Rabbi Shlomie Chein, Chabad at UCSC
Twenty roaring Harley Davidsons, Suzukis and Hondas of the YOW -Yids On Wheels motorcycle club are raring to go, just waiting for the light to turn green.
This oddity has an added oddity; on the back of one bike sits a rabbinical student. What is he doing there?
Its usually none of my business whos sitting where, but that night it was my concern. That rabbinical student was me.
A friend had offered to take me along, so I switched my black fedora for a hard helmet, and my dark blazer for a bomber jacket. After twenty city minutes, we left the traffic lights behind and began the mountainous climb through the countryside. Awesome.
This is no comfy car. I hold on for dear life, out there in the wild where you swerve with every curve, and thump on every bump. Hard uphill, you wonder if well ever make it to the top, seems like the Final Redemption after a long and perilous road.
We made it to the top, under a crescent moon with stars sprinkled about like glitter. Whats a Chasidic Jew doing out here? I realized there how nowhere "in middle of nowhere" really is.
Holy Moses! Moses got the Torah on a mountain in the wilderness, in the middle of nowhere. Why? Were the grand ballrooms or big parks booked that day? Maybe a Divine Revelation would give me, too, a Torah insight on the mountain!
There are 3 types of transportation. Public transportation: you hop on board, someone else does the driving. Private transportation: you take your car, but as soon as you hit flatland you hit cruise. Then theres the motorcycle, the real ride where you fully travel each part of the way. I couldnt let go for a second; theres no forgetting where you are.
Lifes a journey. Were constantly moving. Our thoughts change, our feelings grow. We get older, explore and encounter, and learn new things. But how long can we keep it up?
Some just get on the bus, riding the waves of others; family or friends, fame, riches or luck. They make nothing of, and on, their own.
Others pull out of the driveway in their little car and roll down the small streets. They change lanes on busy thoroughfares, getting on and off fast highways. But when they find their route, they lean back, relax, and hit cruise.
The Jews got their directions on a mountain in middle of nowhere. Yup, if youre living, keep riding. Dont just take the bus. Its nice that grandpa made Kiddush and grandma lit Shabbat candles Friday night. But that was them. If youre still riding on their ride, you missed your stop!
Your car wont do it. Bar/bat Mitzvah classes are fine; Hebrew school is super. But the ride doesnt end there. That was way back when station wagons were in; you wouldnt be caught near one of those today. As for your current situation, "been there, done that." Its time to move on!
If youre not doing anything real right here and right now; is it really you whos moving ahead, or are you just watching all else outside go past!
Now cut cruisin, rev your engine and scoot up to your Shavout mountaintop!