Rabbi's Blog

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

Is change possible?

Is change possible?  

There were a few people, the instigators of a mutiny. The group grew, and ultimately, they were defeated — a group of people who attacked Moshe's leadership and his credibility.

Amongst those who started this revolt were Korach's sons. During the uprising, they had second thoughts which lead to internal regret and remorse. This type of contrition, in the language of the Talmud, is called  a Hirhur Teshuva - "contemplating repentance".

In the merit of these feelings of remorse "an elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom, and they stayed there"! Additionally, Samuel the prophet was a descendant of one of Korach's sons.

So is change possible? Do we see any source that they did anything other than feel bad? During the dispute they contemplated repentance yet they still carried on the fight! 

We aren't perfect. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we do things that we know are wrong and we feel a pang of regret even before we do it. This is the key to change! It starts with that small piddling feeling of regret which creates the possibility for change!

We need to applaud and encourage that feeling and of course, try to fan those flames into action. Eventually, the imperfect person who only contemplated repentance can be the progenitor of a great prophet like Samuel.

So if you ever feel bad, know that you are amazing! It's the first step to change!

Is change possible? If you recognize that it's needed, yes!

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Recharging the Spiritual Batteries During Summer

Written for

The good old nursery rhyme that goes “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” marks the beginning of summer.

As the rhyme evokes a sense of freedom and independence, many of us look at summer as downtime — vacations, “staycations,” weekends away. It’s a time to indulge a bit in what may be called self-care or, dare I say, self-indulgence.

Meanwhile, others are “stuck at work,” trying to make a living to pay the bills or earn some “extra money” to be able to take a nice vacation at the end of the summer.

Summertime has a whole different vibe than the rest of the year, one of a more laid-back time and atmosphere. However, the goal and feeling of summer relaxation should not be one that is self-indulgent. 

A lesson in this matter is offered to us by Mark Douglas, the CEO of the Los Angeles-based digital marketing and advertising company SteelHouse. He requires his employees to go on two weeks of vacation every year. They get reimbursed for up to $2,000 of expenses for their vacations.

As always, there is a catch. They cannot take the money instead of going on vacation! They must take the time off and do whatever they want, just as long as it is not illegal. The result is that the company has found that people who come back to work tend to be recharged and more productive. 

Hence, the goal of summer vacation is to recharge one’s batteries to be ready for the fall and winter. As we return to what’s known as “regular life,” we want to be invigorated and renewed, ready for the next chapter in our journey. 

But if you do not take care of yourself throughout the summer and don’t eat well, sleep well, get exercise, etc., instead of coming back invigorated, you come back worn out “like a shmatte.” As we have all heard or said at some point, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.”
Similarly, Torah study and commitment to our Jewish values are not work, G-d forbid. As we say in the daily prayers, כי הם חיינו — for they are our life.

When we relax over the summer, we need to ensure that we breathe, take care of our physical health and take care of our spiritual health as well.
There are many ways to study remotely these days. Go to your shul’s website and see if they have any recorded classes. Or you can visit and many other sites as well.

Our Wednesday evening class at our shul is livestreamed at

Take a vacation from work, but do not forget to live life! Happy vacationing! And make it, as they say across the water, a holiday “a HOLY day.”

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman is spiritual leader of Harford Chabad in Bel Air.

Count your blessings!

As you know we were blessed this week with another wonderful child, Chaya Mushka Schusterman!

As our family grows, we get questions like “how many children do you plan on having?” or “Are you going to stop now?” etc.

I can reply with “It's none of your business”, “I'll stop after 6 million” etc. 

2019-07-10 08.37.15.jpgHowever, what I truthfully want to respond is that we welcome each child as a blessing from Hashem. Just as He provides for the children of the raven (Psalms 147), He is quite capable of providing for humans. Ask someone who couldn't have children and you'll learn about the blessings of children. 

Of course, if the parents are overwhelmed and/or struggling with mental health, they should seek guidance on delaying or not having more children. But that doesn't mean that each child is not a blessing.

We all have blessings in our life that people question. You have a job with long hours, recognize it's a blessing even if it means you don't have as much time to spend with family and friends. You have family and friends, that is a blessing even if you don't have the best job.

We have Torah and Mitzvahs, are they easy to observe? No! Are they a blessing? ABSOLUTELY! Ask someone who recently learnt the spiritual and calming nature of a relationship with G-d.

