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Rabbi's Blog

The Rabbi's thoughts culled from the "word from the Rabbi" in his weekly email

Connect with respect

The mission of Facebook is to connect everyone and bring the world closer together. This is according to the testimony given in congress this week by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

There are many people who will tell you that technology does not bring people together. Others may say, that while technology may bring people together, it is not worth the cost to their privacy. Personally, I enjoy reading technology news and see both sides of this debate having merit.

Additionally, I read up on the "news" of Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony, wondering what will change - if anything - in protecting people’s privacy; both from the consumers’ actions to protect their own information and from Facebook and other tech companies to safeguard personal information.

Currently, we are in middle of a period called Sefirat Haomer. It is a time when Jewish people worldwide refine themselves and prepare for Shavuot, to be spiritually prepared to re-accept the Torah for the 3330th time. Seeing this debate about connections and privacy, about sharing and at times not oversharing, I could not help but think how apropos.

One of the things that we focus on during this time period is Jewish unity. The big celebration takes place on Lag BaOmer with a communal event - at Harford Chabad with a community cookout.

When looking to connect with others one needs to be cognizant of 1) they, like myself, would like to be part of a community, 2) they may serve G-d in a way different then I do and 3) they may, in good faith, have different ideas as to how to solve issues and may disagree with me politically. We need to both connect as well as respect their privacy.

We must be careful not to cross the boundaries; respect the space they are in and recognize that they have their personal information that may not be ours to share. 

By doing this, we create not only connections and community, but we do what Mark Zuckerberg hopes to accomplish, and I quote: It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive.

Have a connecting Shabbos and feel free to connect with G-d at Services 10 am at Chabad :)

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

My path is always blocked, please help

By Rabbi Aron Moss - Nefesh Shul • Sydney, Australia 

Question of the Week:

My spiritual life has come to a standstill. Every time I try to take a step up, I get a hit. I have committed to keeping Shabbos, and now I am having trouble at work. I have started keeping kosher but my family is resisting big time. It seems my path is always blocked. Will this ever end? 

Answer:

You need a Red Sea moment. You are like the Israelites being chased by the Egyptians from behind, blocked by the sea in front. Their past is haunting them, and their future is eluding them. You know what happened next? Well it can happen to you too.

In what seems to be a strange addition to the story of the splitting of the sea, the Talmud states that not only did the water of the Red Sea split, but in fact every body of water in the entire world split. This would include the Yangtze River in China, Copacabana Beach, a cup of coffee in Swaziland, and a swimming pool in Malibu. Every single body of water in the entire world split into two.

What would be the point of that? The Israelites needed of the Red Sea to split because it was blocking their way to Mount Sinai. But why would all of the water in the world also need to split?

The miracle that happened at the Red Sea was not just a one-off event. Not only did the sea split, but along with it, every blockage to every spiritual path for every person in every place for all times split wide open. 

Anyone who sets out on a true spiritual journey should know that sooner or later you will come to an impasse. The world will not give you free passage to reach your soul's destination. Obstacles will be thrown at you, roadblocks will put in your way. You are being tested. If your desire for truth is real, then you will keep on going. Walk into the water. Don't run away. Face the roadblock head on. 

It is going to get tough. Nothing will change at first. It is then that you must remember, when the Red Sea split, all seas split. Every blockage in the world is only there for you to overcome it. Keep on marching into the water. Even if it comes up to your neck, just march on. The waters will split and you'll get through. The miracle has already happened, the path was opened for you thousands of years ago. There is nothing in the world, not an ocean or a river or a cup of coffee, that can stand in the way of you reaching your mountain. 

Good Yomtov and Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

Sources:
Shmos Rabba 21:6
R' Sholom of Belz

the 49 day challenge

Q: How does growth happen?
A: Slowly

The saying goes that it takes ten years to become an overnight success. In Jewish tradition, there are 49 days between the first Pesach Seder and the Shavuot Holiday. During these 49 days, Jews worldwide count up to 49, and on day 50 they celebrate that the Jewish people received the Torah 3330 years ago.

This counting is called sefirat Ha'omer; the counting that begins the same day that the Omer sacrifice was brought.

On a more spiritual level, it is the growth process from Egyptian bondage to receiving the Torah; the first detox in Jewish history. It is getting rid of our internal slave mentality to be able to be genuinely free and able to serve Hashem!

Each week of these seven weeks represents one of the seven emotions: 
Chesed - Giving/loving-kindness
Gevurah - Restrictive-power/strength
Tifferet - Beauty/Compassion and harmonious blending
Netzach - overpowering external limitations

Hod - overpowering external limitations 
Yesod - Connection
Malchus - Royalty  

So here is the 49-day challenge: 

1) Download the sefirah reminder app here 
2) Each night count the Sefirat Haomer - starting after nightfall Saturday night
3) Do an exercise each day of each week, e.g. working on becoming a healthy giver in week one and setting healthy boundaries in week two, etc.
4) Post daily (excluding Shabbat and holidays) on your social media channel and tag Harford Chabad and one friend. Challenge your friend to meditate on something you found meaningful and to challenge another friend. Let the growth begin!

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

With blessing for a Kosher and happy liberating Pesach!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

 

Who do you know?

We’re all very familiar with the four sons or four children of the Seder (you can read a deeper insight into the Seder and the four sons by my sister in law Dena Schusterman from Atlanta here).

Did you know there’s a fifth son or fifth child? And I have news for you! You actually know that person.

You see the fifth child is the child who is not present at the Seder.

It’s not that they are not wise and have rationally concluded that there is no need to go to a Seder. Because they are wise.

It’s not that they are wicked and are intentionally not coming to the Seder. Because they are good people.

It’s not that they are simple and are not ‘with it’ enough to know where to find out about the Seder. Because they are plugged into the culture around us.

It’s not that they are spiritually immature and don’t know how to ask. Because they are quite developed spiritually.

The reason they are not at the Seder is simply because no one invited them.

You see, the fifth child knows they are Jewish but that’s all they know. No one told them that wisdom and spirituality, connection and profound meaning is found right in the very tradition that is their birthright. Deep down each of these souls are hungry for the Jewish connection and community you already know.

Now how many such Jews do you know? They are your neighbor, your co-worker, doctor, accountant, hair stylist and shelf stocker. They’re someone who is connected to your soul by virtue of your birthright.

This Passover, you will sit with your family at your Seder as will Jews all over Harford County. Let’s make sure that those fifth children are sitting at our tables too.

I heard that after World War II there was a thought to establish a new tradition to set a chair at the Seder but to leave it open. This would be a memorial for the 6 Million who will no longer sit at the Seder.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was asked his opinion on this idea. The Rebbe answered that if we want to memorialize those that perished in the holocaust, and more importantly to perpetuate their memory, the way to do this was to fill that empty chair with someone who otherwise would not be at a Seder.

Next week, on Tuesday, March 27 we’ll celebrate the Rebbe’s 116th Birthday. Consider giving the Rebbe a gift this year. The gift of perpetuating Judaism by filling that seat at your Seder.

As you make your plans this week and next for your Seder, please set an extra seat and make sure that it is filled with someone who may not be at a Seder otherwise.

With blessing for a Happy and Kosher Pesach!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Ps. If you know someone who needs a Seder, please send them to us HarfordChabad.org/Passover You can also sell your Chometz order kosher meat and more at that URL, additionally there are links to other pertinent Pesach info.

 

 

Be a Hero

A good story is made up of a villain, the person being negatively affected by that villain and the hero who saves the day.

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the sacrifices. The portion discusses the laws of what animal/bird to bring up, if/when/how to sprinkle some blood on the altar, whether a meal offering accompanies the sacrifice, etc. While it is nice as a law book, there is neither villain nor hero and essentially there is no story line. What we read can seem uninteresting or irrelevant to many of us.

This week we add a special portion in honor of the month of Nissan, called Parshat Hachodesh. We read about the first mitzvah the Jews received - to sanctify the new month via seeing the new moon. Once again, it seems very legalistic and not relevant in today’s day and age as we use a predetermined calendar due to the lack of a High Court.

Perhaps the answer to both of these is that the Torah wants to teach us that you are the hero!

G-d does not need our sacrifices. However, one of the ways to build a connection with G-d is to bring a sacrifice. We think of the receiver’s needs and wants when we give a gift. Similarly, a sacrifice is giving something of ourselves over to G-d, to thank him for the good we have, to apologize for a mistake or just because we are in a relationship with G-d as that is what He wants.

