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Yom Kippur Message

Yom Kippur: Four steps to real change The High Holidays are ironically a season of holidays many Jews aren’t too high about. “Repentance” sounds antiquated and it is a challenge to relate to the atonement process. A few years ago, I submitted the following article to aish.com and it can still be found on their website. It […]

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.

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) Disguising One’s Blessings

G-d spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them:       May G-d bless you and watch over you.                                     May G-d cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you.                                             May G-d raise His countenance toward you and grant you […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25-27) The Life You Save May be Your Own

If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter with you, you will support him…(25:35) The Midrash uses a verse from Psalms (41:2) to explain the above verse: Praiseworthy is one who contemplates the needy…But shouldn’t the verse read, Praiseworthy is one who gives to the needy? The Midrash answers its own question by saying that you should look at […]

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; […]