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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Year’s End or Beginning?

As we wind down the secular/fiscal year, we look back at what transpired. What worked and what didn’t work.

For some people, checking the gains and losses in the stock market or personal businesses is the primary focus. For others, it’s school grades.

Luckily, as time elapses, it also moves forward – with next year to look forward to.

There is one investment, however, that is guaranteed to succeed.

The investment of time we have given to others is an eternal gift – to them and to ourselves.

During the recent blizzard in Buffalo we have heard heroic and tragic stories. The efforts invested to help others will never go to waste.

And, this helps us understand a point in this week’s parsha.


In Vayigash we… Read More »

The Ignored Miracle?

Chanukah, one of the most observed Jewish holidays – commemorates two miracles. The first, the victory of the Maccabees’ small, amateur army over the mighty Greek-Syrians, is the lesser-known of the two. The latter, the oil of the menorah lasting eight days instead of one, is relived every year when we kindle the menorah.

In effect, the rededication and kindling of the menorah in the Holy Temple would not have been possible without the military victory. Yet, why is there no overt celebration of this aspect of the Chanukah story? Isn’t the celebration of our religious freedom greater than the remarkable feat of the magical oil?

On Chanukah we were fighting for the soul of Judaism. The Greek-Syrians were happy to accept us… Read More »

Thank G-d!

As Chanukah approaches, we get excited about the spirit of the holiday. After all, Chanukah is a fun holiday. We don’t need to sit in Shul fasting all day. Nor do we need to go on a strict diet and stuff our face with matzah in record time. Who could complain about latkes, donuts and Chanukah gelt? Beautiful Candles and decorations bring the festive spirit to life.

There are two miraculous events that we are marking on Chanukah.

The miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of oil. The menorah burned for eight days instead of one. It’s also the miracle of the few versus the many. The tiny Maccabee militia defeated the huge Greek-Syrian army.

But more importantly, it’s a miracle of faith and spirit. After all, what were the Mac… Read More »

Got Pride?

This is always the time of year that – as a Rabbi – I hear the most kvetching from Jewish parents.

Yesterday it was a shocked parent seeking guidance on how to answer their four-year-old who comes home from school and asks when are we putting up our tree. Or, it’s a mother wondering where she can buy the fanciest Chanukah decorations to outdo her non-Jewish neighbors.

To all of them, I have the same response. And, it’s highlighted in this week’s parsha, Vayishlach.

But, first a passage from Tehillim (Psalms). In Chapter 47, we read, “He chooses our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom He loves eternally.”

In the Hebrew, the term Ge’on Yaakov is colloquially used to connote Jewish pride… Read More »

My Alternate Life

Like many people, I sometimes play the game of, “What If?”

What if I was raised in a different country? What if I really did become a professional baseball player? What if I went to a different school?

Certainly, any of the what-if scenarios could lead me on a path to a very different life – with alternate people, objects and places – resulting in a different me.

Sometimes, I even find myself living my current life through the lens of an alternate life. How would I do this if I had never met my wife? How would I respond if I was a foot taller?


Yaakov, the last of the Patriarchs, certainly could have envisioned a totally different life. As this week’s parsha relates, he was forced to flee from home.&nbs… Read More »

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