Rabbi's Blog

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

Blessings of a Baby

Thank you for all the mazel tov wishes on the birth of our son, this past Monday. We are looking forward to seeing those of you who could make it to the bris this upcoming Monday.

We also wish a mazel tov to Michael and Robyn Barnett who are sponsoring this week’s kiddush in honor of their granddaughter’s baby naming (Shabbos @10 am).

The traditional blessing after the birth of a child is "May you raise him/her to Torah, the marriage canopy, and good deeds/kindness".

This blessing contains many hidden messages. Among them is to be like our forefathers Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. There is meaning to the order in which the blessing is given; first Torah, then marriage, then good deeds/kindness.

Kindness represent charity, giving to others. This must be prefaced by boundaries, like a wedding canopy where the bride and groom commit to the boundaries of marriage. However, boundaries are not arbitrary, they must be based on Torah – G-d given values.

Each child is a blessing. I pray for our children, and all of our community, that we set a good foundation of Torah values, which informs the boundaries that are set in order for us to be generous to all who we come in contact with.

Have a good Shabbos.


Forgive me!

We all make mistakes.

Sometimes we slip up and offend people that we love.


Many years ago I saw this picture of a sign in a flower shop saying:
How mad is she?
A. Small flower
B. Bigger bouquet etc.


It is a joke, although probably good marketing to someone who is looking to correct a misdeed.

The book of Leviticus, which we begin to read this Shabbos, mostly covers the sacrifices that we would bring to Hashem. Among which are the sacrifices brought for seeking forgiveness from Hashem.

Why does G-d forgive?

Because we are His children. The love a parent has for their child is unconditional, regardless of his behavior. Similarly, G-d’s love for the Jewish people is so intense that He does not differentiate between Himself and them. G-d’s essential connection with His children remains strong and even when they make an egregious mistake, he forgives them.

Why should we forgive? Because we should learn from G-d's example.

Our love for our fellow should be so strong that when they hurt us by mistake, we should forgive them wholeheartedly. Doing it for ourselves because of our inherent connection to them.

When we make a mistake to our fellow, the question shouldn't be "How mad is she?" but how has this affected our relationship and how can I repair it? Which "sacrifices" do I need to make to awaken the deep connection between us and be forgiven.

With G-d, we ask which mitzvah (from the word connection), with a person we look for which connection behavior will reaffirm our relationship.

Have a connected Shabbos,


It's OK that you are not perfect, it's by design.


We are not perfect.

The Jewish people are tasked with being a light onto the nations. Every Jew is a part of this mission, simply by being part of the Jewish people.

By being a light onto the nations, we make the world a place where G-d is comfortable. None of us are too high or too low on the ladder of spiritual status to work together with another.

A community is a group of individuals. Each and every individual is essential to the community. Just as every detail of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was essential to its operation, so too each and every one of us are essential to this mission of operating a G-dly world.

We are all unique. We each bring our individuality and intrinsic worth to the world. However, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Just like two people can lift more than the sum of each one separately, we are also better together when identifying with the entire Jewish people as a whole. The individual parts of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) did not begin to function until the Mishkan was completed. The same way, we can't really transform the world until we are all doing it together.

Lastly, and dare I say most importantly, the Torah instructs how to build the Mishkan and then repeats those instructions when the Jewish people actually built it. The Torah repeats itself to show us that even though implementation might be different then the perfect G-d given plan, the imperfect version is where G-d’s presence rested. So too, despite our own shortcomings and imperfections, we should never feel too inadequate to fulfill what G-d wants, as G-d wants us with our blemishes.

It was the real-world imperfect Mishkan that the people built that G-d chose to dwell in. Being imperfect is not only ok and part of the G-d designed nature and reality we live in, it is where G-d wants to live. In our imperfection!

If we act with warmth, sincerity, and enthusiasm, G-d crowns our efforts with success and dwells in the Tabernacle that we build for Him in the way we live our lives.

So don't be perfect. Join your fellow Jews in building the best home for G-d.

Have a good G-dly Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Don't observe Judaism?

Don't observe Judaism, celebrate it! - Shlomo Schwartz AKA Schwartzie

One can look at the tasks required to raise healthy, independent children (cleaning, cooking, diaper changing and bed making etc.) as chores, as things I have to do. Alternatively, one can look at them as something to celebrate! If I choose to celebrate raising children than I am not cleaning, I am raising children who are responsible, I am not making beds, I am creating a generation that values being neat.

When we treat the tasks we need to do with an excitement and happiness, those who look up to us want to follow in this path. When we view it as a chore, we risk imparting the feeling of "do as much of it as we absolutely have to to survive" and "get away with as little as you can".

The same thing is with Judaism. When we just observe Judaism, without celebrating it, we sometimes do as little as we can get away with. Think about the message we are giving off?  Is it how little observance can I get away with "observing Judaism" and still say I am involved? What is the minimum I can get away with? Can I get away with less?

However, when we celebrate Judaism, while we may be doing the same mitzvah, it's a whole different experience. The celebrating of the mitzvah shows us, and those around us, that Judaism isn't something imposed upon us, but an expression of ourselves, our inner core. We are showing how to celebrate Judaism as much as we can! After all, if my soul wants to celebrate Judaism, and my soul is my core identity, who doesn't want to celebrate themselves.

So focus on the JOY instead of the OY!

Have a great Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman
P.S. to sum it up, replace “S’iz shver tzu zein a Yid” (It’s hard to be a Jew) with “S’iz gut tzu zein a Yid” (It’s good to be a Jew).

“S’iz shver tzu zein a Yid” was coined in 1920 Yiddish-language comedy play by Sholom Aleichem and the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged people to replace it with with “S’iz gut tzu zein a Yid” 

What are you wearing?

The effects of a person’s attire have been studied outside the doctor’s office. Clothing have been claimed to have some influence over numerous factors.  Most notably, it is clear across a number of contexts, that more formal attire generates an impression of status and power. 

This week's Torah portion talks about the clothing that is worn by the Kohen in the Holy Temple during the performance of their duties. These clothing were specific to their service, and not worn at other times.

Different clothing are worn at different occasions and circumstances. From PPE in the hospital to jeans when working in the field. The clothing we wear tells others a lot about us.

One needs to ask themselves:

  • What am I wearing? 
  • What is the message that my clothing is giving off? 
  • How do my externals affect what’s going on inside?
  • How do my externals reveal what’s going on inside? 
  • Are there times that I need to dress differently to help me act differently?

In the Kabalistic terminology: our thoughts, speech and action are like clothing. They are external and can be changed liked clothing.  

  • What are we thinking about? 
  • What are we speaking about? 
  • What are we doing? 

Which of those need to be changed or modified to make sure that they are in line with the person who we are and the person that we want to be?

Looking forward to seeing what you choose to wear this Purim😉

Have an amazing Shabbos!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

Here is a quote from the book Positivity Bias which shows how the words we use shape our internal.

"The Rebbe consistently sought to avoid locutions that expressed attitudes of contempt, derision, or negative judgment. Even more strikingly, he would actively rephrase common words and colloquial phrases that many of us speak or write without a second thought.

For instance, he disliked the word deadline, with its connection to death, preferring due date, with its connotation of birth. He wouldn’t call a spiritual getaway a retreat, because “retreat” connotes regression and surrender; in the Rebbe’s playbook, there was only one direction: onward and upward. He didn’t “undertake” projects, possibly because he saw a connotation to half-heartedness in the prefix under or because he associated the word undertaker with death."

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