Friday, December 10, 2010

Rabbi Brin Brings People to Torah

Being Mikarev (Bringing People Closer):  When Abq Jew performed with the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band at Nahalat Shalom's Funky Khanikeh Freylekh last erev Shabbos (Friday night), he watched as Rabbi Deborah J. Brin did something absolutely amazing: 

She removed a Sefer Torah from the ark, placed it on the reading stand, unrolled it, and invited everyone present (there were a lot of us) to come up to the bimah, look into the scroll, and see what words of Torah look like.

Why was this amazing?  Because, according to the tradition, you're not supposed to do this.  We don't remove the Sefer Torah from the ark unless we intend to read from it.  And we don't read from the Sefer Torah on erev Shabbos - the Torah reading is for Shabbos (Saturday) morning and afternoon.

But then, Abq Jew thought - What is the purpose of Judaism?  Why did God put us here?  To move people toward God and bring them closer to Torah.  As it says in Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), Chapter 1, Mishna 12:

Hillel says: Be from among the students of Aharon; one who loves peace, one who pursues peace, one who loves others and brings them closer to Torah.
That's exactly, literally, what Rabbi Brin was doing.  Abq Jew is a big fan of tradition.  But sometimes, you've got to set tradition aside to achieve a greater good.  Rabbi Brin got God's priorities right.

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