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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Don’t Fly Standby

I’m currently in Anchorage at a regional conference of Chabad Lubavitch emissaries. Yes, in the universe of Chabad you can have 75 rabbis in Alaska.

Needless to say, getting to Alaska from throughout the Western USA can be challenging. I am lucky. Thank G-d my connection was smooth and I arrived in time. My friend, however, missed his connection and needed to stay overnight in a hotel and then fly standby. Flying standby is never fun. He did make it here, Baruch Hashem, after another two connections.

In this week’s double parsha of Acharei-Kedoshim we learn about a different type of standby.

The Torah warns us not to be bystanders if we see someone in danger. “You shall not stand by the shedding of your fellow’s b… Read More »


I was once with a community member during his last moments. I stood with family members as we prayed and experienced the moving transition from one world to another. A short while later the hospice nurse showed up. The first question she asked me was, “Has he been pronounced dead?”

 I nodded.

Later, I thought about that exchange a bit more. Either he was still alive or he had passed. Why was it so critical to ask whether he was pronounced dead? Yes, it was vital to confirm whether he was no longer alive. But the language we use is telling.  We insist not only on confirming the status, but on the announcement.

Why the centrality of pronouncing it?


In this week’s double parsha of Tazria-Metzora we learn th… Read More »

Unexpected Guests

I once came across the following Good Housekeeping advice: "Always keep several get well cards on the mantel. That way if unexpected guests arrive, they'll think you've been sick and unable to clean."

Seriously, imagine you suddenly got word that someone important was about to show up at your home. Would you relax with a book, confident that your home is perfectly ready? Or would you spring into action, cleaning, dusting and organizing?


In the aftermath of the dramatic death of Nadav and Avihu in this week’s parsha Shemini, G-d commands the kohanim (priests) to, “Not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting.”

This resulted in a ban… Read More »

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