Rabbi's Blog

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

Gotta do the work

While the Torah comes from Heaven, it was given on this Earth.  It can be tempting to want to soar heavenward in our pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.  In many ways it is easier to get lost in a spiritual high or in a spiritual event.  It's less demanding and doesn't require the inner work we need to put in to truly create transformation.

While doing the day to day hard work of personal transformation and engaging with the physical reality may seem to be the work of the unholy, it is in fact the most holy.  It is a simple act of kindness, a small victory over our negative spirits and the small act of a mitzvah that achieves the highest of spiritual connections.

When The Torah speaks about the plague of darkness.  The Torah says that the darkness pervaded over Egypt for three days. Rashi explains; this is because while the darkness was at play the Jews sought out where the Egyptians kept their riches. So that when they left Egypt the Egyptians were not able to deny that they possessed these riches because the ews had already seen them and identified them.

There are two reasons the Jews needed to take these riches with them.  The first is to fulfill the promise that Hashem made to Abraham when He told of the Egyptian slavery "and afterwards they will go out with great wealth".  The second is that the wealth represented spiritual sparks and energies that were captured by the unholy forces that were Egypt at the time.

Accordingly, the Exodus and the removing of this wealth was a fulfillment of G-d's instruction.

Rashi is teaching us that when it comes to fulfilling Hashem's commandments, we have to work hard to seek out the spark and fulfill it on natural terms.  While Hashem set the stage in a miraculous manner, (as He always does), the Jews still needed to do the hard work of searching and seeking in order to fulfill their Mitzvah.

It's always rewarding to do the work when fulfilling a mitzvah.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman
Edited from an email by Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman 


Well-behaved women seldom make history

Question of the Week:

My name is Adina. I have always been proud of having a Hebrew name, and I love its meaning ("delicate"). But someone asked me who the original Adina was. And I had no idea what to answer. Is it a biblical name? I don't remember hearing of an Adina in the Torah. So where is my name actually from?


You may be surprised to learn the origins of your name. The first Adina was none other than the wife of Lavan the Aramean. That is Lavan the famous fraudster, sorcerer and crafty crook, about whom we read in the Haggadah on Pesach: "Lavan wanted to destroy everything." 

Lavan was not known for his good moral values. And yet, this piece of work was the father of Rachel and Leah, the righteous matriarchs of the Jewish people. How did such a shady character have such wonderful children? This was most likely due entirely to his delicate wife, Adina. 

All we know about her is her name. And that's all we need to know. Adina the delicate one. Don't be fooled by her soft and gentle nature. With her subtlety and quiet strength, she had the power to counter her husband's negative character, and bring up children who enlightened the world.

So that's where your name comes from. The delicate woman who single-handedly instilled her children with good character, and thereby shaped the Jewish future forever. She did it without her husband's support. Imagine what a like-minded couple can do. 

She wasn't well behaved according to her husband, but G-d would say she made history - Rabbi Kushi

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss 

Sefer Hayashar, quoted in Seder Hadoros Year 2164. See also Year 2217, where it mentions another Adina, wife of Levi, daughter of Yovav ben Yoktan. This second Adina, unlike the first, joined the Jewish people, which is probably how the name became popular. We can only imagine how Leah felt when her son Levi married a woman with the same name as her mother. 


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I Can't? Yes You Can!

When given a job, have you ever asked yourself why the person giving you the task didn’t give you the resources to accomplish it? And then, as the job progressed, you realized that you had everything you needed although it may not have been the conventional tools.

When G-d turned to Moses and asked him to redeem the Jewish people, they have a whole dialogue during which Moses turns to G-d and says: who am I to redeem the Jewish people? “I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue”.

G-d answers him: “Who gave man a mouth…Is it not I, G-d? So now go!...“

G-d’s answer is relevant to each of us when we are on a mission. G-d, as the creator of the universe, ensures that we have everything we need to fulfill any mitzvah that He wants us to fulfill. While at times it may seem that we don’t have the tools to accomplish our mission, like Moses not being a great orator, G-d is telling all of us that He ensures that we have everything we need. It may mean that we need to be creative and resourceful to use what we have and what G-d has given us to accomplish our mission.

Go accomplish your mission!

Have a good Shabbos,

Ranbi Kushi Schusterman 

All Kids Complain

From time to time, one of the kids comes to Fraida or myself with a complaint. We expect them to do something, yet they don’t see us doing the same when in a similar situation.

We find this complaint in the Torah. Jacob is on his death bed and is excusing himself to Joseph. He asks Joseph to take him up to the land of Israel to be buried, knowing that Joseph was upset that he didn’t do the same thing when Rachel died years earlier. Jacob acknowledges Joseph’s complaint: “As for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died to me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still a stretch of land to come to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." 

Rashi explains Jacob’s response: I know that you hold it against me; but you should know that I buried her there by divine command, so that she would be of assistance to her children. [G‑d, indeed, sent the Babylonians to destroy the temple and bring the Jews back with them to Babylonia, as they were going to Babylonia, the broken, desperate Jews crowded around Rachel’s grave and cried their hearts out.]

As I studied this passage, I started musing…

Jacob validated the complaint of Joseph, but gave him understanding. At the same time, Jacob didn’t explain this to Joseph when he was younger but waited till it was relevant.

I wondered why didn’t Jacob explain this to Joseph when he was a child

When raising my children should I answer their complaints? If I have a complaint against my parents should I reach out to them? Should I expect an answer?

What are your thoughts?

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

I talk to Gd like he is my best friend

I talk to Gd like he is my best friend - Dolly Parton.

Many people view prayer as a ritual, as something that "religious people do". This past Shabbos Fraida and I were in Montreal. At the Chassidic Farbrengen (gathering) following the service the Rabbi turned to a few of us and said, "Davening and Torah study, but really davening is most important".

He went on to explain that while it's important to study, it's more important to have a relationship with Hashem, with G-d, to talk to G-d like He is your best friend.

Rabbi Ringo spent some time talking about the importance and value of Torah study, even if for just a few minutes in the morning and evening. It can be listening to a podcast, a lecture online or attending a class.

Prayer, is not just saying words. Its connecting. It's "having a beer" with G-d. Yes, the prayer book is scripted. Yet when praying correctly, you are connecting with these words. The meaning of the words being super powerful.

When one congregant claimed no time to invest the hours in praying every day, Rabbi Ringo told him the following story.

In Tishrei 1979, Rabbi Schneur Zalman Gafni was privileged to travel to the Lubavitcher Rebbe from Israel. He was granted a private audience a ‘yechidus’.

The Rebbe took considerable interest in the yeshiva Rabbi Gafni had established at the Rebbe’s suggestion. Rabbi Gafni complained that in the past he could daven at length and had a precise schedule of Torah study. Now, however, his day is totally occupied with giving shiurim and holding private discussions with the students.

“I’ll never forget that ‘yechidus,” Gafni said. “The Rebbe spoke at length about the obligation for complete devotion to the students. Afterwards, he stopped speaking for a moment. I thought that after such a ringing declaration, the Rebbe would at least release me from the need for lengthy davening. However, I was quickly proven wrong. The Rebbe said that I must find a way to continue in proper prayer even praying one section without compromise, and the rest of the prayer just saying the words.”

So that was last week’s farbrengen.

Hope you can join us for soup and scotch Friday 5:30 or Shabbos morning 10 am and we can farbreng further :).

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. today is 5 teves a special day - learn more here 

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