Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg delivered these remarks at the ceremony
Hinei Matov u’Manayim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad. How good it is and how pleasant when brothers and sisters come together in unity.
So we thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Larson for your faith, your vision, and your generosity; and Dr. Robertson for including the Jewish community in today’s celebration.
For it is, indeed, a celebration anytime a Torah is dedicated. Indeed, as is written so beautifully in our program for today, “This stunning piece of our spiritual heritage demonstrates the meticulous care and sacrificial commitment of one faith community’s preservation of the biblical text.”
The Torah, the Jewish people’s ancient, sacred scroll of the Five Books of Moses, preserves the history; the 613 laws or commandments; and, most importantly, the values and ethics that have sustained the Jewish people for nearly 4,000 years. And many would affirm, that the Torah’s morality has raised up and guided humanity—Christians and Jews alike—to and for the good unto today. For above all, God demands of us that we treat our fellows with dignity and respect; that we care for the stranger, and the “least among us” with compassion; and that we work to repair our world one act, one good work, or as we would say, one commandment or mitzvah at a time.
The Torah’s power, efficacy, and endurance lies in its origin; it is literally the word of God, as told to and recorded by Moses, our greatest prophet, on Mount Sinai, near the year 1800 Before the Common Era, just seven weeks after the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt. Its proximity to our liberation teaches a lesson in and of itself—that there is no freedom without responsibility. And its receipt in a desert wilderness, when it could have been given anywhere, reminds us that even in the most barren of places, no matter how lowly or bleak, that Torah and God are present, commanding us to look toward God’s light and to lift up that which is fallen.
Today, we too stand before the commanding presence of the Torah. It is the Jewish people’s most cherished treasure. It has led us on the way and guided us ever since we received it at Sinai. It has been carried during times of our greatest rejoicing, and when we fled from burning synagogues and villages. It contains words that are on the lips of the Jews until the moment of death, affirmations that have sustained the Jewish people in life since our beginnings.
Now, we share it with you, the leadership, administration, faculty and students of Regent University. While it is pasul, not suitable for use in Jewish rituals, we pray that as you use it in your classes, research, and ministry that you truly know, its “powerful testament to God’s faithfulness and the enduring power of His word.” Just as it has done for the Jewish people for generations, may the Torah inspire you to acts of love and kindness that our world might continue to be a better place because of your work.
It is customary to offer a blessing of Thanksgiving at auspicious and joyous occasions such as this one. We pray: Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haOlam, She’hechiyanu, v’kiyamanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh. We praise you God, Sovereign of the Universe, for giving us life, sustaining us, and allowing us to reach this most joyous occasion. Amen.
—Rosalin Mandelberg is senior rabbi of Ohef Sholom Temple and president, Board of Rabbis and Cantors of Hampton Roads.