MOS 5-Point Parasha - Korach 5780

Join us for: * ShabbaZoom: Friday, June 26, 6 pm Note new zoom instructions below!

* Monday Meditation & Middot, Monday 7:30 pm

(See full announcements below.)


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

Rabbi Sherril reflects on holiness, from this week's parasha, Korach:

In this week’s Torah drama, Korach, a Levite, envies the position of Moses and finds fault with the leadership styles of Moses and Aaron the High Priest. Korach leads a rebellion against Moses during the journey through the wilderness. Moses accepts the challenge, but then the earth “opened its mouth” and swallowed all the rebels along with their households and all their possessions. Just before he is swallowed up by the earth, Korach the rebel says to Moses: “all of the community are holy, all of them, and the Eternal is in their midst.” (Num. 16:3) Yeshayahu Leibowitz (Israeli philosopher and brother of Torah scholar Nechama Leibowitz) sees Korach’s demagoguery exposed in his claim that “kulam kedoshim”/all the community are holy (Num. 16:3); in other words, we have achieved our goal and nothing more needs be demanded of us. But the Torah’s position is that all the community is challenged in a different way: “kedoshim tehiyu”/you shall become holy (Lev. 19:2). Holiness is a process, a vision to achieve, and a work in progress, but not a present static condition.

Additionally, it is phrased in the plural, implying that the capacity for holiness is not restricted to spiritually gifted individuals. It says that anyone can become holy, even communities. The plural phrase suggests, further, that holiness may be most easily achieved in the context of a community. It can be difficult for a person to live a life of holiness without others. When a community dedicates itself to the pursuit of holiness, its members support and hold one another. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Ordinary people who participate in communities learning to be holy together go on to unleash their full humanness, their kindness, and their goodness in the world. (Etz Hayim Torah Commentary)

We Remember Reb Zalman: Reflections on an Amazing Gathering:

This age of Covid19 has its large and small challenges and also, if we look, its significant blessings. One of those blessings is being able to gather people together from multiple locations and different time zones around the world simultaneously via videoconferencing. Sure, Zoom has existed for some 10 years now, but how many of us really utilized its full functionality? And how many of us are really still Zoom newbies, learning as we go along how and whether to fit this into our lives?

We were immensely grateful for Zoom this past week, when ALEPH Canada and Montreal Open Shul collaborated to offer Remembering Reb Zalman – the Canadian Way. Over 100 people from Canada, Israel and the US registered to hear several of Reb Zalman’s students (all of whom had a Canadian connection to him) reflect on their interactions with Reb Zalman, their memories and their learnings. They did this through stories, chants, songs, readings and a video. These were our presenters:

Rabbi Daniel Siegel of Hornby Island, BC, our mentor, teacher and friend, was the first person to be ordained as a rabbi by Reb Zalman. He and Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel were also rabbis of Or Shalom in Vancouver. Rabbi Daniel founded Aleph Canada and the Integral Halacha Institute.

Rabbi Shalom Schachter is one of Reb Zalman’s sons, is both a rabbi and a lawyer, and lives in Toronto with his partner Marcia Gilbert.

Rabbi Laura Duhan-Kaplan & Dr. Charles Kaplan. Reb Laura was previously rabbi at Or Shalom in Vancouver, and is now Director of Interreligious Studies and the Vancouver School of Theology. She and Charles just happen to make beautiful music together.

Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel of British Columbia is Reb Daniel’s partner. She is an accomplished musician with many albums, is a skilled spiritual director, and teaches in the ALEPH Ordination Program’s Spiritual Direction program. She is also an Eshet Hazon, a Woman of Wisdom.

Lorne Mallin, Vancouver, founder of Chanting and Chocolate, has run a monthly chanting program since 2004. Lorne is also deeply involved with the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda.

Rabbi Hannah Dresner is currently the rabbi at Or Shalom in Vancouver. Rabbi Hannah was ordained in the ALEPH Ordination Program.

Reb Dr. Simcha Raphael was born in Montreal and now lives Pennsylvania. He is married to Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael – and they were married by Reb Zalman! Reb Simcha is the author of Jewish Views of the Afterlife and other books on the topics of death and dying in Judaism.

