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Rabbi's Blog

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

Be careful don't slip and change is possible


Did you know that at one time, G-d wanted to kill Moses?

G-d had commanded Moses to go to Egypt to deliver G-d’s words to Pharaoh and the Jews and simultaneously, obligated Moses in the circumcision of his newborn son. Moses, thinking this would place his son in danger, thus prohibiting him from travel, opted to put off this command, favoring G-d’s other command to travel to Egypt. Moses started out on his trip to Egypt, the Torah reads as follows:

Now he was on the way, in an inn, that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. So Zipporah took a sharp stone and severed her son's foreskin and cast it to his feet, and she said, "For you are a bridegroom of blood to me." So He released him. Then she said, "A bridegroom of blood concerning the circumcision."

The Torah limits its stories to ones that have a relevant message for all people. 

One of the messages in this story is a word of caution, to borrow from the AA.org: If there is no first one, there cannot be the tenth one. - Be careful, even a small misdeed, - not doing something wrong, just delaying a positive action - is a slippery slope, delaying the good deed (circumcision) can lead to "that the L-rd ... sought to put him to death". 

There is also a more positive message; even if one is in a low spiritual state, to the extent that "that the Lord ... sought to put him to death", do not wallow in self-pity, guilt or shame. It is never too late to make a change! You may need assistance (like Moses needed from Zipporah), however, you can change, it takes doing something!

Happy changing and enjoy the new year’s resolutions - may they last longer than the end of January :).

You choose your experience

I was listening to a podcast "anewconvo.com" by Peretz and Chanie Chein, Chabad emissaries at Brandeis Univeristy. They were talking about the need to allow students to choose to have a deep and meaningful Jewish experience, as opposed to just a Shabbat dinner and "fun in a Jewish environment". They challenge students who say "I don't have time to study Torah" with questions like “do you not have time, or is it that you do not prioritize your time properly?” Similar ways of probing cause the students to explore deeper to see what Jewish experiences they want to have.

Even after college we get to choose our Jewish experience! We get to decide if we want to be engaged Jewishly or not, if we want to be involved with our community or not, etc.

In this week’s Torah portion, Yaakov blesses his sons telling them: Judaism, the Torah way of life, is your mission, your role, your heritage. However it is up to you to engage in it! 

It made me wonder:

  • Am I settling for a very basic, or dare I say superficial, involvement in my own spirituality? 
  • Am I engaging my spiritual self deeply? 
  • Am I even exploring a deeper and more meaningful relationship with G-d? 
  • Have I even asked myself if I want to engage more deeply with our heritage?

Ask yourself these questions; let me know what you think.

Have a great Shabbos,


How did I end up here?

How did I end up here?

Do you ever have a moment that you wondered how you got to where you are?

Personally, I know the technical steps that brought me to Harford County. However, how did I become a Rabbi of a blossoming community here, raising close to a quarter of a million dollar annual budget, making a positive impact on the local community?

Growing up, the question came in different forms as well: How did I end up in the principal’s office? In the emergency room? (details purposely left out (; )

An answer I heard that I found fascinating is that G-d decides where we will be. G-d wants you in THIS LOCATION, at that moment, to make an impact there. If we are meritorious, we go there in a respectful way, if not, we G-d forbid can be dragged there "in chains". 

When I am in the Harford County detention center, I could be there because G-d wants me there to visit an inmate, or G-d forbid, He can arrange to have me there on the "inside".

Our forefather Yaakov needed to end up in Egypt, so that the Jewish people can be enslaved and simultaneously uplift the spiritual sparks in Egypt. But he was meritorious that he received a hero’s welcome as his son was the Viceroy!

When we "end up" somewhere, instead of asking "how did I get here?" we should ask; in what merit did I get here in this way, as opposed to in a less respectful way? 

Are you happy where G-d has put you? Are you happy with the way he sent you here? What positive impact can you have as a result of being there?

I am blessed to be where I am and to have you in my life and hope to continue making a positive difference to Harford County.

Have an awesome Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Listen to the Flames


On Chanukah, the Previous Rebbe would tell his chas­sidim: “We must listen carefully to what the candles are saying”.

While candles can't talk, they share a message. The most basic message is that the best way to get rid of darkness is to shine light on it. 

This year, as I listen to the candles, I hear a message of sharing. In order for one to share their light, one needs to make certain that their own light is strong. We need to work on building our own spiritual fortitude, to ensure that we are shining and sharing good energy and kindness. We need to make sure the light of Torah and Mitzvos is shining in our home, ie mezuzah, kosher, shabbat, charity box… and have that light shine on our daily experience.

The nature of light is that it spreads. The Chanukah lights are lit "by the door of the house, on the outside". The light that we have shines on the world around us, as long as we ensure that the flames are lit.

Get fired up and shine on the world.

This is what I heard when I listened to the flames. What did you hear?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 


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