MOS 5-Point Parasha - Lech Lecha 5780


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

* See below for Third Friday Shabbat, November 15, and Movie Night "Free Trip to Egypt" with Filmmaker Tarek Mounib, Saturday, November 16, 7 pm

Rabbi Sherril digs into Rashi to explore this week’s parasha, Lekh Lekha:

“And GD took him [Abraham] outside and said: Look now towards the heavens and count the stars if you are able to count them. And GD said to him: So will be your offspring!”

(Genesis 15:5) This verse describes GD’s reaction to Abraham’s complaint that since he had no children, he would have no legacy.

Rashi is best known for his clear and insightful Torah commentary, based on the peshat level, the straightforward or literal meaning of the text. On occasion he will add an additional explanation, and on rare occasions he will offer even more interpretations. In this week’s portion we have a beautiful example of how Rashi’s commentary employs all four levels of Torah interpretation* on the specific verse above.

Rashi’s first explanation that GD quite literally took Abraham outside the tent where they were “talking” to show him the stars fits in well with the simple peshat story line. Here, GD chose an experiential teaching method – asking Abraham to go outside so he could see the stars – to make a point.

Rashi’s second level of interpretation is based on remez, a meaning that might be alluded to in the text. Rashi explains the words “GD took him outside” figuratively. Here, GD instructs Abraham to leave his preconceived notions behind, and to “go outside” of the framework of his own astrological prediction that he would not have any children. GD is telling Abraham here to think “outside the box.”

Rashi’s third level of text explanation, derash, is even more subtle and deep. He explains that GD told Abraham that indeed Abram and Sarai (their names at that point in the narrative) could not have children, but Abraham and Sarah could! By changing their names, GD would change their mazal (destiny) and any physical or spiritual factors that had prevented them from having children would be overcome.

Not content with merely providing the peshat, remez and derash interpretations of this verse, Rashi concludes by offering yet a deeper level of understanding: sod, the mystical meaning. In this version, Rashi suggests that GD took Abraham outside the Earth’s atmosphere, lifting him above the stars where he could look down upon the situation. From that lofty viewpoint, Abraham could come to understand the Divine plan for his own life.

Adapted from Orchard of Delights by Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman

PaRDeS: The four levels of text interpretation

Peshat: straightforward, literal meaning of the text

Remez: meanings that are hinted at or alluded to

Derash: the deeper meaning of the text using allegories

Sod: the mystical or hidden meaning

Rabbi Sherril is listening to this beloved tune from Debbie Friedman z"l and Savina Teubal, picking up on a key theme of this week's parasha:



L'chi lach, to a land that I will show you Leich l'cha, to a place you do not know L'chi lach, on your journey I will bless you And (you shall be a blessing) 3x) L'chi lach

L'chi lach, and I shall make your name great Leich l'cha, and all shall praise your name L'chi lach, to the place that I will show you (L'sim-chat cha-yim) (3x) L'chi lach

Cantor Heather shares a few things to tickle the ears Jewishly...

Something new from Yosef Goldman:

A classic from Cantor Yaakov Lemmer:

What Rabbi Schachar has been reading:

Michael F. Bird, Crossing over Sea and Land: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period (Massachusetts: Baker Academic, 2010). While many scholars in the twentieth century believed that Judaism proselytized, actively sought converts, during antiquity, the scholarly consensus has changed. According to antiquity scholar, Michael Bird, now "the majority of academics working in the field of Christian origins and Judaism of the Greco-Roman period [believe] that postexilic Judaism cannot be properly characterized as a missionary religion”(9).

Rabbi Schachar shares a quote:

"I don't speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent" – Rabbi A.Y. Kook

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

3rd Friday/Shabbat - Nov. 15, 7:00 p.m. Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, 5400 Av de Westbury All are welcome to join for a celebratory service, followed by a healthy veggie nosh, thanks to a generous grant from Mazon Canada.

Forest Bath - Nov. 17, 1:00 p.m. Location is TBD Get some forest therapy with MOS and Certified Forest Therapist, Phil. A supporter appreciation event.

Next: Nov 23, Sat 10:00 AM, Sylvan Adams Ym-Ywha 5400 Westbury Avenue

Human Rights Shabbat - 3rd Friday of December Dec. 20, 7:00 p.m.

Featuring Dr. Sharon Gubbay of Condordia University Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, 5400 Av de Westbury

Chanucoco - Let there be light and chocolate!

Dec. 22, 7:00 p.m. TBA, Montreal, QC, Canada First night Chanuka light-themed musical celebration with coco, latkes, gelt, and sufganiot

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:

Awakening the Divine: A Pardes and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat Dec. 31, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020: