This morning I arrived at shul a couple of minutes before 9:30, rainbow tallit under my arm. I missed going last week, so it felt really nice to walk in the door -- and even more so when one of the congregation's co-presidents greeted me at the door with an effervescent "Rachel! I'm so happy to see you!"
How nice it is to be appreciated, I thought, beaming at her and at the room. Then she continued, "The rabbi's car is in a ditch!"
One of the downsides of living in a beautiful semi-rural area, as we do, is that winter weather can get in one's way from time to time. The rabbi lives on a dirt road which twists up and down some hills. It's been raining lately, then freezing at night (joy.) On his way to shul this morning, his car slid backwards into a ditch.
Baruch Hashem, no one was hurt -- not even the car. But it would take a while for AAA to arrive. So he'd called the co-president to dash to shul and open up shop. She had left a house full of guests to come and make sure we were able to get into the building! The only thing she'd been missing was a shaliach tzibbur. Until I arrived.
Actually, the rabbi emerita was there, too, it turned out. So we had a gracious plenty of options. I led the davenen, which was a treat for me as always. I missed having my guitar, and I really missed having my own siddur (which is aflutter with colored tabs and thick with penciled notes which remind me how to direct everyone smoothly to new pages as needed.) But it was fun to invent the service as I went along, choosing this poem or that tune on the fly. The rabbi emerita led an awesome Hallel.
And then, just as I was preparing to do a creative Torah service pinch-hit (as I've seen done elsewhere: we were going to open the scroll and have someone follow along with a yad as I read from the chumash, since I didn't want to accidentally mangle a Torah reading I hadn't practiced aloud) the rabbi walked in the door of the shul!
"Baruch ha-ba b'shem Adonai," I said -- "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" (Psalm 118:26) -- and he laughed.