Rabbi's Blog

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

Get out of the way.

You can do way more then you allow yourself too.
Stop judging yourself.
G-d is on your side and has major plans for you; G-d plans on giving you a land flowing with milk and honey.
G-d is with you.

“If the Lord desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us” (Numbers 14:8).

Please don't stop the blessings from coming your way! 

Have you ever noticed that the bottleneck is always at the top of the bottle? The blockage is often us blocking ourselves.

The Jewish people were poised to enter the land of Israel. By not believing that they can, they stopped themselves from being able to enter and acquire the land.

Is there something you could, or should, be doing but you stop yourself? Ask a friend to help you identify what it is that is stopping you and start believing in yourself.

If the issue is one that needs professional help, e.g. spiritual, health (physical or mental), legal etc., seek professional guidance from a professional in that field. Reach out!

But know the blessings are coming your way, we just need to figure out how to not block it.

Have a blessed Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 


Plant Flowers

You are in business and you are actively working on a project and you have a breakthrough. You relish in the moment and then what? Do you rest or take on a bigger project?

You are at a dark moment of your life, everything seems to be gloomy, do you sit and mope? Or, do you plant flowers?

In this week’s Torah portion, we read how the Jewish people are in the desert. They just finished the Sinai experience and the building of the Mishkan (tabernacles), approx. a 1-year process. The Jews then start on the next phase, of heading to the Holy Land! 

What is the Torah telling us? Historical information? Of course not. That is for history books. The Torah is a guide to us to enhance our daily lives. 

The Torah is telling us that there is no time to rest. You finished building a Mishkan? Amazing, celebrate and then continue toward the Holy Land! You reached a high spiritual experience that you see G-d in your midst? Wonderful, now start to bring that G-dliness to the "real world". Make G-dliness tangible; head to the holy land where you need to till the earth to get wheat, to make into flour and eventually bread.

Simultaneously, the Torah is telling us another powerful message: our surroundings do not define us. We can be in a desert; a desolate place empty of spirituality and we can plant flowers. We can make the barren earth grow by recognizing that we get to define our experience. As the Chassidic adage goes: "a Chossid makes his surroundings". It’s not that the “Chossid” is any different, but he decides to make the wilderness around him flourish, because of who he is. Who you are is internal, what is around you is external. Therefore, you can choose the experience around you based on who you are.

When my wife and I moved to open Harford Chabad, we visited Andy Klein OB"M. He told us that if we were looking for the promised land, this is the wilderness.

He would say be like those who settled the land of Israel, which at the time was physically a barren land, changing it to be the blossoming country it is today! Andy lived his life accordingly, encouraging and helping the process of transforming Harford County into a spiritually thriving oasis of Jewish life. 

Our responsibility to the world around us is to transform the darkness in all its forms to light. For each breakthrough, we need to set our sights higher and deeper to have an even greater positive effect on the environment, both spiritually and physically.

You too can make the world around you blossom, do something today to continue that process.

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Stand up and be counted!

Do you have an opinion? Are you willing to take a stand?

We all have values, thoughts, and opinions on many matters. At times, something external happens that reveals a fire, a passion or a capability that remained dormant and we get excited; we stand up and are counted.

We see this when people have become involved in their Chabad house or another local organization. For many years they may have been involved on the periphery and then something happens and they become the biggest advocate, supporter, volunteer, etc. 

This can happen in Judaism as well. For many years, one can remain somewhat distant from their involvement in their Jewish heritage. And then, after an event or occasion, whether it is having kids, the passing of a loved one, being introduced to the relevance of Judaism in removing stress or adding spirituality etc., promptly they get all involved and passionate about their Judaism! Often they are an involved advocate for people to get involved!

I realized that this is connected to this week’s Parsha after discussing this with a financial partner of Chabad this week. We were discussing the difference between a partner and a donor. A partner cares about the organization and wants it to be successful; it is THEIR Chabad house, THEIR shul, THEIR organization. A donor, on the other hand, gives money, time, volunteers, etc. to THE Chabad house, THE shul, THE organization but it is not their own.

The Parsha begins with the message that to be counted you need Naaso, to be lifted up, to step out of your comfort zone to reveal that internal fire, passion and capability. 

So this week, stand up and be counted and make the world a better place!

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

It's who you are

Throw a stick into the air, and it will [always] land on it's root (Gen. Rabbah 86:6). 

You have to study it and you have to do it - Chassidic saying. 

As we complete the Sefirat Ha’omer, we sometimes say we spent 7 weeks becoming a different person; a more refined, better individual.

Often we tell ourselves: “I don't have what it takes, I am not that type of person”. 

It is then that we need to throw a stick into the air, let the wind remove the dust and things that are blocking the core identity from shining through and it will always land on its root – allowing its core identity to shine through.

The Torah was given on engraved tablets. You are a good person. You are a good Jew! You already have everything you need engraved on your soul! You are connected. You can make the world a better place, naturally! Sometimes some dirt gets in the way, dusting our souls. All we need to do is throw the stick in the air, and it will land at its core.  

Perhaps Sefirat Ha’omer is more than becoming a new person. It is about revealing the person we always were.

See you shavuot as we celebrate who we are :).

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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