Messages from 2021

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha—Vzot Habracha (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12)Become the Person You Chose to Emulate.

 And the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab…. (34:8)The men mourned when Moses died but when his older brother, Aaron, died sometime before that, the entire house of Israel cried over his loss, then, everyone, both men and women, mourned his loss. This Parsha occupies itself with the praise of Moses, and […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: Yom Kippur 5782-2021 Why is it So Hard to Change?

Rabbi O’s Weekly: Yom Kippur 5782-2021Why is it So Hard to Change? For Jews, this is the season we talk about repentance. Although that word might entail negative connotations, it is derived from the Latin, and literally means regret. Most people, honest people, look back at their day, week, month, year, or life with some level of regret. […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20) How to Read Your Life’s Book Behold, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…(Deut. 30:15)

Doing good is a choice, but it is not limited to acts of beneficence, it also means that you see the good in your life, health, family, friendships, sustenance and so many other blessings that many people overlook. We choose whether we will feel entitled or blessed. An extreme example of how we choose to […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly: V’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11) Planting Your Family Tree

 The Talmud relates that one day Choni HaMagel (1st century BCE) was traveling on the road when he encountered a man planting a carob tree.                  How long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?                 Seventy years.                 Are you certain that you will live another seventy years?                 I found ready grown carob trees in the world; as my forefathers                              planted […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)[This is an edited version of CTC weekly-Heir Flow– 5774-2014]An Heir with Due Care

When Moses asked G-d to appoint a successor, the Midrash says that G-d answered Before you command Me concerning My children, command My children concerning Me. Moses proceeded to command the Jewish people concerning the laws of the daily and holiday sacrifices. What quality must a Jewish leader possess? When the Jewish people feared that Moses would not […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)Don’t Sweat It

He perceived no iniquity in Jacob, and saw no perversity in Israel” (23:21)The Hebrew word amal, translated here as “perversity,” has a second meaning, “toil.” It is an expression for work, especially laborious and exhausting work. Ohr HaChaim (1696-1743) uses this translation to give a unique interpretation to Balaam’s words: “He saw no exhaustion in Israel.” Balaam perceived that […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Nasso (Leviticus 4:21-7:89) Thirsty for Reality

In 2018 a study conducted at Ghent University (Belgium) demonstrated that people act differently when presented with a hypothetical moral decision than when faced with a real-life situation. Participants were presented with the “trolley dilemma,” which involves the following hypothetical scenario. A runaway trolley is about to hit five people on the tracks. They can take no […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Achrei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20)Our Natural Habitat

The authors of Pandemics and the Great Evolutionary Mismatch  discuss a scientific conundrum inherent in social distancing. Although social distancing is effective in slowing the spread of the disease, history and neuroscience have shown that in times of crisis, people do best when they have social interactions as a support system. When you remove that option, people have […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Tazria-Metzora (Leviticus 12-15)Creating Possibilities

This week’s Parsha continues discussing the harmful effects of lashon hara, senseless negative speech. Many people don’t take speech seriously, speaking 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 in the Talmud is that negative talk has the […]

The Final Days of Passover 5781-2021The Freedom Challenge—Are You In?

Here’s the challenge: It’s 1922 and you are a Rabbi in oppressive, human rights violating, Communist Russia. What words of wisdom or encouragement would you give to your flock on Passover? How could you talk about freedom when some of their basic human rights were being denied? R’ Moshe Feinstein was in this situation 99 […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5)Set a Margin so Life doesn’t Just Barge In

Margin/märjən/the edge or border of something. Although margins are important for books, we don’t talk enough about the need to leave space for margins in life. In The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients, Irvin Yalom, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford, says that he never schedules back-to-back appointments. […]