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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.

Stockholm Syndrome 1.0

A two-year-old scared his family one summer by disappearing during their lakeside vacation. More than a dozen relatives searched the forest and shoreline, and everyone was relieved when they found little Matthew playing calmly in the woods.

"Listen to me, Matthew," his mother said sharply. "From now on when you want to go someplace, you tell Mommy first, okay?"

Matthew thought about that for a moment and said, "Okay. Disney World."

***

Scanning the flight plan of the Jewish people heading from Egypt to Israel, it would seem that somebody was snoozing that day at air traffic control. The journey they took reminds me of the route I was once forced to take in Zambia when the street I was traveling on… Read More »

Rabbis Without Borders

Exactly seventy years ago a 49-year-old man stood in a small synagogue in Brooklyn and embarked on a journey to change the world. In future decades his name would reverberate in Jewish homes throughout the globe. Eventually, his followers would take up posts in over 100 countries.

But, the world he was facing was nothing like the renown and ubiquity that his name now carries.

I am, of course, speaking of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory. The Rebbe, as he is affectionately known, accepted the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch on the Tenth of Shevat 1951. Decimated by the Holocaust and Soviet oppression, it was a small, battered group that he addressed in his inaugural speech.

But, he set out a plan to… Read More »

Talking to Me

It’s easy to point fingers as we observe the challenges America and our world face today. And, the blame that we assess may be fully valid.

However, I was once taught that every time you point a finger at someone else, you are pointing more fingers at yourself.

Does this apply to a situation when I am certain that someone else is at fault? Is this relevant when it’s clear that I am not involved at all in the issue at hand?

*

In this week’s parsha Va’eira, Hashem punishes Egypt and its corrupt leader with the (first seven of the) ten plagues.

G-d declares that, “I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and I will increase My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”

It seems obvious that G-d’s plan in… Read More »

Burning, But Inconsumable

Like me, I’m sure you are deeply troubled by this week’s events in America.

And, these recent incidents deserve our attention. The Baal Shem Tov taught that we must take a lesson from everything we experience and observe in life.

How can our faith and our Torah guide us at this critical moment?

*

The Jews were suffering terribly at the hands of the Egyptians, as described in this week’s parsha Shemot. Their future leader Moshe, however, was forced to flee Egypt when Pharaoh tried to have him executed. He was pasturing his father-in-law’s flock in Midian when he chanced upon a strange site.  He saw a thorn bush that was “burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed.”

The… Read More »

20/20 Foresight

As the clock ticked twelve last night, folks all over the world were eager to usher in the year 2021. Perhaps, more precisely, they were enthusiastic to say goodbye to 2020.

Pining for a healthier world and a life that once was, so many are pinning their hopes on life getting back to somewhat normal somewhat soon.  Millions of people couldn’t be happier to discard 2020 to the wayside.

But, should we?

*

This week’s Torah portion, Vayechi, is also the conclusion of the first of the Five Books of the Torah, Bereishit. It ends with the death and burial of Yosef (Joseph), the Jewish viceroy of Egypt.

Although he was buried in Egypt, he demanded that his family promise to reinter him in the Holy Land when they travel back… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.