Join us again for ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-up for Shabbat at Home, Friday, March 27, 7 pm (see 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 about Vayikra in a Time of Coronavirus:
March 26, 2020
In the Torah scroll, the first word in the book of Leviticus, vayikra, is written with the last letter, the aleph, appearing much smaller than the other letters. Torah commentators love to expound on the reasons for this. Many feel that this miniaturize letter was an allusion to the humility of Moses, who felt unworthy of direct contact with the divine.
Others see in this small aleph an allusion to the Kabbalistic notion of tzimtzum, GD’s contraction of the infinite into the finite in order to make the divine accessible to living beings. According to the Kabbalists, creation began with the formation of a primordial vacuum – a space within which the finite realm might come into being. When the will arose in GD to create the world, GD pulled back into GDself and withdrew in order to leave an unoccupied space within which the creative process could unfold.
Without this tzimtzum, this pulling back, there would have been no room for anything finite or separate to exist, because everything would have been obliterated by the immense light of the Infinite One. The withdrawal of this light was seen by the Kabbalists as an act of love, because it created the space for the world to come into existence.
Do you see the parallels with the times we are living in? Joanna Macy, the philosopher and deep ecologist, calls this time The Great Turning. She writes that a “revolution is occurring, bringing unparalleled changes in the way we see and think and relate. It is an epochal shift from a self-destructive industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society.”
We are now in a time where we are being called to do personal tzimtzum. This act of retreating and withdrawing for a period of time has introduced many of us to new ways to interacting and relating and connecting. With these new practices, we are discovering the courage, commitment and communities we need to change our lives and move into action for the healing of the world.
Already, in the short amount of time that we have been self-isolating, we see that lakes and rivers and streams are recovering, and air quality is improved due to reduced use of vehicles and less industrial air pollution. Already we see so many of our neighbours and friends going for daily walks in the fresh air, which has been facilitated by the fact that spring has arrived.
This same process holds true for all kinds of relationships. In a healthy relationship, we need to be ready to do tzimtzum from time to time, to pull back, and provide “space” for the other. This pulling back is an act of love for ourselves and the planet. It means that we are choosing life. It means that we are making the choice to ensure that our world is livable.
And Joanna Macy acknowledges that to choose life in this time is a mighty adventure. As people in all countries and walks of life are discovering, this adventure elicits more courage and enlivening solidarity than any military campaign.
We are being called to take extraordinary measures at this time, and to do things that are difficult. For example, Passover is approaching, and with it, the prospect of celebrating either alone or in our nuclear groupings. The right seder for you this year might involve matzah with cream cheese, a good book, and sleep. That might be all you’re up for, and that is totally okay.
Or there are options springing up for doing the seder online with a virtual community, such as via Skype or Zoom. Whatever form your Passover observance takes, know that this year the ideas of freedom from oppression and looking forward to leaving the narrow places takes on new meaning.
Dear friends, we are in a time of doing tzimtzum right now and this time is extraordinary. You need to believe that the choices you make right now, today, and tomorrow will have a deep and lasting impact on the world. Do the right thing. Take care of yourself, use this precious time well, let yourselves be sad if you need to, reach out to one another through all the marvelous media we have available to us, and please remember to be kind to all the essential services angels among us.
Rabbi Sherril shares a Prayer for Healing: May the One who blessed our ancestors Bless all those who put themselves at risk to care for the sick: Physicians and nurses and orderlies Patient transporters, hospital cleaning staff, and security guards, Technicians and home health aides, EMTs and pharmacists Who navigate the unfolding dangers of the world each day, To tend to those they have sworn to help.
[And bless especially ________ who is in need of healing.] Bless them in their coming home and bless them in their going out. Ease their fear. Sustain them. Source of all breath, healer of all beings, Protect them and restore their hope. Strengthen them, that they may bring strength; Keep them in health, that they may bring healing. Help them know again a time when they can breathe without fear. Bless the sacred work of their hands. May this plague pass from among us, speedily and in our days. --- Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, March 2020
Cantor Heather shares a wonderful article about Dr. Ilana Sherer, an amateur Klezmer who works to support transgender kids:
Cantor Heather shares a very sweet musical clip that you might enjoy:
Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Neshama Carlebach singing Eshet Chayil together.
(Link only seems to work on laptops/desktops, not mobiles.)
Rabbi Sherril shares a a fantastic set of Passover resources:
For you whether you will be alone, on Zoom or with your immediate family
Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --
* ShabbaZoom: A Virtual Warm-UP for Shabbat at home
Friday March 27, 6-7 pm
Join Montreal Open Shul to welcome in Shabbat online with a virtual pre-Shabbat gathering over Zoom.
Download the Zoom app in advance, and then https://zoom.us/j/8322418968 Please Note: Due to current health concerns, 3rd Friday Shabbat and New/Old-school service will be temporarily suspended until further notice.
* 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
* Cantor Heather continues her Meditation & Middot class on Zoom this Tuesday at 7:30:
* 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.
PLEASE DONATE TO SUSTAIN OUR COMMUNITY AND OUR OFFERINGS