Rabbi's Blog

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

Do your best!

Tomorrow I will be getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Will I be losing some of my wisdom? I don’t know, but even if I do I can get it back.

How do I know? Simple. G-d made a Tabernacle in the spiritual worlds and yet tells the Jewish people to make a Tabernacle in the physical world as a home for Him to live in.

Many people think that G-d lives on a mountaintop and wants us to act perfectly. That is incorrect. What G-d wants is a home in an imperfect world. He yearns for a relationship with us. Knowing that he can make a flawless home and exclude us, He still chooses a house that is imperfect for us to perfect together.

The only prerequisite is to do your best.

Do your best to build the house and G-d will fill in the cracks.

The Midrash says that when Moses was lifting the heavy beams of the Tabernacle, he got tired. G-d told Moses to do his best and He will lift them with him.

Do your best to uplift and G-d will help you.

So if I lose wisdom, I just need to do my best to get it back and G-d will help.

Hope to SEE you at services (I probably won’t be able to talk much).

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Mama knows best

Dear Rabbi Kushi,

You wrote about women in your December 12th email. You wrote that our Matriach Rachel made spiritual sacrifices for her children. Can you give me some pointers of how, as a woman, I am supposed to know if something is the right thing or not?


Hi Debra,

There is a story told about the women in the times of the giving of the Torah (1312 B.C.E.). When their husbands came to them to donate gold for the Golden Calf, they refused. 120 days later, when Moses kicked off a ‘build the Mishkan campaign’, the women generously aided it. The Torah says the men came WITH the women; the men followed the women. The women were the first to give, donating from their most precious belongings and donating more than the men.

Why? Because women possess a divine sensitivity. This higher level of sensitivity kept them more loyal to Hashem, intuitively refusing to donate to the golden calf. They also did not believe that Moshe died on the mountain; they trusted that the shepherd would never abandon his flock. The women also understood that giving does not always equal good. Donations can morph into idolatry, if completely separated from any sense of Divinity. They knew by remaining loyal to the cause, ultimately they are being TRULY loyal to the family.

Know that you have the background. These are the pointers I would give you.

1) Trust your feminine intuition (Mama knows best)  
2) Remain loyal, do not change allegiances too quickly  
3) Give of your best to the causes you believe in  - only when accompanied by a pure heart

Hope this helps,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. This is why men need more ceremony and ritual than women see here

It's Simple, They Weren't Thinking Clearly

What’s with these Jews? They just left Egypt and saw the giving of the Ten Commandments; they basically saw G-d with all His trimmings. Next thing we know - they are unfaithful!?

The Talmud Sotah 3a  says that a person only sins when overcome by a “spirit of folly”, what I call temporary insanity. In the case of the golden calf, it was the whole nation becoming insane. How did they fall so low and more importantly, why?

The only explanation that the sages of old agree on is that it must have been decreed from heaven. Why would G-d want this to happen? To set a precedent for Teshuvah, for return and repentance.

I was recently talking with an acquaintance about a negative experience they had gone through, what they referred to as ‘the most unpleasant experience ever’. Still, they learned a lot from this experience and can now begin the healing process.

Never plan to sin. If one has sinned, know that we have a precedent for reconciliation. The golden calf story allows us to be human and make mistakes as we grow in our connection with G-d.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

The Princess's Apron

My dear uncle Zalman Deitsch ob"m, was a successful businessman as well as a pioneer in mivtzah mezuzah (the Lubavitcher Rebbe's campaign to ensure every Jewish home and office have a kosher mezuzah). He dedicated much precious time to making house calls to affix mezuzahs. One year on July 4th, he took his young son, Mendy, along. If you want a free mezuzah for any business or home in Harford or Cecil County just let me know, Harford Chabad will deliver it in his memory.- ed

As they drove up to a large house at the end of a cul-de-sac, they noticed dozens of cars parked haphazardly. They realized that the house they were heading towards was hosting a wild, all-out party. The owner graciously greeted them and escorted them from room to room so they could put up the mezuzahs.

As they drove back to Crown Heights, Reb Zalman matter-of-factly told his son, "Mendeleh, the Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything we see or hear guides us in our service of Hashem. Sometimes what we see teaches us what we should do, and other times it teaches us what we should not do."                          

The Princess's Apron

When it comes to the ephod, Rashi explains, "My heart tells me that he [the Kohen Gadol] was girded with it from behind, its width being like the width of an [average] man's back, similar to a kind of apron called porzent [or pourceint], that princesses wear when they ride horseback."

What does Rashi mean, "My heart tells me"?

 Once, while walking outside, Rashi noticed a princess riding on a horse. She was not riding side-saddle, which was considered the lady like and modest way for women to ride, and he wondered, "Why would G-d bring this immodest scene to my attention?" Later, while writing his explanation to Chumash, he realized it was to help him visualize and explain what the ephod must have looked like.

Unbeatable Soul

It's easy enough to find lessons in everything we see and hear when it doesn't conflict with Torah, but when we see or hear something that is contradictory to Judaism, it's a lot more challenging.

This is where Rashi steps in and teaches us how to react. Namely, nothing in this world happens without divine purpose.

 It's important that we educate ourselves and our children, to know what our Jewish values are and what contradicts our belief system. At the same time, we can't let opportunities go to waste. If G-d shows us something, even something we are not permitted to look at, it is our responsibility to learn something holy from it.

What did you learn from this week?

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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