Rabbi's Blog

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


There are many things that can make a person happy. As the old adage goes: If someone says money can't buy happiness, they don't know where to shop.

What makes a Jew happy? Mitzvos? What about the Jew who doesn't "keep" the mitzvos?

On Yom Kippur, every Jew goes to shul regardless of their mitzvah observance. On Shmimi Atzeret and Simchat Torah (which begins tonight and continues until sundown on Friday), all Jews are happy and joyous, expressing our confidence that G-d has answered our prayers and is granting us a happy and healthy sweet new year; regardless of our mitzva observance.

On Simchat Torah we dance with the wrapped, unopened Torah. This expresses our relationship with G-d and his Torah, the way it is in its essence, which is even higher than what is actually written in the Torah. On these days, we are the Torah's feet and we help uplift the Torah, as it lifts us all year-round. We are all happy, every Jew, regardless of their "mitzvah observance".

According to Kabalah, it is the dance of the unbreakable union: Torah, G-d and the Jewish people. The expression of this bond is not through learning but through dancing with the Torah. The rest of the year, we learn how to implement the mitzvot which enhance the relationship, by learning the Torah.

As these days go by, keep in mind that it is a joyous time. It is a time to uplift, a time to be feet for the Torah and to uplifted by by all this.

Find a fellow Jew who lives near you and make their smile brighter. (and tell them to email me :) @ [email protected]

Happy Holiday!

Rabbi K. Schusterman

Internet Installed

This weeks email is dedicated in honor of Chava bas Sara Rifka born 9/15/2010.

Sponsored by her cousin. To sponsor an email Click Here

Internet Installed: By Rabbi Schusterman

We moved into our new home and ordered internet service. Curious as I am, I asked the technician how it works. He explained that there are different pieces; a modem, the cable on our end, and the cable on the service provider’s end. For there to be good internet communication, he explained, all these pieces are necessary,and, in addition, the system needs to be programmed correctly so that the internet connection works.

Since the Baal Shem Tov says that we must learn from all of our experiences, I was thinking that this is very timely since tonight begins the holiday of Sukkot when we shake ‘the four kinds’ together. They include 4 objects; the date palm (lulav), the myrtle (hadas), the willow (aravos), and the citron (esrog), four types of vegetation. If you have only three of them you have not fulfilled the Mitzvah. You need all four, just like with the internet service. If you have the modem and no wires, or just the wires and no modem, it won't work

The Midrash explains that this symbolizes the intrinsic unity of the Jewish people. These four species are noticeably different from one another. The esrog has both a pleasant taste and a pleasant fragrance. The fruit of the tree from which the lulav is taken, the date, has a pleasant taste, but no fragrance. The myrtle has a pleasant fragrance but no taste, and the willow has neither fragrance nor pleasant taste.

The esrog represents a person who studies Torah and does good deeds, the lulav represents one who studies Torah but does not do good deeds, the myrtle represents one who does good deeds but does not study Torah, and the willow represents a person who doesn’t study Torah or do good deeds. Just like in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of lulav and esrog, you need to bring all four kinds together, to have a complete community we need to unite all (four types of) Jews.

That is what we are trying to do here at Chabad of Harford County. We would like to make a community of all the Jews in our local community. We want to get to know those like the esrog, lulav, hadas and arova. We want to have a complete community.

We want to get to know each one of you. Would you like to meet for coffee or lunch? Please email or call me to schedule a time so we can get to know each other.

Have an joy filled holiday of Sukkot.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman
[email protected]

A Tale of Three Shirts

I'd like to share with you A Tale of Three Shirts. There were three shirts who were arguing with each other, each saying that it was the best of all of them.

One shirt was clean, brand new and untouched. It said, "I am the best because I have never been tainted".

The second shirt was a shirt that had just come out of the wash and it said, "I am better because even though I have been tainted yet I am still clean".

The third was a tie-dye shirt. It said, "I am better than both of you because even though I am clean, whether or not I "look clean," is not the basis for my specialness. My relationship with my owner is deeper than clean or dirty. It is that I am HIS shirt".
This Friday night and Shabbat are known as Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is known as "the Day of Atonement." I'd like to share with you a truely deep meaning of Yom Kippur. On this day G-d says that His relationship with us is deeper than clean or dirty, than purity or the opposite. G-d is one with His people.

Let us remember this on Yom Kippur, on the Day of At-One-Ment.

May we all be sealed for a happy and healthy year.
Rabbi Schusterman

Happy New Year

Wishing you and yours a happy and blessed new year


Often times we are faced with a challenge that we can't seem to overcome and then out of left field a solution rises to the surface that resolves the whole thing.

The solution to a problem is often something totally unrelated to the problem itself.

The month of Elul, the month of preparation for the Days of Awe has arrived and our focus has shifted to analyzing our character and working on bettering ourselves. All the character "deficiencies" that we work on cleaning up all have the same origin. If we could correct that origin all would be well.

In a word, EGO! Now ego is not a bad thing. Without it some of the greatest accomplishments in life would not have developed. Without ego we wouldn't accomplish anything. We would always see ourselves as "nothings". Ego is an important part of who we are. But the flip side is that ego is also the root of everything negative. Anger, jealousy, selfishness, impatience, etc. all stem from ego. Anger- How dare you do that to ME? Jealousy - Why shouldn't I have that? Selfishness - Why should I share with you? Impatience - Why aren't you hurrying up, I am waiting? And the list goes on! Let alone the really bad evil stuff that stems from a really rotten ego. Evil - The way I see the world is the only way and anybody who doesn't do it my way has got to go!

So what is the solution? The Torah says that if one has a roof (which is on the high places of one’s house) and a individual is likely to fall of it, we are instructed by Biblical injunction to place a fence around that roof.

The Rebbe says that the roof is an analogy for our ego. The ego can be found on high places and we are likely on account of it to fall. Therefore the Torah tells us to put a fence around it. We are instructed to set for ourselves identifiers that will help us realize whether we are responding to our negative ego or if our behavior is coming from somewhere holy inside of us.

Try this at home: Pick a behavior that you struggle with. Identify its negative source in the ego. Now set for yourself a sign for the next time this behavior appears, to stop and take 20 seconds to identify the source. For example if the behavior is anger, the sign could be that your heart starts beating faster or that your face gets flushed. At that moment stop and ask yourself one question. "Is this coming from a holy place inside of me or from negative ego?" Then follow it up with this question, "Am I falling off the roof?"

Let's take some time during this time of spiritual stock taking to build some fences around our ego roof.

Have a great week!

May you be inscribed and sealed in the book of life

Best Wishes.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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