In all these fields, there are people who will cool your enthusiasm in your blessings. Don't let it affect you negatively! Count your blessings!

Have an amazing Shabbos.

See you at Shabbos services at 10 am.

Rabbi Kushi

PS Open house Sunday July 14, 11am- 2pm to meet baby Chaya Mushka at 445 Choice St.

You did great, now do more!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson OBM, passed away 25 years ago. Even though I was only nine years old at the time, the Rebbe impacted my life in so many ways.

A Rebbe is not only a "Rabbi" - someone who is learned, has knowledge or who was elected to lead a large congregation. A Rebbe is the Moses of his generation; a leader whose role and responsibility is to care for all Jews and all of humanity to ensure they have all that they need spiritually to fulfill their unique life mission, leaving this world a better place (with their unique flavor) then when they got here. 

As we approach the Rebbe's 25th Yahrtzeit, this Shabbos, I want to share why I believe the Rebbe’s vision is still relevant. 

The Rebbe cared for every individual that they should fulfill their potential.
The Rebbe wanted every person's soul to shine.
The Rebbe was not shy about his agenda to communicate that the Torah is true and immutable.
The Rebbe cared for the Jew in Curaçao just like he cared for the Chinese in Manhattan.
The Rebbe cares for you. He wants you to see the world in a positive light (see this new book). 

The Rebbe demanded of us to work hard on stretching our spiritual and mental muscles. We need to dig deep and grow as a human being, to grow as a Jew if one is Jewish, to do more good than we already do. The Rebbe encouraged all to become their best possible self, to express the deepest places of their souls.

From the very beginning, the Rebbe said in many ways: You did great, now do more.

There was a person who gave out many Chanukah menorahs one year. When he told the Rebbe of his accomplishment, the Rebbe replied Yaashar Koach (thank you that is amazing). Following that, the Rebbe encouraged this individual to "give out more". 

Similarly, the Rebbe told a businessman who was building a building: “You should make the basement ceiling higher and you should make the foundations sturdy enough to add more stories afterwards, even if you don’t have the financing to invest in it now.” He added that the bigger the container, the more blessings the Almighty can put into it. (see the whole story here). You are building? Build bigger and better or at least make sure you have the capacity to expand. 

Today YOU are doing great at making the world a better place, now going forward, do more!

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

P.S. Many books have been written about the Rebbe. - Here are 3 - RebbeMy RebbeTurning Judaism Outward

The Rebbe was concerned with Chinatown

Once a state senator from New York asked for a private meeting (yechidus) with the Rebbe. Over an hour later, he came out excited. “I never realized what a great man your Rebbe is,” he told Rabbi Leibel Groner, the Rebbe’s secretary.

The senator explained that he had sought the Rebbe’s counsel concerning his personal affairs. After the Rebbe had advised him with regard to these matters, he asked if he could request a favor from the senator.

“‘Here it comes,’ I thought to myself,” he told Rabbi Groner, “‘just like all the others, he’s also looking for the payoff.’

But what did the Rebbe ask me?

“‘There is,’ the Rebbe said, ‘a growing community in Chinatown. These people are quiet, reserved, hard-working and law-abiding, the type of citizens most countries would treasure. But because Americans are so out-going and the Chinese are, by nature, so reserved, they are often overlooked by government programs. As a state senator from New York, I suggest that you concern yourself with their needs.’

“I was overwhelmed. The Rebbe has a community of thousands in New York and institutions all over the country that could benefit from government programs. I am in a position to help secure funding for them, but the Rebbe didn’t ask about that. He was concerned with Chinatown. I don’t think he has ever been there, and I’m certain that most people there don’t know who he is, but he cares about them. Now that’s a true leader!”

The Rebbe did not merely manifest an unbounded concern for the welfare of all mankind, he provided us with teachings which motivate and enable us to share this mindset and put it into practice. A rabbi working in a university once asked the Rebbe what fundamental message he should communicate to his students. The Rebbe answered: “Teach them that they all possess a soul that is a spark of G‑d. This knowledge will continually inspire them and influence them to improve their conduct.”

And the Rebbe did more than inspire; he was a leader. He was able to give people an ideal that imbued their lives with lasting meaning. He took the truth from Sinai, the centuries-old Biblical tradition, and applied it to every aspect of contemporary life. To him, the Bible was not a book, but a blueprint for life, one which contained G‑d’s instructions on how to deal with every issue that day-to-day life presents.

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