What a week! It was wonderful to see so many of you here on Monday night to listen to our sofer discuss the work of repairing and restoring a torah. Rabbi Salazar’s words were powerful and, at least for me, inspirational. If you’ve spent time in various synagogues, or with various rabbis, you know that rabbis can often by typified. At our most basic level, my wife likes to categorize us as the “academic” rabbis, the “spiritual” rabbis, and the “touchy feely” rabbis. Ideally, all rabbis operate in each of these categories based on the needs of their congregation, or on the needs of individual congregants. But, and this is where my wife’s categories come into play, most rabbis do feel most “at home” in one of these. If you’ve been to any of my adult education classes, you can probably guess where I fall.
Yes, if you want to know what truly gets me excited as a rabbi, it is talking about the history, the evolution, and all the gray area in Judaism. It is looking at all levels of our Torah not only for its potential divinity (the spiritual aspect), but also for the thousands of hands and opinions that went into its creation. As a rabbi, I love sharing all of these insights and possibilities with you, and I love seeing the questions that we can grapple with together as we understand all the contextual, geographical, and, yes, spiritual factors that came together to make us a people.
Still, as fascinating as all that academic stuff is, sometimes it’s very refreshing to have one of those spiritual supercharged moments. One of those moments that, regardless of what you believe about God or the divinity of the Torah, reminds you there is something bigger than us going on here. There is something bigger than legend, bigger than tradition, bigger than man, that unifies us all together. On Monday night, I experienced one of those supercharged moments. I experienced what I like to call a spiritual re-centering. It was a chance to connect with the Torah on a level on which I don’t often connect.
I hope that those in attendance had a similar experience. If you didn’t, that’s okay. We all have those supercharged moments in different ways. Indeed, for some people, the supercharge might come from an adult education class, or from a particularly poignant moment reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish. Or a new tune (or old one) during Kabbalat Shabbat. The truth is, we all have our Jewish comfort zones. We all have what keeps us coming back to shul week after week, or event after event. That constant in our life that keeps us connected to Judaism is so wonderful!
Still, I hope that you are all giving yourselves ample opportunities for those unexpected moments, those moments when you aren’t expecting a huge connection and suddenly find it. Those supercharged moments. The thing about those moments is that while we generally cannot create them ourselves (after all, they are unexpected), we alone are the ones who create the possibility for them to show themselves. After speaking to so many of you, it seems that like for me, Monday evening was one such opportunity. Even if you did not have the chance to leave your own mark in the Torah, so many of you shared how Rabbi Salazar’s framing of the Torah in relation to our own lives changed you, and changed your perspective. For those of you who did help Rabbi Salazar write in the Torah, I’ve heard that you felt, quite literally, a kind of supercharge. You had goosebumps; your breath was taken away.
I am so grateful to our Board for the time and energy they put into this event and every event we host at the Temple. It is through their efforts that events like Monday night are possible. It is through their efforts that we all, including your rabbi, get to have these supercharge moments. I hope you will continue to support them, and to support our Temple programming, because it is, ultimately, always about you. About meeting your needs. About meeting your wants. And, every so often, like this past Monday night, presenting an opportunity for an experience you may not have known you even needed or wanted.