It is a gift to sit at the foot of your teacher day after day.
For the last ten years, I have had the privilege of doing so, serving Sinai Temple with Rabbi Wolpe as the Max Webb Senior Rabbi.
As Rabbi Wolpe prepares to deliver his final sermon tomorrow, I would like to share three lessons I have learned from him, my teacher and my Rabbi.
1. Appreciate the community you serve every day. Each week, sitting with Rabbi Wolpe on the bima, I consistently hear stories of hakarat hatov, the recognition of good that emanates from our Sinai Temple family. Each person brings a story, and those narratives create the sacred community that we appreciate.
2. Brevity is key. There are no superfluous words in the Torah. Repetition always denotes something greater than the text itself. A lesson can be taught in few words but greater action.
3. Vision of the Jewish Future: It is one thing to dream. It is another thing to make dreams a reality. Rabbi Wolpe’s ability to see what the Jewish future could be allows Sinai Temple to be an incubator of innovation-backed by the foundation of who we are at our core, God, Torah, and Israel.
Each Shabbat we recite Psalm 92. Tzaddik Katam Yifrach-the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. The palm tree’s roots spread out horizontally and absorb water and nutrients. There is no better metaphor for the Torah that Rabbi Wolpe has taught us. Its roots have spread beyond our walls, and because this Torah has been absorbed by the greater world, we as a Jewish people will continue to dream and create the Jewish future together.