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Rabbi's Blog

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

Illogical?

 Can you relate to the following?

·  Passing one of those wishing wells, taking a few coins out and saying “let the rest of the day go better” while dropping the coins in or

·  Walking down the street and avoiding going under a ladder or

·  Noticing that there is no row number 13 on many airplanes or no 13th floor in various office buildings?

Not all of these incidents seem to have a logical explanation:

·  Putting money in a wishing well can be beneficial.  If the money from the wishing well goes to a worthy cause, you have given charity and, as it says “charity saves from death”, giving charity helps in any situation

·   According to the Torah if 2 people cause someone to be killed, one intentionally (who legally receives the death penalty) but without witnesses (so he can’t be prosecuted), and the other by mistake (who legally receives a punishment of “exile/jail time”) but again without witnesses (so he can’t be prosecuted) - Divine intervention may arrange for these two killers to arrive at the same public location. The one who killed deliberately ends up sitting under a ladder and the inadvertent killer climbs up the ladder and subsequently falls on top of the killer beneath him with fatal consequences. Conveniently, on this occasion there were witnesses, thus enabling the correct consequence to happen: the “intentional killer” dies and the “unintentional killer “goes to exile”. We avoid going under ladders to evade possible punishment.

·  I can’t explain the issue with the number 13 (I heard it has a Christian sources). However in Torah 13 is a good number. God has 13 characteristics by which he is compelled to express his merciful side. As well, 13 is the age when men become Bar Mitzvah. (Women become Bat Mitzvah at 12 due to their earlier maturation)

There are some things we do just because; many a time, with some more background information we can understand the why behind the what. However, there are plenty of things we cannot explain why we do or do not do them (e.g. the number 13).

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Chukat, talks about those mitzvot that we were commanded to keep despite not understanding the reason why they were given to us.  These mitzvoth are called Chukim. Yet, we still do them because it is the right thing as it is a G-d given commandment.

Have a great Shabbos and feel free to join us for services this Friday Night at 6pm and Saturday at 10am whether you know why you are coming or not ;). Can’t make it this week? Click here for future dates.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Equality

 About 3,320 years ago there lived a man named Korach who wanted equal rights for all. (Click here for the original account of the story.) 

Korach came to Moses with the following complaint: We all have our own unique and precious soul with our own connection to G-d so why do you think you are better? Why can’t we all be equal?

Moses response was that those in the ‘higher positions’, ie the High Priest, were placed there by G-d.  We can not all be in that position, as we need each person, with their distinct talents, in order to have a functioning society.  It does not show that one is greater or better then the other, however that we each have a different purpose to fill. Each one of us has a unique spiritual path to connect with G-d.  We need to realize that the person in the ‘higher position’ does not connect directly to G-d because he is better but because of the mission that he was entrusted with. Although their mission is not for everyone, that connection is a physical manifestation of the soul that we should imbue even into our mundane activities.

Although most people need to work and can not spend all their time in the ‘Sanctuary’, G-d wanted our soul to be able to express itself even in the work place and during all other mundane activities. How do we accomplish this?  By looking up to the Kohen Gadol’s (the High Priest) constant connection to a Hashem, we are reminded that the purpose - the ‘soul’ - of our work is to elevate it and connect it with G-d.

True equality is when we are united in our purpose of bringing G-dliness into the world, through “Torah and Mitzvot ™”, while allowing each individual to express themselves in their own way.  Simultaneously, the leaders need to remember the responsibility that comes with their position while we need to respect the leaders for the standards that they represent.

Have a good Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Jewish Anorexia

Anorexia is a condition that affects many people. The short explanation of the condition is an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Regardless of if the person is actually underweight they are still afraid to eat. Thank G-d it is treatable. 

But what is Jewish anorexia? The term anorexia literally means no appetite. When a person has no appetite to feed their soul and they are starving their soul. They may have a fear of being labeled "too Jewish" or not "religious enough". As someone said if I even start to do more Mitzvot I'll never be religious enough which is not true(video). 

