Parashat Tazria Torah Reading: Leviticus 12:1-13:59
I have just returned from the annual Rabbinical Assembly Convention, spending five days with my colleagues, studying, sharing, relaxing and even experiencing Tai Chi! We meet in a different city every year and this year we met in a conference center in Las Vegas! Several hundred rabbis from Canada, the United States, Latin America and Israel came together catching up with old friends and making new connections as well.
The last D'var Torah / sermon we heard at morning minyan yesterday morning was presented by Rabbi Adam Watstein, the Assistant Rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in Las Vegas. Rabbi Watstein's D'var Torah was the perfect inspirational message to help us transition from the unique atmosphere of the Rabbinical Assembly Convention back to our congregations, schools, Hillels, chaplaincies and the myriad other venues in which Conservative/Masorti rabbis serve: Rabbi Watstein described a moment, sitting in his office, when a kid in the room on the other side of the wall to his office bounced a ball hard against the wall. A number of books fell of a shelf and onto the floor.
The books of course, fell open on the floor and, as Rabbi Watstein picked them up, he stopped and looked at each page that was open. The books were volumes he had had in his library since he was a teenager. The books were highlighted, underlined, and annotated with marginal notes. As Rabbi Watstein perused each volume, he revisited the years of his life during which he fell in love with Judaism. All that passion, enthusiasm and exploration came back to him. All the day-to-day engagements of the rabbinic day -- meetings, deadlines, time management challenges -- all fell away and all the energy and inspiration that led him to the rabbinate were back.
Rabbi Watstein encouraged us all to get in touch with those pre-ordination days, to refresh ourselves by reliving the texts, the experiences, the passions that inspired us to become rabbis in the first place . . . and to bring that energy back with us to our post-Convention "real lives."
This is what happened in Vegas . . . and isn't staying in Vegas.
Rabbi Amy Levin
has been Torat Yisrael's rabbi since the summer of 2004 and serves as President of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island.