MOS 5-Point Parasha - Emor 5780

Join us for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, May 8, 6 pm and/or Omer Counting & Meditation, Mondays 7:30 pm (See announcements below.)


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 teaching about parashat Emor – The Power of Words"

This week’s parasha, called "Emor" (meaning “say”), concludes with a short story (Leviticus 24:10-23), one of the few narrative passages in the Book of Leviticus. In this story, we read about an argument between two men. In the heat of the moment, one of the men curses G*d’s name. He is brought to Moses and kept under guard while Moses consults G*d for direction. This is one of only four incidents in Torah where Moses consults G*d for help in deciding an issue.

The narrative does not give us the man's motive for cursing G*d. All we are told is that he is of mixed ancestry: his mother is an Israelite, and his father is an Egyptian. Significantly, he is never called by name; his name has been erased by the text for his aggression against G*d's name.

The holy name YHVH is one that we are instructed never to articulate. YHVH is derived from the verb “to be,” and may mean "The One Who Is" or "Was-Is-Will Be" or "Becoming" (see Exodus 3:14). This is the name that is associated in Rabbinic texts with the attribute of Mercy (see Sh'mot Rabbah 3:6). In ancient Israel, as in many cultures, a sacred name took on that aspect of the reality it represented. And so, the one who speaks blasphemy against YHVH is one who is responsible for tearing a hole in the Divine Name, for tearing a hole in mercy, the loving and forgiving quality of the universe.

There is a chasidic story about a woman who used words in harmful ways, and when she was brought to the wise man of her village for punishment, he gave her a pillow and told her to cut it open. Then he instructed her to stand at the edge of a cliff and shake all the feathers out of the pillow. After she did so, he said she must now go and gather all the feathers and place them back in the pillow. She said that would be impossible! The wise man told her that those feathers are like words spoken in anger or words that are untrue – we speak them but it is very, very difficult – if not impossible – to put things back the way they were.

And so we see that sometimes, the words we speak – intentionally or unintentionally – have the potential to cause real and deep harm. Think about a time when you used words in anger, words you realized later that were hurtful or that you did not really mean. How did affect the other person? How did it affect you? What happened to the relationship? What could you have done differently? What strategies can you use next time you are angry and want to express your anger? One resource I particularly like is Marshall Rosenberg’s small book The Surprising Purpose of Anger, which guides us in using anger to discover what we need and then how to meet those needs in constructive - rather than destructive - ways. 

Shabbat shalom.

Cantor Heather shares some guided meditations and talks:

Done with listening to traumatizing news coverage and ready to lean your ears on something more comforting? 

The Awaken Heart Project has a lovely collection of recorded guided meditations and talks. Check them out here:

Cantor Heather shares a link to an interesting upcoming musical Lag B'omer event:

The Cantors' Assembly is organizing this cool Lag B'Omer concert to benefit the Abayudaya Jewish community of Uganda.

Cantor Heather shares some good news about a new law outlawing female genital mutilation in Sudan.

Cantor Heather shares a few of the lovely Shabbat tunes that we have used during recent ShabbaZooms:

Yoel Sykes’ Yedid Nefesh

Deborah Sacks Mintz’s Min Hameitzar

Joey Weinberg’s Ana Bekoach

Join us on Shabbazoom to hear them too!

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

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

Friday May 8, 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 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.

* Omer Counting & Meditation with Cantor Heather Batchelor, Mondays, May 11, 18, 25, 7:30 pm via Zoom.

A simple gathering to share space, meditate and mark the spiritual passage from the Passover holiday towards Shavuot.

Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

* 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

* Are you (or is someone you know) facing a food shortage at this time due to the pandemic? Montreal Open Shul participants may be able to receive help from MOS, thanks to support from the Jewish Community Foundation and FederationCJA. Please get in touch with us by email at or contact Rabbi Sherril directly at

And, if you are in a position to help, we ask and encourage you to please support FederationCJA's Community Crisis Response effort by donating to the community CrowdFunding campaign. Visit

Finally, FederationCJA has established a "helpline" for anyone in the community to ask for help. Call 514-734-1411.

* 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.