Rabbi's Blog

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

Don’t be Judgmental - 'cuz you don't know

Walking down the street with my kippa  and tzitzit , someone opens their window and hollers “free Palestine”. At a store checkout, Fraida dressed with long sleeves because of tzniut,  in the dead heat of summer, someone makes a “smart” comment. Made up to meet a friend for coffee and he does not show.

Are we being judged? Do we judge others?

Hillel says “Do not judge your fellow, until you have reached his place.” Pirkei Avot 2:4 (this weeks chapter)

Imagine an indoor ceiling with tiles and there is one tile missing – just one. Now tell me, what would you concentrate your vision on? What would you look at the most? The answer is obvious: the missing tile.

A teacher once conducted an experiment. He held up a white plate and showed it to the class. In the center of the plate was a small black spot. He then asked the class to describe what they saw. One student said he saw a black spot. Another said it must be a target for shooting practice. A third suggested that the plate was dirty or damaged. Whereupon the teacher asked, “Doesn’t anyone see a white plate?”

But can we not judge others? Can we see the ceiling without focusing on the missing tile? Why do we only see the dirt and not the plate?

Let us learn to find the good in others. Let us realize we are not "in their place", we do not see the full picture. We do not know the whole story. This realization is not easy but it is simple, it can help us to not be judgmental .

Nobody is perfect, not even ourselves. Let us not be so judgmental and critical. Let us try to see the good in others.

Have a Good Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Tradition, Tradition

I will begin with a quote from Tevya: How do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition! fiddler on the roof

One of the many traditions of the Jewish people is to study Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the fathers), one chapter (of six) per Shabbat between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot, the weeks of the Omer counting. 
Each week until Shavuot, the “word from the Rabbi” in the weekly email, will focus on a concept which is mentioned in that week’s chapter.

Chapter 1 begins with the chain of the Torah from Mount Sinai to the time of the Mishna. Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua --> the Elders --> the Prophets --> the Great Assembly. One of the messages of documenting this chain is to teach us that there is a source to our traditions.

There is a story told of a family that had a tradition to cook the roast in two pots. One of the children, let us call her Faiga, came to her Mother one day, shortly before Passover asking why? Why cook in two pots when you can just use a bigger pot? “This is our family tradition” her mother said. ”If you want to know more, call Bubby (Grandma).” Faiga, being the inquisitive child she was, didn’t wait and called her Bubby. Her Bubby’s answer was because in Russia the pot couldn’t hold an entire roast.

There are many family traditions that have sources because the roast didn’t fit into our “bubby’s pot”. But the Jewish traditions, customs and mitzvot that we do, or aspire to do, have a source to them. As Tevye says; “And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is, and what G-d expects him to do.”

Is there a tradition or Mitzvah you want more information about? Are you looking for a tangible way to add spirituality to your life? Do you want to know more about a specific subject?

Just reply to this email - its that easy

Have a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 
P.S. A fiddler on the roof.

A Pesach Blessing and Message


After your Seder tonight or tomorrow night you may ask yourself, "am I free? Have I been liberated"?

You may even look in the mirror and realize that you haven't eradicated that negative trait, you are still stuck trying to move forward and that you also now have a couple extra lbs that you need to work off.

What's it really all about?

Passover empowers us to move forward, one day at a time, one victory at a time and one liberation at a time.  It is not about the destination but rather about the journey.  

When the Jewish people left Egypt they didn't go straight from there to Israel.  They spent 40 years in the desert going from one journey to the next, one growing experience to the next until Gd saw it fit that they enter into the Land.

Pesach is the annual empowerment for the daily growths.  It gives us the ability to move forward each and every day, growing a little bit until Gd sees it fit for us to arrive at a certain victory only to realize that there is yet another battle to be fought.

As the smell of Marror, Wine and Charoset is in the air I'd like to offer the following blessing for you, your family, friends and our entire Jewish community; May this Pesach bring empowerment for us to embrace our challenges with joy, to uncover the inner resources of the Neshama (soul) to work through and over those challenges and may Hashem see it fit to help us achieve victory, just as we embrace the next challenge with even greater joy.

Finally, may all external material pressures be relieved so that we can truly focus on our internal journey, strengthening our relationship with Gd through Mitzvah Observance, Torah study and making Gd relevant in our day to day lives.

With blessing for a Happy and Kosher Pesach, inner and external redemption,

Rabbi Kushi and Mrs. Fraida Schusterman

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