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Rabbi's Blog

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

Dear Andy

Dear Andy,

As you always enjoyed hearing a Dvar Torah, I am writing to you this letter and I know that from on high you are reading this.

Right before we moved here in 2010, you told me that if we were looking for the promised land, this is a Jewish wilderness. However, you encouraged us to be a light in the darkness. You regularly reminded me that Hashem will take care of us and that you are "just his messenger". You did not allow me to slack off from our main focus. Just last Friday we discussed that the emphasis until Pesach should be sharing the joy of Purim and the message of Pesach. Fundraising can be done afterward. Of course, we also spoke about family, raising children, inspiring the future, ensuring people value their Jewish heritage, Israel and doing good; your favorite topics to discuss.

I looked forward to our weekly learning, whether it was studying Pirkei Avot or chanting the weekly Torah portion. You were excited to take a break from the hectic day and put on tefillin and take a moment to daven. You would thank me for adding some light to the busy day. This gave my week a boost.

Andy, you were a guide and mentor to me and to many. I will miss your insight into what to do and how to do it. As a leader, you knew that people looked to you as a role model, and you set the bar high by example. Many may look at themselves as ‘not as religious as Andy’, yet they still know it is important, and were encouraged, to do more good.

You often reminded me of what Mordechai said to Esther in the megillah, (and I'll paraphrase): Hashem will ensure that the good that needs to be done in the world will be accomplished. The question is what role do we play, and do we get to be His messenger?

Andy, I give you my word. I will continue to follow in your ways. I will continue to be involved in this community, both the Jewish community and the community at large. While you are pushing us to do more from on high, we will be the foot soldiers with boots on the ground, continuing to make Harford County a place where Judaism thrives, where care for our neighbor is valued and where if we see a problem we ask, what can I do to be part of the solution.

In the secular world, they say rest in peace. Andy, do not rest in peace! Advocate on high for the Jewish people! Advocate on high for Harford County! Advocate on high for the family of the young joyous Tripp Johnson, whose happy life was cut short together with yours!

Tripp represents to me the month of Adar, the month of joy. As a community, we are in mourning, but we will continue to serve joyously and happily to make a real positive impact.

Your Friend,

Rabbi Kushi 

Be proud of who you are!

In the Purim Megillah we read of the feast that the King made for all inhabitants of the land.

The Megillah states “and the drink according to the law was not lacking”. Our Sages say the meaning behind this is that the King accommodated the Jews and their standards of Kashrus so much so that even the drink was kosher!

The Jews were not on the highest spiritual of levels at the onset of the story of Purim, so why couldn’t they just show up to the party and eat some fruit and drink water? Did they need to bother the unfriendly Persian King to make sure they had Glatt kosher foods and the best Kosher wine?

The answer to this question is a simple but powerful one. A complete Jew is a proud Jew! If we are hiding our identity or if we are not forthright with our identity as a Jew, then our Judaism is something secondary to us.

Being proud of who we are is a sign that we are complete! True, sometimes we do not always act 100% in accordance with our essence, but it doesn’t change the fact that that is who we are in our essence.

A complete human being is someone who has all of their organs intact. If someone has a blemish, they often (even though they shouldn't IMHO) attempt to hide it because they want to present themselves as a complete person. Being a complete Jew is the same.

 The message of the Megillah and the Purim story is that when we are proud of who we are, we earn the respect and accommodation of even the unfriendly Persian King.

This message is as true now as it was then. Living in a highly assimilated world, it is easy to want to blend in and not burden society with our Jewish needs. But in fact, if we are in touch with who we are, there can be no alternative to living and acting as proud Jews!

When we do this we earn the respect and accommodation of society around us.

Have a proud Shabbat!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Be proud of who you are!

 

In the Megillah of Purim, in a few weeks we read of the feast that the King made for all inhabitants of the land.

The Megillah states “and the drink according to the law was not lacking”. Our Sages say the meaning behind this is that the King accommodated the Jews and their standards of Kashrus so much so that even the drink was kosher!

It begs the question, it seems hypocritical and burdensome. The Jews were not on the highest spiritual of levels at the onset of the story of Purim and why couldn’t they just show up to the party and eat some fruit and drink water? Did they need to bother the unfriendly Persian King to make sure they had Glatt kosher foods and the best Kosher Wine??

The answer to this question is a simple but powerful one. A complete Jew is a proud Jew! If we are hiding our identity or if we are not forthright with our identity as a Jew then our Judaism is something secondary to us.

Being proud of who we are is a sign that we are complete! True, sometimes we don’t always act 100% in accordance with our essence but it doesn’t change the fact that that’s who we are in our essence.

A complete human being is someone who has all of their organs intact. If someone has a blemish they often (even though they shouldn't IMHO) attempt to hide it because they want to present themselves as a complete human. Being a complete Jew is the same.

 The message of the Megillah and the Purim story is that when we are proud of who we are we earn the respect and accommodation of even the unfriendly Persian King and he goes out of his way to accommodate our Jewishness.

This message is as true now as it was then. Living in a highly assimilated world it is easy to want to blend in and not burden society with our Jewish needs. But in fact, if we are in touch with who we are, there can be no alternative to living and acting as proud Jews!

When we do this we earn the respect and accommodation of society around us.

Have a proud Shabbat!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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