Show cover of A Rabbi and a Lawyer Walk Into a Bar

A Rabbi and a Lawyer Walk Into a Bar

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.


Repost: A Jewish Roller Coaster
In the midst of Omer counting, John admits being off track, even with tech support.  As anti-Israel disturbances continue, Asher provides a firsthand account from Ann Arbor.  We invite Tom Berner to describe what his group (LAAST) has been doing to fight that scourge using a variety of legal tools.  We then discuss the very Jewish emotional roller coaster this past week, as we remember our victims, honor our fallen, and celebrate our nation.
41:39 5/20/24
The Sun Became a Bagel
John wonders whether the recent eclipse and earthquake should have us concerned, and Asher assures us that gam zu l’tovah - everything is for the good.  He also convinces us to say shehechiyanu more often.  We begin the countdown to Passover by stopping tachanun, spring cleaning our chometz, and watching the latest Moses flick.
19:59 4/19/24
Stranger in a Strange Land
Asher describes his new Ann Arbor gig, as all eyes remain on Michigan this election year.  Speaking of politicians, we discuss whether Schumer is such a shomer and why Proxmire should be better known.  John questions whether those red pins at the Oscars were about our shared humanity, or something more sinister.  As Purim arrives, we approach joy in a time of pain, learn moral self-defense, and consider how quickly misfortune can be reversed.
43:12 3/21/24
The Sap Is Rising
Baby it’s cold outside!  In a surprise twist, Asher acknowledges Nathan of Gaza for the Tu Bishvat seder.  We then contemplate WWMLKD (what would MLK do) in the current environment.  John summarizes the flawed ICJ case against Israel, and wonders if the pro-Hamas/Houthi protesters ever consider themselves the “baddies.”  Despite the negative temperatures, we end with positive thoughts about longer days. 00:29 Introduction and Casual Conversation 00:48 Discussing Tuba Shvat and its Significance 02:54 Exploring the Tradition of Tu Bishvat Seder 03:47 Reflecting on the History of Jewish Communities 04:25 Contemplating Political Involvement and Leadership 06:44 Appreciating the Importance of Jewish Unity 07:27 Remembering Martin Luther King and His Legacy 09:11 Discussing the Current Political Climate 10:31 Reflecting on the Importance of Jewish-Black Unity 11:26 Discussing the Current Situation in Israel 13:29 Analyzing the Legal Implications of the Israel Conflict 16:43 Reflecting on the Tragedy of Misused Ingenuity
27:53 1/25/24
Latke vs. Hamantash (vs. Draykops)
Asher describes his ongoing Israel advocacy efforts, including his recent trip to the Holy Land, which included visiting hospitals, picking lettuce, and reveling in his strange love of driving there. We then discuss Bibi’s role in history, and how it would have been improved by early retirement. After some Harvard schadenfreude, John defends his negative campaign against Chanukah in his shul’s version of the famous Latke-Hamantash Debate.
29:25 1/4/24
Ep 38 – Best of Times, Worst of Times
Asher describes being one of almost 300,000 at the Israel rally, while John joined virtually.  We turn our ire on fellow Jews who give aid and comfort to the enemy, and suggest mini-cherem for them.  After questioning whether we can be simultaneously frightened and emboldened by current events, we end on a note of Thanksgiving - and kosher turkey. Enjoy Thanksgiving!
37:53 11/22/23
Ep 37 – Clash of Civilizations
We lament the “useful idiots” who support Hamas, but derive hope from our true allies.  Asher surprisingly announces his political aspirations, while John (an avid C-SPAN viewer) advises caution.  Asher memorializes Samantha Woll, and we compare notes on our crying habits these days.  We rejoice in the newfound Jewish unity and faith, and John reminds us that humor is a Jewish superpower in times of trouble.  
38:38 11/9/23
Ep 36 – Am Yisrael Chai
In our most somber episode (hopefully ever), we discuss how we celebrated Judaism’s happiest day on Israel’s saddest day.  Asher taps his expertise on Islam to explain the 10/7 perpetrators, while we try to understand the mentality of their supporters worldwide.  So much for Asher’s upcoming “shared society” trip to Israel.  As usual, we end on a positive note, in this case the return of Jewish unity - for now.
47:10 10/20/23
Ep 35 – Live Long and Prosper
We discuss our respective Rosh Hashanas, including Asher’s geopolitical sermons and John’s unexpected rendition of Dem Bones for his congregation.  For Yom Kippur, Asher explains how we should approach repentance, both among individuals, and between individuals and “The Place.”  We then unpack the Yom Kippur service, including why some Jews pray like Muslims.  Of course we had to mention Mr. Spock’s famous gesture.
30:49 9/24/23
Ep 34 – New Year, New You
The new year always brings the possibility of a fresh start, so Asher and John discuss the value of incremental improvement, both in jiu-jitsu and in life.  Asher explains what to expect when Rosh Hashana falls on shabbat (what, no shofar?).  We then unpack all those holiday greetings you’ll be hearing over the next few days.  Once you’ve plumped up from holiday meals, it’s time for the Jewish version of intermittent fasting.
22:06 9/14/23
Ep 33 – The World’s Most Interesting Man
Law professor, author, and activist Amos Guiora joins the podcast to provide his unvarnished and sometimes controversial views on a variety of subjects, including the state of affairs in the State of Israel.  Subtle he ain’t.  Being in Elul, we consider how his scholarship on enablers and bystanders can help us refine our cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of our soul) before the New Year.  Buckle up for a bumpy ride, and stay tuned for next week as we unpack some of his more provocative opinions.
