Want to keep in the loop on the latest happenings at Harford Chabad. Subscribe to our mailing list below. We'll send you information that is fresh, relevant, and important to you and our local community.
Printed from HarfordChabad.org

Rabbi's Blog

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

Put on your mask first

Are you going a little meshugah? a little cabin crazy?

I was. Being there for people during this crazy time helps.

Plus, when we used to fly on a plane they would say "In the event of an emergency, please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." 

You need to be sane and healthy in order to 

  • Serve Gd 
  • Serve your family
  • Serve your friends 
  • Serve your community

One thing I can advise is start with self-care!

Self-care comes in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few suggestions.

Physical Self Care

  • Go for a walk down the block - while maintaining social distancing
  • Do some exercise in the house
  • Drink water
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthier
  • Take care of your health!

Spiritual Self Care

 Kindness

  • If your health allows - volunteer 
  • If your finances allow give charity - can be putting a few coins in a jar, or making a donation online 
  • If you have a phone - call (don't text) someone and check in on them 
  • Be positive - in your interactions on social media - think positive and exude kindness - more on that by my brother here

 Have an amazing Shabbos and a happy and healthy Passover!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Dear Diary - 2022

March 26, 2022

Dear Diary,

Kushi here again. I know I haven’t written in a bit, things have been busy but that is no excuse. Since the Corona virus ended nearly 2 years ago, I along with my fellow earth mates made a pact to hold on to the positive changes that resulted from those very difficult and painful times.

The world has been better, healthier, kinder and cleaner and people have been happier and nicer.

In fact, just today there were many examples of life AC - After Corona. Here are just a few.

I was driving on the Beltway, and remember the old days where people would cut on another off trying to get to work in a hurry? Remember how you had to speed up and slow down in order to squeeze your car into that space barely large enough for a match box car?

While no one does that any more since traffic is significantly lighter now that so many people work from home, and bosses are much more relaxed, focusing on simply making enough money to feed families and not the greed of BC (Before Corona), and in general bosses are much more understanding, still, today someone tried to cut off the whole line.

Initially, my blood pressure started shooting upwards and foul words entered my mind about what I’d like to say to that person, but then I remembered our pact. To love, and judge favorably and to give people the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, just a few minutes later, I caught up to that car as it was exiting Northern Parkway to go to Sinai Hospital. If I saw correctly, it appeared there was a passenger in the car that was ready to give birth to a new child.

Earlier in the same day, I woke up to see my 6 Year old boy and 2 year old girl, playing a board game calmly, letting the older people sleep. and not asking for devices. I guess it is true what the experts said, those couple months of quarantine really taught us how bad and dangerous all that screen time is. It is almost as if the children associate iPads and computers with anxiety (their own or their parents’) and school and they’d rather not have the reminder by using these devices first thing upon awakening. Or any time of day if they don’t have to.

Anyway, I got to my coffee meeting in Baltimore, and it was just wonderful, since less people travel into work, there was easy parking and the states new rules about a 15 minutes grace period on the parking meters, saved from a parking ticket, so that was good too.

After a successful meeting, I got back home, and instead of going back to work, I stopped at home, to have lunch with my wife, since AC we just know how precious time with our loved ones is and there really isn’t anything I “have” to do that is more important than those few minutes of quiet time, talking and connecting. Another positive result of the healthier new world. I speak to my friends and this scene is playing itself out in homes across the world. People stopping to smell the roses. Slowing down to allow the important things in life in, and savoring them as we never did in the past.

Back in the office, I prepared both my class and my sermon, as it is already Thursday and my class has increased in attendance, both the physical attendees and digital attendees so I want to be extra prepared. It appears that since Corona, people have realized that a good evening night out is better spent in a Torah class stimulating the mind and learning how better to connect with Hashem is actually better for them and more enjoyable than a movie and a steak. (It may also be connected to the fact that we now offer wine and cocktails in addition to the usual coffee, tea and cake that were available BC. )

Shabbat Shul attendance has also increased dramatically. It’s incredible, people really had their “come to Gd moment.” Not that they were frightened into a relationship, rather a couple of months of really having the mask of “certainty” removed and being forced to accept in a real and deep way that we don’t run the world or even our lives, it is Hashem that runs everything, that who gets sick and who gets healed is out of our control really propels us towards the Almighty being. Attendance is up Friday night and Shabbat day, even the Saturday pre-services Torah discussion has a large crowd in attendance. I must prepare properly so I can teach properly.

