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Rabbi's Blog

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

Are you a lamplighter?

Business is booming! Thank G-d we are blessed to help re-acquaint unaffiliated and disenfranchised Jews with their heritage. Thank G-d we are able to break some of the stigmas and help people get connected with their Jewish roots.

When I was a young child, 28 years ago on the third of Tammuz in 1994, The Rebbe - Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson passed away. At the time, all the pundits said Chabad is over! The New York Times reported, “Observers of the movement believe that some sort of leader will be needed if the movement is going to weather the factionalism…"

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach tried to create factions. However, the Talmud (Bava Basra 74a) tells of an Arab who showed Rabbah Bar Bar Chana where the ground opened and swallowed Korach’s family. Rabbah Bar Bar Chana heard the cries “Moshe Emes V’Toraso Emes V’Heim Badayim” - "Moshe is true and his Torah is true and we are liars".

28 years later, the Rebbe's vision continues to shine, but each and every one of us needs to sign up to join the movement.

How to ensure that the sparks of interest in Jewish life are fanned into a roaring fire that will never burn out?!

Be careful not to grab people by the throat and drag them to connect to Jewish life. Encourage them by schlepping them by their lapels.

Interestingly on the third of Tammuz in 1941, just days after the Rebbe (The son-in-law and eventual successor of the previous Rebbe) had arrived on the safe shores of America, the Previous Rebbe shared the following story:

The Rebbe prayed for many hours that Shabbat morning, as was his manner. In the meantime, the Chassidim recited kiddush and consumed a quantity of l’chaims. Later, when the Rebbe had finished and they sat with him to the Shabbat meal, Reb Yosef Yuzik asked:

Replied the Rebbe: “A Chassid is a lamplighter. The lamplighter walks the streets carrying a flame at the end of a pole. He knows that the flame is not his. And he goes from lamp to lamp to set them alight.”

Asked Reb Yosef Yuzik: “What if the lamp is in a desert?”

Continued the Chassid: “What if the lamp is at sea?”

For a long while the Rebbe thought. Then he said: “Yes, this is a Chassid.”

Answered the Rebbe: “That is because you are not a lamplighter.”

“First, you must reject the evil within yourself. Start with yourself: cleanse yourself, refine yourself, and you will see the lamp within your fellow. When a person is himself coarse, G‑d forbid, he sees coarseness;">Reb Yosef Yuzik then asked: “Is one to grab the other by the throat?”

Replied the Rebbe: “By the throat, no;">Each of us, needs to reject the evil within ourselves and work on ourselves, and then join the movement that the Rebbe encouraged.

Have an amazing Shabbos.


Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Are you a skeptic? - It’s time!

 Do you believe in miracles?

Is the good in your life just coincidence?

Are you skeptical when people tell you “your life is full of miracles”?

There was a friend of a Jew from Bulgaria who wrote to the Rebbe that his friend claimed that “when he sees miracles with his own eyes, he will become observant…”

The Rebbe responded: “Tell him this: Since you insist on being honest with yourself, take a good look at your own past, and you will recognize that you have already witnessed miracles and wonders. Do you really want to test G-d? Do you really want to be brought again into a place of mortal danger and have to be saved? You know very well the trauma that is experienced by being in danger, because you have been there. It is just the negative voice inside you trying to come up with an excuse to avoid observing G-d's commandments.”

The Rebbe then addressed the writer who would convey this message to his friend:

“The very fact that I write intimate details about the past of a Jew whom I have never met, that he was once in danger and was miraculously saved, should be proof enough for him to start putting on Tefillin, keeping kosher and observing Shabbos, immediately upon receiving this message.”

Regardless if you read this letter as a believer or as a skeptic, the Rebbe was right. Saying "I will be observant when I see miracles" is a cop out.

[As a believer: The Rebbe here openly admits to having prophetic vision. Reading the thoughts of a stranger, he knew that this unnamed Bulgarian Jew went through a traumatic life-threatening experience and supernaturally survived. The Rebbe showed him a miracle just by writing this letter!

As a skeptic: Everyone has a story, trauma, events in their past etc.]

If you are honest with yourself,  you too have experienced plenty of supernatural events in your personal life.

Stop making excuses. Your life is full of miracles. So, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to connect with Hashem on a deep meaningful level.