Now the story of the sacrifices becomes interesting; what to do when?

What is there to do with when once committed a sin? What to do when there is a lack of gratitude to G-d? How to repair our relationship with G-d? This is the suspense in the story.

The Torah resolves the suspense by telling us how we can resolve and repair the relationship with G-d. Whether it means bringing “roses and chocolate” (in Torah terms - a sacrifice) or  “tulips and chocolate” (in Torah terms - a different type sacrifice). When we bring the sacrifice we are the hero saving the relationship.

If we put ourselves in a situation where we have a gap in the relationship, we can think about what sacrifices we need to make to enhance the relationship.

The "new moon" is a similar story. When we want rebirth, we need to wait until the past is gone. The only way the "new moon" comes about is after the moment of it being completely hidden from our sight. One can only read the next chapter after the close of the previous one, it takes a hero to let the past go!

Take a moment and take this message to be heroic; apologize, rebuild a relationship, show gratitude, celebrate the rebirth and let the past be a chapter that you can choose to reread if it was good and leave behind if it was not.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Got Power?

It is Friday afternoon; Shabbos preparation is at its peak. The wind is howling, the lights are flickering and suddenly the power is out!

And then, the calls begin. 2.5 hours before the onset of Shabbos, we are manning the phones, directing about 20 frantic individuals, with varying amounts of passengers with them. The story is the same; the bridges into MD are closed due to the high winds and they do not think they will make it to their destination (Baltimore, DC, Silver Spring, Germantown) in time for Shabbos. Being Shabbos observant, can they spend Shabbos with us?

Our response: SURE! Get over the bridge and head over, we look forward to hosting you. Alas, many of them spent Shabbos together at the Days Inn, some made a U turn and spent Shabbos with Chabad in Wilmington. We were honored to host 8 guests; 4 students from Yeshiva University and a family of 4.

The power on the other hand, was not restored. Not until Tuesday at 7:02 PM.

We did have power at Chabad, so most of the food was salvageable. Thank G-d we made it through and can look back and laugh.

There is a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that one should learn something from everything he sees and hears.

A few lessons I learned from this experience:
1) Everything can change in an instant
2) You need to ensure you have access to the backup power inside of you
3) The physical luxuries that one has are external
4) Many of the things we take for granted; health, sustenance, nachas from our children and electric power are blessings and should be appreciated at all times

Now you "heard" the story - what would you learn from it?

Have a restful (hopefully warm and with power) Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Purpose

How do we get out of the way and let G-d into our lives.  It begins with humility. Humility is not an easy accomplishment, after all our first reality is ourselves.  This was so when we were born and continues to be in adulthood.  We wake up every morning first conscious of ourselves and then of the world around us.

Humility is not about eliminating ourselves from the picture, humility is understanding exactly how we fit into the picture.  Understanding that the entire world was created for me (as the Talmud states) is only a problem if you stop there.  But, it begs the question, if indeed the world was created for me, then why? Why indeed was it created for me? What am I supposed to do with it?

Or in other words, if you wake up in the morning and are caught up in yourself, at some point a thinking person needs to stop and ask why do I do this day in and day out? 

The answer to that question will either birth humility or feed ones ego.  If the answer to that question is that I am here to serve a higher purpose, then I become very relevant and very important insofar as I have been chosen and have a role to play.  As long as I am playing that role I am fulfilling my purpose and that itself breeds humility.

You won't wake up one morning and be focused on your purpose. There is no short cut to achieve humility other than meditating and praying with a focus on G-d and His relevance and presence in our lives.  The more one focuses on G-d the more He becomes relevant and present in ones life.

Put in other words humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.  This is only achievable if one replaces the empty space inside that gets filled with self, and filling it with something higher and eternal.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. no services this week as Fraida will be in NY with the teens at the International cTeen Shabbaton, join them virtually Saturday Night at 8:45 PM at http://www.harfordchabad.org/3943888

 

Should you take things to heart?

Should you take things to heart?

I was having a discussion about increasing observance of a specific mitzvah; the whys and hows, plus the spiritual benefits. At the end, the other person said: I am an intellectual and an academic so while I understand it intellectually, I do not feel it.

