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Rabbi's Blog

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

Get out of the ark!

The Jewish world is moving closer to embracing the reality that what will ensure a Jewish future is performing distinctly Jewish acts on your own and in the company of other Jews and doing it Joyously.

It is the Torah and Mitzvot (these distinctly Jewish acts) that provide resilience in times of challenge and provide meaning in times of celebration and joy.

It is to that end that when the flood waters begin to fall in this week's Parsha, G-d instructs Noach to enter into the Ark - the Tayvah in Hebrew. The words Tayvah in Hebrew also means words. So G-d is saying in effect, when there are flood waters raging outside, when you feel like you are drowning, enter into the words of Torah and Prayer and you will be preserved.

If indeed that is the case than what is the meaning behind the words later in the Parsha to leave the Tayvah? Is there an appropriate time and place to leave the words of Torah and prayer?

Indeed, the answer is yes! It's a cycle, we go into the words of Torah and prayer to gather resilience and once strengthened we then are fortified to go back into the world. It is there in the world where our purpose is truly fulfilled when we integrate Torah and Mitzvot back into the mundane world around us.   

Performing distinctly Jewish acts on your own and in the company of other Jews and doing it joyously both fortifies us and provides the sauce within which we fulfill our purpose on this earth.

So, go into the Tayvah, through prayer each morning, acts of Mitzvot each day and then with that empowerment go out into the world and make the world a G-dly and goodly place!

Good Shabbos!

What's Your Vision?

You are inspired. You had an amazing week/month/year. You are ready to take on the world. You have an idea of a business that you want to launch, a career change you want to make, a family or relationship change you are hoping to orchestrate.

What is your first step?

The Torah is a book of teaching, a book of law, a book of connection with Hashem and a book of relevant life lessons.

Traditionally, we are taught that when the world was created the first thing that was created was light: on the first day G-d said, “let there be light, and there was light”. However, in the prior verse, it tells us of “the spirit of G-d that was hovering over the water”.  Perhaps, the first thing that was created was this “spirit”.

This spirit is known as the spirit of Moshiach, the vision G-d has for a completed world. A world where G-d feels comfortable and humans are in sync with their deepest identities and are connected with G-d.

This may be the first step in creating the world around you that you want! First create a vision of how that world looks, then create the spirit and let it hover over you. Following that, build the miniature building of what your finished product looks like, and voila you are on the path of creating the atmosphere that will create the world for you that you envision.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

The other "2 day a year Jew"

It's been said that there are two day a year Jews, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Jews.  It's also been said that if you are only going to go twice a year make it Purim and Simchas Torah - the food is better and it's much more fun!

Simchas Torah is Monday night and Tuesday - October 21 and 22.  I hope you'll celebrate somewhere this Simchas Torah but it's also been said if you haven't seen Simchas Torah at Chabad, you ain't never seen Joy! So I hope to see you at our Simchas Torah Celebrations.

***

Simchas Torah is not one of the big 613 from the Torah, nor is it even a Rabbinic Mitzvah and yet it occupies such a significant role in our tradition that it is the holiday that is the bookend that closes out the High Holiday Season. 

What is it about Simchas Torah that is so significant?

***

In new relationships communication is critical.  You articulate your desires and your needs to your loved one.  As time goes on and familiarity sets in, all that's needed is a little hint.  A relationship that is seasoned doesn't even require a hint. The loved ones are so in tune with each other that they know without it being requested or even hinted to what is desired or needed.

In a similar fashion the commandments of the Torah represent Hashem articulating clearly what He needs from us; the relationship is real but not that deep yet.  The Rabbinic commandments represent a deeper dimension. Hashem doesn't need to tell us what He needs but He just hints to it and we pick up the cue.  

When our relationship is on the deepest level, we don't even need a hint, we just naturally do what Hashem wants.  

This is Simchas Torah. It represents the profound relationship we've achieved with Hashem after the intense bonding on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  We've achieved even a deeper connection sitting together with each other, Hashem's children, in the Sukkah.

Now on Simchas Torah we are at the deepest dimension of our relationship with Hashem and we break out with dancing and love just Hashem wants even without the need for Him to ask it of us.

So let's show some love together!

See you Monday night at 5:30 PM for Kiddush and Hakafos followed by all night dancing!
Come back Tuesday at 10:00 AM as we dance again and complete/restart the Torah!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Party Time?

We did it! Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, praying, fasting, apples in honey, new fruit, Tashlich, white kitel, round Challah, all the senses awakened by these holy days!

Time to relax and celebrate. Why indeed do we need to celebrate? Why does the Torah prescribe a holiday of celebration and rejoicing, "Zman Simchatainu - the time of our rejoicing" only four days after Yom Kippur

The answer is simple as it is profound. Spiritual feelings no matter how deep are fleeting. It feels good to feel close. It feels good to be plugged in. But what happens when the intensity of the moment passes? What happens after the wedding, the anniversary, the birthday, the milestone celebration, passes? Are we still committed? How do we know if we are committed?

Action is the answer. If you love someone you do what they want. If you are in awe of someone you don't violate their wishes.

If we love Hashem we fulfill HIs commandments. If we are in awe of Him we don't violate His instructions.

To transition into a year of action when the energy of the High Holidays are long gone, we have a bridge, a holiday of joy.

Joy and celebration integrate the intense experiences into every fiber of our being. The very essence of joy captures the entirety of our being.

Even more so when the Sukkah in its entirety embraces us, when the dancing of Simchat Torah literally lifts our entire body off the ground, that is integration. That energy carries us through the year.

How are you celebrating Sukkot?

Join us - Details at www.HarfordChabad.org/Sukkot 

Chag Sameach and Good Shabbos!
 

Rabbi Schusterman

Elevate Yourself

 

As a small child, Reb Zalman Aharon (the “Raza”), the older brother of Rebbe Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch (the “Rashab”), often complained that he was noticeably shorter than his younger brother.

One day, the Raza sneaked up behind his brother and put him into a small pit, pointing out that now he was the taller one.

As the Rashab started to cry, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the father of the two boys, who had observed the entire episode, pulled out the child and then turned to his eldest son and told him:

“One is not higher (“taller”) than another by lowering him but by raising oneself higher.”

As we continue the holiday season, with Yom Kippur and Sukkos, we get inspired and now have the opportunity to lift ourselves up to a new place. 

Many a time, I have seen people grow in their spirituality. However, their journey brought them to a place that they rejected their fellow, their family and old friends because now they are too religious to “fraternize with the heathens”. 

To this I remind you to grow this holiday season; get to a higher place. When we see someone else who is not on our spiritual level, we should remember “To be bigger than your friend, there is no need to pull him down. Simply elevate yourself!”

Uplift yourself!

Have a great Shabbos, and join us for services with my parents at 10 AM Shabbos Morning.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 

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