Messages on Deuteronomy

A recapitulation of the laws with some additions. Moses addresses the children of Israel and presents them with some warnings.

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha—Vzot Habracha (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12)Become the Person You Chose to Emulate.

 And the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab…. (34:8)The men mourned when Moses died but when his older brother, Aaron, died sometime before that, the entire house of Israel cried over his loss, then, everyone, both men and women, mourned his loss. This Parsha occupies itself with the praise of Moses, and […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) How to Read Your Life’s Book Behold, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…(Deut. 30:15)

Doing good is a choice, but it is not limited to acts of beneficence, it also means that you see the good in your life, health, family, friendships, sustenance and so many other blessings that many people overlook. We choose whether we will feel entitled or blessed. An extreme example of how we choose to […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: V’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) Planting Your Family Tree

 The Talmud relates that one day Choni HaMagel (1st century BCE) was traveling on the road when he encountered a man planting a carob tree.                  How long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?                 Seventy years.                 Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?                 I found ready grown carob trees in the world; as my forefathers                              planted […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Ha’Azinu (Deuteronomy 32) Basketball’s 3-Point Line and Judaism

Look at a list of NBA champions and you’ll see that basketball’s history has been dominated by elite, very tall, Centers. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain dominated the ’60s. They were followed by Kareem in the ’70s and ’80s, Hakeem Olajuwon in the ’90s, and Shaquille O’Neal in the 2000s.  But that’s no longer the case. What happened? How can a league be dominated […]

Weekly Torah PortionRabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)A Watershed Moment for an IDF Mom

When the Jewish people would come into the Land is Israel, they are told not to engage in one of the most common activities of the gentile nations of the time—witchcraft.Whoever does these things is an abomination to G-d…Walk with a pure heart with HaShem, your  G-d. (Deut. 18: 12-13)Although we don’t find too many Jews today being […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-30) The Gift of Experience

Imagine the following scenario: Millions of Jews – men and women, small children and their great-grandmothers, scholars and laypeople, all assembled in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. Suddenly the crowd gets quiet and the Jewish King ascends on to a platform and reads sections of the Torah. The nation is inspired and invigorated. A display of unity and a statement of purpose converge to revitalize this diverse nation. This scene happened every seven years.

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 ) Bless for Success

 If one plays basketball, he better be aware of the coach’s existence because it will affect the way he conducts himself at practice and at the game-and even off season. He knows that if he gets involved in an activity the coach frowns upon, it might jeopardize his chance of being successful on the team. The same is true of being in a theatrical production, in the military, a student, or any other endeavor in which there is clearly one person who is in charge, if you are not cognizant of that person’s existence, you will not succeed at that endeavor. This obviously relates to G-d because if we ignore or pretend that He doesn’t exist, how can we be successful in life? Remembering that the world has a Creator and living according to that reality has been a challenge for humanity since Adam and Eve and it seems harder than ever in a 21st century, an age when screen time and social media takes the lion’s share of many people’s waking hours. What is the Jewish approach to remain cognizant of the Almighty’s existence? The Torah has no shortage of mitzvot but there’s one in particular that keeps our minds and hearts in the right direction; blessings.