I think the biggest after the Corona change, however, is in myself. Less hurried and harried-ness. Less fretting over the small things. Less worrying over the things that I cannot change. More focus on my family. More focus on my children. More patience with them and all people. More keeping my eye on the real prize. The prize of happiness, tranquility, family, meaning and true GDly existence.

I don’t like the CoronaVirus. I don’t like the tragedy, chaos and tears it brought to this world, I do, however, like what it has done to us, as a society, as a people, and I like what it has done to me. I am a better person, a better father for all that we’ve been through. I really hope that part of the memory stays the same.

Ok, dear diary, it's been a while, and hopefully not as much time till the next time I write, but I just wanted to share that two years ago when all the intense change was happening, no one could have imagined that we would be experiencing good times again, in fact better times. Sometimes you need to spring to the future a bit, so you can have perspective on the past.

I think to myself, what a wonderful world...

Written by Nechemia Schusterman - Modified by Rabbi Kushi

You impact the entire world

In essentially a moment in time, a matter of days perhaps hours, our world view shifted. Our sense of security disappeared.

The lessons are many and will be learned and internalized across industries, governments, communities and families.

There will be time for that in good health, please G-d!

One of the most obvious lessons that remains relevant is the relationship we have to each other.

No longer can someone think that what goes on in their life has no impact or relevance on not just their immediate surrounding but all of humanity.

No longer can we think that we are not a taker and contributor from the individual across the globe.

No longer can we believe that our actions are not potentially a matter of life and death to someone who lives thousands of miles away.

No longer can we live in a bubble to think that humanity as a whole has an impact on us; that what happens in other parts of the world are irrelevant to us.

This week we read (at least at home) two Torah Portions - Vayakhel and Pekudai. What's interesting is that these two Torah portions have conflicting meanings.

Vayakhel means to gather. Pekduai means to count. Whereas gathering is bringing together the individuals, counting means to separate them out.

Indeed this carries the message of our times; we are a collective (gathered) humanity of individuals (counting). Our individual actions impact the whole and the whole impacts the individual.

We as individuals have the ability to change the world for the good with a simple action. One Mitzvah, one action, one gesture can be trans-formative.

And the well being of the world has an impact on us. The going-ons across the globe have a trans-formative effect on our little bubble.

As we conclude week one let us pray together for healing for all those that need it, for safety and good health to all. Let us think of small deeds we can do in the confines and security of our own homes to impact the world - literally!

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Schusterman 

COVID-19 Update

 CORONAVIRUS ADVICE

  • Use common sense and follow medical advice from official sources, without losing perspective. Panic and hysteria are not helpful. 
  • If you are healthy you should continue attending Synagogue as usual, ensuring proper hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap, which is provided at the shul kitchen and in the bathrooms. 
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus you should not attend Synagogue and should seek medical advice. Details of the symptoms and other relevant information can be found at - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  • If you have recently traveled or have had contact with someone with the COVID-19 virus, please seek medical advice before attending synagogue
  • The elderly or those with compromised immune systems should avoid crowds
  • Following advice of health authorities, we will avoid hand shaking and direct contact between people
  • Kiddush food will not be served this week. 
  • Please cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your arm
  • IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS VULNERABLE OR ALONE, REACH OUT TO THEM AND OFFER SUPPORT. IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS QUARANTINED, CALL THEM AND BE A FRIEND.  

Question of the Week:

By Rabbi Moss

This coronavirus thing has really thrown me. I feel like I've lost all sense of certainty. No one knows what will happen next. How do we stay sane when we don't know what's lurking around the corner? 

Answer:

It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating. 

This tiny virus of 125 nanometres* has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. 

But that is always the case. We never know what the future holds. We only think we do, and keep getting surprised when things don't pan out the way we expected. Now the mask is off. We have to admit our vulnerability. 

