MOS 5-Point Parasha - Yitro 5780

* Friday Night Service, Feb 21st, with special guest

* New/Old-school service, Feb 22nd


Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.

This week we introduce guest commentator Rabbi Jan Salzman, from Ruach haMaqom in Burlington Vermont. We'll be welcoming Rabbi Jan in person at Montreal Open Shul next Friday night (February 21) for Third Friday Shabbat!

The Big Download (Do we have enough storage?) Rabbi Jan Salzman

In this climatic moment of the Exodus, GD is getting ready to descend and offer the ketubah, the wedding document that will outline the brit/covenant/marriage between the people and the GD. It's a wild scene, with booming sound, lightening, fire, and a cacophony that fills all who are gathered at the foot of the mountain with trembling and dread. These former slaves have no context for a relationship that will be built on the commitment to the wholeness of the people. Each and every one of them is completely freaked out. And then, something happens.

The text reads:On the third new moon...they had entered the wilderness of Sinai. Having journeyed...they entered the wilderness of Sinai and encamped in the wilderness. Israel encamped in front of the mountain.(Ex. 19:1-2)

All the verbs in verses 1 and 2 are in the plural, except for the last verb: Israel encamped there (vay'yi'khayn) in front of the mountain . The midrash comments: "This shows that now they [the people] were of one heart and mind and had peace amongst them. GD delayed giving of the Torah until then."

Notice that the word 'wilderness' is repeated 3 times. The experience was fully wild. Perhaps it took the repetition of this word, honoring how frightening and foreboding the moment was, before everyone could calm down and join together, as one, in their presence.

How are we quieted when we feel the panic? Perhaps it's when someone else can acknowledge our panic, and through that, we can feel seen and held and connect with the quiet equanimity within to move into the next step. Perhaps then we can read the word, vay'yi'khayn from its root, meaning to receive the unwarranted sense of grace and serenity. Ah, now, quieted, I can really listen to you and hear what you have to say, because I am quiet at last, inside.

Visit Rabbi Jan and Ruach haMaqom, Burlington's Jewish Renewal congregation, at

Cantor Heather share some new choral music:

This lovely Oseh Shalom composed by my former teacher Cantor Gerald Cohen and sung by the students at my Alma Mater -- so sweet and lovely!

Cantor Heather shares some ballet:

The Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are coming to town just in time for Purim. Graceful, subversive and hilarious to boot!

Rabbi Schachar shares a play:

After hearing a nice review, I'm looking forward to seeing Small Mouth Sounds at the Segal Center next week, a new comedic play about six people who go to a silent retreat and what they learn.

Rabbi Schachar shares a quote classical text on silence and this week's parasha:

"Said Rabbi the name of Rabbi Yochanan...When the Holy Blessed One gave the Torah, no bird chirped, no fowl fluttered, no ox lowed, the angels did not fly, the Seraphim did not utter the Kedusha, the sea did not roar, the creatures did not speak; the universe was silent and mute. And the voice came forth “Anochi Adonai Elohecha” (I am the Infinite, your God)".—Shmot Rabba 29-7

Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --

* Friday Night Service - Every Third Friday of the Month. Next is Feb 21st - Special Guest: Rabbi Jan Salzman from Burlington, Vermont. Potluck supper follows program - please bring veggie side dishes, & beverages. We provide the mains, challah, juice & wine. Suggested donation: $8-$18. @Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA on 5400 Westbury.

* New/Old-school service every fourth Saturday of the month. Next is Feb 22

Un service novateur traditionnel du matin avec la percussion Shabbosdik. Chaque quatrième chabbat du mois à 10h Potluck végétarien: 12h30, suivi de musaf Tout le monde est bienvenu! Don suggéré: 18$ (10$ les abonnés de MOS) RSVP & paiement: Montreal Open Shul INFO: ******************** An innovatively traditional morning service with Shabbosdik percussion. Every 4th Saturday of the month 10am Shacharit 12:30 Vegetarian potluck kiddish followed by Musaf For all ages; all are welcome! Suggested donation: $18 ($10 for MOS subscribers) RSVP & payment: Info:

@Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA on 5400 Westbury.

Interested in reading Torah or Haftarah for our next New/Old-school services on Feb. 22? Contact

* Restorative Shabbat, March 6, 7-10 pm - 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, March 4.

Contact Rabbi Schachar for more info,

* Purim Comedy Improv, March 10, 6:30 pm, also featuring a potluck seuda, crafty cocktails and magnificent mocktails (cash bar), @5215 Grand Boulevard, Tickets: $18, subsidies available, limited space, reservations via MOS website required by March 6.

*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.