Sukkot 5781-2020 Jewish Devil Dogs

In Jewish consciousness, there’s an idea that the three festivals—Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot—correspond to the three Patriarchs. Tonight is Sukkot, the holiday corresponding to Yaakov (Jacob).The Mitzvah of Sukkah is an unlike almost all others in that we do it with our entire body. We eat matzah with our mouths, light Shabbos candles with our […]

Yom Kippur 5781-2020Seize the Opportunity

What is the first recorded moment in history in which one human being forgave another? When Joseph forgave his brothers. (Don’t mistake forgiveness with appeasement of anger, a concept found in ancient Greek literature.)From Judaism, a new form of morality was born. Most other systems are ethics of shame; when a person does wrong (s)he is, as […]

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. […]