Messages from 2020

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, […]