When we do mitzvahs, one of the qualities that we need is joy and passion. Why? For when someone is passionate, they feel it in their kishkes, in their bones, in their insides. We cannot just allow a mitzvah to live in our head; we need to feel the mitzvah, and then we will do the mitzvah and be careful to do it properly. To make mitzvah observance meaningful, one needs to feel it and make it personal, relevant to him.

Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar. The Talmud tells us: Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha - when one enters into Adar, we increase our joy (Taanis 29A). In Hebrew, there are many words for joy: Gila, Sasson and Simcha to name a few.

Gila - peak moments of joy 
Sasson - happiness tinged with sadness
Simcha - enduring happiness

Why do we increase in Simcha style joy? I think it is because we are taking what we know in our head and making it personal, creating a special type of joy and passion.

The Zohar tells us that the word Simcha is a cognate of the words sham [there] and moach [head]. We understand it as joy based on where your head is at.

So take that Torah thought and get it out of your head and into your heart - take it to heart and make it personal and you will feel Simcha - enduring happiness! 

After all Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha - when one enters into Adar, we increase our Simcha!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Sorry, It wasn't me, really

When we make a mistake, we need to fix it. Sometimes we say “I am sorry for hurting you”. Many times, these words are said as “I am sorry if you were hurt by my actions”.

I always wondered if that is a disingenuous apology. If you were really sorry, say you are sorry for hurting the person, not sorry that they were hurt.

An answer can be found in this week’s Torah portion, when it discusses someone who inadvertently kills another. The Torah says: “And he who did not ambush, but G-d caused it to happen to him, I shall provide you a place to which he shall flee. (Exodus 21:13)

It seems like he is being let off the hook; he did not kill the person, G-d caused it to happen to him. He still needs to make amends, so G-d provides a place to flee to (the city of refuge).

The message here is that a person, while they are in touch with their true soul identity, cannot do a sin, something that is against the will of G-d, even inadvertently. Hence, if he sinned, it must be something external to his true self that caused him to do it (and it was caused by G-d). However, since YOU did it, YOU need to atone.

Additionally, the two souls, the G-dly soul and the animalistic selfish soul, are affected by the sin. Therefore, G-d says: I will give YOU, the G-dly soul, a place where HE, the animal soul, can flee and rectify the damage caused.

Sorry if you were hurt by MY actions, can mean: I take full responsibility for what I did, but know that it was the external part of me - my core soul is still deeply connected. I never would cause you any pain if I was in touch with my truest self!

Have a great shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. No minyan this week


Can you visualize it?

 “It’s easy to give kids a video game, smartphone, or a tablet computer to keep them busy so you can focus on driving” is how the article about family road trips begins.

The article goes on to give 3 tips: 1)Car Time Is Family Time, 2)Incorporate Education and 3)Stop for Exercise – to ease the trip and make it a bonding experience. The advice is good. What do you do when you travel with your children 2 hours each day, to get them to school and back?

There are options out there. Recently, Fraida and I have been listening to Rabbi Burston’s Torah Stories (rabbiburston.com) together with the kids.

What makes Rabbi Burston’s storytelling different than mine? The visuals and the added details. For example, while I would say “The man came to the small broken house”, Rabbi Burston says: “The man wrapped in his coat, shivering from the cold, walked down the path. He knocked on the cracked door. The door opened but almost fell off its hinges and the wind howled through the broken windows”.

The Torah is a book of law and a book of important Torah messages. Simultaneously, the Torah tells stories and, while the Torah is careful not to add words, at times it adds descriptive text so we can visualize what happened. In this week’s parshah, the Torah tells us that when the Torah was given, “the entire Mount Sinai smoked because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, and its smoke ascended like the smoke of the kiln, and the entire mountain quaked violently.”

The smoke on Mount Sinai was greater than the smoke of a kiln, but the Torah wants us, the human, to be able to visualize the experience that the Jews went through when G-d gave the Torah and therefore adds the words so that it will resonate.

The Torah and Rabbi Burston both use descriptive text to ensure we remember and are able to relate to what is being taught.

What do you do to visualize and envision the stories of the Torah for yourself?

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

What is in your spice cabinet?

Tonight, at sunset, the Hebrew date of Yud (10) Shevat begins. Tonight, Chabad Chassidim worldwide celebrate. We celebrate the anniversary of the passing of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe and subsequent acceptance by his son in law, the Rebbe, of the leadership of the Chabad movement.