What will happen next? We don't know. Our experts don't know. Our leaders don't know. Only G-d knows. And that is the point. Only G-d knows. 

Close your eyes and feel the uncertainty, make peace with it, let yourself be taken by it. Embrace your cluelessness. Because in all the confusion there is one thing you know for sure. You are in G-d's hands. 

Keep calm. Panic and fear are also contagious. Take every precaution as advised by health authorities. Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.

Good Shabbos 

Rabbi Moss

*A nanometre is one billionth of a metre. 

To subscribe CLICK HERE or email rabbimoss@nefesh.com.au

Com'n Just Bow - or don't

 

Question of the Week:

In the Purim story, Mordechai the Jew refuses to bow down to the wicked Haman. As a result, Haman enacts a decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Did Mordechai do the right thing? Technically, bowing to a dignitary is not forbidden by Judaism. So even if Haman thought he was god, shouldn't Mordechai have bowed down to him rather than risk the lives of the entire Jewish people?

Answer:

In my youth I attended a non-Jewish school. Jews made up about ten percent of the student body, and we felt quite comfortable there. But sometimes we stood out.

It wasn't a particularly religious school, but on occasion they did hold prayer services, in a big hall with a huge cross at the front. At a certain point during the service, everyone was told to kneel and bow before the cross. So everyone did.

But I didn't. I don't know why, but as everyone else went down on their knees, I just sat there. I was a little nervous that I would be caught not kneeling. But then I realized that anyone who saw me not kneeling was themselves not kneeling, so I was safe.

Here's the funny thing. Looking around I saw I was not alone. Scattered around the hall were others who did not bow. In fact, about ten percent of the room were sitting upright. None of the Jewish kids would bow down. It was quite a sight - a sea of bowed heads, with a few Jewish heads sticking out like protruding icebergs. Or maybe Goldbergs.

On reflection, this is astonishing. Where did we get this defiance from? We were all from irreligious homes and were for the most part completely uneducated in Judaism. No one ever told us not to bow down. In fact, for some of those boys, this non-bowing may have been the only public statement of being Jewish they ever made. So what inspired us to be different?

I believe we got it from Mordechai, the Jew who refused to bow down. Somehow his story of defiance has permeated the Jewish psyche, to the point that even two and a half thousand years later, Jews know in the depth of their soul that we don't bow down to anyone but G-d. 

When Mordechai stood up to Haman, he wasn't putting the Jewish people at risk. On the contrary, he was saving countless Jews in all future generations who will be inspired by his singular act of bravery, refusing to bow to the forces that try to compromise our identity. 

Our enemies will hate us no less if we bow to them, and our friends will only think higher of us for refusing to bow to pressure. Regardless of what anyone thinks of us, our job is to stand tall and proud like Mordechai, unabashedly stating our Jewishness. When we do, we play our part in the epic Jewish story, the story of an eternal nation that survives every attempt to make us bow. 

Good Shabbos and Happy Purim!

Rabbi Moss

To subscribe, CLICK HERE or email rabbimoss@nefesh.com.au

The Rusty Penny

This Story is one of my favorite. It's about charity, this week's Torah potion is about donating to charity, so I am sharing it.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812, founder of Chabad Chassidism) was raising money to ransom Jewish prisoners.

He went first to a city that was famous for its miser. It seems that this stingy man, despite his considerable wealth, was loath to share his blessings, no matter how worthy or urgent the cause. Rabbis and beggars alike avoided his home. Anyone who did unwittingly end up on his doorstep was offered a single rusty copper coin, which even the most desperate pauper would promptly refuse.

When Rabbi Schneur Zalman arrived in the town, the elders of the community graciously received him. But when he announced that he wanted to visit the house of the miser and wanted two rabbis to accompany him, he was met with serious resistance. The rebbe was adamant, however, and they finally acquiesced and gave him the escort he requested.

The next afternoon the three of them were standing in front of the miser’s mansion. Before knocking on the door, the rebbe turned to his companions and requested that they not utter a word, no matter what they hear or see. Several moments later they were sitting in the luxurious front room, and the owner was returning from his safe with a small velvet money pouch.

