Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.
* See below for Third Friday Shabbat, November 15, and Movie Night "Free Trip to Egypt" with Filmmaker Tarek Mounib, Saturday, November 16, 7 pm
Rabbi Sherril shares a spicy teaching on parashat Vayeira from Rav Frand:
If Avraham Worries About Mustard, Then So Must We
As Abraham was sitting before his tent, after having circumcised himself, GD appeared. Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw three men standing there. Some say these were angels. Abraham invited them to come in and made a fine meal for them.
Our Rabbis tell us that when Avraham served food to the angels, he gave them tongue with mustard. Rav Pam, of Blessed Memory, once expressed surprise that Avraham had mustard available. We can understand that if we peek into the refrigerator of a ‘normal’ person, we will find pickle relish, sandwich spread, pickled artichoke hearts, and all similar type of foods. However we might imagine that if we looked into the refrigerator of an individual known for his righteousness and piety (‘Gadol HaDor’) we would find just the basics. We can assume that he would not be ‘into’ all the condiments that are available. If we would not expect to find pickle relish in the refrigerator of a contemporary Gadol HaDor, why did Avraham have mustard in his refrigerator?
Is this telling us that Avraham only ate his hot dogs with mustard? He was certainly beyond that. He was a holy individual! Why did he have mustard in the house?
Rav Pam* explained that the answer is obvious. The bigger a person becomes and the more holy a person becomes, the more he becomes aware of the needs of others. Of course, he personally did not care to spread mustard on his piece of tongue. But precisely because he is in fact this giant among men, this giant of kindness, he knows that although he does not need mustard, the average guest coming down the road does want mustard. He therefore feels that he must have mustard in his kitchen to be prepared for that simple guest who does put more emphasis on the taste of his food. Not everyone is an Avraham Avinu.
We must always deal with others with kindness and with empathy. Furthermore, in doing acts of Chesed (lovingkindness), we must remember that a primary responsibility for delivering kindness is in one’s home. “From your flesh you should not keep yourself aloof” [Isaiah 58:7]. We must take the lesson of the parasha to heart — it is our responsibility to worry about everyone’s mustard.
*Rav Pam: Lithuanian-born Avraham Yaakov Hakohen Pam (1913 –2001) was a Talmudic scholar and rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in Brooklyn, New York.
Reb Sherril shares some inspiration from the Clergy Coaching Network:
Rabbi Schachar has been reading the poetry of Montreal modernist poet, AM Klein (1909-1972):
My father bequeathed me no wide estates; No keys and ledgers were my heritage; Only some holy books with yahrzeit dates Writ mournfully upon a blank front page —
Books of the Baal Shem Tov, and of his wonders; Pamphlets upon the devil and his crew; Prayers against road demons, witches, thunders; And sundry other tomes for a good Jew.
Beautiful: though no pictures on them, save The scorpion crawling on a printed track; The Virgin floating on a scriptural wave, Square letters twinkling in the Zodiac.
The snuff left on this page, now brown and old, The tallow stains of midnight liturgy — These are my coat of arms, and these unfold My noble lineage, my proud ancestry!
And my tears, too, have stained this heirloomed ground, When reading in these treatises some weird Miracle, I turned a leaf and found A white hair fallen from my father's beard.
From: A.M. Klein: Complete Poems (I & 2). ed. Zailig Pollock. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990., reprinted in the Chadesh Yameinu Reconstructionist Siddur.
What Rabbi Schachar has been watching:
The 1936 musical yiddish film, Yidl Mitn Fiddle, avalaible in its entirety on youtube. The popular film provides an amazing glimpse of shtetl life before the Holocaust.
Rabbi Schachar shares a yiddish expression:
Az ich vel zayn vi er, ver vet zayn vi ich? If I’m going to be like him, who will be like me?
Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --
3rd Friday/Shabbat - Nov. 15, 7:00 p.m. Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, 5400 Av de Westbury All are welcome to join for a celebratory service, followed by a healthy veggie nosh, thanks to a generous grant from Mazon Canada.
Forest Bath - Postponed until spring due to snow
Get some forest therapy with MOS and Certified Forest Therapist, Phil. A supporter appreciation event.
Human Rights Shabbat - 3rd Friday of December Dec. 20, 7:00 p.m.
Featuring Dr. Sharon Gubbay of Condordia University Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, 5400 Av de Westbury
Chanucoco - Let there be light and chocolate!
Dec. 22, 7:00 p.m. TBA, Montreal, QC, Canada First night Chanuka light-themed musical celebration with coco, latkes, gelt, and sufganiot
Bonus - 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:
Awakening the Divine: A Pardes and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat Dec. 31, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020:
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