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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Right or Left?

A friend of mine, implying that we saw things differently, suggested that we take a bit of a break from each other. He didn’t unfriend me on Facebook. Instead, he pointed to an episode in this week’s parsha, Lech Lecha.

The Torah describes the difficulties that Avraham and his nephew Lot were having, primarily due to their numerous flocks and the subsequent dispute between their shepherds.

Avraham, in an effort to maintain the peace, suggests:

“Please let there be no quarrel between me and between you and between my herdsmen and between your herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not all the land before you? Please part from me; if you go left, I will go right, and if you go right, I will go left.”

My friend was echoin… Read More »

Measure Twice, Cut Once

The popular saying in the construction industry is, “Measure twice. Cut once.”

The Russian version takes it a whole bunch further: “Measure seven times and cut once.” Apparently, wood was in even greater demand in Russia of old…

Although Noach was not American or Russian, he seems to have taken this expression to a whole new level. Noach spent 120 years building the ark, as is described in this week’s eponymous parsha. Why did it take him so long?


A high school principal told me he always waits at least one full day before administering serious punishment to misbehaving students. That way, he explained, I know I am not acting from angry impulse, but out of measured discipline.

Delaying t… Read More »

Raising Cain

What’s not a sin, but can be worse than a sin?


In the Torah’s opening portion, Bereishit, we glean a great deal about human nature. We are introduced to the purest of souls, G-d’s handiwork – Adam. We also become acquainted with human frailty and iniquity.

The most evil act of all seems to come toward the end of the parsha, when Cain kills his brother Abel.

Cain goes down in history as a terrible fellow. And he was. Though he did not have the luxury of past history to inform him, human blood is human blood. The Torah underlines this value unequivocally.

You would think that such a murderer ends up in the dustbins of history and is never heard from again.

Yet, amazingly, we are all descended from C… Read More »

Canopies & Walls

As soon as Yom Kippur ended, I looked around the canopy tent that served as our outdoor synagogue for the Days of Awe, and thought about building another temporary structure.

Within about 24 hours of the wall-less tent coming down, we had put up a walled, yet roofless, structure. Soon enough we gathered branches and added the schach.

The contrast of the two structures got me thinking.

The tent had a beautiful and quite secure roof. We were well-protected from the rain. However, it had no walls – which is precisely why we chose it, as extra precaution against potential covid-19 lingering aerosols that might escape a social-distanced mask.

The sukkah, on the other hand, has sturdy walls, but the roof is rather weak.

In fact, for a … Read More »

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