The Final Two Days of Passover Born Free? Live Free

           The main idea of Passover is not merely abstaining from bread, cake, crackers, and other leavened products, it is to identify with the theme of the holiday. Freedom is what we focus on during Passover. We were freed from the Egyptians, as we say in the Haggadah, Had not the Holy One taken our ancestors out of Egypt, then we, our children, and our children’s children would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. In 1922, in Luban, Communist (i.e. oppressive) Russia, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein asked the following question in a sermon: How can we celebrate freedom when we have been constantly persecuted, exiled, and harassed? Are we really free if we are denied equal rights and protection in the countries in which we live? (Although we have been blessed with freedom in America, it is a new phenomenon.) Getting back to the question asked almost 100 years ago in a small Russian town; how can we (Jews living under the violent oppression of communism) celebrate a festival representing freedom?

Pesach/Passover 5778-2018 And You Shall Tell Your Children

  In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One rescues us from their hands. (Passover Haggadah) These words will hopefully be familiar to anyone who grew up attending a Passover Seder; but is it true that non-Jews have attempted to destroy us in every generation? At our Seder, when […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40) Doing it Your Way

We complete the book of Exodus this week. Although the mitzvah of building the Mishkan (portable sanctuary) was already given in a previous Parsha, this week’s Torah reading concerns itself with the carrying out of the instructions. Various types of metals, fabrics and other raw materials were generously donated; contributions were encouraged but not mandatory. The response was overwhelming; […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3) Becoming an Entrepreneur of Self

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayetzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3) Becoming an Entrepreneur of Self This week’s Parsha ends with the pact made by Yaakov (Jacob) and Lavan (Laban) in Gilead.  Yaakov and his family left Lavan’s home without telling him, and Lavan pursued and ultimately caught up with them. A formal treaty was made; neither would harm the other […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)   A Jewish Hero: Dignified, Satisfied, and Serene

A Jewish Hero: Dignified, Satisfied, and Serene One of the most striking features about Judaism in comparison with, say, Christianity or Islam, is that it is impossible to answer the following question: Who is the central character of the drama of faith? In both of the other Abrahamic monotheisms the answer is obvious. In Judaism, […]

Yom Kippur: Introducing You to Yourself

 On Yom Kippur we talk about making amends for our past misdeeds. For many people, thinking about the past is a catalyst for guilt. “I am okay now but I feel guilty about my past,” is something I have heard often.  But this is a mistaken thought because guilt causes despair; it destroys, prevents rehabilitation, […]

A High Holidays Business Model

  A High Holidays Business Model             I once read a story that I suspect is apocryphal but nevertheless contains a pertinent message for the High Holidays.  It took place in Russia one hundred years ago. Two men who had been classmates and close friends in their small town’s Jewish school saw each other in […]