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Rabbi's Blog

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

Don't Assume! They actually love you more!

Speak to Aaron and say to him: "When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah." Number Ch.8 v.2

Why is the portion dealing with the menorah juxtaposed to the portion dealing with the chieftains? For when Aaron saw the dedication of the chieftains, he felt distressed over not joining them in this dedication - neither he nor his tribe. So, G-d said to him, “By your life, yours is greater than theirs, for you will light and prepare the lamps.” Rashi

The midrash offers a parable: To what is the matter comparable? To a king who made a banquet and each day invited various artisans. He had a certain friend who loved him exceedingly, but he did not invite him along with them. The friend developed depressing thoughts: Perhaps the king harbors something against me in his heart. Maybe, it is for this reason that the king has not invited me to any of the feasts. When the days of the feast has passed the king called the friend and said to him: For all the people of the province I made that feast, but for you only I am making one single feast for yourself. Why? Because you are my friend.

Aaron the high priest was a loving kind individual. He made peace between so many people. In Jewish tradition, most of the Jewish leaders were infallible. However, Aaron was distressed; why was I excluded from the dedication?

In life, we at times make assumptions of reasons why we were excluded from some event, party, get together, etc. We get distressed that we weren't invited, that we were blocked on FB or some other issue.

But often the truth is that the person who didn't invite you is because they want to have a private meeting with you. Their relationship is one where FB or some other channel isn't real enough for them.

My offer to meet people for a coffee or beer occasionally gets rejected. “Rabbi, I don't want to meet.” Is it personal? I can assume that the reason is because they do not like me, or they have an erroneous preconception about me. But perhaps it is because they do like me, yet they prefer a different type of friendship.

Which assumptions do you make about people that perhaps you are misunderstanding?

Aaron made some assumptions about G-d, and G-d, who is all knowing, knew what he was thinking and debunked the myth. Your friend might need to be told that you feel slighted so they can make it right.

Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

↑lift others

Yesterday, I met with someone from Harford County. He is not Jewish and is researching how minority groups are discriminated against and was wondering about anti-Semitism.

One of his questions started to lean toward politics, he started by mentioning one of the large political parties in the US and insinuated certain things about people with those political beliefs.

My response, was that I take issue with their trying to bring me into alignment with politics. My job as a Rabbi is to uplift and to make Judaism relevant. My job as a Rabbi is to not allow politics or other agenda’s to overpower my agenda in enhancing the spiritual life for people in Harford County. 

The first words in this week’s Torah portion are “The L-rd spoke to Moses saying. Take a census…” the Hebrew word for “Take a census…” is “Naaso” which also means to uplift. 

Moses is the archetype of a good Jewish leader. The job and responsibility of a Jewish leader is to uplift. 

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks OB’M, the former chief Rabbi of Great Britain once said: most leaders make followers, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe made leaders. 

Each and every one of us is a leader. We each have our own opinions about certain political issues. However, as leaders we need to focus on our main mission; to uplift to See others who are down and lift them up.

Have a good Shabbos.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

I’ll leave you with a story from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  

Rabbi Yosef Weinberg enjoyed a close working relationship with the Lubavitcher Rebbe for more than forty years, from when the Rebbe assumed the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch in 1951. The Rebbe devoted many hours each week to reviewing and commenting on the weekly Tanya lessons that Rabbi Weinberg broadcast over the radio, and advised Rabbi Weinberg on his multi-faceted activities on behalf of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah and his other communal work.

Rabbi Weinberg tells of one incident that, to him, expresses the Rebbe’s boundless commitment to the welfare of his people. “I once had an extremely urgent matter to convey to the Rebbe,” recalls Rabbi Weinberg, “but it was late at night, and the Rebbe’s secretariat was already closed. I noticed that the light in the Rebbe’s room was on, so I did something that I would never have dared to do had the matter not been so urgent: I slipped a letter under the Rebbe’s door.

“It was several minutes before I realized the implications of what I had done: the Rebbe would have to bend down to pick up my letter from the floor! How could I possibly have done such a thing! But the deed was done, and there was nothing I could now do to prevent its consequences.

“On the next occasion that I was received by the Rebbe in yechidut (private audience), I said to him that I had done something that I deeply regretted and I hoped that the Rebbe would forgive me. I then profusely apologized for having caused the Rebbe to bend down in order to pick up my letter.

“When I finished speaking, the Rebbe looked straight at me and said: ‘But that is my job—to bend down in order to help another Jew.’”

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber

Are we so different?

Hey, you are so different from me! We have different opinions on politics, food, G-d, and we have different circles of friends. 

Yet we are so similar! We both want the country to be healthy, happy, and free and we want to have friends. We both want our food to nourish us and for there to be a designer so there is order in the world.

Many of us are currently glued to the screen; what is going on in Israel? Are my family and friends safe? We may have different opinions on the politics of the issues, but we all are very much the same in hoping for true peace in the middle east.

The Jewish people are one! But we are also each different and have different opinions. At the very beginning of the week, Israeli politics were on regular topics; who will form the next government? Now, the ‘silver lining’ is that most people are focused on safety and security, namely, the things that unify us.

Let us not wait to celebrate our uniqueness and simultaneously celebrate our oneness.

As we prepare to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when the Jewish people camped at the foot of Mount Sinai, like one person with one heart, let us remember that we are one! One Land, One People, One Torah. Let’s accept our gift, our inheritance and the Torah we committed to.

Join us 5:30 on Monday to renew our vow to G-d to remain connected.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. Tuesday from 10:00-12:00 we will be hosting services with the Yizkor memorial service at the shul 15 N. Bond St Bel Air, MD 21014

Is there enough money to go around?

My grandfather’s Yahrzeit was this past week. He emigrated to the US from Zhlobin, Russia via France. He worked hard and became a printer to make ends meet. Thank Gd he succeeded!

My grandfather worried about finances. He worried if he would be able to put bread on the table.

This worry was not something unique to him. Many people of that generation worried about similar things. Some worried if they don’t work on Shabbos, will they have a job on Sunday. Others worried that they wouldn’t find a job. Many people today have similar worries.

My grandfather became a printer and worked hard raising an amazing family. You can meet my cousins all around the world :); from Cambodia to Israel, from California to the New York island.

This week’s Torah portion begins with the laws of Shemitah, the agricultural sabbatical year. The Jews had similar worries: “What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!"

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once chided my grandfather saying that these worries are similar to the serpent from the Garden of Eden.  G-d said to the serpent, "Because you have done this ... you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” And the serpent worried, what will happen when the dust runs out?

So what is the answer? Is there enough to go around?

Yes!

The answer is that while we each need to try to get a job and make a vessel for G-d’s blessings, the blessing itself comes from G-d and following G-d’s mitzvot! As the verses continues, “ I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years. And you will sow in the eighth year, while [still] eating from the old crops until the ninth year; until the arrival of its crop, you will eat the old [crop].”

What do you worry about? Is it something that trusting in G-d can assist with?

This is truth. Trusting in G-d helps us recognize that the worry is foolish. Truth is also that not worrying is not always easy. We need to try and do our best.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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