Rabbi's Blog

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

Dear Diary - 2022

March 26, 2022

Dear Diary,

Kushi here again. I know I haven’t written in a bit, things have been busy but that is no excuse. Since the Corona virus ended nearly 2 years ago, I along with my fellow earth mates made a pact to hold on to the positive changes that resulted from those very difficult and painful times.

The world has been better, healthier, kinder and cleaner and people have been happier and nicer.

In fact, just today there were many examples of life AC - After Corona. Here are just a few.

I was driving on the Beltway, and remember the old days where people would cut on another off trying to get to work in a hurry? Remember how you had to speed up and slow down in order to squeeze your car into that space barely large enough for a match box car?

While no one does that any more since traffic is significantly lighter now that so many people work from home, and bosses are much more relaxed, focusing on simply making enough money to feed families and not the greed of BC (Before Corona), and in general bosses are much more understanding, still, today someone tried to cut off the whole line.

Initially, my blood pressure started shooting upwards and foul words entered my mind about what I’d like to say to that person, but then I remembered our pact. To love, and judge favorably and to give people the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, just a few minutes later, I caught up to that car as it was exiting Northern Parkway to go to Sinai Hospital. If I saw correctly, it appeared there was a passenger in the car that was ready to give birth to a new child.

Earlier in the same day, I woke up to see my 6 Year old boy and 2 year old girl, playing a board game calmly, letting the older people sleep. and not asking for devices. I guess it is true what the experts said, those couple months of quarantine really taught us how bad and dangerous all that screen time is. It is almost as if the children associate iPads and computers with anxiety (their own or their parents’) and school and they’d rather not have the reminder by using these devices first thing upon awakening. Or any time of day if they don’t have to.

Anyway, I got to my coffee meeting in Baltimore, and it was just wonderful, since less people travel into work, there was easy parking and the states new rules about a 15 minutes grace period on the parking meters, saved from a parking ticket, so that was good too.

After a successful meeting, I got back home, and instead of going back to work, I stopped at home, to have lunch with my wife, since AC we just know how precious time with our loved ones is and there really isn’t anything I “have” to do that is more important than those few minutes of quiet time, talking and connecting. Another positive result of the healthier new world. I speak to my friends and this scene is playing itself out in homes across the world. People stopping to smell the roses. Slowing down to allow the important things in life in, and savoring them as we never did in the past.

Back in the office, I prepared both my class and my sermon, as it is already Thursday and my class has increased in attendance, both the physical attendees and digital attendees so I want to be extra prepared. It appears that since Corona, people have realized that a good evening night out is better spent in a Torah class stimulating the mind and learning how better to connect with Hashem is actually better for them and more enjoyable than a movie and a steak. (It may also be connected to the fact that we now offer wine and cocktails in addition to the usual coffee, tea and cake that were available BC. )

Shabbat Shul attendance has also increased dramatically. It’s incredible, people really had their “come to Gd moment.” Not that they were frightened into a relationship, rather a couple of months of really having the mask of “certainty” removed and being forced to accept in a real and deep way that we don’t run the world or even our lives, it is Hashem that runs everything, that who gets sick and who gets healed is out of our control really propels us towards the Almighty being. Attendance is up Friday night and Shabbat day, even the Saturday pre-services Torah discussion has a large crowd in attendance. I must prepare properly so I can teach properly.

I think the biggest after the Corona change, however, is in myself. Less hurried and harried-ness. Less fretting over the small things. Less worrying over the things that I cannot change. More focus on my family. More focus on my children. More patience with them and all people. More keeping my eye on the real prize. The prize of happiness, tranquility, family, meaning and true GDly existence.

I don’t like the CoronaVirus. I don’t like the tragedy, chaos and tears it brought to this world, I do, however, like what it has done to us, as a society, as a people, and I like what it has done to me. I am a better person, a better father for all that we’ve been through. I really hope that part of the memory stays the same.

Ok, dear diary, it's been a while, and hopefully not as much time till the next time I write, but I just wanted to share that two years ago when all the intense change was happening, no one could have imagined that we would be experiencing good times again, in fact better times. Sometimes you need to spring to the future a bit, so you can have perspective on the past.

I think to myself, what a wonderful world...

Written by Nechemia Schusterman - Modified by Rabbi Kushi

You impact the entire world

In essentially a moment in time, a matter of days perhaps hours, our world view shifted. Our sense of security disappeared.

The lessons are many and will be learned and internalized across industries, governments, communities and families.

There will be time for that in good health, please G-d!

One of the most obvious lessons that remains relevant is the relationship we have to each other.

No longer can someone think that what goes on in their life has no impact or relevance on not just their immediate surrounding but all of humanity.

No longer can we think that we are not a taker and contributor from the individual across the globe.

No longer can we believe that our actions are not potentially a matter of life and death to someone who lives thousands of miles away.

No longer can we live in a bubble to think that humanity as a whole has an impact on us; that what happens in other parts of the world are irrelevant to us.

This week we read (at least at home) two Torah Portions - Vayakhel and Pekudai. What's interesting is that these two Torah portions have conflicting meanings.

Vayakhel means to gather. Pekduai means to count. Whereas gathering is bringing together the individuals, counting means to separate them out.

Indeed this carries the message of our times; we are a collective (gathered) humanity of individuals (counting). Our individual actions impact the whole and the whole impacts the individual.

We as individuals have the ability to change the world for the good with a simple action. One Mitzvah, one action, one gesture can be trans-formative.

And the well being of the world has an impact on us. The going-ons across the globe have a trans-formative effect on our little bubble.

As we conclude week one let us pray together for healing for all those that need it, for safety and good health to all. Let us think of small deeds we can do in the confines and security of our own homes to impact the world - literally!

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Schusterman 

COVID-19 Update


  • Use common sense and follow medical advice from official sources, without losing perspective. Panic and hysteria are not helpful. 
  • If you are healthy you should continue attending Synagogue as usual, ensuring proper hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap, which is provided at the shul kitchen and in the bathrooms. 
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus you should not attend Synagogue and should seek medical advice. Details of the symptoms and other relevant information can be found at -
  • If you have recently traveled or have had contact with someone with the COVID-19 virus, please seek medical advice before attending synagogue
  • The elderly or those with compromised immune systems should avoid crowds
  • Following advice of health authorities, we will avoid hand shaking and direct contact between people
  • Kiddush food will not be served this week. 
  • Please cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your arm

Question of the Week:

By Rabbi Moss

This coronavirus thing has really thrown me. I feel like I've lost all sense of certainty. No one knows what will happen next. How do we stay sane when we don't know what's lurking around the corner? 


It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating. 

This tiny virus of 125 nanometres* has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. 

But that is always the case. We never know what the future holds. We only think we do, and keep getting surprised when things don't pan out the way we expected. Now the mask is off. We have to admit our vulnerability. 

What will happen next? We don't know. Our experts don't know. Our leaders don't know. Only G-d knows. And that is the point. Only G-d knows. 

Close your eyes and feel the uncertainty, make peace with it, let yourself be taken by it. Embrace your cluelessness. Because in all the confusion there is one thing you know for sure. You are in G-d's hands. 

Keep calm. Panic and fear are also contagious. Take every precaution as advised by health authorities. Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.

Good Shabbos 

Rabbi Moss

*A nanometre is one billionth of a metre. 

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Com'n Just Bow - or don't


Question of the Week:

In the Purim story, Mordechai the Jew refuses to bow down to the wicked Haman. As a result, Haman enacts a decree to annihilate the entire Jewish nation. Did Mordechai do the right thing? Technically, bowing to a dignitary is not forbidden by Judaism. So even if Haman thought he was god, shouldn't Mordechai have bowed down to him rather than risk the lives of the entire Jewish people?


In my youth I attended a non-Jewish school. Jews made up about ten percent of the student body, and we felt quite comfortable there. But sometimes we stood out.

It wasn't a particularly religious school, but on occasion they did hold prayer services, in a big hall with a huge cross at the front. At a certain point during the service, everyone was told to kneel and bow before the cross. So everyone did.

But I didn't. I don't know why, but as everyone else went down on their knees, I just sat there. I was a little nervous that I would be caught not kneeling. But then I realized that anyone who saw me not kneeling was themselves not kneeling, so I was safe.

Here's the funny thing. Looking around I saw I was not alone. Scattered around the hall were others who did not bow. In fact, about ten percent of the room were sitting upright. None of the Jewish kids would bow down. It was quite a sight - a sea of bowed heads, with a few Jewish heads sticking out like protruding icebergs. Or maybe Goldbergs.

On reflection, this is astonishing. Where did we get this defiance from? We were all from irreligious homes and were for the most part completely uneducated in Judaism. No one ever told us not to bow down. In fact, for some of those boys, this non-bowing may have been the only public statement of being Jewish they ever made. So what inspired us to be different?

I believe we got it from Mordechai, the Jew who refused to bow down. Somehow his story of defiance has permeated the Jewish psyche, to the point that even two and a half thousand years later, Jews know in the depth of their soul that we don't bow down to anyone but G-d. 

When Mordechai stood up to Haman, he wasn't putting the Jewish people at risk. On the contrary, he was saving countless Jews in all future generations who will be inspired by his singular act of bravery, refusing to bow to the forces that try to compromise our identity. 

Our enemies will hate us no less if we bow to them, and our friends will only think higher of us for refusing to bow to pressure. Regardless of what anyone thinks of us, our job is to stand tall and proud like Mordechai, unabashedly stating our Jewishness. When we do, we play our part in the epic Jewish story, the story of an eternal nation that survives every attempt to make us bow. 

Good Shabbos and Happy Purim!

Rabbi Moss

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