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ב"ה

Rabbi's Blog

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

Did you buy the winning lottery ticket?

 

THE LOTTERY OF LIFE

By: Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman

The winning ticket was sold in Maryland! Did you win? That was a text I received last week from a friend.  - Rabbi Kushi

Imagine waking up each Monday and knowing that you have enough money to pretty much do whatever you want to in life and you don’t have to work.  Amazing! What a life! Could there be anything better?

In fact this is what happened to our ancestors in the desert.  Each morning they would wake up and there was Manna at the door or maybe a few feet away.  

You’d think, “What a blessing”?!

In fact our ancestors call it “a test” and a “starving”. No less than Moses uses this language.  How indeed?

***

One of the difficulties of these Covid days are the many unknowns and the anxiety it brings.  Will the vaccine work?  Will there be a new strain?  Can the kids go back to school?  When can we go back to normal socializing?  And we don’t have the answers.  Because, no one has the answers.  Time will tell.  This unknown however creates an opportunity to uncover our inner resilience and trust in G-d. 

As modern Jews in a more peaceful country with religious freedoms, we’ve been spared the challenges our ancestors have experienced that birthed this trust.  In these days of challenge however, the opportunity to uncover our inner trust in G-d has never been more pronounced.

Covid has created a challenge that can propel us forward or crush us.  We can recognize G-d’s hand in it and put our trust in the Above, or we can disconnect ourselves from that trust and be lost in our fear and anxiety. 

The Manna was the same but opposite (the other side of the same coin) in many ways.  The Manna didn’t require any effort, it was an unrestricted flow of G-d’s love.  A visible and obvious literal food from heaven.  But it also created a form of resentment.  We didn’t need to work for our food and so it felt like we were starving – nothing in, nothing out. It was indeed a test; could we maintain our commitment to our trust in G-d when we didn’t have any skin in the game?

Job says “Man was created to toil”. The Talmud says “we are day laborers”.  Clearly we need to have skin in the game.  But at the same time we need to realize that, that’s all we need to have in it.  We don’t control outcomes, we don’t control incomes, we don’t control anything at all except for our attitude and the choices we make.

This is the message of the Manna and the message of our time.  Nurture the trust in Hashem and the anxiety will dissipate.  As that occurs, we develop a stronger connection to G-d and find much greater peace in the challenges of the day.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman


Embrace Change

Most of us don't enjoy the change. Better to use my current phone and not get it updated, because I know how to use it.

I enjoy my Microsoft computer and regardless of how many people tell me to move to a mac, I stay with what I know. Perhaps just to avoid the change.

Change however is inevitable. When it happens, or when we are forced to make a change, we need to do what we can to make it a change for the positive.

The first mitzvah of the Torah, brought in this week’s Torah portion, is to bless the new month and to count the Jewish calendar according to the lunar cycle.

The lunar cycle is an integral part of the Jewish way of life.

I am not an astronomer, however it’s clear that the moon constantly changes. The sun, on the other hand, is overall steady.

That Hashem made this the first mitzvah that He gave to the Jewish people as a nation teaches us how important it is to embrace change.

Everything is always changing! As life continues, we can try to resist the changes, or we can embrace them. By embracing the vicissitudes of life and finding that they are a blessing for us, they end up being a positive change. The mind shift makes us and the world around us more connected to each other and to G-d Almighty.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

If you can name it, you can tame it.

I got a call this past week from a community member who was upset at another individual. They wanted my advice, which I gave. It is called patience.

I advised to make sure the "offender" is aware that they crossed a line. 

Then you need to give some time to allow the offender to make amends, to apologize.  It can take some time until they get the guts to apologize. 

In therapy, there is a concept called processing. You identify what happened, you process it, and then you choose your path forward. It's difficult to process when you are "in it". Once you are "past it", you can then figure out your path forward.

“If you can name it, you can tame it.”

One of the jobs of a therapist is to help the client who is stuck to process an issue, to identify which emotions are blocking their client’s recovery. Why is their client "stuck"?

