Rabbi's Blog

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

Finally Free

Finally Free

A person is living a comfortable life, has a wife and children who all get along. But he has a brother he doesn’t speak to. Is he free?

We just finished the holiday of Passover during which we began the process of going free. The Rebbe writes that the definition of freedom is when we are unified all as one; when we have no “unresolved issues” hindering Achdut Yisrael - Jewish unity.

On a personal level, this would mean that we’ve done all we can to resolve any unresolved issues we may have. Although ‘the brother’ may not be willing to speak to me (yet), I have done whatever I can to unlock and keep the door open.

Think….. Are there any unresolved issues that are holding you back?

Imagine ….. How would life be different if the issue was resolved?

Act….. What would you have to do to resolve the issue?

Let me share with you a story I heard from Tom, a friend of mine.

Tom was sixteen years old when his father passed away. While his father was alive he was a good and loving father but was rarely home. The children felt their father’s absence and this caused Tom to feel that he was unable to make progress with certain aspects of his life.

What did Tom do? He wrote a letter to his father detailing all the concerns he had and the reasons why he felt his father was holding him back. He burnt the letter and had the smoke deliver it wherever it needed to go. After doing this, Tom felt like he had made peace with his father and was able to continue on unconstrained.

At first, Tom had an unresolved issue and after writing the letter, he had resolved it in the best way possible. True it didn’t change the reality but the issue was laid to rest. He was free.

Go free and have a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Where is Moses?

Where is Moses? 

By Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman 

Interesting enough if you read the Hagadah the main hero of the story,Moses, is missing.  His name is mentioned only at the end of the Seder in the recounting of the Song of the Sea.

One of the reasons for this is that the Seder is to be conducted as a parent retelling the story to his children who did not witness and experience what the parent lived through.  "And it will on the day that your children ask you... and you should tell them".  Hence the Hagaddah is told in response to the Mah Nishtanah the questions that are asked.

All the Jewish children at that first Seder had lived through the Egyptian exile.  There was no questions to be asked as all of them had experienced the slavery save for the children of Moseswho were born in Midian and only joined the Jewish people after the Exodus.  Thus Moses' name is omitted from the Hagadah because Moses himself is the one reciting the Hagadah.

Is your Passover an event? Is your Judaism an event? Or is it who you are and part of your (Jewish) life?

For the children in Egypt there were no questions, because Judaism was their life.  They had experienced and sacrificed for Judaism, they had lived through the exile and redemption and revelation at Sinai.  For Moses children who hadn't experienced the slavery, for whom the Seder was an event they had questions.

If we want to ensure that our children are at the Seder each year and that the questions are not existential ones but rather about a desire to learn then we need to ensure that our Judaism and our Passover isn't an event.  Judaism and Passover need to be our life, our daily experience inherent in all of our spiritual, physical and mundane interactions. 

Best wishes for a Happy and Kosher Passover

Rabbi Schusterman

The Turtle


Why did the turtle cross the road?

It was Monday morning and ‘Turt’ the turtlewandered out of the woods and came to theTollgate Road and Marketplace Drive intersection. Turt proceeded to cross the street not paying attention to the cars coming and going. A driver noticed Turt and stopped to allow him to traverse safely. As I was coming from the other direction and noticed the stopped car, I too stopped to allow the turtle to cross. This caused a backup of cars. Needless to say, Turt, oblivious to the traffic HE has caused, safely made it to the other side of the road. As Turt continued on his merry way, I was reminded that we can learn something from everything we see or hear and apply it to our service of Hashem.

While contemplating this experience, I realized that there are times that, while completely oblivious to it, I may be the cause of that which is holding me back from progress. I may be thePharaoh who is not allowing me to leave Egypt. I may be thetaskmaster who is forcing me to spend more hours in the office instead of with my family. To facilitate the advance of my progress, all I need to do is realize it is I who is holding me back.

So why did the turtle cross the road? Maybe it was to teach me this message.

Thank you, Turt, for teaching me this practical lesson.

Now you can ask yourself; why did you hear the story of Turt crossing the road?

Have a Great Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman



What is freedom?

Does it mean having no rules? That's called chaos.

Does it mean being governed by someone or something else? That's called a slave.

Today is the Hebrew date of Nissan 2, the "yahrtziet" (date of passing) of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, also known as "The Rashab". The following story that transpired with the Rebbe Rashab and his son, the "Previous" Rebbe, may help us answer the question.

A student was accepted into the esteemed Yeshiva (Jewish School) Tomchei Temimim run by the Previous Rebbe.  Upon meeting the student, the Rebbe Rashab mentioned to his son, that although the student is smart and up to the intellectual caliber of the other students in the school, his face is not refined. The Previous Rebbe instructed the student to be in charge of the Shmurah Matza baking, as well as organizing the preparations for the students’ public Seder. Lastly, the Previous Rebbe notified the student that he was going to be tested on a very complicated Chassidic discourse at 8 o'clock the morning after the Seder (after having cleaned up and gone to sleep very late).

The student worked very hard and successfully accomplished all the above mentioned tasks without complaining. At the meal on the 8th day of Pesach, The Rebbe Rashab pointed out to the Previous Rebbe that now the student’s face was noticeable more refined. This was accomplished by the "sweat of doing mitzvahs".

Perhaps that is true freedom. Free from the limitations of an unrefined self and free to serve God in a true and real way.

Are you free?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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