Rabbi's Blog

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

Do It For Israel!

Do It For Israel!

The story is told that the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, recently convened an emergency session to figure out a solution for the devastated Israeli economy.

One brilliant minister said, "Let's declare war on the U.S., and then, in the wake of the utter destruction America will bring upon us, we will receive billions of dollars for reconstruction, like Germany and Japan.

"Sounds great," responded another member of the Knesset. "One problem: What will we do if we win the war?"

Once again, we are hearing about Israel and the rumblings of an attack on Iran.  As a Jew every time I see or hear this headline it makes my heart skip a beat.  Concern for our brothers and sisters in Israel and throughout the world.

The Jewish People, the Torah, and Israel are inextricably bound to each other.  Each of us have survived the desire of tyrants and hateful countries who's only desire was our destruction.  Not withstanding the great might of the Israeli Army, those in the know and a careful observing of the circumstances on the ground will openly show the many miracles that brought about the victories of Israel in their wars.

Israel continues to exist day to day with blessing and miracles from on High.  Just recently we read in the Torah that "the Eyes of Gd are upon the land from the beginning of the year to the end of the year".

Prior to the war in 1967, the Rebbe made the above point that Israel and the Jewish people answer to a higher calling.  Accordingly, our protection comes from that source and not the physical weaponry and bright minds of the Israel Army.  

"Put on Tefillin!" The Rebbe proclaimed.  Of the Tefillin it states "and they (our enemies) will see it and they will be frightened".  

Yes, we need to engage in the physical activities to create a vessel for G-ds blessing.  So, diplomacy, strategy and the best weaponry is critical.  But, let's not fool ourselves in thinking that it is the psychical might or diplomoacy that ultimately will bring proection to Israel.

In 1967 400,000 Jews wrapped Tefillin at the Western Wall.

All i'm asking for is 40 between now and Yom Kippur!

Men If you don't put on Tefillin on a daily basis, send me an email and I will come to your office or home to do this Mitzvah with you.

Women If you don't light Shabbat candles on a weekly basis, Do it from now till Yom Kippur and send me an email confirming your in!

It won't take but 5 minutes.  DO IT FOR ISRAEL!

May G-d remove all hatred from the Earth and may we merit the fulfillment of the prophecy that all the swords will be beaten into plowshares with the coming of Moshiach NOW! 

See you at services! 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Core Values

School is starting and vacations are ending. High Holidays are in a few weeks and there is a breeze in the air. In the shtetl it was referred to as an ‘Elul vint’, Yiddish for the ‘wind of the month of Elul’.

The month of Elul  the final month of the Jewish year has different focuses.

Last week we focused on spiritual stocktaking. This week let us focus on another part of the month - Teshuvah, normally translated as repentance but actually meaning return. Like in any business, the question is what are our core values? The call of the hour is to return to core values.

Personal and spiritual core values vary by person. To determine what yours is, try this; take an hour off, go alone to a quiet place, and contemplate the following.

When I pass away, what do I want to be remembered as? i.e.: Kind person, loving parent, friend to many, generous donor to important causes, advocate for Israel.

From a spiritual standpoint, where do I see myself? i.e.: In touch with G-d on a regular basis, practicing spirituality, more religious then spiritual.

With these two defined I can clarify my 3 most important core values. (Chabad’s core values are in a nutshell “The three loves: love of G-d, love of Torah and love of a fellow Jew are all one. One cannot divide them, as essentially they are one.”)

To return to who I really am, and who I really want to be, means that by next High Holidays I need to take action and commit to doing that which will lead me there.

Some Examples:

· To be more in touch with G-d, I will start to read the weekly Torah portion. (link)

· To develop my kindness and generosity, I will put a Charity box in my kitchen (email me if you need one) and put a coin or two in every day (excl. Shabbat and Holidays).

· To strengthen my relationships, I will call my friend/relative who I haven’t spoken to in a long time before Rosh Hashanah and wish them a Shana Tovah.

It is not easy work but the wind is blowing and YOU will be happy you did it.

Have a good Shabbos and may we all be inscribed for a happy and healthy sweet new year.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. No need to share the conclusions but I’d love to hear your feedback about this exercise.

Trained Behavior

The month of Elul, the final month of the Jewish year is upon us (begins this Shabbos). It is know in Chasidic circles as the month of Cheshbon Hanefesh, spiritual stocktaking to assess what losses and profits we have had this year in terms of our observances and personal developments. If you would a spiritual inventory.

