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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.

Coexistence

I was once trying to enjoy a presentation to no avail. The couple in the row in front of me was chatting so loudly I could not hear the discourse at all.  Unable to bear it any longer, I tapped the man and said, “Excuse me, I can’t hear.”

“I should hope not!” he retorted sharply.  “This is a private conversation.”

***

In recounting the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people, the Torah tells us about a double miracle that occurred in the seventh plague of hail.  This was no simple hailstorm, as we read in this week’s portion Va’eira, “And there was hail, and fire flaming within the hail” (Shemot/Exodus 9:24).  Usually fire and water don’t get… Read More »

Cultural Propaganda

During the final weeks of December I am not short on parents’ complaints that they are struggling with maintaining their children’s Jewish identity in a society so engrossed in its own holiday celebrations (nor am I oblivious to the challenge my own children face at this time).  The commercialization and invasive, ubiquitous advertising – not to mention the peer pressure – makes it difficult for our children not to get caught up in the excitement that their friends, neighbors and – at times – relatives are experiencing.  In fact, it is apparently a great challenge for many adults as well.

Certainly, we celebrate the right of others to practice their faith. In fact, while we don’t… Read More »

Speaking Greek

I was listening to a few friends talk about the looming spread of Omicron – and it all sounded like Greek to me. I am not simply referring to the Greek alphabet that we are all slowly learning. Nor am I implying an intricate medical jargon. I am talking about the state of discourse in our society. Thanks to Twitter and Google, everyone is an expert on everything. And, everyone has an ironclad opinion.

We talk a lot. But, we seem to have forgotten much of the art of talking to and with each other. Instead, we talk at each other. Or, we simply speak in echo chambers, and slowly lose the ability to converse in language that is slightly out of our comfort zone.

Is there any hope to curing this malady?

***

I’ll leave the… Read More »

Chutzpah!

A good friend of mine once shared with me a podcast describing the difference between the American version of Chutzpah (CHUTS-pah) and the Israeli version of Chutzpah (Chuts-PAH). What emerged from the discussion was that CHUTS-pah is frowned upon, whereas Chuts-PAH is celebrated.

Well what is Chutzpah and what’s the difference between them?

Chutzpah has recently entered the English lexicon and appears in the dictionary as an English word. The common translation is audacity or nerve. A classic example is the boy who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan.

But, this is simply CHUTS-pah, the American version. This is actually the more historic version, emanating from… Read More »

Keep Dreaming!

Dreams occupy a significant part of last week’s parsha and in this week’s parsha of Miketz, they are center stage. Yoseph dreams. Yoseph interprets dreams.

These dreams lead to tremendous success. They all depict – or lead the way toward – Yoseph becoming viceroy of Egypt.

However, in the bigger picture, the dreams that elevated Yoseph to near royalty, also led the Jews to eventually become enslaved in Egypt. What seemed like a personal victory for Yoseph became a yoke of oppression for his people.

In fact, Yoseph’s father Yaakov also dreamed. Yoseph dreamed of stars in the sky and Yaakov dreamed of a ladder. Yoseph dreams of bushels of wheat and Yaakov dreamed of angels.

What is the symbolism of the fact… Read More »

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