INTO THE WEST
Rabbi Herbert J. Cohen, Ph.D.
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to head out West and hike Palm Canyon in the foothills of the San Bernadino mountains in California, and also into the south rim of the Grand Canyon located several hours from Scottsdale, Arizona.
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to head out West and hike Palm Canyon in the foothills of the San Bernadino mountains in California, and also into the south rim of the Grand Canyon located several hours from Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to visiting family and enjoying the natural beauty of Hashem's creation, I was able to pray almost every day with a minyan because wherever I seemed to travel, there was a Chabad synagogue - warm, friendly, and always a familiar and comfortable place to pray.
I was reminded of this experience as I perused this week's Torah portion of Terumah which describes the holy ark whose staves remain constantly within the rings of the ark. Our sages tell us that one reason for the constant placement of the poles in the rings was to enable the ark to be transported easily at a moment's notice, to remind the Jewish people that the Torah can be brought anyplace, and that Torah is never to be relegated to a specific location. Rather, the Torah teaches us that sanctity is accessible to all of us at all times. Being in a wilderness does not mean we have to leave Torah behind. In fact, Chabad Jews by their successful outreach efforts have taught many of us that Torah can sprout anywhere, even in a barren wasteland.
There are two lessons to be learned from here. One, be thankful for the outreach efforts of Chabad because they enable so many Jews to be close to Torah, even when they are physically distant from large metropolitan areas. And two, the Torah is portable and one should take it with him wherever he goes.
Rabbi Herbert J. Cohen, Ph.D. has been the principal of the Yeshiva High School of Atlanta for over 20 years.
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