When taking a look at the past year you may have this recurring sense that "I really wanted to change that practice or embrace that behavior, I did it for a day a week but I couldn't maintain it beyond that". In other words we often times have good intentions to do the right thing or not do the wrong thing but we just aren't consistent with our resolve.

One might feel a sense of personal chracther deficiency in that you just can't be committed. In Chasidic practice the ultimate is internal transformation. In fact a practice that is unimpressive is ritual - behavior that has lost its meaning and is just about doing it out of rote. However, it is ok to train yourself to a particular behavior and then to bring in the meaning and depth later.

Among the many suggestions in the self help books is a commitment to a behavior for a certain period of time until indeed it becomes second nature.

Here is a suggestion for you; create a chart with 29 days on it representing the 29 days of the month of Elul.(or download one here) Pick that practice that you find hard to change but would really like to. Check off that chart each evening before you go to sleep and after you recite the Shema that you accomplished that practice that night. Make that change in your life and show up on Rosh Hashanah with that paper in hand. I am sure that Gd will respond in kind with a blessed new year!

Focus on Israel

In this week's Torah portion, Moshe promises the Jewish people that if they will fulfill the commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah, they will prosper in the Land they are about to conquer. Moshe describes this land as “flowing with milk and honey,” blessed with the “seven kinds” and as the place that is the focus of G‑d’s providence of His world. 

Instead of an article or "word from the Rabbi" - take a moment to surf our website and learn more about our Homeland and our Holy Land by clicking one of the links below.

The Jew and His Homeland

The nations cannot understand why the Jewish people should have a land.  more...


Points of Interest

The Western Wall, Meron, Masada, the Dead Sea, Shechem... Learn about the history of Israeli places of interest, their spiritual significance, as well as some modern-day tourist tips.  more...

Jerusalem Archaeology

View photo galleries of the archeological remnants of Ancient Jerusalem. Mikvahs, walls, buildings... Take a step back in time...  more...

  First Person

This is where G‑d appeared to Abraham. This is where the covenant of circumcision was struck. It was here that monotheism burst upon world consciousness. It was here that Judaism was born...  more...

  Chabad and Israel

For hundreds of thousands of Israelis‑from the core of the country to the farthest reaches of its borders‑month by month, day by day, moment by moment‑the work of Chabad profoundly affects the very fabric of daily life in Israel. more...

The Rebbe & Israel

Yitzhak Rabin was a straight-as-a-die agnostic, and shy to a fault. So, when on a spring day in 1972 he was kept waiting at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for his appointment with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he became fidgety...  more...

Shabbat Candles for Israel - The beginning letters of Neirot Shabbat Kodesh spell ‘Neshek” or the Hebrew word for arms and weapons. Bringing light into the world is a weapon to dispel forces of darkness. - Step By Step Instructions  Here

Enjoy and have a Wonderful Shabbat 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

No Echo = Real Spirituality

Imagine for a moment, the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.

G-d's voice ringing out... loud.... powerful.

Can you imagine this event happening? Hearing the powerful sound of G-d speaking ...yet no echo?

The verse states that the Torah was given with a great voice, which did not cease (Deut. 5:19).

According to the Midrash, one of the meanings is that there was no echo. This leaves us wondering why was there no echo? And of course, what is the message for me?

The definition of echo is a repetition of sound produced by the reflection of sound waves from an obstructing surface. BTW if you have a problem with echoes in your house the best thing to do is to soften the walls by adding drapes and pictures (without a glass) so the sound gets absorbed.

The Torah, according to Jewish tradition, is neither a story book nor a history book. The Torah is a guide for living which is intended to have an effect on our lives. G-d wanted us to be able to access spirituality to enable us to reach for the heavens. To empower us to do this, He gave us access to his wisdom, embedded in the Torah, in order for us to add spirituality to our mundane lives.

Why was there no echo? Because the world does not obstruct nor block G-dliness, it absorbs it. It does not take spirituality and send it back. The physical world absorbed the word of G-d - so naturally there was no echo.

This message is relevant to us in the modern day. Over 3324 years ago, we received access to a spiritual reality that can be applied to our daily lives in a contemporary world. All we need to do is to allow G-dliness to permeate our lives and not block it. We can access the spirituality and fulfillment we deserve.

Take a moment every day to add spirituality to your life. Say Modeh Ani when you wake up or the Shema Yisroel before going to sleep (transliterated here).

Try it for a week and email me how it enhanced your life.

See you in Shul

Good Shabbos, 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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