MOS 5-Point Parasha - Bo 5780

* Reminder: Restorative Shabbat Experience, Friday, February 7.


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 offers a quick summary of Parashat Bo:

The Torah reading for this week is chock-full of action, grandly dramatic scenarios, and mitzvot - commandments. We read about the last three of the ten plagues, swarms of locusts, deep, paralyzing darkness, and the killing of the Egyptians’ first-born sons. GD gives over the first mitzvah to the people of Israel, which is to establish a calendar based on the monthly rebirth of the moon. We also get the mitzvot of the holy vessels: tefillin and mezuzah. And it’s in this reading that the Passover story unfolds, including the commandment to eat matzah.

Rabbi Sherril reflects on Parashat Bo:

THE PARSHA OPENS with GD speaking to Moshe, saying the words “Bo! Come to Pharaoh” (Ex. 10:1). The Midrash teaches that Moshe foresaw that the last three plagues would be the most difficult, so GD assures him by saying , “Come with Me to Pharaoh; I am right here with you.” (Otzar Chaim, Parashat Bo)

THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY is Black History Month and Disability Awareness Month in Canada, and LGBTQ History Month in the UK. And it is also the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, the day of love and loving. Each of us is different, one from the other, in a remarkable range of dimensions of diversity. It could be that we are different because of our skin colour, or our ability or disability, or our sexual orientation, or our education, or our income, or our religious or spiritual beliefs, or in a myriad of other ways. But Valentine’s Day, the day that reminds us to love and to allow ourselves to be loved, pulls it all together. We are called to open our hearts in the midst of this coldest season, pushing through the hardened heart of Pharaoh and entering into those soft and tender depths within.

WHEN WE DO THIS, when we open our hearts to ourselve and others, the blessing we receive is one of expansiveness, spaciousness, and, ultimately, freedom. We take that first step out of the narrow spaces of Mitzrayim, Egypt, and become conscious journeyers touched by the promise of freedom. Freedom in our tradition is not merely “freedom from” - freedom from oppression, suffering, or servitude. It is “freedom to” - freedom to be in direct relationship with whomever we want and with whatever it is we conceive of as holy and sacred.

IN OUR TORAH PORTION, GD says to Moses, “Bo! Come to Pharaoh.” Our teacher Rabbi Shefa Gold asks us to imagine that in this verse, GD is talking to Moshe as the prophetic voice that is within each of us, saying to you: “Bo! Come on in! I am waiting for you inside the heart of Pharaoh. The heart of Pharaoh is that most human place which is inside you. It is the place that has grown heavy with the weight of life's experience. It is the place that has hardened - its outer shell cynical, and its fragile and soft inner layers made of fear and anxiety and yearning. Bo – come through this heart of Pharaoh if you are to find your freedom.”

WHAT IF EACH OF US WOULD LOOK DEEPLY INTO OUR HEARTS and examine the hard shell that is there? What if we would ask ourselves the hard questions: When have I been hard-hearted? When have I treated someone unfairly because they are different than me? When have I been indifferent, treating someone as “the other?” Be honest, and allow your heart to gently break open, because as another great teacher, Leonard Cohen of blessed memory said, “that’s how the light gets in.”

Rabbi Schachar shares his naches/pride:

My Grade 4 student, Zeke, turned out to be a great video interviewer, on the topic of "What is a parasha?"

Cantor Heather shares a message and a musical link:

Thanks to everyone who helped with New/Old-School this past week. Including our Torah readers Dan Wolfe, Jen Taylor-Friedman, Avi Grenadier, Shayna Palevsky, our Haftarah reader Sandy Sjollema, Guillermo Glujovsky for coming early to set-up, Chaya and Chana who brought challah and helped with clean-up, and our Uber-volunteer Deena Schrier for handling everything kiddish related. Anyone I missed? Thank you all!

Here is a clip of kids from a Jewish and African-American Catholic schools coming together through music. Pretty inspiring!

Rabbi Schachar shares a new parasha video:

Parasha & Practice: Softening the Heart

A quote on new Hasidic communities in North America from Rabbi Dr. Shaul Magid, who will be in Montreal this coming week to share his scholarship and bluegrass (see below):

“However, these communities were also subject to the infusion of the world around them and their notion of tradition became altered in the very act of dissimulation. They 'falsely' believed they were protecting something old when, in fact, they were creating something new.” ― Shaul Magid, American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

Friday, February 7, 7-10 pm

Location: 5215 Grand Boulevard, just south of Cote St Luc Road

Shabbat is an opportunity to rest deeply and receive. We will do some deep restorative yoga which will allow you to let go of tension. Followed by a tasty vegan dinner.

$40 offering includes provided Shabbat dinner.

Space is limited. Reservations required via website by Wednesday, February 5.

Contact Rabbi Schachar for more info,

* Save the date: Tu Bishvat Celebration, Sunday, February 9.

* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month. New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month. Interested in reading Torah or Haftarah for our next New/Old-school services on Feb. 22? Contact

* Rabbi Dr. Shaul Magid speaking on "Domesticating Hasidism: Neo-Hasidism, Neo-Haredism and Romantic Traditionalism" @ McGill University, Department of Jewish Studies, Thursday, February 6, 2020, Leacock 110, 4 pm, and then guiding us through the neo-Hasidic underground in a lecture on "Jewgrass" with Appalachian Banjo, moonshine, sweet tea, corn cakes & Torah, 7-830 pm at Shaare Zion. to reserve.

* Moishe house is looking for a young adult housemate to help influence and lead their AMAZING inclusive, pluralistic and LGBTQ+ friendly house.

*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.