It was my (Sherril’s) honour to introduce each presenter. About ten minutes before the gathering was to begin, there was a very powerful wind and rain storm in my region, and I lost both internet and power. Panicked, I called Reb Schachar, and he seamlessly took over Zoom hosting duties. I think this is what Rabbi Shawn Zevit (who also has strong Canadian connections) would have called "tossing the ball."

In the end, I was able to do the introductions. Each presenter gave over their favourite story, their most meaningful memories, their beautiful music. And with each presenter, my heart opened up more and more until I had very few words left. I was so moved, and was feeling so much in awe of this movement, this way of being in the world, this way of loving the world and one another that I learned from Reb Zalman himself, and now from his other students, many of whom were and are my teachers themselves.

Rabbi Schachar and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to be part of this amazing gathering to honour the memory of our beloved Reb Zalman. We hope to be doing more of these virtual gatherings, since we had requests and suggestions for others who also had Canadian connections to Reb Zalman, but we just could not fit everyone into the program.

If you attended, and you were moved as we were, we encourage you to make a donation of any size to support our work of continuing to bring Reb Zalman’s teachings to the world. To donate and receive a tax receipt (donations over $18), please visit ALEPH Canada’s page on Canada Helps:

In their wonderful new book, “Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi: Essential Teachings” editors Or Rose and Netanel Miles-Yepez offer this observation:

“He [Reb Zalman] called on his students (and their students) to be bold in their convictions and cognizant of the fact that they are an organic part of k’lal Yisrael (greater Israel), just as Jews are a part of the larger human community.”

Nowhere was this more evident than this week’s Remembering Reb Zalman gathering.

We hope to be able to share the video soon for those who may have missed the touching tribute.

With love,

Rabbi Sherril and Rabbi Schachar

Cantor Heather shares a timely Black Lives Matter version of a Chava Alberstein song:

From my colleague, Cantor Joanna Dulkin in Minneapolis, a lovely and timely rendition of Chava Alberstein's "Living Tapestry."

Rabbi Schachar shares an article:

"Black People in Jewish Tradition: Eliminating Racism Requires Honesty"

Reb Sherril shares the text for the "Kaddish for Black Lives" that we recited at last week's Shabbazoom:

Creator of life, source of compassion. Your breath remains the source of our spirit, even as too many of us cry out that we cannot breathe. Lovingly created in your image, the color of our bodies has imperiled our lives.

Black lives are commodified yet devalued, imitated but feared, exhibited but not seen. 

Black lives have been pursued by hatred, abandoned by indifference and betrayed by complacency. 

Black lives have been lost to the violence of the vigilante, the cruelty of the marketplace and the silence of the comfortable.

We understand that Black lives are sacred, inherently valuable, and irreplaceable. We know that to oppress the body of the human is to break the heart of the divine. We yearn for the day when the bent will stand straight. We pray that the hearts of our country will soften to the pain endured for centuries. We will do the work to bind up the wounds, to heal the shattered hearts, to break the yoke of oppression.

As the beauty of the heavens is revealed to us each day, may each day reveal to us the beauty of our common humanity. Amen.

by the Jewish Multiracial Network

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

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

Friday, June 26, 6-7 pm

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

To join with video, you must have a password. 

Email Rabbi Sherril for the password at

1) Log into Zoom (

2) Click on Join meeting

3) Enter Meeting ID: 514 489 7121 4) Enter password that you received by email

To join by phone:

One tap mobile +17789072071,,5144897121# Canada +14388097799,,5144897121# Canada

Dial by your location         +1 778 907 2071 Canada         +1 438 809 7799 Canada         +1 587 328 1099 Canada         +1 647 374 4685 Canada         +1 647 558 0588 Canada

Meeting ID: 514 489 7121

* Monday Meditation & Middot with Cantor Heather Batchelor 7:30 pm via Zoom.

Weekly sessions focussing on meditation and mindfulness skills, as well as development of personal virtues ("middot") as defined by the Musar tradition of Jewish ethics.

All are welcome. Suggested donation.

Please register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Initial registration will automatically enable attendance to full series.

Click here for more info.

* 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.