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

Nothing Like Family!

There is nothing like family. We spent the second days of Pesach with Fraida’s family in Montreal. The kids got to play with some of their cousins and Fraida got to kibitz with her sisters, while I spent time with my brothers in law.

One of the conversations I had centered on the theme of family; the family you come from and the family you marry into. Some people marry into a family similar to their own while others marry into one very different.

The Torah portion this week begins “be Kedoshim because I am Kadosh”. Marriage in Judaism is called Kedushin, same root word as the Hebrew word Kadosh – Holy or Distinct. G-d tells the Jewish people be distinct because I, G-d, is distinct.

How does one distinguish themselves from their neighbor? How does one become distinct?

The next verse says it clearly; do not define who you are by society’s norms but by who you are according to Torah A.K.A. eternal truth.

The Torah (in the next verse) says respect your Mother (who is usually loved more than respected) and also your father.

The Torah (in the next verse) says guard the observance of the Shabbat.

Usually we define things from the lens of our upbringing, “our” family’s way. When we see things from the lens of the family we “married in to”, the lens of our spouse’s family, some things do not seem to make sense yet we respect them.

At Sinai, the Jewish people got married to G-d and G-d requested that we join the family. Observing Torah and Mitzvot is thetradition of the Jewish family.  

Hope to see you soon,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

No Afikomen?

Question

Hi Rabbi,

I have a question for you. This year we have no young children coming to our seder. Our "kids" are in their 20's and 30's. There's no way they're going to run around the house looking for the afikomen. So, what do we do? Should we just put it aside and not make a big deal out of it? Then serve it after dinner when the haggadah instructs us to serve it?

Chag Sameach!

Answer

Sorry for the short reply....busy making the kitchen ready for Passover.

You can give them the run around while searching for chometz on Sunday Night (more on that here).

Back to your question. There are those who do not have the kids finding the afikoman in the first place. In fact this is the Chabad custom; it is hidden under the leader's pillow until the end of the seder.

But if you really want to, you could make it fun for your adult kids. They may enjoy the nostalgia. If you offer them an age appropriate reward, they may just go for it. 

One of the reasons that people hide the afikomen is to make the seder fun for the kids. I would suggest using a fun haggadah. We are trying this one (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1475060947?pldnSite=1). Also starting after nightfall  http://www.harfordchabad.org/times makes it more "traditional" and when you end late it still feels like it was a long seder :).

P.S. if ordering from amazon. Sign up for amazon smile, this way a small % goes to Chabad https://smile.amazon.com/ch/27-2793030

Tradition....Tradition!

In December, my cousin Rabbi Mendel Greisman, from Rogers, AR, sent me an email that he shared with his community. I saved it for this week. Hope you enjoy.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Tradition....Tradition! 
By Rabbi Mendel Greisman 

Many years ago, before the internet took over the world, there used to be a book found in every home called "dictionary." Unlike my children, I still remember life before theinternet and in those ancient days, I purchased the Oxford American Dictionary of Current English. Here are two entries from my dictionary.

On page 425: Ju-da-ism /Joodeeizem, -day-/ n. the religion of the Jews, with a belief in one God and on a basis in Mosaic and rabbinical teachings [there is a symbol over the oo in Joodeeizem which I cannot reproduce in this program.]

On page 862: Tra-di-tion /tredishen/ n. a custom, opinion or belief handed down to posterity, esp. orally or by practice.

So if one plus one equals two, the definition of "a Jewish tradition" would be: a custom, opinion or belief of the religion of the Jews, with a belief in one G-d and on a basis in Mosaic and rabbinical teachings that is handed down to posterity, esp. orally or by practice.

It is important to distinguish "a Jewish tradition" from a tradition of Jews. A Jewish tradition would have its origin in the "belief in one G-d," and have a basis "in Mosaic and rabbinical teaching."

So while eating Matzah ball soup may be a tradition of Jews, only eating Matzah on Seder night, after dark, can be labeled a "Jewish tradition;" and while dipping your latkes in apple sauce is a Chanukah favorite for many Jews, it is the lighting of the Menorah (with a live flame) that is the Chanukah Jewish tradition .

The traditions of Jews may change with time and as we move around the world; Jewish traditions, however,  have been practiced non-stop since Sinai. If for me, an Ashkenazic Jew, a Shabbos table without Gefilteh fish is lacking, my Sephardic friends never even heard of it; yet both of us will make Kiddush on a cup of wine at the beginning of our Shabbos meal, as Kiddush is a sacred Jewish tradition.

While traditions of Jews are great, it is only the Jewish traditions that withstood the tests of generational and geographical changes and challenges. Nearly 3,500 years later, they're alive and well .

So let's embrace our Jewish faith and practice our Jewish traditions, as many as we can. So not only will we be able to talk about our Jewish grandparents but also of our Jewish grandchildren.

Gut shabbos,

Rabbi Mendel Greisman 

Some Passover Mitzvahs to consider; Seders, eating Shmurah Matzah on April 14th after 8:15 pm, sellingyour Chametz, support those who can’t afford Passover supplies.

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