* Friday night service, Jan 17 postponed.
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 from the weekly Torah reading, Shemot/Names:
Exactly ten years ago, I was blessed to receive my first smicha, for which I was ordained as a rabbinic chaplain. There were ten of us being ordained as rabbis, chaplains and cantors on that beautiful day in Boulder, Colorado, and each of us was asked to share a brief teaching from the parasha of the week, Shemot. This is what I shared:
One day, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov-Ber Schneerson, and one of his chasidim were having a conversation. The student asked: "Rebbe, what is a chasid?"
And the Rebbe answered: "A chasid is a street-lamp-lighter. A lamp-lighter has a long pole with fire at the tip. Every night, no matter the weather, the chasid goes from lamp to lamp, kindling each one with the fire.
The student asked: "But what if the lamp is in a desolate wilderness?"
The Rebbe answered: "The chasid must light that one too.”
"But what if the lamp is in the midst of an ocean?"
"Then the chasid must jump into the water and light it there!"
"And that is a chasid?"
The Rebbe said: "Yes, my son, *that* is a chasid. To be a chasid is to be a lamp-lighter, a person who goes around lighting up souls."
In the Torah story we find Moses standing in awe before the burning bush. In that instant of prophetic initiation, Moses understands how all things are aflame with holiness, even an ordinary bush.
To me, this revelation is a metaphor for the inner spirit awakening to its unique place and mission in the world. My inner spirit got its wake-up call ten years ago to be a lamp-lighter through building loving, inclusive, accessible spiritual communities wherever I go. GD willing, I hope to keep lighting up souls for a good, long while.
Rabbi Sherril is inspired by the new cycle of Talmud reading that started last week:
Last week, tens of thousands of people around the world - including me - began a new cycle of Talmud reading called daf yomi, or "daily page." Every day, we read, in sequence, a page of Talmud, starting from the first book, Berachot/Blessings. It takes 7.5 years to complete a full cycle of Talmud reading, so this is just the beginning of a formidable journey. The Talmud is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and contains the teachings and opinions of scores of rabbis and scholars on a wide range of topics, including halacha (Jewish law), ethics, philosophy, customs, history, folklore, and much more.
This week, we read in tractate Berachot (Bavli 10a) one of my favourite stories in all of Talmud. It's a short teaching vignette focusing on the female scholar Beruriah and her husband, Rabbi Meir.
There were these bullies in Rabbi Meir's neighbourhood who caused him a great deal of anguish. Rabbi Meir prayed that they should die.
Rabbi Meir's wife Beruria said to him, "What is your thinking? Do you base yourself on the verse, 'Let sinners cease from the land' (Psalms 104:35)? But is it written, 'Let sinners (hotim) cease?' NO, rather, it is written, 'Let sins (hataim) cease.' Instead of praying for them to die, you should pray that they repent." In other words, hate the sins, not the sinners. Rabbi Meir prayed for them, and they repented.
We could learn much from the sensible Beruria, who not only calms down her husband with a more peaceful and productive solution, she also cites a prooftext for his side, rejects it, and offers a better interpretation!
[Inspired by this article: https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/296887/the-sense-of-a-woman]
Rabbi Schachar shares an article about the impressive Australian Jewish Community's response to the forest fires.
Rabbi Schachar shares Rabbi Shawn Zevit's sweet musical rendition of Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Benediction:
Entitled "Ya'sem lecha Shalom"
Rabbi Sherril shares a recent quote by Rabbi Ethan Tucker, Rosh Yeshiva of Hadar:
"...what we need in Jewish life is more focus and commitment. More coordination that creates more intensive community. ... We should all aspire to be a part of something that binds people together to Jewish time, practice and thought in that way. ... There is a lot more interconnectivity between different communities than we realize on the surface, a lot more passing in and out, and more interdependence than most like to acknowledge. But the Jewish future will be “won” by the committed, the people who show up, strategically orient their lives around Judaism and make daily commitments that shape who they and their children are.”
Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --
Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month
Montreal Open Shul's *3rd Fridays Kabbalat Shabbat* program is on hold and will resume in February while we are in discussions with the Y and other potentially exciting locations for our services and programs.
Friday, February 7, 7-10 pm
Location: 5215 Grand Boulevard, just south of Cote St Luc Road
Shabbat is an opportunity to rest deeply and receive. We will do some deep restorative yoga which will allow you to let go of tension. Followed by a tasty vegan dinner.
$40 offering includes provided Shabbat dinner.
Space is limited. Reservations required via website by Wednesday, February 5.
Contact Rabbi Schachar for more info, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS