Rabbi's Blog

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

Mirror Mirror

 Rosh Hashanah starts this Sunday evening.

So let’s summarize this year. What did you discover about yourself, about your life? What changes did you incorporate into your world? What relationships were enhanced? Which were damaged? How is next year going to be different?

These are the very uncomfortable questions a good friend asked. I thought first about telling him to jump into the lake at Bynum Run Park (by the way, join us on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 6 pm for Shofar in the Park) and mind his own business. But then I thought let me try to answer that question. And I did.

Mirror, mirror on the wall who is this fellow looking at you?

The mirror's response wasn’t necessarily that pleasant, but it was challenging.

It asked, why is next year going to be different from all other years?
It wanted to know how I dare show my face this Rosh Hashanah when I have fallen short on last year’s commitments.

No, it isn’t always the most pleasant experience to have yourself put on the table in front of you to look at, but the alternative is more of the same. Change is not easy, but our Tradition provides an entire season for it.

“You stand here today, all of you from the wood-chopper to the water carrier”. Today = the day of Rosh Hashanah. Today (on that first day of RH) all of us stand equally, before the Master of the Universe, wood-choppers, water carriers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, moms, dads, accountants, business people, and executives. All of us stand and are required to present ourselves.

A visual – a man with a tie parading down the street without any clothes on. This is the spiritual equivalent of looking good without anything to back it up. It’s like driving someone else’s Tesla and pretending that it’s yours.
Now is the season to get our act together!

Friends are a powerful source to get us in-line. Find a friend, find a mirror, take some time to meditate and pray, the great day of Rosh Hashanah is coming!

Shana Tova and Shabbat Shalom looking forward to seeing you over the holidays.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Own It It's You!

What are you thinking about when you are on vacation?

Most people (employees) are not thinking about work while on vacation. The typical person isn't thinking about the sales or orders that are supposed to come in. The business owner is! The company is his. It is on his mind, always. The owner is thinking about his business daytime and evening, even while on vacation.

The employee, even when they work hard, the business is not theirs; it’s something they do. The business owner will go above and beyond their capacity. They make sacrifices that employees don’t need to make to ensure the business thrives.

The Torah tells us regarding raising children (both biological and those we mentor, “our spiritual students”) and studying Torah, that we must toil. 

These two are not things we do as an employee; it is part of the fabric of our existence. We think about our children and see what we can do to help them grow up spiritually and physically, in a healthy manner all the time. 

We study Torah, we toil in Torah, even when we are on vacation. It is not a job. It is part of who we are.

Is it easy? NO! The language used is toil. It’s hard work. Yet the dividends are enormous. So, think about your spiritual and/or biological children. Think about the Torah. Get to work, not as an employee but as an owner. Make a difference in the world around you! 

Have an amazing Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Returns Accepted

You shall not see your brother's ox or sheep straying and ignore them. You shall return them to your brother...You shall not ignore. (Deuteronomy 22)

Hashavas Aveida, returning a lost object. Teshuva, returning to our core identity. The word hashev is used in both instances as opposed to choosing a different term like chozer.

Warning: Please don't try to help someone return by badgering them or by telling them that "YOU" found G-d and that they should as well.

Show them how your connection with Judaism made you a better person. Invite them to join you to check it out and see for themselves how Judaism can connect them to their core identity thereby enhancing their life.

Have a good Shabbos!

Join us for Shabbos services at 10:00 AM

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

You are the witness

The court's atmosphere buzzed with tension as the Bailiff cleared her throat and called "Hall 7 of the Superior Court is now in session, Judge Greenwald is presiding. Please be seated.” 

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen," the judge boomed. "Calling the case of the..."

The defendant... He's charged with the armed robbery of...

The judge sighed. "The prosecution may call their first witness...

What is the purpose of a witness? 

Generally speaking, we think of a witness as a bystander; someone who is reporting what happened, not someone who is involved in the situation.

In Judaism, E.G. marriage, the witnesses make the marriage. If the ring is given in private (without 2 designated witnesses), according to Jewish law, the couple is not married. 

The Jewish people are G-d’s witnesses. "You are My witnesses," says the Lord, "and My servant whom I chose, in order that you know and believe Me, and understand that I am He; before Me no god was formed and after Me none shall be". Isaiah 43:10

One of the jobs of the Jewish people is to be a witness that creates a new reality around them. To create an experience in the world so that everyone knows and understands that G-d runs the world and that the world is a G-dly place. While at times it may feel like a jungle, in reality, it is G-d’s garden. We need to tend to that garden. 

If you are stuck in the weeds or tending to a garden - that is a choice you get to make. Be a witness and enjoy the garden.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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