Rabbi's Blog

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

You can do it!

How many times have people told you that you can't? You can't open that store, that business, succeed at that job or there is no chance you can make it in this economy, market etc.

How many times have we told ourselves we can't? I can't lose weight, eat healthy or let go of that addiction etc.

Today I am here to tell you that YOU CAN! 

I always found it interesting that if you write the names of the Torah portions following Passover without punctuation, it is literally translated as: born leper after death holy said - (Tazria, Metzora, Acharei Mos, Kedoshim, Emor).

While there are many interpretations as to why this is so (one being after someone passes - don't try to comfort the mourner, just speak holiness), I would like to share one that resonates strongly with me.

When one is born, alive in this world, and wants to change and better the world, you need to be prepared to be called a leper. 

After death, once you are gone and cannot make a difference, everyone will claim that you were "the holy one" and did so much good.

When can we make a difference? NOW while we are alive. What kind of difference can you make? If you are willing to ‘buck the trends’, you can do anything. Furthermore, do not worry what the others will say, as after 120 years only the good is remembered and talked about.

How do I know? Moshiach, the ultimate change maker, is called a leper!

Let us join the lepers’ convention and change the world, one idea, one mitzvah, one thing out of your comfort zone at a time. Regardless of the naysayers (internal and external), you CAN do it!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Now what?!

There are of course varying levels of Passover observance. If you observe even some basics such as two Passover Seders and not eating bread or leaven for eight days you may be breathing a sigh of relief at this time.

Like everything in life however, the sigh of relief carries a loss with it. There is something nice about the discipline of not eating bread and the commitment to a specific behavior or action for the eight days. So with the loss of that specific discipline you may be feeling a bit empty (and not so bloated) right now.

The Torah portions always have the antidote for that which ails us if we take the time to dig in and turn it over until we discover it.

In this weeks Torah portion we find the laws of Kosher. The Torah tells us the signs of a kosher animal; it has split hooves and chews its cud.

Although the mitzvah of kosher observance is a Divine Decree, nonetheless we have take away lessons for better living.

Each of us are genetically wired with a leaning towards either kindness or discipline. It gets manifest in how we think, how we feel and what we are drawn to.

Kindness people are more easy going, fun to be with, social, among other wonderful traits.

Discipline people are reliable, organized, punctual, goal oriented among other wonderful traits.

Of course people if each leaning can adopt and develop traits of the other type but, as a broad generalization, they usually have their natural traits more pronounced.

To serve God only with the traits that come easy is an incomplete service. You are only bringing your comfort zone to the game. Bringing the other dimension of your potential is a complete service.

The split hooves alludes to a kosher and complete person who brings both sides, the right-kindness and the left-discipline, to their service of God.

The chewing of the cud alludes to the fact that the person never considers themselves as having fully attained perfection. Once you think you have, you can retire and check out. But as long as we are on this earth we have the opportunity to continue growing.

Chewing the cud means, reviewing, re-analyzing over and over again, to see if our service is genuine and sincere.

So if you are feeling a bit empty and needing to be disciplined about something worthwhile, try kosher- literally and figuratively (spiritual service/personal development), you surely will find depth, meaning and discipline in this practice!

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 


Moshiach is coming Tuesday

OK, now that I have got your attention, no I have not gone off the deep end so please read on. You have heard the statement Think Globally Act Locally.  The cynic in me says yeah right. I've been thinking globally and acting locally since I was a child but have I changed the world.  I like to believe that I am contributing to some level of positive change in the world, but will I ever really change the global picture?  And even if my efforts will change the world in three generations time, do I want to be dedicating my life to changing the world for my grandchildren?  And finally, where is the small payoff for me today?

We just celebrated the Pesach Seders where we commemorate and relive the Exodus from Egypt. We commemorate this holiday by retelling the story, and relive because we are instructed in the Haggadah that it is incumbent upon each of us to see ourselves as if we left Egypt. So now that we experienced the Exodus what do we do with this new found freedom?

Jewish mysticism teaches that our personal liberation - overcoming our personal challenges is the local act that brings us to a global redemption.  Namely, the coming of a Utopian era and a transformation of the physical world in the messianic era.  Now before you think I've gone off the deep end let me elaborate.

Each of us lives between the world of who we want to be in our core and the way we actually live due to the limitations of the world.  For example we may want to dress in casual, but the etiquette of the business world requires suit and tie.  We may want to speak a certain way but know that we would lose our job if we did.  We may want to express our true feelings for another but know that it would be too much for them.

The same is true when we look at the physical world.  Do we really see the essence of each experience or physical object, or are subjected to the surface and external experience?

In the Messianic era all the limitations of the physical world fall down and expose everything for what it really is, the essence is expressed.  In the Messianic era we will see how Think Globally but Act Locally is not only a nice motto but also how our local actions have actually CHANGED the global picture.

To close out the Passover holiday there is a Chabad tradition to celebrate our new found freedom with an eye on the future redemption with a feast.  Please join me and my family Tuesday evening April 18th at 6:00pm for the traditional Moshiach Feast @ our home 445 Choice St.

For all the info. on this 3rd Seder or Moshiach Meal, click here

Have a Wonderful Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


Gotta run to work

Gotta run to work

In today's day and age there is so much work to be done. Everyone is constantly rushing, whether it is to work, back to work, to their second job etc. In over 60% of two-parent households we find both parents holding a job. That is the way it is supposed to be, as we see written in Job (that is Job the person, not job the place people go to work): for man was born to toil.

On Monday evening we celebrate Passover, the holiday of freedom. A freedom that was replete with miracles that the Jewish people did not work for. 

Why does a good G-d want people to work? Because work affects our happiness. Our Sages tell us: “A person prefers one kav (measurement) of his own over nine that belong to someone else”. One will forego the greater quantity because of the fulfillment he feels when he receives something that he has worked for and earned.

The freedom of Passover was a "no down payment" experience, yet it was far from free. Why did G-d take the Jews out of Egypt? To serve G-d, to be happier toiling in Torah and Mitzvot over building cities for Pharaoh.

So celebrate the freedom of Passover so that you can celebrate the authentic freedom that comes from serving G-d. 

It is not free, however THAT is what makes it “worth it”!

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