donated goat hairs for the covering and curtains of the Mishkan. However, the Torah tells us they spun these hairs in a unique fashion. While the hair was still attached to the goats, they spun the hairs! This produced a superior finished product due to the vibrancy of these live goat hairs.

The Talmud teaches that this was a very exclusive talent. In… Read More »

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