Messages on Numbers

The Census. More statutes and laws. Adventures of the Hebrews en route to Canaan through the desert.

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Chukas (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

To Life!An unpleasant topic we all must deal with is death. Two years ago, I lost my mother and father within three months of one another. No amount of logic soothed my emotions. They were both in their nineties and had led full, active, and productive lives. They were generous and we had a wonderful […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Korach (Numbers 16-18) 

 Good—or Bad and Ugly: How to ArgueOver thirty years ago Sara shared a story with me she heard from one of the marriage counselors who trained her. He was called late at night by a neighbor in an apartment building who heard a couple yelling at one another and it seemed to be getting progressively […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shlach (Numbers 13-15)

Master Your Surroundings or They Will Master YouThe time had come for the Israelites to send spies to the Land of Israel to make a reconnaissance mission. Before entering the Land, they needed to know about its inhabitants and terrain. There were twelve spies in all, two of whom (Joshua and Caleb) came back with […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89)

Seizing the Moment of Inspiration Imagine a college freshman away from home for the first time; the feeling of freedom sets in immediately. He can finally party, drink, and do other activities whenever he likes but he isn’t mature in how he uses his new autonomy. After a month or two he begins to see the […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Matot-Masei (Numbers 30-36)

Finding Meaning in the Journey Why does the Torah contain a detailed travelog of the journeys of the Jews in the desert? Beginning with the exodus from Egypt, it lists the name of each destination along the way as well as some recollections. Being as the Land of Israel was their ultimate and final destination, […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Nasso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) 5783/2023

Getting Up When Life Knocks You Down The Mishkan (Tabernacle) was the portable place of worship for the Jews in the wilderness and the precursor to Solomon’s Temple, which was built hundreds of years later in Jerusalem. After its completion, there was a seven-day ceremony; at the end of each day, Moses dismantled the Mishkan and then reassembled it […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Matot-Masei (Numbers 30-36)What do You Protect?

You shall designate cities for yourselves, cities of refuge shall they be for you, and a murderer shall flee there—one who takes a life unintentionally. (Numbers 35:11)  Involuntary manslaughter is something we take seriously. If an axe head becomes dislodged and kills an innocent bystander, the chopper/killer must quickly escape to one of the three cities of refuge […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Balak (Numbers 22:2-25-9)

Does Education Make You a Moral Person? The past century, the bloodiest in all of human history, should have lain to rest two of the most cherished theories about humanity postulated by the Enlightenment and Secular Humanism. One was the idea that all moral questions, all issues of right and wrong, good and evil, were […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Chukas (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Chukas (Numbers 19:1-22:1) How to Become a Peacemaker in 2 Easy Steps                   And the entire congregation saw that Aaron had died and they wept for Aaron 30 days–all the house of Israel. (20:29) “ALL the house of Israel” refers to both men and woman. When Moses dies the verse doesn’t mention “all the house of Israel,” […]

This week’s Torah Portion was written by Rabbi O. in advance of his entering the week of mourning. Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shelach (Numbers 13-15) A Student, a Prostitute, and a Sage

We are introduced to the mitzvah of tzitzis (strings attached to a four cornered garment) at the end of this week’s Parsha. The following remarkable incident occurred in the 3rd century and is recorded in the Talmud (Menachot 44a).Once a man, who was very scrupulous about the mitzva of tzitzis, heard about a prostitute who charged four hundred gold dinars for her […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Bamidbar/Shavuos 5781-2021You 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 precedes the holiday of Shavuot. What connection is there between this week’s Parsha and Shavuot, the festival commemorating the […]

Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Vayakel (Numbers 1:1-4:20)The Need for Millennials and Gen Z Jewish Leaders

This year’s Winter Olympics were about many things besides athletic competition. Many people weren’t enthusiastic because they didn’t want to legitimize a host country committing human rights atrocities. For those who did tune in, questions of national allegiances, drug use and yes, COVID, dominated the headlines. And, of course, there was the question of youth, […]

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 […]