Messages from 2019

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 […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)Can You Manipulate G-d?

There seems to be a very fine line between manipulation and persuasion. Manipulation is generally perceived in a negative light whereas persuasion can sometimes be viewed in a positive, or at least neutral, way. However, both involve convincing someone of something. Ultimately, what is the difference between manipulation and persuasion? Manipulation involves deliberately attempting to […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly-Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9) Time to Repair

This week’s Parsha introduces us to an anti-Semite named Balak. He hired the wicked Bilaam to destroy the Jews; Bilaam agreed and even attempted to do so but was unsuccessful. At one point, Bilaam uttered a remarkable statement; something we would not have expected to come from the mouth of such a malicious person.Let me […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Behalotcha (Numbers 8-12)Alex Trebek and the Gift We All Possess

 Miriam (Moses’ sister) spoke negatively about Moses to Aaron, their brother. As result, she broke out in tzaras, a form of leprosy that existed only in biblical times; it emerged when a person spoke lashon hara, negative talk-non beneficial criticism. Moses prayed for Miriam, but the prayer was just five words.Moses cried out to G-d, saying, “Please, G-d, […]

Shavuot 5779-2019: Torah – the Greatest of All Gifts

Jews get uncomfortable when hearing concepts like loving G-d. Somehow, it seems like something one would expect to hear in Church, but never in a synagogue. On the other hand, Jews seem quite comfortable uttering remarks linking G-d to cruelty. “How could a loving G-d allow a Holocaust? Where was He when my sister got cancer? […]