In this weeks Torah portion it talks about when the Jewish people sent spies to prepare to conquer the land of Israel. Ten of those “spies” came back and said "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than us… We appeared like grasshoppers in our eyes, and that's how we were in their eyes." (Numbers 13:31-33) 

The issue they had was that they looked at themselves as grasshoppers. They looked at themselves as "overweight" they looked at themselves as “too Jewish". This psychological condition caused a condition of no appetite to conquer the land even with miracles. 

What is the treatment? For classic anorexia consult a physician.

However the treatment for Jewish anorexia is a 3 step daily process

Learn, Connect and Act 
Learn - Add Torah to your diet 
Connect - Add Tefilla to your daily regimen 
Act - Add a tangible mitzvah to your life.

 

How? 
Torah Study - add it to your daily schedule and make it a priority, even 5 minutes if that's all you can afford need ideas? Browse our website click here or follow us on twitter and get regular updates by clicking here. 

Tefilla - generally translated as prayer the word tefilla in Hebrew also means connecting! Connect with Hashem in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before you go to bed by saying the Shema

Tangible Mitzvah 
Men - put on Tefillin  
Women – Light Shabbat Candles  
Families - Get a kosher mezuzah for your house and kiss it on your way out the door in the morning (already have a mezuzah? Get it checked
Everybody - put a coin in the charity box (reply to this email if you need one) or in the echaritybox

And dont forget to join us @ shul this Shabbos, but come feeling like a person not a grasshopper and in this mindset we can conquer our biggest fears and reach “the promised land” 

See you Friday night 6pm AND Shabbos morning 10 am followed by a light kiddush/oneg. 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 P.S. Jewish Art Calendar - Don't Miss Out  


CHABAD OF COUNTY WILL BE PRODUCING A CUSTOM JEWISH ARTCALENDAR.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to put your personal family celebrations, Birthday's Yarhtzeitz, Graduations, New Year Greetings etc. in the calendar, as well as unique advertising opportunities. All while supporting Chabad in the process. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS  

When Did You Realize You Were Jewish?

 How did I know this morning I was Jewish? Well, I as soon as I opened my eyes I said the Modeh Ani prayer and then leaned over to ritually wash my hands next to my bed.  I then said my morning prayers, said a blessing over my breakfast and ate a Kosher wholesome nutritious meal.  (Admittedly, some mornings I just do these things by rote and don't give it much thought.)

When did  you realize today that you were Jewish?  Was it the moment you woke up? Or perhaps before you ate your morning breakfast you said a Brocha (blessing) on the food? Perhaps it was when you left your home to go to work that you lifted your right hand to kiss the Mezuzah on the door? (if you need a mezzuzah email me) Was it perhaps when you were executing a business deal or meeting with a client that you said to yourself, "I am Jewish and I need to represent my people in this interaction"?

In just one short week we'll celebrate the holiday of Shavous.  This is the festival that that we commemorate the giving of the Torah at Sinai.  We mark this day by staying up all night and studying Torah (and in more recent years by kids eating Ice cream) and listening to the Ten Commandments.

The introductory verse to the Ten Commandments goes like this, "and G-d spoke all of these words saying".  The term "saying" generally is used in the Torah when G-d tells Moses a particular command or message to relay to the People.  But in this instance all the people stood at the foot of Sinai and heard directly from G-d the reciting of the Ten Commandments.  So why does the Torah use the phrase "saying".  "Saying", to whom?

When we keep the Torah in heaven and Man remains on earth then indeed the words of G-d remain as if He had never spoken them.  However, if we take the same divine words and translate them into our lives, then we have said them to ourselves.  We have moved them from the divine realm into ours.

This is what the Torah means when it uses the term "saying".  G-d is instructing us not to leave the Torah in heaven, but to make it part of our reality, part of our day to day life.

So I ask you... When did you realize today that you were Jewish?

Have a wonderful week!

Rabbi Schusterman

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