Rabbi's Blog

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

The Whirlwind

The whirlwind: running, rushing to the hospital (Upper Chesapeake) and having our third daughter born less than an hour later, putting together a Minyan with Jews of all denominations, and concluding by giving the baby the name, Chava, Hebrew for Eve. 

I wonder how I would have managed had my sister and brother-in-law not been here by Hashgocha Protis — divine providence. Now they had to leave back to New York and we are settling back down. 

What’s my job as the father? Take care of the other kids, make sure the dishes are washed, make the beds, host the Bike4Friendship women, change diapers, baths, etc. 

I also need to prepare the weekly classHigh Holiday guides, Fall Program Guides, Jewish Art Calendar , our trip to Montreal for Fraida’s siblings weddings (a brother July 30th and a sister on Aug 14th) etc. etc. 

It’s busy, so I was planning on letting some of the small things slide, a bit less personal learning, praying a little faster, etc., and then I read this:

(Deuteronomy 7:12-13). “And it will be, because you will heed these ordinances and perform them that God will keep the covenant and the kindness that He vowed to your forefathers; and He will love you and bless you and multiply you “ 

Rashi’s commentary: "And it will be, because you will heed." Eikev, the Hebrew word for "because," literally means "heel." If you will heed the minor commandments which one [usually] tramples with his heels [i.e., which a person treats as being insignificant].

It’s the small things that make all the difference! The small thing you do to help out. One’s focus on learning, even when life is hectic, one’s making time for G-d when you have no time. These small things make the relationship meaningful. Hashem appreciates these small things and says “[I will] love you and bless you and multiply you... “

Hope to see you then.

Good Shabbos.


Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Have you experienced loss? Have you experienced comfort for your loss?

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Nachamu, the Shabbos of comfort after the 9th of Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 
What does it mean to be comforted? 

A quick google search returns a variety of descriptions focused on emotion; "a feeling of relief or consolation", "a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants".

In reality true comfort is more of an intellectual event than an emotional one.  Of course it translates down to emotion where the loss is experienced most acutely. But the actual comfort is an intellectual coming to peace with the circumstances.  This doesn't mean that we have a specific rational explanation for why the specific loss occurred. But we do have a general rational explanation for why loss occurs. 

 Perhaps it's G-d's way of challenging us to uncover deeper potentials. Perhaps the loss is setting the stage for something greater (as in clearing away the space of a building in order to build something nicer in its spot).  Or it is an understanding that we Human Beings have limited understanding into the workings of the Almighty.

In all cases the rational thinking leads to a greater faith that ultimately overrides the emotion of pain. 

So the process begins with studying and understanding the philosophical and theological questions associated with loss, pain, good and evil.  Then once we have contemplated this, we have a choice to focus on the emotion or the intellect.  Wherever, we choose to put greater emphasis is where the experience will ultimately be.  If we focus on the emotion we will experience the pain of the loss.  If we focus on the intellect we will rise above the physical pain and ultimately experience the deeper purpose in the loss and suffering.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Do you have the vision?

Has your life been one of visible blessing lately? Or has your life been one of great challenge recently?

Life is often exhausting with its twists and turns, riding the highs, surviving the lows, choices, decisions and just the day to day routine. Considering the journey, many people choose to just live life. They say "I just want to get through the day (week, month, year)". They just want to get the kids through school. They just want to get through the next tax season. It seems that life is either a give up game where you make the best of what you have or a waiting game for the next big excitement.

This Shabbat, the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av (the day we commemorate the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem) is called Shabbat Chazon - a Shabbat of vision. It is so called for the opening words of the Haftorah but also on account of the saying by Chasidic Master R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev that on this Shabbat a vision of the 3 Beit Hamikdash (Temple) is shown to each Jew.

Of what value is this vision if we can't actually see it?

Like our soul within us which we can't see but yet it serves as the anchor which never lets us get comfortable with living a narcissistic, indulgent life the vision serves as a spiritual subconscious. The vision allows us in the day to day journey of life, strive for the bigger picture. It allows us to see that although our actions are very local and seemingly insignificant they are part of a much larger vision; the transformation of the world.

The choice is ours. Do we allow ourselves, even perhaps contentedly and happily accept that life is just this journey to get through? Or do we have the vision; the vision to see our actions as part of a greater goal? Do we have the vision to leave our comfort zone and do things that not only serve our body but serve our soul as well? Do we have the vision to think BIG, to take the leap out of our comfort zone and do something for the good of the world?

Do you have the vision?

Have a great week!

Rabbi Schusterman

Roving Rabbi's

Every summer hundreds of rabbinical students are dispatched to small Jewish communities around the globe. Known affectionately as the "Roving Rabbis," these young men sport a boundless energy and spend time meeting with local Jewish residents sharing with them their passion for Jewish life, encouraging Jewish awareness and observance wherever they go. 
This year Harford Chabad is fortunate to have two very special young men, Mendel and Zevi, who are on the go from early in the morning until late at night meeting and learning with tens of members of the local Jewish Community. We invite you to meet them tomorrow, July 5th at a special Kiddush, 8:00 PM, following Friday Services 7 PM.

Created and directed by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, Roving Rabbis is one of the oldest and longest running revolutionary outreach programs, since its founding in 1943, 70 years ago. Back then students spent months on the road, often subsiding on matzah, canned fish, and vegetables for weeks on end. The Rebbe eagerly read their mailed reports, in addition to extensively debriefing them upon their return. The students were often amazed by the Rebbe’s care for, and intimate knowledge of, Jewish life in the remotest of communities.

In the early 1950s, the Rebbe added international destinations to the growing list. These tours were grueling marathon trips which often included tens of countries and multiple continents. The Rebbe would pore over maps and statistics and personally choose the itineraries.

Today, whether in Sardinia, Italy; The Dakotas; Bosnia; Beijing, China; Des Plains, IL; Kauai, HI; Wales, UK....Chabad representatives have brought Torah, joy and warmth to Jews in thousands of cities in over one hundred and fifty countries.

The hundreds of young students who participate in this annual program stand on the forefront of Jewish life. Take a front-row seat as they share the experience of their summer assignments all over the world on their new blog. Read about a small town in Serbia, where the tiny Jewish community had a shofar but no one knew how and when it was to be blown, etc…

In many places, they have become an integral part of the fabric of Jewish life, as their yearly visits have become a much-anticipated highlight of, and source of inspiration for the entire year.

Know someone you’d like visited, let us know.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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