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Updated: Mar 27

Join us again for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, March 27, 7 pm (see announcements below)


Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Rabbi Sherril shares about Vayikra in a Time of Coronavirus:

March 26, 2020

In the Torah scroll, the first word in the book of Leviticus, vayikra, is written with the last letter, the aleph, appearing much smaller than the other letters. Torah commentators love to expound on the reasons for this. Many feel that this miniaturize letter was an allusion to the humility of Moses, who felt unworthy of direct contact with the divine.

Others see in this small aleph an allusion to the Kabbalistic notion of tzimtzum, GD’s contraction of the infinite into the finite in order to make the divine accessible to living beings. According to the Kabbalists, creation began with the formation of a primordial vacuum – a space within which the finite realm might come into being. When the will arose in GD to create the world, GD pulled back into GDself and withdrew in order to leave an unoccupied space within which the creative process could unfold.

Without this tzimtzum, this pulling back, there would have been no room for anything finite or separate to exist, because everything would have been obliterated by the immense light of the Infinite One. The withdrawal of this light was seen by the Kabbalists as an act of love, because it created the space for the world to come into existence.

Do you see the parallels with the times we are living in? Joanna Macy, the philosopher and deep ecologist, calls this time The Great Turning. She writes that a “revolution is occurring, bringing unparalleled changes in the way we see and think and relate. It is an epochal shift from a self-destructive industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society.”

We are now in a time where we are being called to do personal tzimtzum. This act of retreating and withdrawing for a period of time has introduced many of us to new ways to interacting and relating and connecting. With these new practices, we are discovering the courage, commitment and communities we need to change our lives and move into action for the healing of the world.

Already, in the short amount of time that we have been self-isolating, we see that lakes and rivers and streams are recovering, and air quality is improved due to reduced use of vehicles and less industrial air pollution. Already we see so many of our neighbours and friends going for daily walks in the fresh air, which has been facilitated by the fact that spring has arrived.

This same process holds true for all kinds of relationships. In a healthy relationship, we need to be ready to do tzimtzum from time to time, to pull back, and provide “space” for the other. This pulling back is an act of love for ourselves and the planet. It means that we are choosing life. It means that we are making the choice to ensure that our world is livable.

And Joanna Macy acknowledges that to choose life in this time is a mighty adventure. As people in all countries and walks of life are discovering, this adventure elicits more courage and enlivening solidarity than any military campaign.

We are being called to take extraordinary measures at this time, and to do things that are difficult. For example, Passover is approaching, and with it, the prospect of celebrating either alone or in our nuclear groupings. The right seder for you this year might involve matzah with cream cheese, a good book, and sleep. That might be all you’re up for, and that is totally okay.


Or there are options springing up for doing the seder online with a virtual community, such as via Skype or Zoom. Whatever form your Passover observance takes, know that this year the ideas of freedom from oppression and looking forward to leaving the narrow places takes on new meaning.


Dear friends, we are in a time of doing tzimtzum right now and this time is extraordinary. You need to believe that the choices you make right now, today, and tomorrow will have a deep and lasting impact on the world. Do the right thing. Take care of yourself, use this precious time well, let yourselves be sad if you need to, reach out to one another through all the marvelous media we have available to us, and please remember to be kind to all the essential services angels among us.


Rabbi Sherril shares a Prayer for Healing: May the One who blessed our ancestors Bless all those who put themselves at risk to care for the sick: Physicians and nurses and orderlies Patient transporters, hospital cleaning staff, and security guards, Technicians and home health aides, EMTs and pharmacists Who navigate the unfolding dangers of the world each day, To tend to those they have sworn to help.

