Rabbi's Blog

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


Driving to Indiana is fun. Especially when the child in the car is cooperating and the GPS gives directions that are correct. Many people don't like the GPS because if you look at a map you can choose the best way to go. But that’s only if you know where you are going.

There is a story told about the United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Holmes was once taking a train ride when the conductor came around asking for everyone’s ticket as proof that they paid for the trip. No matter how much Holmes searched, he simply couldn’t find his ticket. The conductor, realizing the stature of his passenger, told the judge that he had nothing to worry about for he was certain that he had paid for his ticket. The judge responded, “My good man, you don’t understand. I need my ticket to know where I am going.”


My wife and I like to use a GPS. On our way out, it took us out of Harford County going north then across to Indiana. However on the way back, it took us through Fredrick which is south and then back up to Bel Air.

The Baal Shem Tov says that we should learn from everything that happens to us. The message I learnt from this story is that we should always go upward. When you leave a place, make sure to go upward to a "higher place" and when you return make sure your journey brought you up. This is especially apropos as this week’s Torah portion is titled Maasei - "journeys".

Where do your life journeys take you?

Good Shabbos

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

New Course BecomingGrounded-Email.jpg

History or Heritage

 Icons don't confuse history with heritage.  - Charles Schultz

We can take this to mean history is information while heritage is cause for celebration. 

If a birthday is history then when inconvenient we forget about it; if it's heritage then we celebrate it. The same goes for Passover, Shabbat, etc.; if it is just history then there is no reason for celebration.

When the Jews planned to settle in the land of Israel, two tribes requested to remain in "Jordan".  Moses response was that if they would be with their brothers during times of war then they can settle there in times of peace. This story is history.

It is written: "Our father blesses us when we are one". Our heritage is that we are a unified people. As we have seen after 9/11 and more recently after the tragic murder of Leiby Kletzky, it is during times of trouble and war that this unity if most noticeable. It does not need to be this way. Let us show our unity in times of peace and let us show G-d that we don't need a tragedy to unite us. 

Have a weekend of unity.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. There is a new campaign for Unity in Harford County check it out - Uniting people across the Jewish spectrum through support, awareness and connectivity.

Conflict Resolution


Working out differences is an art. Some call it the art of negotiation, others conflict resolution. When the dust settles after such a disagreement, do both parties feel like they got what they wanted?


Agreement can happen in 3 ways: force, enlightenment or unity.


  1. One party forces the other since they have the “power” to get their way,
  2. One party enlightens the other why their way is right

  4. Both parties realize that essentially the goal is not their personal gain but their unanimity and friendship/business etc. and they each do what they can to achieve this unity.

We see the third way in this week’s Torah portion. Pinchas witnesses an act that challenges the purity of the Jewish people and realizes that this needs to be stopped to ensure their continuation.  Just as when one sees a child about to run into the street, we grab him and hold him back without wasting time to find out who the parent is, similarly, Pinchas immediately did what he had to in order to safeguard the continuation of the Jewish people. Pinchas did not impose his view on others, did not try to explain his actions, he just did what needed to be done to stop what was going on.

After this story, the Torah continues talking about settling the Jewish land of Israel. For when true redemption comes all conflict will be resolved by seeing how essentially we are all one. 

Have a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


Love as a guide

Its 2 am and there is a line of people waiting for their 2 minutes to go into the “Ohel”, the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the leader of world Jewry. At that time of night there was a ‘short line’ - only a half hour wait. Earlier in the evening, the wait was 1 hour. The next day, one had to stand in line for over 2. Many spent that time saying psalms and reading a kvittel, a note that was written to the Rebbe. Everyone was coming to visit the Rebbe’s resting place on his Yahrtziet (anniversary of the date of passing).

Its been 17 years since the Rebbe passed away and at that time the newspapers wrote: What holds everyone together is the memory of Rabbi Schneerson and a conviction that the movement needs to preserve that memory as a continuing symbol. "The interesting question is, How long can that be maintained?"

At the time of the Rebbe’s passing (in 1994), I was 9 years old and did not understand to what extent the Rebbe would impact my life. The Rebbe personified true love. There were 3 types of loves that defined the Rebbe’s Mission: The love of God, love of the Torah and love of the Jewish People. Every video, every talk, every interaction and every memory of the Rebbe embodies these 3 loves.

Although I met the Rebbe when I was a child, I do not have a clear recollection of those interactions. However, through countless videos of the Rebbe and stories heard from many of those who merited spending time with the Rebbe, I was affected by his contagious love for his fellow man and steadfast commitment to Jewish law and traditions as well as his love of God which was palpable in everything he did.

I heard a story that a Jewish philanthropist was asked to support a new Chabad Synagogue and Jewish Center in a town of similar demographics to Bel Air, MD. Despite knowing about Chabad worldwide, the philanthropist asked: “what connection do I have to that town that I should support its efforts to make joyous Judaism accessible there?” The answer he received from the young Rabbi was: “and what connection do I have to that town that I moved there?”

The Rabbi was saying I have not moving there to have a glamorous life but only to share the love - the love of God, love of the Torah and love of the Jewish People.

Do you want to help us share the love?
Donate (here) Join the chai club (here)

For More on the Rebbe Click Here
Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. I will be going back to the ohel this weekend, please send me your name and your mother’s name (Hebrew names preferable but not required) and I will ask the Rebbe for a blessing for you and your family.

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