“Yes,” said the rich man. “A touching story indeed! Widows and orphans in captivity. Ah, the suffering of the Jewish people! When will it all end? Here, Rabbi, take my humble donation.”

To the miser’s surprise, the rebbe seemed pleased by the gift. He was actually smiling at him warmly as he put the coin into his pocket and said, “Thank you, Mr. Solomons. May G‑d bless and protect you always.” The rebbe then proceeded to write him a receipt, adding all sorts of blessings in a most beautiful script.

“Thank you again, my friend,” said the rebbe as he stood and warmly shook the man’s hand, looking him deeply in the eyes with admiration. “And now,” he added, turning to his two companions, “we must be on our way. We have a lot of collecting to do tonight.”

As the three rabbis walked to the door, the rebbe turned and bade his host yet another warm farewell. “You should have thrown it back in his face,” hissed one of the rabbis after they heard the door close behind them.

“Don’t turn around and don’t say a word,” whispered the rebbe as they walked down the path to the front gate.

Suddenly they heard the door opening behind them and the miser calling: “Rabbis, rabbis, please come back for a minute. Hello, hello, please, I must speak to you, please . . . please come back in.”

In a few minutes they were again sitting in the warm, plush drawing room, but this time the rich man was pacing back and forth restlessly. He stopped for an instant and turned to the rebbe. “Exactly how much money do you need to ransom these prisoners?”

“About five thousand rubles,” the rebbe replied.

“Well, here is one thousand . . . I have decided to give one thousand rubles; you may count it if you want,” said the miser as he took a tightly bound stack of bills from his jacket pocket and laid it on the table. The other rabbis were astounded. They stared at the money and were even afraid to look up at the miser, lest he change his mind.

But the Rebbe again shook Mr. Solomons’ hand, warmly thanking him, and wrote him a beautiful receipt replete with blessings and praises, exactly like the first time.

“That was a miracle!” whispered one of the rabbis to the rebbe as they left the house and were again walking toward the gate. Once more the rebbe signaled him to be still. Suddenly the door of the house again opened behind them. “Rabbis, please, I have changed my mind. Please come in once more. I want to speak with you,” Mr. Solomons called out.

They entered the house for a third time as the miser turned to them and said, “I have decided to give the entire sum needed for the ransom. Here it is; please count it to see that I have not made a mistake.”

“What is the meaning of this?” wondered the rebbe’s astonished companions after they had left the rich man’s home for the third time that evening. “How did you get that notorious miser to give 5,000 rubles?”

“That man is no miser,” said Rabbi Schneur Zalman. “No Jewish soul truly is. But how could he desire to give, if he never in his life experienced the joy of giving? Everyone to whom he gave that rusty penny of his threw it back in his face.”

use the nuclear option

Have you ever tried to get an in with someone but didn’t find a connector?

Have you ever tried to get an in with someone and realized that you had a liability that will stop you from connecting?

You are not alone. This has happened before. Queen Esther wanted to visit King Achashverosh. She knew that it would be a liability. She assumed, as was the custom in those days, that going to the king uninvited was risking her life. Generally, this is explained as the pivotal moment when you must take a risk, even risking your life, for something which is super important which expresses your values. Our first responders face this risk, putting their lives on the line every day to ensure that we stay safe.

There is a deeper explanation. One that defines Esther’s choice as one that is relevant to every single person. We ask ourselves how can I approach G-d? I am not perfect. I have liabilities. How can I approach the king with requests for health, happiness, etc. when I don’t follow Torah and mitzvot 100%? And what I do manage to do, I sometimes struggle with.

Chassidic masters explain the verse from the megillah “…and I will come to the king illegally and whatever I will lose, I will lose”, to mean that every human being approaches G-d and makes their request saying “I may not be perfect or righteous but it’s worth it for you, G-d, to fulfill my request so that I can serve you and have a close deep relationship with you. If you choose to reject me, that’s your choice. The relationship is so important that I am willing to use the nuclear option. I am willing to risk my life in order to build a deep meaningful relationship”.