What makes Chabad unique? The spice and flavor it adds to Judaism.

The “bread and butter” of Yiddishkeit is the same for all since it is governed by Halacha, the Code of Jewish Law. This is the same for all Jews, regardless of the level of observance.

But the “spice” that can make or break the appetite or desire is the tribal and familial customs. Think salt or sugar to a steak or a cake. The right one makes it wonderful and delicious and has you begging for more, the wrong one will ensure that you never try it again.

Think about a person who considers him/herself a “3-day-a-year Jew”. These three days might be their bread and butter of their Jewish identity. Perhaps they got that from a revered grandparent or just old-fashioned guilt. However, without the spicing, it is not too flavorful. When that person decides to show up at another random time, whether it is for Purim or a Shabbat minyan, or does a simple good deed as a proud Jew, this Jewish act can be the spice that infuses his other activities with the Jewish life and spice to make seemingly mundane events that much more spiritual, tasty and meaningful.

This is what my wife and I endevour to give to our family and community. We give them the spice that the Rebbe inspired in us, namely; his non-judgmental love and kindness and his never-ending faith in the limitlessness of the human spirit and capability.

This spice reJEWvenates me, it is the fuel that keeps me going. Hence, I celebrate! 

What is it that reJEWvenates you?

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. See the original article here https://www.facebook.com/rabbinechemia/posts/10155567678427585

Are you scared of me?

When Moses informed Pharaoh about the impending tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, he adds: “There shall be a great outcry in the entire land of Egypt, such as there has never been and such as there shall never be again. But against all the Children of Israel, no dog shall sharpen his tongue, against neither man nor beast, so that you shall know that G‑d will have distinguished between Egypt and Israel.”

Our Sages tell us that as a reward for their not barking and their display of respect for the Israelites, the Torah awarded the dogs with a specific type of non-kosher meat. The meat of an animal injured by a predator is called treifah (from which the Yiddish word treif evolved to mean any non-kosher substance). The Torah declares: “Do not eat flesh that is torn off in the field. Throw it to the dogs.”  Our Sages (Mechilta, cited by Rashi) state that this was the reward for not barking when the Jews left Egypt.

Every year when we read this, I remember one of my favorite articles by by Rabbi Aron Moss, Rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia where he explains why there are some people who are scared of rabbis and why many observant Jews do not have pets.

Question:

Why are religious Jews scared of dogs? Whenever I walk mine past an observant family, all the kids hide behind their mother's skirt in terror. Is there some curse on dogs?

Answer:

I know exactly how your dog feels. I often get a similar reaction from Jews. While many observant Jews are scared of dogs, many unobservant Jews are terrified of rabbis. There's something in common between dogs and rabbis that make us both objects of trepidation. And it's not the facial hair.

People fear the unfamiliar.

Most religious homes do not have pets. Perhaps because families with many kids are less likely to seek non-human companionship, perhaps because it can be tricky to care for animals on Shabbat, or perhaps it's just a cultural thing, but other than the odd goldfish, pets are rare in observant communities.

So those who are unaccustomed to canine company are often scared of dogs. People are scared of rabbis for the same reason. Both dogs and rabbis are loved by those who know them, and instill fear into those who don't.

But that's where the similarity ends. The underlying causes of these two fears are very different, almost opposite. The fear of dogs (cynophobia) comes from the fear of being bitten. Fear of rabbis (rabbinophobia) comes from the fear of being inspired.

What many Jews fear the most is that if they learn a little bit about Judaism they might like it. And if they like it they might want more. And if they want more they may have to live more Jewishly. This means change - and change, even for the better, is scary.

The cure for cynophobia is to play with a few dogs and see that there is no basis for your fear. But the cure for rabbinophobia is to look into Judaism and to actually let your greatest fear come true - you will like it, and you'll want more.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

 

a message from Kermit the Frog

Q: What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? A: I don't know and I don't care - source unknown

Animals can be broken down into three groups: those that benefit mankind, those that harm mankind and those that seem irrelevant to mankind.

The dog is man’s best friend. The mosquito is an annoyance. The frog seems irrelevant.

People can be broken down into three groups: those that recognize a Higher Power, those that deny a Higher Power and those that the whole discussion of a Higher Power is not relevant.

