Six Jewish Takeaways from COVID-19

[Being as the Corona Virus is currently in our thoughts most of the day, I have to chosen to write about it in a practical way. Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha comes afterward.] Six Jewish Takeaways from COVID-19We are all at wits end trying to manage in these challenging times. The Talmud (Yevomot 63a) tells us that […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: Purim 5780-2020 A Sister Who Wouldn’t

One of the puzzling incidents in the Purim story is Esther’s asking King Achashverosh to invite Haman, the arch enemy of the Jews, to a banquet. Ostensibly, she asked for a party so that she could plead with the king to have the decree against the Jews rescinded, but why would she invite the anti-Semite […]

Weekly Torah Portion: Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24)What’s Your Bribe?

Linguists are at a loss to find an origin for the word “bribe.” It is first used in 14th century old French but it means “steal.” By mid-15th century its meaning had shifted to “gift given to influence corruptly.” No one knows where “bribe” came from or how it ultimately came to have the meaning we use […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: BeShalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16)What’s Your Song?

How should we react when we see or hear of our enemy’s demise? Thousands of years ago King Solomon advised:Do not rejoice at your enemy’s downfall, and when he stumbles let your heart not be joyous, lest the G-d see and be displeased and turn back His anger from him [to you] (Proverbs 24:17-18).This statement tells us […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Va’eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35) Starbucks and Pharaoh

Imagine if you were miraculously given superhuman power and had the ability to confront an evil monarch, someone who has persecuted, oppressed and murdered tens of thousands of people. How would you approach him? Would you address him in a respectful way or would speak in an insulting and degrading fashion? Whether it was Ivan […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha:Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1) Cookie Monster

If you want to know how power effects even our most mundane choices, you need go no further than the “Cookie Monster Study,” done by Dr. Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at Berkeley. Here’s how he describes it. We bring three people to the lab, and we randomly assign one person to the role of leader. […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)5780-2020 Sweat

Ad Vingerhoets is a professor of psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. The thing that makes him unique is that he is an expert on crying and has spent over twenty years “studying when and why we cry, and how the study of crying may help us obtain better insight into human nature.” According […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayeishev (Genesis 37-40) Know When to Say No

How do you deal with the ethical challenges in your life?       ·         Should I take home some office supplies from the school I work at; no one will miss them?       ·         Should I be faithful in my marriage even though my spouse really irritates me or should have an affair with someone at work who understands me?       ·         Should I take […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43) The $120,000 Banana

 If you’ve never heard of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, don’t feel bad, he’s not the Rembrandt of this generation. But this past weekend, he created a work for art elites from all over the world who converged on Miami for Art Basel, a global platform connecting collectors, galleries, and artists. Cattelan went to a […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayeira (Genesis 18-22) Outlast Your Past

Imagine a high school Physics student winning a national competition enabling him to work alongside Arthur Ashkin, last year’s winner of the Noble Prize in Fphysics. Ashkin tells him that he wants to slow down the electric current in a circuit but then instructs him to increase the voltage in the circuit. This student knows one of […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Breishis (Genesis 1:1-6:8) Procreate vs. Soulmate

Disclaimer: The essay below presents a Jewish perspective on the age-old subject of marriage. Although that word has become shrouded in controversy affecting politics, religion, economics, psychology, and sociology, since time immemorial Judaism has addressed this topic. The goal here is to show depth and understanding into some of the ancient wisdom as it relates […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: V’zot HaBracha Making Sure to Keep the Door Open for More

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: V’zot HaBracha[This Sunday night begins the final days of the holiday season (Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur,Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah. As such, I have included two different essays; the first is on Ecclesiastes, second from the weekly Parsha, which will be read in Simchat Torah. Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is a biblical book setting forth King […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Ha’Azinu (Deuteronomy 32)Living with Questions

One of the most basic foundations of Judaism is expressed in this week’s Parsha. It is the idea that G-d’s judgements are just.   The Rock [G-d] — perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice… (32:4)This concept is mentioned in the Jewish mourning process when the mourners are required to recite the verse above at […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) Mother Birds and Smartphones

An eye-opening article in The Atlantic (September, 2017), Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation, profiles post-Millennials – teens who grew up from an early age with smartphones and tablets constantly present in their lives. It notes how smartphones have led teens to live a more isolated life than any previous generation. Instead of having to worry about teens staying out […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 Finding Your FOMO

If someone informed you that you missed a lecture about organic chemistry, you probably wouldn’t have thought you missed anything because the subject matter doesn’t interest you (i.e. if you are like most people). However, if an iconic actor, athlete, or politician, was giving a sold out talk your city and you were not able […]