MOS 5-Point Parasha - Shoftim 5779


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 riffs on a line of Torah, from parasha Shoftim (in loving memory of Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank, whose yahrzeit is 8 Elul 5758):

This week we are reading the Torah portion called Shoftim/Judges. In this parasha, we learn about the responsibilities of a king. Here it says that "the king must copy out a Sefer Torah in his own hand." (Devarim 17:18) Rashi interprets this phrase quite literally and explains that this Torah was intended to stay with the king at all times. It served as the King’s spiritual compass, and reminded him of his bearings and of his sacred mission. A modern midrash explains that this phrase means that “We are writing the texts with our lives.” And what is that text that we are writing? What is the Torah that we want to give to the world? To our loved ones? To our students or our teachers? We teach Torah daily by the way we solve problems, the way we stand up for justice, the way we take care of one another, the way we protect the earth, the way we put out love and kindness, forgiveness, and honour. That is how we make a holy Torah for today.

Take some time this Shabbat to think about this question: What is your holy Torah? You are the keeper of the wisdom of what it means to be truly human. In this moment in time, right now, what is the Torah that is wanting or needing to come from you? The Torah that you are giving over to the world? What is the wise guidance or message that your life wants to impart to the world right now? *Inspired by a teaching from Rabbi Simcha Daniel Burstyn who learned it from Rabbi Julie Greenberg.

Rabbi Sherril shares a vision from Reb Zalman, of blessed memory:

Let's say I get a grant for a million dollars. I'm convinced that what the world needs is t’shuvah*, that what's going to save the world is t’shuvah. So the grant is to allow me to find out what that t’shuvah might be. What I would want to do is gather the best experts on t’shuvah and do pilot programs. Next, I would want to start charting what is actually taking place, encode it in behaviour modules and put it back into the universe. I would want to experiment with t’shuvah on radio and television, to find out if there could be t’shuvah parlors. And, I would want to ask each one of you for your ideas of what would make t’shuvah effective. We need not to be limited by the old shtetl methods when we are dealing with the complexities of our present. We need to move our understanding of t’shuvah to a place where we also can work at changing our attitudes and removing the internal obstacles to that change.

*T'shuvah (תשובה)  is a Hebrew word meaning repentance, return, or turning around.From A Guide to Starting Your New Incarnation: Teachings on the Modern Meaning of T'shuvah by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, available here:!/A-GUIDE-FOR-STARTING-YOUR-NEW-INCARNATION/p/22456077/category=5437258

What Cantor Heather has recently discovered:

My family and I recently had the pleasure of spending our 9th year at KlezKanada's Laurentian retreat. Two revelations from this year's retreat were the music of Fran & Flora and the new tefillot-based album by Zach Mayer (whose parents Sruli and Lisa were MOS's guests last year). Follow these links to check them both out:

Zach Mayer, Modeh Ani

Fran & Flora, Unfurl

What Rabbi Schachar has been rehearsing with daughter Chana for Rosh Hashana:

Name the tune... and join us for the better live version on Rosh Hashana.

Rabbi Schachar shares a preparatory Rosh Hashana quote:

"Every year there descends and radiates a new and renewed light which has never yet shone. For on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 'when the moon is covered,' the light of every year withdraws to its source in the Essence of the Ein Sof, the Divine Infinite 'Without End.'" - Tanya, Igeret Hakodesh ch. 14

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

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Save the date:

Musical Selichot Service

with Cantor Daniel Benlolo, Rabbi Schachar and Chana

Saturday, September 21, 2019 • 21 Elul 5779

8:00 PM - 11:00 PM at Shaare Zedek Congregation, 5305 Rosedale Ave

Tickets and more info now available on our website.

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MOS needs High Holiday Torah readers! If you are interested please contact us so we can get you set up with a reading and all necessary preparation materials.