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Rabbi's Blog

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

Pascals Law and Be the Best You!

Last week we spoke about the Red, Yellow and Green Jew. 

Some of the responses I got were: I am a goyish grey (from a Non-Jew), if that is how you define the colors, I will never be a Green Jew etc. 

The truth is that we all can be in the green category if we define green properly. 

The Tanna Devei Eliyahu says "A person must ask: When will my deeds reach the level of the deeds of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? "  

Can any of us have our deeds reach the spiritual stature of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Let’s be practical, ___(fill this line with all the reasons you think you can't be like our forefathers)____.

To this we turn to science. Pascal's law, as I understand it (engineers please correct me), is that the pressure applied to any part of an enclosed liquid will be transmitted equally in all directions through the liquid. If the container is full, you notice this more. It is irrelevant how much water is in the container. The pressure is transmitted throughout the fluid equally. This law is the source of how hydraulic lifts work.

The Torah is compared to liquid. What were the deeds of Abraham Isaac and Jacob? That they did their absolute best, they filled up their potential.  What we learn is when will I do the best to be the best me, the most connected to Hashem me, the most mitzvah observant me that I can be?

We need to know that the pressure we apply to ourselves causes an equal effect throughout the whole world. My Mitzvah changes the world. 

You may say, Rabbi Kushi, this sounds great BUT I am not religious! I am not Moses!

"I'm afraid!" replies Zusha. "Because when I get to heaven, I know G-d's not going to ask me 'Why weren't you more like Moses?' or 'Why weren't you more like King David?' I am afraid that G-d will ask 'Zusha, why weren't you more like Zusha?' And then what will I say?!"

Don't judge yourself as to why you aren't Moses or Queen Esther, but if you are the best you!

Red Yellow Green

These days we sit and wait week after week thinking, when are we going to move from red to yellow and eventually from yellow to green? We know that these transitions are not dependent on us, but on factors that are out of our control. Yet, we hope that the situation will improve so that our lives can return to some normalcy.

This got me thinking—If I had to grade myself, what color would I give myself? Not in regards to corona, but in regards to Judaism. Am I a red, yellow, or green Jew?  

The Red Jew: You stop in your tracks. You are a Jew because you are a member of the tribe. You are the “chosen nation.” You might not be too sure what that really means but you know that if someone refers to a Jew, you know that they are referring to you. 

The Yellow Jew: You stop and take pause. You think about it once in a while. You might light the Shabbat candles, make Kiddush Friday night, or lay the Tefillin. You have a charity box in your home and pay synagogue dues. You have a mezuzah on your front door. You proudly identify yourself as a Jew wherever you go! 

The Green Jew: You are a Jew-on-the-go. You are always looking for a mitzvah to do. On an ongoing, daily basis you are thinking, planning, talking, and acting like a Jew. Perhaps you are even an activist on behalf of the Jewish people or some other Jewish cause. One thing is for sure, when it comes to Judaism, you are always on the go! 

Not Jewish? You can apply this to your spiritual Journey are you in the Red, Yellow or Green zone in your relationship with the creator of the world? 

As we prepare for the Shavuot holiday, let’s all be in the Green Zone, even if only spiritually. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

no bad comes from above!

This is the first time in modern history (and perhaps ever) that in most synagogues the entire book of Vayikra (Leviticus) was not read from the Torah.  We went into quarantine as the book was beginning and this week, we conclude the third book of the Torah!  That itself is worthy of reflection.

In the final Torah portion, we read the Divine rebuke, that which will befall us if we do not follow Hashem’s instructions.  It is hard to read and even harder to swallow.
 
Our Sages say, “no bad comes from Above”.  What we experience that seems to be harsh is our inability to see the real good that is in it.  Like a child who is rebuked or punished by a loving parent to put them on the straight and narrow.  Or a parent who takes a child who does not yet understand, to the doctor for their vaccinations.

The child feels the pain and hurt but deep down feels that the parent is doing what is best and it is ultimately coming from a place of love.

This is a “hard Torah portion” because it is truly difficult to find the good in our challenging circumstances.   If we lean into Hashem’s embrace, we are more empowered to find the good in our circumstances and when we do, we know what we need to do to move forward.

Perhaps that is why this Parsha is read at the end of a  Book and we proclaim Chazak Chazak Vinischazek – be strong, be strong and be strengthened!
Because, we need Hashem’s help to navigate the circumstances and to find the strength to make the most of it.

So I say to you Chazak Chazak Vinischazek – be strong, be strong and be strengthened!

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. I feel for those that are struggling, the above is meant to empower you with another set of glasses to look at your circumstances.

I feel fortunate and I believe that my outlook compels me to recognize Hashem first and then ask myself what am I to do with this good fortune.

Do you feel fortunate?

 

Oops - Broken Link

Earlier this week was a day of global giving called "Giving Tuesday Now".

As I continue to try to make it easier for people to support our organization and make a strong impact on the local Jewish community, I arranged for the donate link to prepopulated with the donor information. It looked great! People wanted to make an impact! They put in the amount they wanted to donate, entered their credit card information and when they clicked submit… 

Yup, the air left the balloon. 
Instead of the great feeling of “Wow I made a difference” like this,
 unnamed (7).jpg

it said page not found. People felt like this:unnamed (8).jpg

The Baal Shem Tov has a teaching that one should learn something from everything he sees and hears.

The problem with the link was that it was missing the / at the end. To paraphrase Rabbi Aron Moss - Would anyone be so nitpicky as to differentiate between "yahoocom" and "yahoo.com"? Isn't it a bit ridiculous that you didn't get my email just because of a little dot?

The missing / seemed to be ridiculous.

But it’s not! Because the / is not just a /. It represents something. That dot has meaning far beyond the pixels on the screen that form it. To me it may seem insignificant, but that is simply due to my ignorance of the ways of the internet. All I know is that with the /, the donation arrives and people feel good and without it, the message is lost to oblivion, the page is not found.

In this week’s Torah portion we talk about the holidays and about Shabbos.

Does it make a difference if I light shabbat candles at 7:49 PM (this week) in Bel Air or at 8:30?

Who cares if I do the seder on the correct night, it’s generally the correct season.

Jewish practices have infinite depth. Each nuance and detail contains a world of symbolism. And every / counts. When they are performed with precision, a spiritual vibration is emailed throughout the universe, all the way to G‑d's inbox and change happens.

If you want to understand the symbolism of the /, study I.T.

If you want to understand the symbolism of Judaism, study it.

Thank you to those who made a contribution and figured out how to get around I.T. to get it done.  To join them visit www.HarfordChabad.org/donate.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Write your story!

From the second day of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot, the Jewish people count the Omer. In Hebrew Sefirat Ha'Omer - counting of the Omer (notice the root word here - Sefirah). This is a personal journey from Passover to Shavuot, a journey of counting and rewriting our story. 

In Hebrew, the word to count is Lisph(f)or.   Notice the root of the word sphor or sapphire. In Hebrew, the two words (to count and sapphire) share almost all the same letters.   They are also related to the word shining just as a sapphire shines.

It is very evident that if you make each day count and meaningful then your days will shine. How does one do this?

For that we have yet another word in Hebrew with the same root - Sipur. This word means a story or to tell a story.

During this pandemic, it is even more important to picture yourself at the end of the day and take a few moments to recount your story - the events of the day; the things you wish you had done and the things you wish you didn't [you are not alone, most people didn't get alot of "work" done].

Now picture yourself telling tomorrow’s story, how do you want it to be? What are the things you want to be proud of in tomorrow's accomplishments? What are the things you hope to avoid tomorrow? What are the personal struggles you hope to be victorious over tomorrow?

Each evening, take a moment and write your story for tomorrow, before it happens.

See what a difference it will make in your life.

Read more about the Omer by clicking here.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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