Perhaps this is why Yom Kippur is called Yom Hakippurim, a day which is ‘like Purim’. On Purim we reveal this deep level connection with G-d. While Yom Kippur is important, Purim on some level is a day that is more important, the day we reveal a deeper quintessential bond.

This Purim, I would like to invite you to join us in celebrating this bond. See more info at www.HarfordChabad.org/Purim.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi

Change makes noise!

 Our relationship with G-d is very personal.  On one level it is essential, meaning that each of us have the same essence based connection.  However, each of us are also are independent beings with our own emotional and intellectual systems as well as our unique life experiences.  Accordingly, we each relate to G-d through our own lenses and perspectives.

Accordingly, the events of this week's Parsha beg explanation.  The Torah sets the scene of the Sinai Revelation.  "And it was on the third day in the morning and there was sounds and lightning..." There was a full on thunder and lightning show. "And the people in the camp shuddered".  

Was not the revelation of G-d Himself on Sinai enough to create awe and fear and shuddering in the camp?  Why the need for the thunder and lightning.  

The answer goes to the heart of what transpired at Sinai. This wasn't just a one time event.  The events of Sinai created a transformation in the world.  The physical world until that point didn't have the tolerance or ability for G-dliness to permeate it.  There were no holy objects.  Even the holy places ceased being holy when G-d removed his revelation.

But at Sinai all of that changed.  Physical objects become infused with holiness when we do a Mitzvah with them.  Physical spaces become sacred when holy events take place there.  The physical reality changed to have the ability to absorb holiness into it.

We experience noise when an experience is experienced for the first time. A new born baby - Mazal Tov! A new marriage - Mazal Tov.  NEWS! It makes noise.  The light of Hashem breaking through the physical reality wasn't to cause fear but it was an actual change to the physical reality experienced by all. That change makes noise.  The Jewish People experienced that change with all of the noise that it came with.

The message for us is that our experience of G-d, G-dliness and our relationship with Hashem, Torah, Mitzvot and Judaism has to permeate our reality and consciousness in a very real way.  We need to absorb it into our being.  When we do we become a living example of the intention and revelation of Sinai.

Have a great Shabbos!  

Split your own sea

Things are going well and suddenly you hit a roadblock! 

You know where you are going. To the promised land with a stop at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Behind you are the Egyptians and in front of you is the sea.

We have all had situations like this. We are doing the right thing, heading in the right direction. We are finally free. And then, our demons from our past creep up behind us and we find ourselves before some roadblock.

What do you do?

Some very religious people think it's time to pray! But G-d told Moses – nope, not time to pray. Time to move forward towards where you need to go! 

There is a roadblock? Just go above it!

The 4th Chabad Rebbe, the Rebbe Maharash, would say: The world says that if you cannot crawl under an obstacle, try to leap over it. However, I say, leap over it in the first place!  

Yes, the roadblock seems real. The challenge in front of you seems genuine.beautiful-beauty-blue-bright-414612.jpg

Nachshon ben Aminadav, facing the sea, went into the water when G-d said to keep moving forward toward Mount Sinai, and then the water split for the Jews to walk through.

We need to keep moving toward Sinai, our connection to Torah, and the roadblocks will evaporate or at least split to allow us to go through them.

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. Join Us
Friday
Soup and Scotch 5:30 PM

Shabbos 
10:00 Minyan 
10:30 Family Shabbat
7:00 PM Precious Souls, a Chassidic gathering

Sunday 
8 AM Teffilin Club
10 AM Hebrew School 
7 PM Tu Bshvat Paint Night 

Gotta do the work

While the Torah comes from Heaven, it was given on this Earth.  It can be tempting to want to soar heavenward in our pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.  In many ways it is easier to get lost in a spiritual high or in a spiritual event.  It's less demanding and doesn't require the inner work we need to put in to truly create transformation.

While doing the day to day hard work of personal transformation and engaging with the physical reality may seem to be the work of the unholy, it is in fact the most holy.  It is a simple act of kindness, a small victory over our negative spirits and the small act of a mitzvah that achieves the highest of spiritual connections.

