Anyone who has ever attended a Shabbat morning or Yom Tov service at a synagogue is familiar with a traditional practice that takes place as the Torah scroll is marched around the sanctuary. People reach out with a tallit or a siddur, touch it to the Torah scroll, and then kiss the tallit or siddur. This reverential act acknowledges that the Torah is the most sacred object in Judaism. "Torah" is a sacred concept as well, and I learned a most profound bit of Torah a number of years ago, which I would like to share with you.
When our son Robert was an infant, I took him with me to Shabbat morning services. He was sound asleep in his carrier, and I volunteered to carry the Torah scroll during the processional. Just as I got up, so did he. I decided to carry the Torah in one arm, and Robert in the other. As we reached one congregant, an old curmudgeon who was generally unpleasant, he touched his tallit to the Torah, then to Robert's head, kissed the tallit, and said with a smile, "You must be extra careful today. You are carrying two Torahs."
I learned several lessons, which I have pondered to this day. What would our relationships be like, if we acknowledged that every other person has Torah to teach us? We know that the holiness of the Torah is independent of the color or quality of the mantle that covers the scroll - are we prepared to accept other people in the same way? What would our world be like, if we treated our planet and its inhabitants with the same care and devotion that we show to a Torah scroll?
Judaism can lead you to answers to these questions. They are found in the Torah, the Talmud, and the writings of the great rabbinic teachers of the past and present. More important, Judaism teaches how to live one's life, how to achieve a better world, and how to fulfill the answers to life's deepest questions. When we find or develop the answers and live our lives in a Jewish context, we become links in the great chain of Jewish religion, culture and history. We enrich our own spiritual lives and those of our children.
That is why we are here. That is why we have our Burbank Temple Emanu El and its community. Our congregation is a wonderful place for addressing the questions we have. Please do not be just a member; become an active participant in the development of this religious community. It will elevate you in ways you might not have imagined.
Rabbi Richard A. Flom