[And bless especially  ________ who is in  need of healing.] Bless them in their coming home and bless them in their going out. Ease their fear. Sustain them. Source of all breath, healer of all beings, Protect them and restore their hope. Strengthen them, that they may bring strength; Keep them in health, that they may bring healing. Help them know again a time when they can breathe without fear. Bless the sacred work of their hands. May this plague pass from among us, speedily and in our days. --- Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, March 2020


Cantor Heather shares a wonderful article about Dr. Ilana Sherer, an amateur Klezmer who works to support transgender kids:


https://www.jweekly.com/2020/03/23/qa-a-pediatrician-who-helps-trans-kids-and-moonlights-playing-klezmer/?fbclid=IwAR2bU-e50ASLoALLxxCDz6ZyU9wiIKsuz32xwzpDKcSejO26vW5_EVGW5Xk


Cantor Heather shares a very sweet musical clip that you might enjoy:

Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Neshama Carlebach singing Eshet Chayil together.

https://www.facebook.com/watchparty/2820877957994924/?entry_source=FEED

(Link only seems to work on laptops/desktops, not mobiles.)


Rabbi Sherril shares a a fantastic set of Passover resources:


For you whether you will be alone, on Zoom or with your immediate family

https://18doors.org/additional_passover_resources/?fbclid=IwAR11f2_5Wv6pVzgdi9zT2wK3tcRt6UyFm7Q1wjna1Dx2LsH-I6SEHCF5OIQ


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home


Friday March 27, 6-7 pm

Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.

Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month...stay tuned for new dates


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month...stay tuned for new dates


* Ways to help others at this time via Federation.


* Cantor Heather shares: For those who miss boogying down, Virtual Disco will be holding a digital disco this coming Saturday night 9pm-11pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/1785879484882472/


* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:

https://www.facebook.com/events/230396461436916/



* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

Join us for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, March 20, 6-6:30 pm (see announcements below)


Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Rabbi Sherril reflects on Shabbat, from Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei:


Vayak’heyl Moshe / And Moses gathered the children of Israel and said to them, "these are the things that G!d has commanded:


sheshet yamim ta’aseh melachah / for six days work shall be done,

uva-yom hash’vi-i yih’yeh lakhem kodesh / but the seventh day must be holy to you,

Shabbat Shabbaton l’Adoshem / it is a Shabbat Shabbaton to Hashem...".


This is from the Torah reading for this week, in which Moses assembles the community to give them their final instructions for building the Sanctuary. But before he does that, he first tells them that there must be a holy rhythm to their lives, and that rhythm is Shabbat.

For six days we work at building the Mishkan, and on the seventh day we are invited enter into that holy dwelling and simply receive the Divine flow.


We are blessed with the knowledge and the wisdom that rest and reflection are absolutely necessary for the success of this project.


With the introduction and progression of the novel Coronavirus in the world, some of us are overwhelmed with new or expanded responsibilities for ourselves and our families – such as ensuring we have income and necessary supplies, and ensuring our loved ones stay safe and occupied. Others of us find ourselves with new possibilities, with more time to use creatively. Our world has changed, and it is impacting each of us in different ways.


But one thing we know for sure, and that is that Shabbat will come. Shabbat waits for us every seven days, whether or not we notice. That’s not going to change. Our teacher, Rabbi Marcia Prager, says that when we experience Shabbat, we are actually turning on or opening a faucet of blessing, which, once open, then flows down to irrigate the whole thirsty world.

Think of all the sorrow, fractures, overwhelm, emptiness, uncertainty, and spiritual and emotional thirst in the world. And then recognize that when we open ourselves to Shabbat, and allow it to work in and through us, we become channels for the shefa, the flow of blessing, that can quench that thirst.


Shabbat is restorative. In these challenging times, I wonder if you are able to make space in your life to pause for a little while, and just be in the sweet energy of Shabbat eve? This is an invitation to slow down, to breathe, to notice and appreciate the blessings you already have. Can you do that?


And if you find that challenging in some way, this is an invitation to be in touch with your clergy team. We are here to listen, and to support you.


With love and blessings from

Rabbi Sherril, Rabbi Schachar, and Cantor Heather


Cantor Heather’s resource list for staying healthy and sane:


With the generous support of the Shaare Zion Sisterhood, I have moved my Meditation and Middot class to a free online format for the rest of March. Here is a link to the invite:


The Institute for Jewish Spirituality has a number of wonderful online resources for Torah Study and mindfulness, including a wonderful daily meditation session at 12:30pm.


