Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.
* Note the Old School Saturday Morning Service this coming Shabbat, below.
Rabbi Sherril is digging deep into Rabbi Shefa Gold's teaching on this week's parasha, Bereishit:
From the purity and innocence of Eden we journey forth through duality (represented by the Tree of Good and Evil) - through self-knowledge, suffering, and mistakes - towards the Tree of Life, a tree that is rooted in the Divine Reality, with branches that find their flowering in our humanity.
The teachings of Kabbalah address the mystery of how the Divine becomes manifest, how the Infinite enters the finite, how we might bridge the chasm between G*d and Creation. Kabbalah gives us the image of the Tree of Life with its roots in Heaven and its branches reaching into human awareness. The Tree has ten sefirot which form the pathways from the Infinite to the finite. Each sefirah [illuminates a Divine] quality such as Loving Flow, Boundaried Strength, Balanced Beauty, Endurance, or Sparkling-Glory.
The Tree of Life is the connection between Heaven and Earth. The seven days of Creation correspond to the lower seven sefirot of the Tree. Each of these seven days and sefirot blesses us with its own gift.
With the creation of light (consciousness, the dividing of light from darkness) we receive the blessings of Chesed - of love and flow.
With the creation of the firmament (the separation of the waters above from the waters below) we receive the blessings of Gevurah - boundaries, strength and discernment.
With the creation of land, sea and vegetation, we receive the blessings of Tiferet - beauty, harmony and balance.
With the creation of the sun, moon and stars, we receive the blessings of Netzach - endurance.
With the creation of the fishes and birds, we receive the blessings of Hod - sparkle and variety.
With the creations of land animals and humans in G*d's image, we receive the blessings of Yesod - foundation, regenerativity, creativity.
And with the creation of Shabbat, we receive Malkhut - the Shekhinah, the Indwelling Presence of G*d.
Rabbi Sherril shares an idea worth exploring and ponders a few questions:
This new year of 5780 has been declared as The Year of Environmental Teshuva. But what is environmental teshuva? Hazon explains it as the "outward manifestation of our commitment to doing better for the planet." As we examine our individual impact on the planet, Hazon suggests that we consider these questions:
How do you relate to the planet or the climate crisis?Which of your [environmental] behaviours are less than ideal at this time?What are one or two areas in the coming year in which you will try to do better?Rabbi Sherril adds this question: What is one concrete action you are willing to commit to do to help Montreal Open Shul works towards increased environmental sustainability?
Read more about The Year of Environmental Teshuva here: https://hazon.org/commit-to-change/environmental-teshuva/
Rabbi Schachar shares a prayer excerpt by Rabbi Hillel Zeitlin:
Based on the first and last part of Moses Ibn Ezra's Baqqashah (Prayer), with modifications of form and content.
For you my flesh, for You my blood,
for You my love, for You passion's flood,
for You my staying, for You my going,
for You my being, for You my life outflowing,
for You my seeing, for You my hearing.
for You my turning, for You my appearing,
for You my today, for You my tomorrow,
for You my joy, for You my sorrow,
for You my thanks, for You my song,
for You my sound, for You my clang,
for You my cry, for You my shout,
for You my speech, for You my being mute.
From You my shape, from You my form,
from You my longing, from You my storm,
from You my breath, from You my embrace,
from You my build, from You my face.
-Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era: The Religious Writings of Hillel Zeitlin, p. 228, translated by Joel Rosenberg
Rabbi Schachar shares a fascinating new book that he just read, Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era: The Religious Writings of Hillel Zeitlin:
When Rabbi Dr. Art Green was 20 years old he was introduced to Rabbi Hillel Zeitlin’s essay Yesodot ha-Hasidut (“Fundaments of Hasidism”). Rabbi Green writes, “I had certainly read both Scholem and Buber. But Zeitlin’s essay reached my heart more than any other modern writing on the subject, and I promised then and there that I would one day translate it into English.” Rabbi Green finally fulfilled his promise 70 years after Rabbi Zeitlin's tragic death. An understanding of the origin of neo-Hasidism, as well as an understanding of neo-Hasidic figures such as Rabbi Art Green and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, would be incomplete without Rabbi Green’s fascinating volume on the underappreciated poet, journalist and essayist, Rabbi Hillel Zeitlin.
Rabbi Schachar shares a quote:
"Remember, O child of the palace, what the pious of old have taught: 'All the gates are sealed except those of tears.' 'Tears open the gates--but joy smashes all the gates.'" -Hasidic Spirituality for a New Era: The Religious Writings of Hillel Zeitlin, p. 56, based on the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 32b.
Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --
Bonus - Cantor Heather shares:
Looking for ways to amp up your Jewish spirituality in the new year? In addition to great classes from our MOS clergy coming your way check out some of these great online and retreat learning opportunities:
Hadar’s Rising Song Intensive, Dec. 22-25:
R. Jonathan Slater’s month-long prayer intensive sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality — starting Oct. 27th:
Awakening the Divine: A Pardes and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat Dec. 31, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020:
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