Rabbi's Blog

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


Confrontation is used for many things. Amongst them is to change the other's behavior; change the things that make you angry; clarify what has happened and why it is upsetting and get corrective action taken.

There are several types of confrontations.  
     Direct confrontation is a clear, precise statement of the facts to a person whom you believe needs direction and guidance. You either want quality action taken or you want this person to do something for you. For example; "John, please clean this place before I return'' or "Mary, the way to get my attention is by writing a memo to me, not by skipping work.''  
     Indirect confrontation is a statement of concern you make to a group of people with no specific person pinpointed. The purpose is to let people know your feelings in a general way. No one gets singled out. For example; "I want each of you to get behind your desire to improve our production'' or "I am upset with the way some of you are acting around here.'' Source

We see in this week’s Torah portion that Moshe confronts the Jews about past misdeeds but he does not confront them directly. He reprimands via hints and allusions. However, further on (in Deuteronomy, Chapter 9), Moses confronts the Jews directly.

What is better? Direct or Indirect confrontation?

The answer is depends for what.

In the case of Moses, he was trying to inspire the Soul of the people. When dealing with the more spiritual levels of the soul, they were “in tune” with what he was saying so an indirect confrontation sufficed. While later, in Deuteronomy, he is inspiring the soul as it is enclothed in the body, when it is less refined and less sensitive to its true self, and does not get the hints.

This is also true in our lives. When hinting will get the point across in a non-confrontational way – use it. When the recipient will not understand the problem otherwise, then be CLEAR in a nice way.

I know when I do not want to hear something, my defenses go up. I was thinking perhaps this is why Moses began by hinting and only got clearer and more direct later…

Have a good Shabbos and an easy fast.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. for info on Tisha b'Av click here 

Israel is Home

“It is impossible to be perfect ... I, too am not complete in Mitzvos. The fact that I do not live in Israel does not allow me to be complete in Mitzvos” - The Lubavitcher Rebbe to Israel PM Ariel Sharon (see it on YouTube here).

I don't live in Israel and I was not raised there. However, like most Jews, Israel  is considered home.

Why? Why did the Rebbe, as a Jewish leader, not live in Israel? Why was the Torah not given in Israel?

The answer to these questions is the difference between Jewish People and American People as well as the difference between a nation and a religion.  Jews are not limited to their "land" nor to being a "people".

Judaism, the religion, contains a set of laws which are the G-d given practice for Jews to express a holy set of ideals and ideas that can survive anytime and anyplace. These ideals are so powerful that we are willing to die for them. 
The Jews, as opposed to the Frenchmen, Italians, and Americans etc. do not need their country to be a Jew. Take the Italian out of Italy for 150 years and he will no longer be “Italian”. He may visit the “country of his ancestors” but Italy will no longer be “home”. The Jew may not have been in Israel for hundreds of years and still the land belongs to them. The land of Israel was given to the Jews by G-d (as is read in this week’s Torah portion) with defined markers: “This is the land ... according to its borders” (Bamidbar 34;2).

As a Jew, we must include in our life some of the practical Mitzvos that express the ideals that Judaism stands for. If not, we risk losing our identity as part of the Jewish nation and may no longer feel that connection to our homeland.

This article is based on the message I took from thisYoutube video – do you see a different message?

Hope to see you at Shabbat services.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Bad Eyesight!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

A fellow comes to Shul one Shabbos and sees a father with his three children sitting in one of the rows of the sanctuary.  The children are climbing on the father while he is trying to pray, stepping on the cushioned pews, making noise and disturbing the service.  After biting his tongue for sometime he approached the father and reprimands him for allowing his children to behave in such a manner in a sanctuary and during the service no less.  The father apologizes for the poor behavior and says, “sorry for their behavior they must be overwhelmed.  You see their mother passed away this week”.  The reprimander’s shoulders hang to the ground as he shamefully walks back to his place.

Rowdy children, or tragic circumstances?  It’s all a matter of perspective.  The events are the same, how you look at it changes the reality of it.

In this weeks Torah portion Bilaam the non-Jewish prophet is hired by Balak the king of Moab to curse the Jews.  After disobeying G-d a number of times, Bilaam sets out once again to curse the Jews.  An angel steps into the path of the oncoming Bilaam and his donkey.  Bilaam in frustration beats the donkey who has stopped in his track so as not to “step” on the angel.  Finally, Bilaams eyes are opened and he sees what he hadn’t been seeing all along.  He sees that he no matter what he will attempt to do he will not be able to violate G-d’s instruction.  

We too are given a set of choices in all that we do.  Do we look at the surface and pass judgment on ourselves and on the events around us on that basis or do we try to see the angel on the path and the message that he might be carrying.  

Have a good shabbos with the Yeshiva Boys, 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

laugh at your circumstances!

Go  ahead laugh at your circumstances!

Do you ever find yourself in a really tough situation and suddenly you sit back and laugh? I didn't think so. It's not a common occurrence. But, maybe it's a practice we ought to adopt. Try this; the next time things are really going rough, you are frustrated with G-d that He is putting you through a seemingly overpowering challenge; you are ready to pull the hair out of your head... Now, sit back with a cup of cold lemonade in your hand, and LAUGH! Laugh at the situation, laugh at how one day you'll look back and see how you were overwhelmed by the cirucmstances and how you thought it would never work out and it did. Or laugh at how one day you'll realize that this challenge was a tremendous blessing to help you get to a place you didn't even know you had the potential to reach. Oh, and the more you laugh the better you will deal with the situation. 

How do I know this? For that please bring your lemonade onto the porch and I'll tell you a story.

It was sometime after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. (We have just entered into the period known as the Three Weeks where we commemorate the final battle for Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.) Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking towards Jerusalem and had arrived at Mt. Scopus. There below, they saw the site of the destroyed Temple. They tore their clothing in mourning. Later they approached the actual site of the Temple and they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. Rabbi Akiva began to laugh, while his coleagues began to cry. The Rabbi's turned to Rabbi Akiva and asked, "Why is it that you laugh?" To which he responded, "why is it that you cry?" They answered, "for the Torah states that Jersualem will be like a plowed field." To which Rabbi Akiva said, "it is precisely for that reason that I laugh. For I see that just as the prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction has come to pass, so too the prophecy of its rebuilding will come to pass." Rabbi Akiva was not belittling the destruction; rather he was calling on a deep inner strength, conviction and faith in G-d that in time G-d's master plan will be revealed.

When we are facing challenge the normal thing is to tear our clothing and cry. Why G-d? Why me? Why this? And that's ok (after all even Rabbi Akiva tore his clothing). But after you are done crying and fretting, step back and call on your inner faith and confidence. This is the faith and confidence that G-d is a good G-d that wants only the best for us. That our situation is really a blessing in disguise and in time it will be revealed. And that until that time our strong faith alone is reason to celebrate, the fact that we have a G-d that loves us and cares for us and wants to help us to greater heights.

Enjoy your lemonade and have a great week.  

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