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Untamed Energy

 

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Let me introduce you to 2 people

David is a very driven, independent, and competitive individual. His drive to succeed is not stoppable and you won’t see any boundaries. He owns his own business and spends 24 hours thinking and doing things to grow his company. David’s assets fluctuate between a million dollars in debt to a 10 million dollar net worth. But he loves his job and is passionate about what he does.

Mike is an employee for a watch company; he gets paid a salary and works in sales. He comes in on time and does the work he is supposed to do. While he is at work, he thinks about it and tries to make more sales. Mike follows the rules and won a few awards. He makes $100,000 a year and every now and then gets nice bonuses. He doesn’t always love his job but says it pays the bills.

Thanksgiving, they both don’t go into the office. During the meal, both of them received calls from a supplier in Europe. David took the call and told the family to hold on a few minutes because “it is an important call”. An hour later he returned but most of the family was long done the meal and weren’t too interested in hearing his excuses.

Mike, on the other hand, said to himself it is family time and the supplier will have to wait. He hung out with his family but the supplier went to a competitor.

David’s business runs his life while Mike lives life and work is just one part of it. David’s life is chaotic, Mike’s is predictable. David is the life of the party, but only if he shows up; Mike will show up and you will have a good time with him.

David and Mike are similar to Esau and Jacob from this week’s Torah portion. Esau and Jacob were twins and they represent these 2 types of living: untamed energy with the power for unlimited growth and structured life with a steady path upward.

Esau could have been the greatest of men but he wasn’t willing to hold himself back. Jacob had to “break the rules” and “step out of his comfort zone” only to be able to receive blessings when he was “wearing the clothes of Esau”. He was willing to connect finite and infinite, unlimited potential and stability. How did he do this? By following the directive of his mother: “And you shall bring to your father that he may eat, in order that he bless you before his death.” Even though it was out of his comfort zone and a bit deceitful (Esau style), Jacob did as instructed.

We too have the ability to to connect finite and infinite, unlimited potential and stability. We can do this by following the directives of G-d; doing Mitzvot and good deeds even when they are out of our comfort zone.

Commit to a specific mitzvah from now to New Years! What Mitzvah are you going to do?

Need Help? With a mitzvah click here for step by step guides etc. or Contact Me via email or at 443-353-9718

Happy Thanksgiving and Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 

Tragedy and Comfort

 Every year when I read this Torah portion I am always touched by the same moving story. Isaac marries Rebecca, and after being introduced to her by his father's servant Eliezer, he accepts her hand in marriage. When she enters the tent of his mother, the three miracles that Isaac's mother experienced returned. Namely; the cloud over her tent, the bread that remained fresh all week, and the candle that burned from Shabbat to Shabbat.

The Torah continues with "and he feels comforted over the loss of his mother." The commentary are intrigued with this whole poignant story and particularly at the name of the Torah Portion, Chaya Sarah, which means the Life of Sarahwhen only the first verses speak of her life and the vast majority of the portion speaks about a "post Sarah era."

It is there that they deliver a pearl of wisdom that is as timeless as it is precious. Person’s years, the rabbis declare are not always measured in the time that they spent here on earth while in a physical body. Indeed it is possible that the "life of a person" continues to be measured well after they pass away.

Isaac only agrees to marry Rebecca after she enters Sara's tent (and the miracles return), thus Sara's influence is very real and present even three years after she passed away.

Furthermore, when it talks about the passing of Abraham our forefather and describes the burial ceremony, the verse indicates Isaac's name before Yishmaels.

According to the Midrash, when Sarah sent Hagar away (in last week’s portion) it was in order to encourage the mother and son to do repentance. This was indeed accomplished by the end of Abraham's life as indicated by the mentioning of Isaac before Yishmael, thus indicating that he had repented and afforded respect to Isaac and allowed him to go first. Again we see the concept of how Sara's activities that she had initiated in her lifetime, had ramifications many years after her passing.

In other words, while she was no longer physically alive, she was spiritually alive and still influencing her surroundings. Thus the name of this weeks Torah portion is accurate when it calls it Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah, sinceSarah's life influenced the events at the end of the portion too.

Perhaps this is the message too, embedded in the portion to help reconcile tragedy and comfort. While no one will dispute that the losses are painful and felt for a long time, still some comfort can be had, when the legacy of the loved ones who have passed on, are kept alive by those who survive them. How does one accomplish this great task? By doing something specifically in their merit. Doing a mitzvah, light a candle on Friday before dark, lay the teffilin, give a little extra charity help another person in their time of need etc. basically doing something beyond what we would have done previously in their memory. That is how we keep them alive another day.

Make it a great week.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Stuck?

 Do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever feel unable to take a step forward or back? Do you sometimes think “where am I going?”

From time to time we all go through such experiences. A time when problems take on a life of their own and the more we try to fix them, the more we feel we are getting nowhere.

What should we do at that point?

First and foremost we need to stop and listen. We need to tap into our souls and listen to it. Listen to the first message G-d gave to Avraham “lech lecha me'artsecha u’mimoladetecha u’mibeyt avicha el ha'aretz asher ar'eka” Genesis 12:1 "Go to yourself, away from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.

L“Lech Lecha - Go to yourself 
Who are you in your essence? Recognize the real you

me'artsecha –away from your land 
Don’t let you physical “earthly” pleasures be a drug that doesn’t let you sense your spiritual and G-dly side.

u’mimoladetecha - from your birthplace 
Don’t do what you do because “this is the tradition I grew up with”. Own the mitzvot and traditions you do, don’t limit them to rote and habit.

u’mibeyt avicha- and from your father's house (Father inKabbalah refers to wisdom
Stop rationalizing why you can’t (too busy, too many other commitments, I’m not observant enough, I’m too observant, my spouse isn’t Jewish, I’m an atheist etc.) and just try it out. (See upcoming events here )

After following these steps you will arrive to

ha'aretz asher ar'eka - the land that I will show you 
G-d will direct us to a land where our essence will be revealed, where we can be our true selves, a land where our spirituality will shine.

At that point we won’t be stuck anymore; we will be on the move in the right direction.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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