Rabbi Alan Lew, z’l, who was my rav and is probably the reason I’m both religious and (now) a rabbi, died yesterday at the age of 65.
Here’s an obit from the SF Chronicle. The funeral will be at noon on Thursday at Beth Sholom–more info here. Here are a few words I wrote about this yesterday.
May his memory be for a blessing. May Sherril and his kids receive as much love and comfort as is possible to take in.
And here are a few words of his Torah, from This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared:
Suddenly we understand why the Great Temple of Jerusalem was an elaborate construction surrounding nothing. There at the sacred center, at the Holy of Holies, a place we only entered on Yom Kippur, and even then only by proxy, only through the agency of the high priest, there at that center, is precisely nothing–a vacated space, a charged emptiness, that surrounds this world, that comes before this life and after it as well….
And now we understand why we rehearse our death on Yom Kippur–why we say Vidui and wear a kittel and refrain from eating–why in the middle of this day, we send our proxy, now the cantor, into the dangerous emptiness at the center.
We need a taste of this emptiness, to give us a sense of what will go with us, what will endure as we make this great crossing. What’s important? What is at the core of our life? What will live on after we are wind and space? What will be worthy of that endless, infinitely powerful silence?….
What lives on of the people we have loved and lost? What breaks our hearts when we think of them? What do we miss so much that it aches? Precisely that suchness, that unspeakable, ineffable, intangible quality, which takes up no space at all and which never did.
That’s what survives that great crossing with us. That’s what makes it through the passage from life to death.