MOS 5-Point Parasha - Sukkot II 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.

* Note the special Friday Night Sukka Service and Monday Night Simchat Torah Service below.

Rabbi Sherril shares this teaching on dancing with the Torah from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who was recently in Montreal for the High Holidays:

One major contribution Reb Zalman of blessed memory made to the renewal of Judaism was recasting and renewing the Sephirot of Kabbalah, and he did a lot of this through Simchat Torah.

On that night we dance seven dances with the Torah. According to Hasidic tradition, each of these is dedicated to one of the seven lower Sephirot -- emanations or aspects of God:

Chesed: overflowing love

Gevurah: strict boundaries, strength

Tiferet/Rachamim: focused compassion

Netzach: persistence

Hod: melodious grace

Yesod: outreaching connectivity

Malkhut: ingathering, order, majestic collectivity

(My "translations" are focused on the nature of the Sephirot, not literal translations of the Hebrew word.)

What Zalman did was this twirl: If we bear the Image of God (indeed these Sephirot are one way we do so), then they exist in the aspect of God-within-us, not just in some version of God beyond us.

And then the seven dances of Simchat Torah should be our expressions of the Sephirot as they manifest within us. And therefore a Chesed dance should be different from a Gevurah or a Netzach dance -- different melody, rhythm, color, music, smell, etc.

Simchat Torah should be a time when thru celebration we do a strengthening and balancing of the Sephirot within. WE are Torah, WE are aspects of God -- yet we actualize this truth only if we move our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls into this process. Emphasis on MOVE.

So in many Jewish Renewal communities, on Simchat Torah a few people take responsibility for "composing" each of the seven hakkafot or Torah-dances, choosing music, colors for banners, etc etc . One is loose and flowing, another sharp and rhythmic, etc etc. These people then lead a larger group into that dance, and then everyone learns and joins the dance.

For no one of us is ONLY Chesed, or ONLY Hod, etc. It is through the balance and flow of the Sephirot that we bear the Image of God. So we all need to learn and enrich each Sephira, and to let each Sephira teach and enrich us.

Whether or not your own community is set up for this, this year -- you can keep it in mind. You may be able to dance the seven Hakkafot in this mood even if others around you are not, and next year -- invite the community to explore this approach!!

There is also a broader aspect to this practice. Prayer may be wordless, a movement, etc -- and as we really explore the sense that all Reality happens in Four Worlds (again, Kabbalah with a twirl), then we see that not only the correct choice of words (Intellect, the World of Briyah) but also the world of emotional relationship (Yetzirah), the world of physicality and action (Asiyah), and the world of Atzilut (Being, spirit) all need to be part of prayer.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Mussar Moment: Rabbi Sherril reflects on the middah/quality of kavod (dignity, honour, respect):

[Excerpt from Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change by Rabbi David Jaffee]

The word kavod comes from the Hebrew root Kaf-Vet-Daled (K.V.D.כ.ב.ד.) meaning heavy, weighty or significant.  When we give someone kavod, we are saying, “you are significant and deserving of recognition and good treatment.”  If kavod implies weight or gravitas, the opposite is קל, or light.  We disrespect someone by treating them lightly, as if they are not significant.  קל is the foundation of the word קללה, curse.  It is a curse to treat someone as if they are not significant by not giving them attention, or underpaying or mistreating them. We express how significant we think someone is by the kavod we give them.  Kavod, or dignity and respect, is how we express value.

Continue reading here:

Rabbi Schachar shares a great Israeli short film that he discovered this week:

This Israeli film tells the story of the great Israeli-Moroccan twentieth-century "paytan", liturgical poet, singer and composer, Rabbi David Bouzaglo, who adapted melodies of celebrated Egyptian singer, Umm Kulthum.

Rabbi Schachar shares a fascinating new book that he just read:

I just heard, Dr. Ilana Pardes, of Hebrew University, speak at McGill about her latest work, The Song of Songs: A Biography. Trained by the eminent literary Biblical scholar, Robert Alter, Pardes provides an engaging journey of the reception of the Biblical text of Shir Hashirim, the Song of Songs, throughout the ages. She takes us from Rabbi Akiva to Walt Whitman to Herman Melville to Toni Morrison and the Black Lives matter movement, and many more. In doing so, she "highlights the unparalleled beauty" of the text's "audacious language of love."

Rabbi Schachar shares a quote from the Sukkot megilla, Kohelet/Ecclesiastes, as filtered through Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

"How shall you live in youth and in age? Keep Truth with you always; and see the One Who is All shining through all who are one. Walk with Reality in youth, bend with Reality in age, and your last days will be no less precious than your first. When the end comes and you no longer desire tomorrow, be neither angry nor despairing; know that all things come to pass, arising from and returning to the One Who Is the Source and Substance of All." -12:1, The Tao of Solomon: Unlocking the Perennial Wisdom of Ecclesiastes

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

3rd Friday of the Month Service and Sukka Dinner, Oct. 18

Celebrate Simchat Torah with Mile End Chavurah and Montreal Open Shul

A little food and drink, a lot of singing and dancing with the Torah, and a renewal of the Torah cycle from end to beginning.

Date: Monday October 21, 2019

Time: 7 pm

Location: URSA, 5589 avenue du parc, Montreal, Quebec

This is a free event Please bring a dessert or snack to share.


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:

R. Jonathan Slater’s month-long prayer intensive sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality — starting Oct. 27th:

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