Rabbi's Blog

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

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As I was preparing to send this email, the internet went down. Once it came back up and i was able to get into my email, the internal site prepare it for mass email wasn't working. I started to get frustrated when i realized, the issues were not on comcast's side but with my wireless router. Thank G-d they are fixed now.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that 'Every single thing that a person sees or hears is a teaching for his/her conduct in his/her service of G-d. This is the idea of 'service' to understand and to comprehend from everything a way to serve G-d'".

As we are less then a week before Rosh Hashana, I found the message appropriate for this time period.

Sometimes, when we are not getting the response we want from another person, or from our spiritual practices. Its not an issue from the recepients side and its not "their fault". Sometimes its our fault and it is something that we need to fix. 

Once we identify the issue and fix it - our connection will no longer be weak and  we can be connected at "blazing speeds"

This is the season for preparation. Identifying what needs to be fixed so that when you join us next Wednesday our connections will be strong.

If you didn't RSVP for Rosh Hashana please do so now at  

See you on Shabbos!! 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Unmasking The Soul


This article touched me, I felt it would be worthwhile to share.

Have a good shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


We tend to think of the English word "face" as describing the outer layer of a person.  However, in Hebrew, the word for face—panim—comes from the same root as pnim meaning "interior."

In the Hebrew language—the holy language of creation—things are named for their essence.  And here Hebrew teaches us that the essence of a face is the opposite of what we think of ordinarily.

For many of us, our face has become a mask for our feelings rather than an expression of our higher self, our inner holiness. We have learned how to put on a smile while feeling terrible inside, or how to shed tears as a manipulation or pretense when we are not truly sad. In this instance, Hebrew is telling us what the face is supposed to convey, not what we do with it.

A mark of a holy person is that the inside is the same as the outside. And we recognize this.  It is common, when we meet such a person to say that he or she has an aura—a special glow. Ecclesiastes (8:1) states: "The wisdom of the person shines in the face." We see this as a light of a holy person's face, because the face reflects that person's soul.

We're told that the great 15th century Kabbalist, the Ari, could read people's faces. And many people, when they would pass him on the street, would cover their faces because they felt that he saw past the mask and they were ashamed.

Ask yourself: If the Ari was walking the earth today, would you want him to see your face?  Would you be ashamed too? To what extent is your face a mask for feelings you want to hide? To what extent does it reveal your inner core of holiness? 

  • Exercise for the day:  

    - As you interact with people today be conscious of what your face projects and to what extent it is an expression of your inner self.

    - At least once during the day try to feel a connection to the holiness inside and let it shine on your face.

    - Make a special attempt to smile to people today. Remember that everything is projection and reflection—your smile elicits a smile, etc. "As water reflects a face, one heart reflects another." (Proverbs 27:19)

Excerpt from 60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2013. All rights

Run away to higher

I hope you had an enjoyable summer. Everybody needs a little break so hopefully you took some time. Maybe you didn't go anywhere exotic but somewhere more local.  Either way there is something to be said about getting away.  And i'll say it right here. 

When we go on vacation we leave our homes, the comfort of our day to day routine and sometimes even our cars!  
Yes, sometimes we go somewhere luxurious and get spoiled and pampered, but at some point on our trip we stop and say "enough of this, it is time to go home". 

What does that say about us?  In order to connect with our inner self, to recharge one needs to leave the comfort of the material familiarity and go somewhere where the usual is the unfamiliar. 

Eventually however, we all come back home. 

As we approach High Holidays 2013/5774 recognize that in order to get in touch with your inner self you may need to leave the familiar and go outside your comfort zone.   

Don't worry, in this circumstance you are actually going back home!

See you on Shabbos!! 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Is Self Transformation Possible?


Dear Rabbi,

 I was told by a friend that High Holidays begin this week. Your email says that High Holidays start Sept4th? 

I'm Confused - are you right or my friend right? 


We are both right :). The traditional High Holiday services begin Sept 4th (rsvp here). But the spiritual and internal work to prepare and experience the High Holidays began yesterday. 

To explain let me share with you an email I received from Rabbi Simon Jacobson of the Meaningful Life Center in New York.

"What will happen to each one of us on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur has a great deal to do with how we prepare for these great days."

"You see the Jewish month of Elul (which began 8/7/13) is called chodesh hacheshbon, "a month of accounting," as it comes at the end of the spiritual fiscal year. It's also considered the month of preparation for the new spiritual year that begins with Rosh Hashana. The two themes of Elul—accounting and preparation—are interdependent, because how we account for the past is how we prepare for the future.

In Elul [the word in Aramaic means "searching"] we examine the mistakes of the past year in order not to repeat them. In particular, this means taking an honest look at what is trapping us and preventing us from truly moving forward."

"Obviously, fundamental changes do not happen instantly. But self-transformation is possible, and it is possible to the extent that we want it, that we examine ourselves and identify issues that need work, and that we invest ourselves in that goal.

Any faith in G-d has to include faith in hope and faith in transformation—faith that we will be forgiven for past mistakes and faith that we can change.

Ask yourself:  Do you believe that self-transformation is truly possible?  Do you want to change?  Are you prepared to resolve to do so?"

Have a great Shabbos 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

P.S. There are no services this week 

Where Is The Gray Area?

 See, I give you today the blessing and the curse

Deuteronomy 11:2

As I read this verse, I wondered. Where is the gray area? Blessing and curse; no middle ground?

I know that one of the basic principals of Jewish life is that we have free choice.

I know we are responsible for our actions, but is it one or the other? Is it blessing or curse?

I haven't come to a perfect conclusion just yet. Trying to understand  That brought me to this article asking "Can a curse come from G-d".

Essentially, blessing = unity,  curse = separation. There is one question to ask, is this going to bring people, life, community, and G-d into our life? Will this bring unity? 

What do you think? (please reply to give me your thoughts on this)

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Join the community for "lay leader services" Friday 7:00 pm and Shabbat 9:30 am at 1543 Redfield Rd. Bel Air, MD 21015

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