Yesterday was a remarkable day, and I want to report on it to you in this forum. Ironically, I have had a very hard time determining sermon and teaching topics over the last few weeks. Suddenly, I have a wealth of topics -- and this week we have a scholar in residence and I have no chance to speak!!
On Wednesday mornings when Congress is in session, I co-lead a reflection group for a few Members of Congress, and a few others, most of whom are not Jewish. It is an enlightening and endearing group, especially because the dedicated individuals who attend infrequently have time to think about the ideals and values that inspired them to public service. It is a privilege to share their time to "think great thoughts." Yesterday was a particularly meaningful session (though I cannot discuss specifics). I left at 8:55 feeling as if I had been a part of Torah.
In the early afternoon, the local Rabbinical Assembly met with Prof. Menachem Kellner (who will be our scholar this weekend). His presentation on Maimonides and Yehudah haLevi was astonishing in its depth and relevance to today. In fact, he was so good, I almost decided not to go to my next event. When I left, I felt I had really been a part of Torah.
What I left Prof. Kellner's session, I went to a special luncheon organized by King Abdullah II of Jordan. He invited 70 rabbis (a significant number) to be his guest at a kosher meal so he could address us on the need for Muslim-Jewish reconciliation. It was a remarkable speech -- in fact, the speech we have all been aching to hear from an Arab leader. I was invited to share the king's table and had a chance to shmooze with him. (I know -- "shmooze" and "king" don't seem to fit in the same sentence, but take my word for it, he's a delightfully accessible guy for a sovereign ruler.) Having heard his call for peace and reconciliation, I felt I had really REALLY been a part of Torah.
And then last night, exhausted from running all over town, I flipped on the television and saw an airliner with a twisted front landing gear. I had the good fortune to be watching at just the moment the plane was instructed to land. Having become so accustomed to disaster -- the space shuttle, hurricanes, the tsunami, terrorist acts -- I braced for the worst. You saw it yourself, live or on tape; it was a perfect landing, in spite of the friction-provoked sparks and flames that the metal created as it scraped along the concrete. The perfect confluence of human expertise and divine providence combined to save 150 precious lives.
And then I knew that having been a part of Torah all day, I had merely been preparing to appreciate seeing a miracle.