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What's a Rabbi Road Trip Look Like?

I’m up in San Francisco for the conference of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. 460 rabbis gathered together for study, thinking,
companionship and professional development. After a day of prayer and discussions about the future of the Jewish community and about intermarriage, I find myself in a Prius on a road trip an hour south of San Francisco.

It seems the conference is coinciding perfectly with our friend’s heart surgery. Talk about the divine coincidence which put us in the right place at the right time.

I could’ve been listening to NPR’s Peter Sagal. I could’ve been sharing a late night drink with colleagues, comparing best practices about synagogues. Instead, I’m practicing what I preach, and doing some long distance bikkur cholim (visiting the sick).

We teach that bikkur cholim is among the top tier of Jewish values. It takes great commitment to remove oneself from routine and other priorities to place the needs of others first. When Moses’ sister Miriam became sick in the wilderness, the entire community ceased it’s travels to wait for her to heal. Granted, she was a major macher (leader) of the community. But the commitment of the people to care for the ill was and is inspiring.

So I’m trekking down to San Jose with my wife and our other friend, arriving well after visiting hours, but hoping to trade on my rabbi title to get past the visiting guards. Just popping in for some face time, to give a hug and a blessing and then to take off. Hope to be back at the hotel by 1:00 am.

That’s what you do for loved ones. That’s what you do to fulfill the mitzvah.

So tonight I am the spiritual support; tomorrow I sleep.

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