Back in February the NY Times website produce a series of “6 minute work-outs” — bonus the accompanying video feature models with adorably normal body types):


Modo Yoga in NDG is offering free online classes. Check them out on Instagram


Cantor Heather shares a pro-tip:


Covid 19 is not transmittable by eye contact, smiling, causal waves or friendly nods.


Cantor Heather shares a quote:


Caution is the balancing point between panic and recklessness.


Reb Sherril shares a quote:


“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home


Friday March 20, 6-630 pm

Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.

Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month...stay tuned for new dates


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month...stay tuned for new dates


Ways to help others at this time via Federation.



* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

Shalom,

Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.


Rabbi Sherril shares a deep teaching on our parasha from Rabbi Steve Silvern, who interprets Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (c. 1810):


Degel Machaneh Ephraim on Ki Tisa

Regarding, "I have filled him with divine inspiration, with wisdom, ... to conceive schemes...in cutting stones for setting and in carving wood to engage in all manner of work." (Ki Tisa, 31:3-6) 


This is an example of [teaching]. A person who is scholarly is not able to learn with babes and a person who is not learned is not able to learn with scholars, rather each according to their ability. But the person who has true wisdom and clings to it is able to learn with everyone and each person is able to learn and receive from that one according to their ability. 

This was the wisdom of King Solomon, peace be upon him, as it is written in his regard, "He spoke to the trees and to the stones." (Kings I, 5:13) That is to say he was able to speak even with someone who had a heart of stone, as it is written, "I shall remove the heart of stone," (Ezekiel, 36:26) including one with a heart of stone. 

This is the meaning of "I have filled him with divine inspiration, with wisdom," that he truly clung to the wisdom and he was able to learn with everyone. 


This is the meaning of, "cutting stones" that is to say even with one with a heart of stone or one with a considerate heart. Therefore the text used the word carving because its meaning is the skillful cutting of wood, that is to say that he clung to his thought as he continually carved wood, that is to say the Torah which is known at the Tree of Life. He truly clung to his wisdom, as above, and therefore he was able to learn with everyone and his words entered even the one with a heart of stone, as above. 

The MOS Clergy team shares a Covid10 message:

Dear One,

The clergy team of Montreal Open Shul is actively monitoring the news and information available about the unfolding Covid19 situation. We are reviewing the ways we gather, and trying to imagine safe ways to be together and to continue our community-building work. We are in awe of the ways that we get to interact and connect with you, and feel so incredibly privileged to be doing this holy work. We will keep you posted on our thoughts and actions during these unsettling, unraveling times. In the meantime, dear ones, please wash your hands, and reach out by phone, text and messenger to each other, especially those who already are practicing social distancing for health reasons. We are here with you and for you. Please reach out to any one us if you feel the need to connect. 


With love and blessings for sustained health in these challenging times,

Rabbi Schachar, Cantor Heather, and Rabbi Sherril

Cantor Heather is still in Purim state-of-mind and enjoying this Barry Sister classic:

Vyoch Tyoch Tyoch


Cantor Heather recommends this informative and timely program on the history of pandemics.


Rabbi Schachar shares some ancient and timely wisdom from this week's parsha, Ki Tisa (courtesy of Rabbi Ben Newman):


"וְרָחֲצ֛וּ יְדֵיהֶ֥ם וְרַגְלֵיהֶ֖ם וְלֹ֣א יָמֻ֑תוּ וְהָיְתָ֨ה לָהֶ֧ם חָק־עוֹלָ֛ם ל֥וֹ וּלְזַרְע֖וֹ לְדֹרֹתָֽם׃

They shall wash their hands and feet, that they may not die. It shall be a law for all time for them and their progeny throughout the ages." (Exodus 30:21)


Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --


* Shabbat Mindfulness Meditation Circle, postponed until post-pandemic.


* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month.


* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month.



* Let us know if you have something that you would like us to include in the 5-Point Parasha (by Wednesday of the week)


*Did you know that you can donate to MOS and receive a tax receipt from Aleph Canada? Go to the Aleph Canada page on Canada Helps and us the drop down menu under "APPLY YOUR DONATION TO A SPECIFIC FUND SET UP BY THIS CHARITY" to select Montreal Open Shul.


PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS

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