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 […]

Rosh Hashanah 5781-2020Emerging!

“It is especially important not to use aspirin during the last 3 months of pregnancy,” is the warning on every bottle of aspirin. Why not? “because it may cause problems in the unborn child.” A fetus is obviously more sensitive to the effects of chemicals than a fully developed person. Partly, of course, because of its […]

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: Tisha B’Av Anger on Stones

  A long while back, I noticed a new face in shul; I introduced myself and asked where he was from. He had recently moved from Memphis; I asked him what made him decide to move. “My life was like a country song.” I looked puzzled. “I lost my job, my girlfriend broke up with me, […]

Shavuot 5780/2020Lessons About the Crown from Ruth, not Corona

 The two-day festival ofShavuot begins tonight. The Bible describes it as an agricultural celebration but most people know it as the as the Jewish holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.  It took seven weeks for this nascent nation to travel from Egypt to Mount Sinai. The name Shavuot, […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Bamidbar/Shavuos 5780-2020You Count!

When the cycle for the weekly Torah readings was established centuries ago, this week’s Parsha was designated specifically to be read this Shabbos. I.e. the reading is from the first few chapters of the Torah’s fourth book, Numbers and always proceeds the holiday of Shavuos. What connection is there between this week’s Parsha and Shavuos, the festival commemorating the […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Emor (Leviticus 21-24)Passing the Baton

A great deal of this week’s Parsha deals with matters pertaining toKohanim, the decedents of Aaron. “Priests” is usually the English translation but there’s no appropriate terminology to describe this unique group of people whose task it is to perform the service in Jerusalem’s ancient Temple as well as being teachers for the Jewish people. […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20)The Revenge Paradox

Do not take revenge… (Leviticus 19:18)The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer.  (Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption)Which one of us hasn’t had inner thoughts of vengeance at […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12-15)Speaking Without Critiquing

    This week’s Parsha continues discussing the harmful effects oflashon hara, senseless negative speech. Many people don’t take speech seriously; they freely speak about others without regard for their feelings or the potential damage it can cause. King Solomon wrote, Life and death are in the hands of the tongue. One explanation given in the Talmud is that […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shmini (Leviticus 9-11)A Birdseye View

When enumerating the non-kosher birds, the Torah mentions a bird called da’ah. The Talmud points out that, later on (Deuteronomy 14:12), when the Torah repeats the list of kosher birds, it refers to it as a ra’ah. The Talmud (Chulin 63a) takes note of the Etymological significance of “ra’ah” because it is the root of the Hebrew verb […]

Keeping Up with the Stein’s

(Being as we are less than two weeks away from Passover, each week we will have a short dvar Torah on Passover and another on the weekly Torah reading. Keeping Up with the Stein’s Passover is the holiday of freedom and Matzah is known as the bread of poverty, lechem oni.  If it has eggs or fruit juice or […]