Rabbi's Blog

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


Are you a refractor?

With all the negativity out there let's focus on the positive! How about light? Or better yet, Rainbows. They are so colorful and they seem to bring a smile every time we see them.

Where do Rainbows come from?

A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines onto droplets ofmoisture in the Earth's atmosphere. They take the form of a multicolored arc, with red on the outer part of the arch and violet on the inner section of the arch.

Now, that we have understood the technical side of it, let's look to the spiritual origin and meaning of the Rainbow.

The Torah in this weeks Portion "Noach" tells us that G-d introduced into nature and placed in the sky a Rainbow after the Flood as a sign of His promise never again to destroy all of Mankind notwithstanding our shortcomings.

But why a Rainbow?

As mentioned a Rainbow is the light of sun refracting from the moisture in the air. Imagine the moisture as a thick coarse piece of stone or wood. The light would not refract from such an object. Now think of the people and the Earth prior to the flood, they were a coarse lot. They wouldn't have refracted much light at all. But after the flood, after the Earth was purified the very nature was now able to refract light.

There is a powerful lesson for us particularly now after the High Holiday season: 
To bring light we must be refined, we ourselves must strive for purity. For a short while you can convince others of your purity, but If it is not backed up by your internal system and internal refine-ness it will eventually cease.

To use the words of the Talmud, "words that leave the heart, enter the heart".

On Rosh Hashanah we are given "renewal" for the year and on Yom Kippur we are cleansed for the year. We are now in a strong position to nurture that refine-ness, both by nurturing ourselves through Torah Study and Prayerand by refracting that light to others through Mitzvot and reaching out. 

May this year be a year of bright shining positive lights! Have a great shabbat and see you at services. 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

A Father, Role Model and Leader

 A Father, Role Model and Leader

Just 2 weeks ago my wife Fraida gave birth to our second daughter, Henya Chasha. Henya’s birth came right before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, “The High Holy Days”, which are days of reflection of the past and preparation for the future. Between shuttling Rochel Leah (our older daughter) to friends, visiting the hospital and preparing notes, in order to be able to have a running commentary during the High Holiday Services, there was little time for reflection and preparation.

However, while driving, I have had the opportunity to think (especially with the new texting while driving ban – and it’s not safe anyway). As a father, my children emulate me. They learn how to talk based on how I talk. How to act based on how I act. Learn what is valuable based on what I prove to be valuable through my actions. 

Perfection is not me; I am human and make mistakes. My children will learn to imitate some of those faults. However, during this time of reflection, I realize that identifying those mistakes and rectifying them - calling a spade a spade - and admitting to those mistakes to myself and to those I need to say sorry to, is the first step in the process of becoming a better person – I am my childrens’ role model.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that a true leader creates leaders. If I am going to lead my children, I must make sure they recognize their duty to the community to be leaders andinfluence the people to learn more Torah and to add in the observance of mitzvoth. ( Will I be theirleader?

The Rebbe ended his Rosh Hashana Letter with the following blessing, May it be fulfilled

“I hope and pray that everyone of you will become a leader and source of good influence in your environment, leading Jews, and Jewish youth particularly, to a true Jewish life, a life of happiness, a life where its spiritual and material aspects are properly balanced. Such perfect harmony of the spiritual and material can only be found in the Torah and Mitzvoth, and in the light of the Torah you will lead your colleagues and friends to true happiness.

G‑d Bless you and your respective families with a Chasimo and Gmar Chasimo Toivo”

Have an Easy Fast,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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