Come on in, grab a seat at our “digital bar” and join two old friends for relatively well-informed and irreverent musings on religion, news, and society. In each episode, Rabbi Asher Lopatin and John Geiringer, an attorney, will ask provocative questions that congregants maybe only wish they could ask their Rabbi. This is not your typical religion podcast… Imagine sharing a drink with your Rabbi. What would you ask? I bet you too have a few questions you wish you could ask. That’s exactly what A Rabbi and a Lawyer Walk Into a Bar Podcast is about. An honest conversation by two news junkies who keep an open mind, challenge the status quo, and love discussing the comedy, tragedy, absurdity, and reality of the Jewish experience.
Having survived the Day of Hate, we discuss our obligation to eradicate Amalek – but don’t try that at home. Asher then pivots to the story and mitzvot of Purim, and John describes the parallels between Haman’s sons and the Nuremberg defendants. We then grapple with the ongoing growing pains of Israel’s democracy.
We give thanks to our listeners, who lifted us up to #194…among Jewish podcasts, and we ask them to help us beat the Chofetz Chaim at his own game. Speaking of numbers, we unpack the 10 Utterances (not Commandments), and Asher provides some unique insights into each one. Speaking of the Big Ten, Asher describes his experiences in the wake of the Michigan State shooting, and how humanity should aspire to be like one person with on...
We discuss whether Tu BiShvat is a tree hugger holiday or just a Jewish tax day — or both — as well as the delicious (except for the carob fruit) kabbalistic seder associated with the holiday. Asher then describes his favorite rabbinic dynasty, the Soloveichiks, and their continuing role in American society. John then finally turns the tables on Roberta Rosenthal Kwall, his former law professor, by asking her some hard questions....
Asher describes his MLK weekend church visits and John aspires to sing with a gospel choir. Speaking of outreach, John eats bagels with a recovering neo-Nazi. We then invite Jeremy Treister to describe his journey from eruv checker to the 21st Maccabiah Games gold medal track cyclist.
John shares some surprising Jewish twists from his European vacation, including an evangelical shofar, German stumbling stones, “Pappa Don’t Preach” at a kosher restaurant, L’As du Fallafel at Le Marais, and so much more! After worrying that John was invaded by body snatchers for being too cosmopolitan, Asher explains how to confront the vicissitudes of life and then takes a run for the border.
We start by explaining why Mike Pence tweeted the wrong candelabra. Asher then describes how Jews can approach the Christmas season, and we then compare the obscure Nittel Nacht observance with Vegas. John explains why the Central Time Zone is such a bummer on New Year’s Eve as we wish everyone a wonderful new year.
Wish us mazel tov in reaching our 18th episode without being cancelled, literally or figuratively! Speaking of getting “chai,” we get into the weeds about marijuana under both secular and Jewish law. We then jointly get blunt about Chanukah, including why Jews generally don’t light up for the “Festival of Lights.”
Former Second Lieutenant Asher Lopatin, U.S. Army, describes his quest for “shared society” in Israel. John’s college roommate, Brigadier General Mark Clingan, USMC, also discusses his “work trip” to Israel, as well as his experiences in Europe, including Valentine’s Day in Dachau. After John bemoans getting older, Asher reminds him of the alternative, leading to a halachic discussion about grandparents and baby namings. We then...
A recent shivah house visit prompts John to ask Asher about the mourning custom. Who is Othniel Ben Kenaz and what’s his connection to the recent disturbances in Hebron? We then analyze Thanksgiving through a Jewish lens, and Asher offers tips on how we can keep the knives down this year (except when carving the turkey). Finally, Asher wishes John a happy birthday on what is also an important day in Jewish history.
We ponder whether Roe-vember stopped the Red Wave, leading us to the halachic view of abortion, and why it differs from the fundamentalist Christian perspective. Doug Klein, our first guest(!), then explains his Zionist Guide to the World Cup. It wouldn’t be our podcast without yet more on the antisemitism front (thanks Dave Chappelle), before John ends on a note of responsibility and Asher ends on a note of tolerance.
(Rabbi) Asher (Lopatin) describes his adventures at the other General Assembly. We then unpack the latest Israeli election, and how American Jews should respond to the results. Asher explains kosher issues surrounding whisk(e)y, our favorite libation. Before ending with Sodom and Gomorrah, John probes how far traditional Jews can push the boundaries of “veggie traif” – for a friend.
As we celebrate our bar mitzvah episode, and wait for our fountain pens to arrive, Asher describes the halachic underpinnings of the popular ritual. Because it’s Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan, and therefore don’t have any Jewish holidays to observe, we discuss the Jewish take on Diwali and Halloween. We then pivot to Noah’s travails in this week’s parsha, including becoming drunk (as a pig?) and having a bad (some say very bad) encoun...
Because this is the “Genesis” episode of the year….Now that COVID hits our podcast, we ask why there is a “Land of Confusion” among some Jews regarding modern medicine. Asher tells us that if we don’t strictly construe the Torah, we are not “Throwing It All Away,” and thinking otherwise may be a “Misunderstanding.” We discuss the Jewish view on gender without getting “In Too Deep.” “That’s All!”
So many holidays, so little time. As we move through Sukkot, while avoiding skunks, we squeeze in Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah (and its importance to the Top Secret! movie), not to mention the little-known Hakhel ceremony. Then so many questions. Is Kohelet/Ecclesiastes a nihilistic manifesto? Was Barney just a little too good? Should we care about Kanye?
Warning: this episode is spicier than most. We start by discussing why we read about sexual ethics on Yom Kippur, and how even the traditional Jewish view on homosexuality is more nuanced than you’d think. We advise the UC Berkeley law school’s Queer Caucus why it may not want to hold its next event in Hebron. Asher explains Sukkot, and tries (and fails) to describe its four species while avoiding Freudian slips. Finally, John ...
Does 5783 mean that we walked around with dinosaurs? John’s trip to Philly prompts a discussion of the Liberty Bell and the Jewish view on Jewish slavery. We then discuss Asher’s White House adventures, and how Jewish celebrations there never fail to impress. Finally, we wrap up with concepts to internalize for Yom Kippur, and how chickens are for eating (if treated humanely), not for waving above your head.
Who has more exciting conferences, rabbis or banking lawyers? We explore the positive role of the Treasury Department, and the not-so-positive role of the State Department, while discussing the new PBS show about the Holocaust. Asher gets on his soapbox about Israel, we praise the Michigan Maccabi, and then wonder if DeSantis read the Tochecha. Finally, we identify how to achieve the right mindset for Rosh Hashanah through t’shu...
Should Jews really be driving forklifts, and is asking that question antisemitic? Asher and John then discuss superheroes, both real (9/11) and imagined (Sabra). After unpacking the Rosh Hashanah seder, our co-hosts then pivot to themes of royalty and Rosh Hashanah. We marvel at the similarities between the upcoming coronations in England and in synagogue, and discuss whether God is an adherent of servant leadership.
Our co-hosts discuss cultivating an attitude of gratitude, even for comfort-fit pants. Asher then explains life lessons we can learn from golf. They then discuss space, the final frontier, and Asher assuages John’s concerns about being probed by aliens. With many synagogues undergoing transitions, John asks Asher about the attributes of an effective rabbi, and he explains how synagogues can survive, and even thrive, in the post-...
Sending our kids off to school makes us reminisce about our college experiences, which seem like yesterday. Somehow we also find a way to tie the Ben & Jerry’s divestiture controversy to erotic pasta. We end by discussing the various traditions of the Jewish month of Elul, and how they should help us prepare for Rosh Hashanah.
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