MOS 5-Point Parasha - Pesach/Passover 5780

*Pesach offerings overview. Join us for:

ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, April 10, 7 pm

"Just Hallel" on Sunday, April 12, 10:30 am

Omer Counting and Meditation, April 13, 7:30 pm

Yizkor Service, Thursday, April 16, 10:30 am

(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.

Our collective prayers and thoughts are with those who are working on the front lines everywhere, as well as with those who are ill or suffering at this time. We wish them a refuah shleimah - a speedy and complete healing of body, heart, mind and spirit.

Rabbi Sherril shares this beautiful d'var Torah and song from Deborah Sacks Mintz:

The Sea and the Wilderness, the Narrow and the Expanse

I picture it vividly: B’nei Yisrael standing on the shore of the sea, readying themselves for this pivotal moment of transition. Overcome by a vision of an uncertain future—a wilderness of both fear and hope—they opened their mouths, and out came a song. Who is like you, oh G*D?  I imagine that as they sang these words of wonder and praise, embedded within that joy was every painful and traumatic memory of their years as slaves, magnified all the more by the vast sea of the expansive unknown that lay before them. Joy within sadness, brokenness within praise, B’nei Yisrael used song to express this core and complex facet of the human experience.

On Pesach, we sing Hallel—a profound liturgical expression of gratitude to the Divine - and yet baked into the very texts themselves is an opportunity to emulate our ancestors’ emotional use of song. 

Psalm 118:5 reads מִֽן־הַ֭מֵּצַ֥ר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ עָנָ֖נִי בַמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ׃ 

From a narrow place I cried out to G*d; G*d answered me from the expanse. 

In reading this verse, I am reminded that the recognition of the narrow places we find ourselves - the constriction, the fear, the darkness - is a necessary first step in embarking on accessing the expansive light. We cannot simply burst forth into that spaciousness without first crying out from the meitzar, just as B’nai Yisrael could not access the redemption that awaited them without their journey through the wilderness - the fearful unknown.

In this unprecedented moment, we too find ourselves in a meitzar of unparalleled proportions; constricted not only spiritually, but physically as well—confined to our homes and isolated from our communities. The act of joyful prayer and song may feel even more difficult. How can we burst forth in song alone, without the power of collective voices around us? Can we even find within ourselves the capacity to declare that we will indeed receive an answer from the expanse?

Brachot 32b in the Gemara teaches that even when all other gates of prayer are closed, the gates of tears remain open and available to us. Perhaps this is the lesson we can learn from B’nai Yisrael and from the psalmist; that even when all else is uncertain and brokenness abounds, the act of crying out—and of singing out—is the first step in bursting from the meitzar to the merchav.

This Pesach, I offer an original melody for this psalm with the kavannah that we find hope and healing in the very process of crying out - and that in the moments of uncertainty that lie ahead, we embody our ancestors, and keep on singing. 

Listen here. 

Rabbi Sherril shares Rabbi Daniel Siegel's latest blogpost, just in time for Pesach!

Rabbi Schachar shares a link for the post-modern Pesach writings of Rav Shagar on Web Yeshiva.

Rabbi Schachar shares Rabbi Marc Angel's website,, which presents insights on Pesach and Coronavirus.

Dr. Yakov Rabkin writes "A Dangerous Gospel" in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

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

Friday April 10, 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.

* "Just Hallel" for Chol HaMoed Pesach

Sunday, April 12, 10:30 am - 11:30 am

Daven before, davven after, or just join for Hallel. Contact me by 9pm Saturday if you would like to lead a psalm. Musical instruments warmly welcomed.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

* Passover Omer Counting and Guided Meditation

Monday, April 13, 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

A simple gathering to share space, meditate and mark our 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.

* Yizkor as a Soul-Guiding Ritual

Join Rabbi Schachar and Rabbi Sherril, your guides for this ritual that we enact four times a year to honour and remember those who have passed on from this world. Yizkor reminds us to count and treasure each day, so that we may acquire a heart of wisdom. Join us next week on Thursday morning, April 16 at 10:30 am on Zoom for our Yizkor Memorial Service. 

Zoom room:

* 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

* Ways to help others at this time via Federation.

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.

* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:

* 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.