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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.

Lost Cause?

One of my assignments as a rabbinic intern in South Africa was to visit businesspeople on Friday afternoons. In typical Chabad fashion, I set out every week with a colleague, searching for Jews. We developed a “route” – a standard contingent of businesses that we would visit each week, reaching out to fellow Jews with Shabbat wishes, Torah materials and an opportunity to do a mitzvah. For some it meant a schmooze about Yiddishkeit, for others a reminder to light the Shabbat candles.

The opportunity to lay tefillin was a key offering. One fellow was particularly irate at us for even asking. He immediately showed me the door and stated, “I know why you guys are here. And I want nothing of it. I may be Jewish but I… Read More »

Right of Way

Driving along the back roads of Idaho can at times be challenging. I recently found myself on a windy dirt road with little room for error. Suddenly, a car appeared from the opposite direction and we both came to a sudden halt. After a quick stare-down, I realized that there was only room for one car at a time and one of us would have to budge. So I reversed and went slightly off road to allow the other car to pass.

Who had the right of way I mused?

Sometimes, life is not so crystal clear. The moral choices with which we are faced can be murky at times. Without a strong moral compass, we can wander endlessly. But even with a solid guide we can be stuck, frozen in a moment of indecision.

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This week’s Torah portion of Shoftim… Read More »

Do We Have A Choice?

Never before has our generation faced such universal challenge. Our country, in particular, is enduring a deadly virus and a divisive debate at the same time.

The scientists, politicians and community leaders are all trying desperately to come up with solutions that will drastically improve our country’s situation.

Certainly, there are debates to be had and choices to be made.

***

In the opening words of this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we are told, “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, which I command you today; and the curse, if you will not heed the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, but turn away from the way I command… Read More »

Animals First?

 

A friend commented to me that we ought to get a dog. Dogs eat lots of leftovers and are great companions. “Especially during this pandemic, they help keep you busy,” I was told.

I appreciate the suggestion, but with 10 children (בלי עין הרע), who were all home for several months due to the pandemic, I don’t think we are suffering from boredom! Thank G-d we have our hands pretty full with our wonderful family.

The comment, however, that got me thinking the most was that dogs clean your floor and consume your leftovers. Is that the way it ought to be?

A friend of mine sells pet supplies. He told me that during the initial covid-19 shutdown, Amazon was limiting shipments in order to prioritize essentials. Anything… Read More »

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