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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.

Joyful Coercion

Some things in life we embrace joyfully.

At other times, we are forced to deal with the situation presented to us.

Is it possible to be coerced and still embrace an undertaking with joy and passion?

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In this week’s parsha, Vayigash, Yaakov (Jacob) and his entire family relocate from the land of Canaan to Egypt.

Yaakov was excited to go to Egypt in order to be reunited with his long-lost son, Yosef (Joseph).

However, he was also hesitant and fearful to leave the Holy land and dwell in the pagan land of Egypt. G-d reassures him: “Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.”

Of course, the ultimate reason that G-d wanted Yaakov to go to Egypt would be the eventual… Read More »

The End or The Beginning?

A friend from Montana once commented to me that it’s interesting that a map of Idaho also seems to depict the famous ‘face’ of Montana. I smiled.

Idaho and Montana share a border. So, obviously, the same image can be ‘seen’ on either map.

The border can either be the beginning of Montana or the end of Idaho. Which is it?

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Today, Chanukah draws to a close.

It’s also about a year since the word coronavirus entered our collective psyche. We pray that very soon the pandemic will end and life will return to normal – or at least the new normal.

As we assess these endings, we are left to wonder, are we at the end of an era or process, or are we at the beginning of a new period?

Of course, you… Read More »

Inside Out

 Tonight, we will kindle Chanukah candles and then Shabbat candles.

The Talmud poses the question: Which is more important – lighting Shabbat candles or lighting Chanukah candles?

The Talmud’s response is that if one can only afford one or the other, Shabbat candles take precedence.

In order to appreciate the Talmud’s reasoning, let’s understand the difference between Shabbat candles and Chanukah candles.

Both mitzvahs are of Rabbinic origin. But, their purposes are markedly different.

Put simply, Shabbat candles are lit in order to bring peace and warmth to the home. They are, by design, inward focused. Therefore, they are ideally lit at or near the dinner table – a place where the household members… Read More »

The 222-Year-Old Vaccine

Wearing masks and avoiding contact is one way to dodge infection from a disease.

Once a person has had the disease, however, the body is often able to defeat it on its own.

This is why so many people are waiting with bated breath for a covid-19 vaccine. The hope is that we will be able to get back to life as we once knew it after a vaccine is successfully rolled out.

The fascinating thing about vaccines is that a small interaction with the disease teaches the body how to fight a full-on threat in the future. There are various methods of inoculation – and I am not a medical expert, nor have I studied the proposed vaccines for covid-19. The common denominator of all vaccines is utilizing the disease itself to prevent its future… Read More »

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