52:13 9/6/23
Ep 32 – Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Romance blossoms as Asher and John discuss Tu B’Av, the Jewish day of love.  They get an assist from Asher’s wife, Rachel, a modern day matchmaker with a guaranteed spot in the afterlife.  Finally, our hosts plan their dream job of operating a kosher resort on the West Coast (of Michigan).
51:58 8/11/23
Ep 31 – Happy Birthday?
We celebrate our first podcast birthday during the Nine Days, and Asher spills the secret for keeping sermons fresh after the first year.  John describes the tragic events that we commemorate on Tisha B’Av, and Asher tells us what to do about them.  We discuss whether it’s a halachic obligation to watch Operation Thunderbolt during this time and, speaking of which, how difficult it is to explain the 70s unless you lived through them.
40:42 7/26/23
Ep 30 – There’s No Place Like Home
What’s the bracha over a tornado?  A Muslim, a Christian, and a rabbi (sounds like another podcast) visit the Holy Land, and, like David Draiman from Disturbed, Asher delivers a positive report - except regarding proposed judicial reforms.  We discuss requirements and customs surrounding the 17th of Tammuz and the Three Weeks, and John questions whether rebuilding the Third Temple now ourselves is a good idea (spoiler alert: no). There’s No Place Like Home What’s the bracha over a tornado?  A Muslim, a Christian, and a rabbi (sounds like another podcast) visit the Holy Land, and, like David Draiman from Disturbed, Asher delivers a positive report - except regarding proposed judicial reforms.  We discuss requirements and customs surrounding the 17th of Tammuz and the Three Weeks, and John questions whether rebuilding the Third Temple now ourselves is a good idea (spoiler alert: no).
44:08 7/21/23
Ep 29 – Guard Your Tongue
Summer is finally here!  While normal people spend those nights having BBQs and visiting the beach, John is teaching Holocaust and the Law, and the lessons for today.  We discuss the recent graduation speakers who invoked anti-Zionism’s greatest hits, and how we should consider responding.  Speaking of speech, Asher ponders what the Chofetz Chaim would think about Yelp.  He then describes why rabbis won’t be replaced by ChatGPT anytime soon.
42:54 6/19/23
Ep 28 – No Tachanun
Asher describes his meaningful interfaith trip down South to explore African-American history.  Was Shimon Bar Yochai the inspiration for MTG’s Jewish space lasers?  We discuss how the UK’s Chief Rabbi spent his most famous “digital detox,” and how it turned out better than 1189.  Finally, it’s time to break out the cheesecake and the coffee for Shavuot as we celebrate our spiritual liberation.
41:03 5/19/23
Ep 27 – Count on Me
Jews are in a period of semi-mourning as we count the days of the Omer after Passover.  So it’s only appropriate that this episode is heavier than most, as we discuss the Holocaust, funerals, yahrtzeits, and plagues.  Luckily, Asher infuses his patented optimism throughout the episode and helps us conclude on an uplifting note, as we discuss both the afterlife and birkas ha-ilanos, an annual prayer for newly flowering trees.  We also debate whether Asher should buy a round at his local neo-Nazi biker bar.
47:08 4/27/23
Ep 26 – Why is This Episode Different From All Other Episodes?
Asher explains how to seek and destroy chometz without collateral damage.   It’s then Seder time.  We do a speed round of everything you need to know to keep your participants from becoming too grumpy, and maybe even somewhat engaged.  And don’t forget to count the Omer!
50:56 3/31/23
Ep 25 – Funnye Business
With the recent large bank failures, John is excited that banking lawyers are cool again.  We then discuss lessons from Nuremberg for the ICC to use against Russian leaders.  We are joined by Rabbi Capers Funnye, who leads Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, for fascinating insights about his community and his dialogue with Louis Farrakhan.  Finally, we start revving up our blowtorch for Passover cleaning.
59:31 3/28/23
Ep 24 – Purimfest!
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.
40:14 3/9/23
Ep 23 – We’re Number 194!
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 one heart.  We end by discussing how far we should take criticism of Israel.
37:10 2/22/23
Ep 22 – Remix Podcast
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.  She explains her recent book, Remix Judaism, and relates the Talmudic passage describing the profession-dependent recommended frequency of, ahem, intimacy that husbands should provide to their wives. Please leave us a review:
45:55 2/6/23
Ep. 21 – Famous Jewish Sports Hero
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. 
53:43 2/1/23
Ep 20 – Bonne Année! 
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.
42:58 1/12/23
Ep 19 – Merry Nittel Nacht and Shanah Tovah
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.
28:43 12/23/22
Ep 18 – Back in the Chai Life Again
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.”
40:21 12/20/22
Ep 17 – Two Officers and a Gentleman
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 contemplate why religious observance doesn’t always fix our moral compass, and how to avoid a heart of darkness.
50:09 12/9/22
Ep 16 – Talking Turkey
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.
40:15 11/22/22
Ep 15 – Yiddishe Cup
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.
61:16 11/18/22
Ep 14 – Jews and Booze
(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.
45:36 11/11/22