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Rabbi's Blog

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

Use your talents - Woman of the year

Shternie Wolff Woman of the Year

My Cousin Rabbi Binyamin Wolff, suddenly passed away two years ago from a blood infection. His wife Shternie Wolff, 44 years old, was just chosen as "Woman of the Year" in Saxony, Germany's fourth largest state, by that state's largest newspaper. 

Shternie was born in Israel and is a Chabad emissary in Hanover. She continues the work with seven children at home, in addition to another daughter and her husband who recently moved in as well. She runs a Chabad house that hums with constant activity and she has become a significant local figure among Jews and non-Jews alike.

She has been sharing a message "The building of the Mishkan, the spiritual center of the nation during its sojourn in the desert, is described in this weeks Torah  portion. The Torah praises the efforts of the children of Israel in their construction of the Mishkan, with emphasis on the part played by the women through their alacrity and diligence. 

The women in the desert were highly gifted seamstresses, and demonstrated their talent and creativity in the sewing and embroidering of the Mishkan tapestries.

Our talents were given to us not only for personal development, but also to be utilized for the benefit of others, to increase light and holiness, to make the entire world into a Mishkan - a home - for Gd.

Shternie share that this message is for everyone, but especially for women, and particularly for this generation of women.

This is my mission in Germany and I am happy to accept this honor.

However, to utilize our special abilities in order to transform the world into a place of goodness and kindness is the mission of every one of us."

May we all take this message to heart and use our talents for good.

Have a good Shabbos.

Adapted by Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

from an article by Sivan Rahav-Meir which was translated by Yehoshua Siskin.

been there done that

 The Weekly Torah class takes place on Wednesday evenings. I do not teach the class (although I do come as a student). One of the benefits of having Mr. Michael Barnett teach the class is that he was not always observant. He has the perspective of the students and knows what it means to drive on shabbat or eat non-kosher. He was once there.

Upon seeing the Jewish people worshiping the golden calf, Moses throws down the tablets in anger. The Talmud tells us that anger is akin to idol worship.

Why would Moses get angry? Because he wanted to "be there", to truly "get it" and understand what it means to have experienced "idol worship" in a subtle form. In this way, he would be in a better position to help the Jews rehabilitate themselves.

The same thing happens with Esther in the megillah. She ensures that all the Jews are included in the miracle, even those who attended the party of Achashverosh. Esther knew their challenge and was able to empathize. Perhaps they didn't want to sin yet the temptation was too strong. Living in the house of Achashverosh, Esther understood the challenge of kosher, Shabbos etc. Esther knew how hard it was to withstand the test.

When you see someone doing something wrong and you want to guide them and help them heal, ensure you have the tools to understand them in a personal way. You can only guide, lead and if need be, chastise, if you've been there yourself.

This is the deeper secret we must understand. If we haven't walked that proverbial mile in another person's shoes, we dare not judge them. We must recognize that it is something we cannot relate to that led another to this place where they are.

It is only through love and understanding that we will ever be able to connect and identify. Holding a space in our hearts, allows them to see a kindred spirit there to help, and not a judging preacher there to lecture.

Try out our weekly class (email me to add you to the weekly class email) or just join us in person at Chabad or on zoom at www.harfordchabad.org/tszoom Wednesdays at 7:30 PM .

At the weekly class you can ask any question and the teacher knows what you are going through, he has been there.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

What are you wearing?

Have you ever decided to just lounge around the house? Nowhere to go, so why get dressed? And sure enough you felt that way?

Or, you really were not in the mood to go out but you got all dressed up and voila, you got into the mood.

There are studies that tell us that patients are more likely to consider doctors trustworthy and knowledgeable if they are wearing the traditional white coat over formal clothing.

This week’s Torah portion is all about the Kohen’s (descendants of Aaron who serve in the holy temple) uniform.

We all play a role in doing what the holy temple did, bringing G-dliness into this physical world, uniting the spiritual and the physical.

What are we wearing? Do we dress the part? Do we convey to others that “this is what I do”?

According to Jewish mysticism, clothing is our thought speech and action. Inside we might be struggling to be content or happy, (sometimes you need therapy) yet we can think, talk, and act happy anyway. Like clothing, we are in control of our thoughts, speech, and actions.

The Kohen must dress the part of his specific role. Do we act the part of our role, or do we allow our insides to always show on the outside?

The best way is to always act as our best self. To dress the part.

Ask yourself, what am I wearing and what am I telling myself and others when I wear this.

Have an amazing Shabbos.

No services at Chabad this week.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

I can't ask for help, can you help me?

I needed help. I asked for it. However, it was very hard for me!

Can you relate?

Why is it hard to ask for help?

Being on the receiving end requires the humility and vulnerability of recognizing that we can't do everything ourselves. In order to gain the most, we need to be willing to make space and a "bowl" to receive.

When our plate is full, there is no place for blessings or for others to connect and be involved.

When we make space, when we are humble and selfless, we allow ourselves to receive.

When we are selfless, we change from being the boss to being the leader. When we are selfless, we can say to G-d "you have anointed my head with oil, my cup is full"; we gave G-d a place to pour the oil, and He filled the vessel.

Naturally, we want to be selfish at times. Yet, the most selfish thing one can do is be selfless. The only caveat is to ensure that selfless doesn't mean non-existence. You need to have a self which you make selfless. You need to take care of yourself, but it shouldn't be only about you.

If it's not about you (and your ego), but about your purpose and the things which are greater than me and you, then asking for help becomes effortless and you end up as the leader. Whether it is help to perpetuate your life mission, company mission, or a G-d given mission.

In short, want to be selfish? Be selfless.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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