When The Torah speaks about the plague of darkness.  The Torah says that the darkness pervaded over Egypt for three days. Rashi explains; this is because while the darkness was at play the Jews sought out where the Egyptians kept their riches. So that when they left Egypt the Egyptians were not able to deny that they possessed these riches because the ews had already seen them and identified them.

There are two reasons the Jews needed to take these riches with them.  The first is to fulfill the promise that Hashem made to Abraham when He told of the Egyptian slavery "and afterwards they will go out with great wealth".  The second is that the wealth represented spiritual sparks and energies that were captured by the unholy forces that were Egypt at the time.

Accordingly, the Exodus and the removing of this wealth was a fulfillment of G-d's instruction.

Rashi is teaching us that when it comes to fulfilling Hashem's commandments, we have to work hard to seek out the spark and fulfill it on natural terms.  While Hashem set the stage in a miraculous manner, (as He always does), the Jews still needed to do the hard work of searching and seeking in order to fulfill their Mitzvah.

It's always rewarding to do the work when fulfilling a mitzvah.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman
Edited from an email by Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman 

 

Well-behaved women seldom make history

Question of the Week:

My name is Adina. I have always been proud of having a Hebrew name, and I love its meaning ("delicate"). But someone asked me who the original Adina was. And I had no idea what to answer. Is it a biblical name? I don't remember hearing of an Adina in the Torah. So where is my name actually from?

Answer:

You may be surprised to learn the origins of your name. The first Adina was none other than the wife of Lavan the Aramean. That is Lavan the famous fraudster, sorcerer and crafty crook, about whom we read in the Haggadah on Pesach: "Lavan wanted to destroy everything." 

Lavan was not known for his good moral values. And yet, this piece of work was the father of Rachel and Leah, the righteous matriarchs of the Jewish people. How did such a shady character have such wonderful children? This was most likely due entirely to his delicate wife, Adina. 

All we know about her is her name. And that's all we need to know. Adina the delicate one. Don't be fooled by her soft and gentle nature. With her subtlety and quiet strength, she had the power to counter her husband's negative character, and bring up children who enlightened the world.

So that's where your name comes from. The delicate woman who single-handedly instilled her children with good character, and thereby shaped the Jewish future forever. She did it without her husband's support. Imagine what a like-minded couple can do. 

She wasn't well behaved according to her husband, but G-d would say she made history - Rabbi Kushi

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss 

Source: 
Sefer Hayashar, quoted in Seder Hadoros Year 2164. See also Year 2217, where it mentions another Adina, wife of Levi, daughter of Yovav ben Yoktan. This second Adina, unlike the first, joined the Jewish people, which is probably how the name became popular. We can only imagine how Leah felt when her son Levi married a woman with the same name as her mother. 

 

To subscribe to rabbi moss's weekly email, email rabbimoss@nefesh.com.au

I Can't? Yes You Can!

When given a job, have you ever asked yourself why the person giving you the task didn’t give you the resources to accomplish it? And then, as the job progressed, you realized that you had everything you needed although it may not have been the conventional tools.

When G-d turned to Moses and asked him to redeem the Jewish people, they have a whole dialogue during which Moses turns to G-d and says: who am I to redeem the Jewish people? “I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue”.

G-d answers him: “Who gave man a mouth…Is it not I, G-d? So now go!...“

G-d’s answer is relevant to each of us when we are on a mission. G-d, as the creator of the universe, ensures that we have everything we need to fulfill any mitzvah that He wants us to fulfill. While at times it may seem that we don’t have the tools to accomplish our mission, like Moses not being a great orator, G-d is telling all of us that He ensures that we have everything we need. It may mean that we need to be creative and resourceful to use what we have and what G-d has given us to accomplish our mission.

Go accomplish your mission!

Have a good Shabbos,

Ranbi Kushi Schusterman 

All Kids Complain

From time to time, one of the kids comes to Fraida or myself with a complaint. We expect them to do something, yet they don’t see us doing the same when in a similar situation.

We find this complaint in the Torah. Jacob is on his death bed and is excusing himself to Joseph. He asks Joseph to take him up to the land of Israel to be buried, knowing that Joseph was upset that he didn’t do the same thing when Rachel died years earlier. Jacob acknowledges Joseph’s complaint: “As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died to me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still a stretch of land to come to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." 

