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.


A couple weeks ago I received a phone call from a community member. Their son had tragically passed away suddenly in Germany. They were at a loss – both emotionally and logistically. They quickly bought a ticket and boarded a plane, but had no idea how to organize on the ground. Where would they bury their son? How would they navigate the labyrinth bureaucracy in Germany without even speaking the language? The sudden death meant that he police were involved. They were simply overwhelmed. Their other son was also en-route to Germany.

As they traveled, we kept in touch. I immediately called my colleague, Rabbi Yudi Tiechtel in Berlin. But, I could not get through. I sent an email and did not get an immediate response.

Hours later, he … Read More »

Annual Embassy

During the last week, at any given moment, six rabbinic students were crisscrossing the state of Idaho. Wrapping tefillin with three generations of a family from Deary. Lighting Shabbat candles with professors and artists in Moscow. Singing Jewish songs in picturesque Salmon. Printing the Tanya in Victor.

All in all, the aspiring rabbis were touched at the hospitality and warm welcome they received throughout our great state of Idaho. And, the Jews were touched that they are not forgotten Jews.

In fact, as the yeshiva bochurim explained, these Jews in the small towns across Idaho have an important responsibility. They must serve as pillars of light, as embassies for the Jewish people.

It really is great to know that when you travel you h… Read More »

Stating the Obvious

Stating the Obvious

Oftentimes my children nag me for reminding them of the obvious.  “Clean your room,” I might say, adding that if not they will suffer the consequences of not finding their own toys and clothes.

Although it may seem self-evident at the time, it’s often only a few weeks later when they can’t find something that they learn to keep things tidy themselves. There’s no need to remind my son when he is frantically looking for a book.  But in the interim, many days can pass without the sense of urgency.

In short, if it’s not on the front burner, it may become forgotten.


In this week’s parsha of Re’eh we are told, “And you shall slaughter of your cattle and flo… Read More »


One of the projects at Camp Gan Israel in Boise this week was ceramics.  The children were all given foam similar supplies and tools. The end result, however, was completely different from camper to camper.


In this week’s Parsha of Eikev we read the second paragraph of the famous Shema prayer. It opens, “And it will be, if you hearken to My commandments that I command you this day to love the L-rd, your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Our Sages explain that to “serve Him with all your heart” refers to prayer, because prayer is a “toil of the heart.”  Prayer is not meant to be lip service. Rather it is supposed to be a heartfelt petition to G-d.

I ha… Read More »

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