From Being Jewish
by Rabbi Jason Miller
It wasn’t the first time I traveled in a car with a Torah, but I’d never actually put one in my own car and driven with it. Awe-inspiring? Powerful? Confusing?
It’s an odd experience if you’ve never done it. Maybe it’s akin to giving a ride to a great Torah scholar, but at least the Torah scholar can request a seat preference.Nowhere in the law codes does it expressly state whether a sefer Torah gets “shotgun” or not.
On Shabbat morning, we parade the Torah around, but there was no ritual here. I was offended when a woman sitting in her car in the parking lot didn’t get out and stand at attention as I brought the Torah to my car. Then I wondered whether my car was clean enough for my guest? Is a shmutzy exterior sacrilegious when the holy Torah’s inside?
It was a simple enough task: Bring a sefer Torah to display at a Catholic college while presenting a Basic Judaism talk. I was nervous the entire time. I pondered what type of music I should play, if any. Howard Stern was an obvious no-no. Starting a conversation would only feel awkward. I opted for silence. The tailgating cars were the worst. Didn’t they know about my sacred passenger? Upon returning to the shul, mission accomplished, I returned the Torah to the ark with a sigh of relief. I was honored to share my car with such a revered passenger. It was undoubtedly the quietest passenger with the most to say.