Rashi explains Jacob’s response: I know that you hold it against me; but you should know that I buried her there by divine command, so that she would be of assistance to her children. [G‑d, indeed, sent the Babylonians to destroy the temple and bring the Jews back with them to Babylonia, as they were going to Babylonia, the broken, desperate Jews crowded around Rachel’s grave and cried their hearts out.]

As I studied this passage, I started musing…

Jacob validated the complaint of Joseph, but gave him understanding. At the same time, Jacob didn’t explain this to Joseph when he was younger but waited till it was relevant.

I wondered why didn’t Jacob explain this to Joseph when he was a child

When raising my children should I answer their complaints? If I have a complaint against my parents should I reach out to them? Should I expect an answer?

What are your thoughts?

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

I talk to Gd like he is my best friend

I talk to Gd like he is my best friend - Dolly Parton.

Many people view prayer as a ritual, as something that "religious people do". This past Shabbos Fraida and I were in Montreal. At the Chassidic Farbrengen (gathering) following the service the Rabbi turned to a few of us and said, "Davening and Torah study, but really davening is most important".

He went on to explain that while it's important to study, it's more important to have a relationship with Hashem, with G-d, to talk to G-d like He is your best friend.

Rabbi Ringo spent some time talking about the importance and value of Torah study, even if for just a few minutes in the morning and evening. It can be listening to a podcast, a lecture online or attending a class.

Prayer, is not just saying words. Its connecting. It's "having a beer" with G-d. Yes, the prayer book is scripted. Yet when praying correctly, you are connecting with these words. The meaning of the words being super powerful.

When one congregant claimed no time to invest the hours in praying every day, Rabbi Ringo told him the following story.

In Tishrei 1979, Rabbi Schneur Zalman Gafni was privileged to travel to the Lubavitcher Rebbe from Israel. He was granted a private audience a ‘yechidus’.

The Rebbe took considerable interest in the yeshiva Rabbi Gafni had established at the Rebbe’s suggestion. Rabbi Gafni complained that in the past he could daven at length and had a precise schedule of Torah study. Now, however, his day is totally occupied with giving shiurim and holding private discussions with the students.

“I’ll never forget that ‘yechidus,” Gafni said. “The Rebbe spoke at length about the obligation for complete devotion to the students. Afterwards, he stopped speaking for a moment. I thought that after such a ringing declaration, the Rebbe would at least release me from the need for lengthy davening. However, I was quickly proven wrong. The Rebbe said that I must find a way to continue in proper prayer even praying one section without compromise, and the rest of the prayer just saying the words.”

So that was last week’s farbrengen.

Hope you can join us for soup and scotch Friday 5:30 or Shabbos morning 10 am and we can farbreng further :).

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. today is 5 teves a special day - learn more here 

What is the menorah whispering?

What is the secret the burning flames of the Menorah whisper to you?
What is the message contained in the flicker and dance of the kindled lights?
What is the story the candles; 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 are telling you and me dear reader?

As the year has its seasons so does life.  Each of us journey through our own personal year, our own personal decade and our own personal seasons of the time that we are allotted.

The eternity of Torah carries a message for each physical season and each personal season.  Unique to you and me, in each particular time.

The only constant is change, and as such each of us are either up on our journey or down on our journey.  

Wherever we are up to the Menorah tells us to light a little more today.  Even though after yesterday's flames went out the darkness ensued again, tonight, today, we can bring light into the world again and in fact we can be a light unto the world again.

The Menorah's message goes further.  Yesterday you brought light to the world.  You may have had a step down after as darkness descended and the light, your light diminished.  Today you have picked yourself up and embraced your job on this earth, you're ready to offer your light again.  You can and must offer more light than you did yesterday.  You have that inner reservoir and therefore despite your shortcomings, despite the darkness that comes with the seasons, you have the ability to do even more than you did yesterday.

This is the message the candles are whispering to me.  This is the recurring message I see each night as the Menorah has a light added to it.  

What is the Menorah whispering to you?

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.