We find this with Moses and pharaoh. Pharaoh was the epitome of evil in his day. G-d told Moses, "I have made you a Lord over Pharaoh". How did Moses tame Pharaoh? By calling him out for who he is, while channeling G-d.

When we bump into negativity in our own life, we can use the same tool.

  1. Identify what it is, give it a name (Pharaoh?)
  2. Recognize that you are the lord, the master over the evil
  3. Channel G-d and 
  4. Tell it to the evil. I am in charge of you, you cannot control me

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Leadership!

Leadership is something that is an anomaly. The first thing about a true leader is that they do not want to be a leader, they want to live their life in peace. They are blessed with talents from G-d and people end up gravitating toward them. They are then asked to be a leader and they hesitate, ‘I'd rather not’.

We find this type of leadership when Moses started out. He was already a leader when he defended the underdog and needed to run for his life (Exodus 2:11–12)! However, when G-d asked him to go and "take the children of Israel out of Egypt", Moses responds: "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh"? (Exodus 3:11)

When a delegation of elder Chassidim in 1950 came with a petition accepting Rabbi M.M. Schneerson as their Rebbe, he placed his head in his hands and began to cry. "Please, leave me alone," he begged. "This has nothing to do with me." It was only after a complete year of such episodes that the Rebbe finally accepted the position. Even then, it was with a condition: "I will help," the Rebbe announced, "but each of you must carry out your own mission. Don't expect to hang on to the fringes of my prayer shawl."

Earlier this week, I had a moment. A situation I became aware of and I am thankful to everyone in the community who stepped up! I got a call Monday morning about 3 girls who needed clothing. The community got them clothing, hygiene products, gift cards, etc. All I had to do was be the facilitator. It got to a point where they said enough, we can't handle the amount of kindness coming our way.

Every person who gave, from offering services to money, clothing, food, etc. to those who said a prayer for the girls is a leader. They had the talent and resources to provide what they can. They would have rathered the situation not present itself, but ultimately, they stepped up to lead when duty called!

See how you can continue to be a good leader today?

Have an amazing Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

PS There is a quote attributed to the Rebbe (I don't know the source) that resonates with me: A true leader does not seek followers; he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want to control; he wants the truth. He does not impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone’s autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible. He is the first to arrive in a time of need, and will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.

Leadership!

Leadership is something that is an anomaly. The first thing about a true leader is that they do not want to be a leader, they want to live their life in peace. They are blessed with talents from G-d and people end up gravitating toward them. They are then asked to be a leader and they hesitate, ‘I'd rather not’.

We find this type of leadership when Moses started out. He was already a leader when he defended the underdog and needed to run for his life (Exodus 2:11–12)! However, when G-d asked him to go and "take the children of Israel out of Egypt", Moses responds: "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh"? (Exodus 3:11)

When a delegation of elder Chassidim in 1950 came with a petition accepting Rabbi M.M. Schneerson as their Rebbe, he placed his head in his hands and began to cry. "Please, leave me alone," he begged. "This has nothing to do with me." It was only after a complete year of such episodes that the Rebbe finally accepted the position. Even then, it was with a condition: "I will help," the Rebbe announced, "but each of you must carry out your own mission. Don't expect to hang on to the fringes of my prayer shawl."

Earlier this week, I had a moment. A situation I became aware of and I am thankful to everyone in the community who stepped up! I got a call Monday morning about 3 girls who needed clothing. The community got them clothing, hygiene products, gift cards, etc. All I had to do was be the facilitator. It got to a point where they said enough, we can't handle the amount of kindness coming our way.

Every person who gave, from offering services to money, clothing, food, etc. to those who said a prayer for the girls is a leader. They had the talent and resources to provide what they can. They would have rathered the situation not present itself, but ultimately, they stepped up to lead when duty called!

See how you can continue to be a good leader today?

Have an amazing Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

PS There is a quote attributed to the Rebbe (I don't know the source) that resonates with me: A true leader does not seek followers; he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want to control; he wants the truth. He does not impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone’s autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible. He is the first to arrive in a time of need, and will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.

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