Hope to see you at Shul this Shabbos 😊.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Adapted from an article by Rabbi Aron Moss of Sydney, Australia

Shine a little light

When you wake up and start your day, do you shine? Do you give light and warmth to others? What about when the evening comes about, do you still allow that shine to give light?

We all have those days when we really do not want to shine. We have "cloudy" days. Real cloudy days when it is dark and ominous. Even on those days the sun shines and so should we. 

This week’s Parsha starts with the lighting of the menorah, reminding us to be a light. Just as the sun shines into the night and gives light to the moon, we too have the power to be a light even when seemingly obscured.

What can you do to shine this week?

Have a shining sweet Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. Are you into Jewish linguistics?

When the sun rises in the East (Mizrach), it shines (Zarach)
and continues to shine until it starts to set in the West (Maariv),
it becomes evening (Erev), making it harder to differentiate between the mixture (Eiruv) of right and wrong.

Since we have been shining all day, the nighttime and the moonlight can be sweet (Arev).

It's all about you!

Did you know that the English dictionary contains one word with secret powers?

It's a word that acts as an amplifier.

Add it to criticism, and the criticism will be much stronger. Add it to a compliment, and it can make someone's day!
The word is 'YOU.'

Try it yourself:

 

Suppose you are a teacher, and a student walks in late to class. Wanting to express your disapproval of this behavior, you tell him: "the class started five minutes ago!"

 

Most likely, the student will understand that what he did was not okay.

 

Now, try repeating it with the word 'you' in it.

 

"You are late!"

 

Oh wow. This sounds much scarier. I guess the student will think that the teacher is angry with them.

 

You can do the same with a compliment and get similar results.

 

Someone sent you a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, and you want to compliment them.

 

You can say, "the flowers were gorgeous!" I am sure they will appreciate hearing that.

 

Or you can say: "the flowers you bought me were gorgeous!" This will touch their heart deeper.

 

Too many people - me included! - tend to underuse the word 'you' when complimenting and overuse it when criticizing.

 

Remember this rule: Compliment with you, criticize without you 

According to Torah, we should do just the opposite!

 

Our Parsha contains the laws of Sotah (unfaithful wife). While discussing these laws, the Talmud makes the following statement:

 

"No human commits a sin unless a spirit of folly (Shtus) enters him!"

 

Think about this incredible statement. No human - no buts or ifs, simply no one - is committing a sin unless a spirit of folly enters them.

 

When a human thinks logically, they will never commit a sin. In other words, sins are simply a result of "losing it."

 

So when we criticize people, we speak about something they did, not who they are. In fact, they behaved this way only due to foolishness. For a moment, they lost sense of their true self and acted not in their own best interest.

 

But when we compliment, we talk about the good side of the people we communicate with. We speak about who they truly are.

 

May we always see the good side in everyone!

 

Have an amazing Shabbos,

 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

 

Pnimiyus

On Shavous we wish each other a Chag Sameach. The Lubavitcher Rebbe would add a special greeting: “Kabbalas HaTorah B’Simcha U’B’Pnimiyus”, may you receive the Torah with joy and in pnimiyus.

I often wonder what it means to receive the Torah with Pnimiyus.  Pnimiyus translates as inwardness or internally. This year I had an insight. When one receives the Torah with a joy that it permeates them and they feel like they have truly received a gift, then the Torah becomes a personal treasure, something they hold dear. 

A result of this perspective is that when it gets tough to feel joyous when observing the Torah commandments, we view and maintain the mitzvahs we do similar to other precious possessions, despite the effort involved and with joy.

All the gifts that we have in our lives take effort to maintain. Good relationships, our car, our health and our happiness, etc. all require effort to keep them functioning and meaningful.

The Rebbe’s blessing perhaps means to receive the Torah as a truly personal gift, in a way that it permeates our existence and naturally brings us joy to be able to maintain it regardless of the effort.

May we all be blessed to have a truly meaningful relationship with G-d and receive the Torah with joy and pnimiyus.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

P.S. Schedule for this weekend.

Shabbat
10:00 AM Services

Sunday
10:00 AM Services 
11:00 AM 10 Commandments followed by buffet and kiddush 
11:00 AM Kids Program followed by Ice Cream Party

Monday
5:30 PM Yizkor Memorial Service

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