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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Responses, Not Answers

How does one celebrate the marriage of a loved one while mourning the loss of a loved one?

It seems impossible.

And, today, Jews the world over have been called upon to do the impossible.

Last night, at the first government-sanctioned mass gathering of the covid era, thousands upon thousands of Jews gathered at the holy tomb of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai in Northern Israel.

What seemed like the greatest celebration in months quickly turned into tragedy as a terrible accident occurred. Numerous people were crushed in a cascading pile of humanity, apparently heading for the exits. The horrific details slowly emerged. 45 dead. Over 100 injured, some critically.

Our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel. Our hearts … Read More »

The Best Yichus

In Hebrew and Yiddish “yichus” connotes prestigious pedigree. Tevya worrying about his daughter marrying a “nobody” is the embodiment of “yichus” psychosis.

In British Royal circles, a prince marrying a commoner is a big deal. In WASPy circles, yichus is what you need to get into the country club.


This week’s second Parsha, Kedoshim, opens with the words, “You shall be holy, for I, G-d your G-d, am holy.” The dictate to act sacred is tied to the fact that G-d is sacred.

Some commentaries point to a deeper missive in these words. The Almighty is not simply saying: “Emulate Me and be holy!” Rather, G-d is also exhorting, “You can be Holy, because I … Read More »

The Lonely Punishment

Ask anyone who has been wrongly accused of a crime whether they ever got their good reputation back. Their consistent responses underscore the great harm of slander and lashon harah (evil talk).

The headlines are replete with stories of financial impropriety, grand theft and cheating scandals – but the Talmud states, “Money can be reimbursed, but the damage of words is irreparable. Money is a person's property, but words hurt the person himself.” In truth, harming one’s reputation does not only cause one to suffer embarrassment and emotional injury. It also creates a spiral of ill feelings that domino from person to person – leaving a trail of destruction virtually impossible to track.

A lifetime ma… Read More »

Holy Cow

I’m noticing more and more kosher products in the supermarkets today. When we moved to Idaho 17 years ago, they were few and far between.

I recall inquiring once if a store carried kosher products. The lady working the counter was kind enough to show me around and point out what she called, “all the kosher products.” Pulling out a pastry with Hebrew writing on it she said, “Here’s another kosher product.”

Looking more closely I realized that while it may be produced in Israel and it was covered head-to-toe in Hebrew lettering, it did not bear a mark of kosher certification.


What indeed makes a product kosher or non-kosher?

The full answer would be too voluminous for this short thought, but t… Read More »

Jumping Ahead

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching my children play football with family.  I saw the ball fly out o the hands of the quarterback and marveled as my son sped ahead to catch up to the ball.  In football, sometimes the quarterback will throw the ball past the current location of the receiver in order that the ball will arrive at the destination at the same time as the receiver does. Throwing ahead is actually throwing on target. It also encourages the receiver to give it his best, knowing that he has to run with precision and speed to make the catch.

As we celebrate Passover, I am reminded of the need to “throw ahead.”

The reason that the festival is called Passover – even though it was but one det… Read More »

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