MOS 5-Point Parasha - Shavuot 5780

Join us for: * ShabbaZoom Shavuot Edition: Friday, May 29, 6 pm

* Monday Meditation & Middot, Monday 7:30 pm

(See full 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 some thoughts on Shavuot:

Why Stay Up All Night?

On Shavuot, our tradition is to stay up all night studying Torah and other wisdom texts. It’s true that the other festival holidays each have their own rituals that connect us with meaning of the day. Passover has matzah, the seder symbols, and the seder itself. On Sukkot, we sit in the sukkah and we wave the lulav and etrog. On Chanukah we light the hanukkiah. Originally, however, Shavuot had no such ritual or connection. But what better way is there to recall the receiving of Torah than through a ritual of studying it, thereby ‘receiving’ Torah anew. When we study, we are enlightened, and we are in receipt of some new insight, some new recitation, some new element of Torah itself.

Maybe that helps understand the recitation of Torah, but why in the middle of the night and through the night? After all, wouldn’t it be better to do so during the day, when we are more alert, more awake, when we can actually ‘see’ what we are receiving?

A midrash, Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (Chap. 41), describes G*d as the groom who is waiting to wed the bride (the Jewish people). Despite the excitement and anticipation a wedding brings, however, the Jewish people was asleep, and Moses had to wake them up to meet G*d at Sinai for this important union. A later text even suggests that it was G*d who had to wake the Jewish people… imagine having to wake the bride on her wedding day!

So, to make sure we don’t fall asleep waiting each year and/or worse yet, that we don’t oversleep, the custom of studying all night was born.

There is another perspective that is spiritually meaningful. The medieval philosopher, physician, and Jewish law authority, Maimonides, says: “Even though it is a mitzvah to learn both during the day and at night, one gains the majority of wisdom at night; therefore, [no one should] lose even one night to sleep, food and drink, conversation, and the like—rather, one should engage in the study of Torah and words of wisdom” (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Talmud Torah Chapter 3:13).

According to this teaching, we acquire most of our wisdom at night. In the wee hours of the morning, a different self emerges, uncovering the secrets we hide. Hidden truths manifest and true insight, change, and Revelation becomes possible. And, with this, we truly receive Torah anew on an annual basis.

So, however you are observing Shavuot this year – reading on your own, studying on Skype with chavruta/partners, or Zooming online with a local or global community - I want to bless you with the capacity to study into the night. And, perhaps by morning, whether you have slept a part of the night or none of the night, the internal alarm clock will sound, reminding you it is time to hear the words of Torah today and every day.

Chag Shavuot Sameach!

Rabbi Sherril shares a Shavuot teaching by Rabbi Gershon Winkler:

Dedicated to Joy

Divine Revelation is huge. It is like the giant we know of as  גלית / Goliath – which happens to be Hebrew for…”Revelation!” Revelation is huge, but don’t let it intimidate you and overwhelm you and overshadow the lover in you. Rather, grab your slingshot, as did דוד / David – Hebrew for “Lover” – and aim straight at the center of the forehead of Revelation, straight at its “Third Eye”, the place from which Revelation springs forth. Then watch it topple to the Earth. Otherwise, it will overshadow you to the point that you will feel little of your own capacity to love. You will serve G*d out of fear and trepidation instead of out of love; out of anxiety and tension instead of out of joy. And Revelation would have been in vain, moot, meaningless, empty. Because you would have missed the whole point of Revelation, which is G*d choosing to become revealed to you, the deepest expression of intimacy.

The Torah herself therefore teaches us that Shavuot is to be celebrated by reveling in joy (Deuteronomy 16:11), joyful celebration dedicated to yourself (Numbers 29:35), and joyful celebration dedicated to G*d (Deuteronomy 16:8). After all, the Torah came to us “in a language of joy, not commandment” (Midrash Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, 14:11), and “divine Inspiration eludes an unhappy heart” (Talmud Yerushalmi, Sukkah 5:1).

This then explains the puzzling teaching by the second-century Rabbi Eliezer, that on Shavuot, one should either spend the day feasting on good food and drink, or sit and study Torah (Talmud Bav’li, Beitzah 15b). In other words, whatever makes you happy. (As long as it’s legal, of course, and you don’t hurt nobody.)

And so the people were told to up and go, so that they would retain a sense of the intent, not the event, of the Revelation at Sinai.

Rabbi Sherril shares a series of videos of Reb Zalman reading the Book of Ruth:

And there she is, along with Terry Rielly, sitting at Reb Zalman's feet!

Dr. Yakov Rabkin shares an article that he recently published:

On the Spectre of a China-centric World.

Rabbi Schachar shares a link to the podcast episode that he recently recorded:

The Montreal Board of Rabbis has recorded a series of podcasts to prepare for the festival of Shavuot. Rabbi Schachar spoke with Rabbi Boris Dolin about the topic of ger toshav, the resurgence of interest in permanent residency status in Judaism.

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

Friday night (6:00-7:00 pm): ShabbaZoom goes Shavuot: Music, Learning, Sharing, Caring (and bring a dairy treat to enjoy!) Also featuring non-Montreal based musicians!

Instructions for joining us are below. Feel free to share this invite among your friends and families!

To join ShabbaZoom goes Shavuot (Friday 6-7 pm):

To join with video: Meeting ID: 832 241 8968 Password: sccrac2020 To join by phone call (no video) via One tap mobile +16473744685,,8322418968# Canada +16475580588,,8322418968# Canada Or dial +1 438 809 7799 Canada Meeting ID: 832 241 8968 * 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.

* 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

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

* 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.