So I stop by the shul Thursday night, just to see what’s going on, but the place is empty and smells of wet fish. Only the Torah sits by itself in the Rabbi’s wooden chair, looking kind of philosophical and busy so I decide to get Chinese instead. But before I reach the door there’s a coarse rustling behind me and the Torah is at my ear and it says, in a Torah voice, a grave low hum, it says let’s go for a shpatzir and I say sure, because I’m not that busy and also because it’s a Torah. It swaddles its parchment around me and we fly up above the buildings and trees and burbling doves until we hover somewhere high over my city.
I want you to see a cow, the Torah says and then we whoosh over the Hudson towards New Jersey and after almost no time at all land in a yellow field with a zaftig black cow sitting by a wire fence.
Hi Torah, says the cow, in a pleasant voice. Hi cow, says the Torah. I’m on a shpatzir with my friend over here and I wanted him to come see you. Ok, answers the cow, why though? The cow doesn’t say this in a mean way, she just sounds confused, and squints at me, trying to see what about me would need to see a cow.
The Torah launches into this long winded professorial answer about the degrading effects of urbanism on the national moral psyche and the travesty of how none of the youth these days have any symbiosis with animals the way they used to and did the cow have idea how lacking the average knowledge of agronomy was amongst Millenials on the Eastern Seaboard? During all this the cow and I are just giving each other side-eye like what is this Torah even saying? Finally, the speech winds down and there’s a bit of an awkward lull.
The cow breaks the silence. Sooooooooo, she says, speaking of agronomy, I have some absolutely fantastic weed. Literally harvested it this morning, been drying in the shade all day. High quality stuff. Was about to hit it when you two dropped out the sky. She lifts up a foreleg and there’s a fully packed bong sitting there with all the Flintstones painted on it. She lights up.
I wasn’t going to smoke in front of the Torah. It’s not strictly forbidden, it just felt weird, like doing shots with your dad. The Torah, surprisingly, is totally down, and takes a huge hit and I’m not going to be the odd man out, so I get involved as well.
It’s real nice weed. We sit against the wire fence and the cow tells us about her owners, an Indian couple with a beet farm. The cow is a Jainist and she and the Torah go deep into a discussion about the influence of Judaism on Mahavira and Eastern religions, which I wouldn’t follow even clearheaded so I just lay back on the cool earth and look up at the glistening Jersey sky.
We’re all having such much fun, the hours pass and I realize it’s going to be morning soon. I have work at seven and I know the Torah needs to be read for prayers, so I nudge it in the side. The cow makes us promise to stop by for brownies next month and we take off, whoosh, all the way up into the night.
We head back to my city, slower this time and the Torah unwraps me in front of the shul. Before I leave I ask the Torah, because I have to, why did we go on this trip? The weed was great and the cow was cool, thanks so much, but you have all of God’s rules, and His wisdom and All and Everything, so what’s up with the shpatzir, and to Jersey of all places? Why not just stay in the shul? And why bring me?
The Torah gives a little sigh, an ancient sigh, a sad sigh.
Yes, wisdom is wisdom and it’s all divine and truth and Everything, it says. But I’m a Torah. People carry me all the time. They raise me, lower me, open and close me. For decades and millennia. I get kind of sore and tired being moved around. I just wanted to take someone else out, bring them around for a change you know? You seemed like a nice guy. So I asked you. That’s it.
I’m sure there’s more to it but the Torah sounds a little prickly and tired and I don’t want to ruin a fun time with more questions, so I walk it back to its Ark and say goodnight and go out to see if I can still scrounge some Chinese.