Person one and two are engaged (see stories below) in the Higher Power. The third type of person should learn from the frog.

The frog that seems irrelevant to man is used to teach Pharoah that there is a Higher Power. The frog, which is cold, sacrificed its life to enter the hot Egyptian ovens, to teach them an important message: G-d is relevant and meant to listen to even if it means going against one’s nature. Even when I feel cold, apathetic or ignorant, I can follow the message received from the Egyptian frogs, as eloquently stated by Kermit the Frog:

Take a look above you,
Discover the view,
If you haven't noticed,
Please do
Please do
Please do.

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

P.S. The story I promised you:
Famed Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz invited a professor to his Talmud class at a Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He asked the professor: “Why don’t you join the class? All of your colleagues come. It’s in your building — right down the hall”. The professor responded: “I don’t belong in the class; we have nothing in common”. “What do you mean we have nothing in common?” asked the Rabbi. “You don’t understand!” said the professor. “I only eat pork! On Shabbat! Exclusively!” “Only on Shabbat?” asked Rabbi Steinsaltz. “Specifically! Spitefully! On Shabbat!” “Ahh, in that case,” said Rabbi Steinsaltz, “we do have something in common.” “What do you mean?” asked the professor. “I have my way of observing Shabbat and you have your way of observing Shabbat.” Both men are talking about celebrating Shabbat. Clearly, they both believe it is important or they would not bother to engage in the ritual and/or to object! So they actually agree on that point — Shabbat is important. They just do not agree on precisely what should be done about it!

Make a choice

In life there are annoyances. We all have experienced times that did not go as expected. Sometimes, the situation is one that we chose to go into and other times, we are there seemingly for no other reason but by chance.

Think of a child who was raised in a religious home, did he choose to follow the religion of his parents accept the difficulty with observing or is he observing by rote and complaining about the difficulty? When doubting or questioning the religion (all people do), does he then choose that faith or abandons it?

When I was 16 years old, I went to a mentor and discussed some of my challenges with the Jewish faith. His response: “AMAZING! Now you can start to have faith because you chose it as opposed to being raised with it”. It will be a mature faith as opposed to a childish faith. 

We see this with Moshe. Moshe, who unlike the other Jews in Egypt, was raised in Pharaoh's palace. He had to choose to worry about his brethren. When he was older, he went out one day and saw an Egyptian who had raped a Hebrew woman and hit her husband under the pretense that he was not working enough. Moshe then slew the Egyptian. Word of his deed reached Pharaoh and Moshe was compelled to flee.

Did Moshe complain that he had to escape? No. Because it was a consequence of a choice that he had made, not something imposed upon him by another. 

How much of what we do are we doing by rote, because we always did it that way? What, in our daily routine, do we do that we choose to do? This week, take a moment to choose. Choose to spend time with a loved one. Choose to do a mitzvah. Choose to make a blessing before eating. Even if you already do this, doing it with intention, by choice, will enrich the experience! Because you ‘own’ the experience by choosing to be there, you will only look for ways to enhance and improve it.

Have a great Shabbos,

Kushi

The voice of silence

 

Prayer. It’s a funny thing. As many of you know, I struggle with meaningful prayer.

The Hebrew word for prayer is Tefilah. Tefilah has the same Hebrew letters as ptilah, which means string. I am learning that prayer is not asking for what you need, but it is like a child pulling at your pants to get your attention. When we pray, we are tugging at G-ds “Skirt”, trying to connect.

Another thing about prayer is that it is a time to work on our self, to refine our animalistic tendencies and become more G-dly. This is also known as spiritual growth.

Both of these prayer explanations are connected. The connection begins with noise/speech etc. but eventually reaches a level of oneness that is unifying and silent.  Refinement (think a log burning in a fireplace) begins with a noise like the crackle of the log burning and ends with a still quiet ember.

Traditional Jewish prayer begins with loud reading and praying and culminates with the Amida, which is the inaudible prayer that is private between you and your creator. As the verse says, “but the L‑rd was not in the fire. And after the fire – a still, small voice“. (I Kings 19:9-12)

While we will not be having minyan at Chabad this week, feel free to respond (so I can prepare) and join me, and some of the kids, for prayer at the house.

Have an amazing Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 

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