I am often asked, “Is Rabbinic life different in a pandemic?” The answer is simple: It is a new normal. Thursday is my new favorite day of the week. Blessed with over 100 b’nai mitzvah this year, Thursdays are now Torah delivery day. As we prepare for the Zoom Shabbat service, a Torah and an ark are brought to the celebrant’s home. This week, I could not help but think of our parsha, Yitro, the ultimate moment of Torah revelation at Mount Sinai. God tells Moses that a thick cloud will appear in order to speak with him and the people will trust in God. Seforno explains that this will allow the people to believe that there can be true communication between the people and God.
In “normal” times, the Torah is stuck in the ark, and the ark is stuck in our sacred spaces. Communication with God feels absent without the physical touch of the Torah. But in these “new normal times,” the Torah travels: out of the ark, out of our synagogue, and into your homes. I witness the kavod, the honor, that families have to host the Torah in their homes for Shabbat, to feel connected in a way they have never felt before.
When we begin our Torah service, we sing vayhi binsoa ha’aron, “And the ark traveled.”
Yesterday, as I pushed the ark down Holmby Avenue to load into my car, I sang those words. The Torah must not stand alone. It must travel. It is for all of us.