Rabbi's Blog

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

Just another Joe in the Marketplace!


The Talmud tells a story about Rabbi Joseph. “R. Joseph would place an order for the day of Shavuot saying: “Prepare for me the highest quality calf, for if not for our receiving the Torah, I would just be another Joe in the market place!” Pesachim 68B

When selling a product that many other people sell, the question you must ask yourself is “what is my USP?”  The Unique Selling Point is a marketing concept that makes unique propositions (customer service, quality etc.) to the customer and this convinces them to switch brands.

Rabbi Joseph was saying that our USP is the Torah. If not for Torah the Jewish people would not be a nation. “Our nation is not a nation except through Torah” – Rabbi Saadya Goan.  The Torah sets our goals and lends meaning to our existence. In the words of the Zohar: The Torah and G-d are one entity.

We see this in this week’s Torah portion. When counting the Levites the Torah counts Gershon (the oldest) after Kehos, the reason has nothing to do with the stature of Gershon or his inferiority. It has to do with the job of the Kehos family – they carried the Aron Hakodesh, the Holy Ark, which contained the Torah. This Teaches us the principle of Kavod Hatorah – Respect for the Torah.

Do you think the Jews needs the Torah to remain a nation? 

Would you agree with Saadya Goan and Rabbi Joseph? 

Why or Why Not?

Hope to see you at services and Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Liberty or Suppression?

A prisoner who has been incarcerated for many years is told one day “you are free”. The Warden opens the door and leaves. He chooses to stay in the jail cell. Is he free?

At the root of this question is, if I can do whatever I want, am I free?

Our founders, in the declaration of independence, state that our Creator endowed us with certain unalienable rights and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. But what is liberty? Is liberty the ability to do “whatever we want”?

There is no liberty in following our own whims and desires as such freedom is nothing more than slavery to ourselves. Freedom can only come by connecting to something infinite, divine and beyond us. True freedom is when we are free of outside influences and pressures so that we can be free to pursue the ultimate – a meaningful relationship with G-d.

There are two ways to serve G-d. I can do what will allow me to feel spiritual and have a ‘relationship’ with Him, regardless of what He wants. Or, the relationship can be on His terms, fulfilling His wishes, knowing that this will lead to a fulfilling and spiritual life.

The Mishnah says “And the tablets are the work of G-d, and the writing is G-d's writing, engraved on the tablets"; read not "engraved" (charut) but "liberty" (chairut)---for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with the study of Torah. Avot 6:2

As we re-accept the Torah and “renew our vows with G-d” on Shavuot, let us reexamine the nature of our relationship. Is this relationship giving us liberty or suppression? Is it self-centered or other centered?

We should all be blessed with a wonderful Shabbat and the ability to joyously accept the Torah in a personal and meaningful way.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

I need your money like a hole in my head

I need your money like a hole in my head – the Charity Box

There are several types of people. The “connector” - I won’t partner right now but I know someone who can. The “benefactor” - I want to be your only donor and cover the whole budget. The “initiator” - “Let's start a movement” - I will give and let us find others who will join. and the “narcissist”- “I worked for my money” - I won’t give and neither should others.

Who owns the money I earned? What does it

 mean when it says ‘Tithe and you will become rich’? (Tithing is a Jewish concept meaning to give 10% of your income, after basic expenses, to charity)

The concept of Charity, in Jewish tradition, is that G-d has a banking industry; He gives us a certain amount of money to be responsible for, enough to support ourselves and our families. Then from the excess, He asks us to distribute to those who need and/or worthy causes.

If we perceive our wealth as a gift from G-d, then like a bank teller although vast sums of money pass through his hands every day, he is well aware that not a penny of this belongs to him; he is merely part of a distribution system which gives out the money to its rightful owners.

So too when we recognize, that everything that we possess comes to us from the hand of G-d, we aren’t doing a favor to the person or organization by giving, we are doing our duty and training ourselves to recognize the source of our blessings.

If G-d sees we are good bankers – He gives us a promotion – tithe and you will become rich. So the charity box is right, it doesn't need our money, we need it! (Need a charity box? reply to this email)

So who of the four people above are the best?

The Mishnah answers that “The One who wants to give but does not want others to give--is begrudging of others. One who wants that others should give but does not want to give--begrudges himself. One who wants that he as well as others should give, is a chassid. One who wants neither himself nor others to give, is wicked.” (Avot 5:13)

Do you want to join the movement and support Chabad? Join the chai club? Do it now

Not Sure what the chai club is? Click Here 
Hope to see you by services and have a great Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Ego vs Self Awareness

I know how great I am yet I am humble.

I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I need to recognize my strengths and my weaknesses as messages to me as to what my unique mission in this world is.

Other people who are not like me, I can choose to scorn them; I can choose to learn from them.

In this week’s chapter of avot its written "Who is wise? One who learns from every person" " Do not scorn any person, and do not discount anything. For there is no person who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place." "Be very, very humble, for the hope of mortal person is worms."

We all need to practice these 3 traits

1) Learn from every person - even the one who you feel the only thing to learn from them is how NOT to be.

2) Don't scorn any person - everyone has their time to be on top. They say “be careful whose toes you step on it may be connected to the person you may need to curry favor from in the future.

3) Recognize that we all die - so in the end we all end up in the same place.

By practicing these we come to recognize that as great as we are… we are human. We can have self-awareness knowing talents and the responsibility it comes with. We must not allow our talents to cause our ego to grow and a great way to do this is to learn from others and never judge them. Because in the end we are all mortal.

Moses was the master of this He knew of his greatness, but he truly believed that his greatness was a Divine gift, and had somebody else been given his opportunities they would have utilized them better than he did. He would look at the simplest of people and think, "If he was in my shoes, he would have been a better Moses than me."

Just a thought now back to preparing for the tonights BBQ.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Right or Responsibility

A group of Rabbi’s had a goal, to streamline the process to create a Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish center. They worked together with a Michael E. Gerber - World's #1 Small Business Guru. One of the main concepts of Mr. Gerber’s process for company growth is accountability. Who in the company is accountable to whom and for which result.

There are people (maybe even in your company) that say I’m great, I’m smart, I’m talented, I can draw and I can take the pictures. I’m good at woodworking, and I’m educated. I’m a good teacher and I am a good student etc.

Do I have the right to be smart or is it a G-d given talent? Do I have the right to be good at woodworking or is it a G-d given talent? Torah says that with every G-d given talent that a person is blessed with comes the accountability to use it for good.

This concept can be seen in the statement of Akavia the son of Mahalalel Reflect upon three things and you will not come to the hands of transgression. …. and before whom you are destined to give a judgment and accounting….Avot 3:1

When G-d blesses us with a talent we need to recognize that it is more than a “right” it is a responsibility. Our talents come with the prerequisite, that we will need to give an accounting before the Source from which it came, namely; G-d.

Will we follow through on that accountability or transgress it? Will we say “I have the right to do with my talents as I wish” or will we say “how can I give of my talents to better the community that I live in?”

Let us make use of our accountabilities to propel us to a higher place, to make this world a place where G-d will feel comfortable where prayer is a way to connect and where our Jewish values and practice reflects Torah values in a modern world.

Do research on a mitzvah, practice practicing it, see its modern relevance and what a profound and beautiful impact it can have on your life.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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