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Rabbi's Blog

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

My friends don't get it!

 


Question

Dear Rabbi,

I was reading your blog (also sent in an email ed.) about an infinite G-d and a finite G-d. I am sorry, while I am more spiritual, most of my friends do not understand that stuff.  If they don’t connect with the spiritual dimension, should I just not talk Judaism with them? Are they not “good Jews”?

Yours Truly,

Just Being Honest

Answer

Thank You! I love honest feedback.

Let me answer your two questions.

Regarding your friends that “don’t connect”, know that you must talk Judaism with them, if not for their sake do it for selfish reasons.

You see, we find that the wash basin in the Mishkan (tabernacle) was made from copper. In order to perform any service in the Mishkan it needed to be prefaced with using that washbasin, otherwise the service was invalid. All the other vessels in the Mishkan were made of gold and silver.

The message for us would be that in order to be able to “tap into” the spiritual (gold and silver), we must first become sanctified by engaging our friends (washing our hands in the copper basin). We should not judge them. However, we should try to understand their viewpoint and hopefully that will lift us and enable us to do our spiritual service properly.

Regarding your question about good Jews! I would suggest you watch this 4 and a half minute video entitled “Are you a good Jew?”

Your Friend,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 

You left it in my mailbox?

Question

Rabbi It was so kind of you to drop off a Mishloach Manot box in my mailbox. The hamentashen were great and brought back great memories. As you know I won’t be able to make it to the purim parties :(. Can you tell me more about the significance of the “purim mitzvot”?

 Nopart E. Forme

Answer

Dear Nopart E.,

In the Purim Story Haman (the bad guy) goes to the king and claims “There is one people scattered and dispersed among the nations." (Esther 3:8). They are always fighting. They have no unity among themselves.

On Purim we prove this false – We do two of the Purim Mitzvot that celebrate unity. 
1) Mishloach Manot – Sharing a gift of 2 ready to eat kosher food items, with at least one Jewish neighbor (or friend). 
2) Matanot Levyonim - Give 1 gift to the two poor people (don’t know a poor person? Make a donation here and we will forward it to 2 poor people in Israel on your behalf)

 The other two Mitzvot are

3) The whole megillah - Listen to the public reading twice: once on Purim night, and again on Purim day.  
4) Feast - To have a sit down meal with washing for bread and celebrate the miracle

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. If your plans change feel free to join us at the Purim parties

Details Details Details...

Question

Dear Rabbi Kushi,

I am sick of this prayer thing; specific words, pray to the east, towards Jerusalem… You say prayer is about connection? So let me connect. Why all the details? 

I have the same issue with the Mitzvot.  You say the mitzvot are about connecting to G-d. So let me connect... Why all the details? 

If G-d is infinite, can’t we connect any which way?

Nodet Ailes

 Answer

Dear Nodet,

If G-d was just unlimited and infinite you would be right, However, G-d is not limited to infinite or finite. 

Therefore, to connect to an infinite G-d, you can do whatever you want that makes you feel connected. However, to connect to a finite G-d, we need to follow all the rules yet we should not expect an emotional connection. 

When we want to connect to G-d, we need to hold onto both sides.

On one hand, prayer is indeed a feeling of the heart, which is not limited to the physical place - but prayer should be towards Jerusalem, a limited and specific location.

G-d is infinite, but He decided to dwell precisely in a defined place – the Temple. 

The way to unite with G-d is precisely through the small details, "technicalities", of the mitzvah - He decided that only by this way can we unite with him.

Got it?

So we gonna connect at services this week?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Symbolic Kosher

Rabbi

Question

Dear Rabbi,

When we met for coffee last week you said I may want to start looking for Kosher symbols on the food I buy. You also said even if I don’t “go kosher” I can start to “eat kosher”! Isn’t it all or nothing? Is there such a thing as a partial mitzvah?

Sincerely,

N.S.K. (Not So Kosher)

Answer

Dear N.S.K. 

I did say that. Kosher isn’t all or nothing. It’s a process. The concept of going kosher means that you need to start and then continue as you are ready. It is this way with all mitzvos – you gotta start somewhere and keep going in the right direction, with the goal of completing the process. Since you said you are committed to the goal of buying only kosher products, that is a great start! You have begun the process.

Interestingly enough, this week, besides for the regular Torah portion, we also read about the half shekel contribution. The half shekel was an equal contribution of all Jews to support the communal sacrifices in the holy temple.

It’s sort of a contradiction. On one hand it’s not a whole shekel just a half. But that half shekel must be paid in full, no payment plans. It’s a paradox, it is only a part but that part must be complete.

Our relationship with G-d is comparable. Without a relationship with G-d we are incomplete, we are half and missing something. To become complete we need to join our “half” with G-d. It is about committing completely, not committing halfway.

So looking for Kosher symbols is ok if it is 100% commitment. If it is a half/partial commitment then…. We need to talk about it again face to face ;).

So when do we get together next? Coffee or a supermarket tour?

Have a great shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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