As a keen reader and admirer of rabbinic literature, I am aware of the weight and power that a rabbi’s words can have. That’s why I become concerned when a rabbi’s words are not read as they were intended.
A few days after my bulletin article went out this month (I am flattered by the way, that so many people read it!), I made an “unforced error” in the last paragraph of my article, in which I pointed out that this Yizkor would be Rabbi Lewis’ last sermon as “a rabbi” in the synagogue. At the time that I wrote my article, the intent of this statement seemed abundantly clear to me. Beginning on July 1 of 2019, Rabbi Lewis will transition to become our “Rabbi Emeritus.” He will be retired and therefore will no longer hold the title “rabbi,” but “Rabbi Emeritus.” This, therefore, will be his last sermon as “a rabbi at Etz Chaim.”
Unfortunately, as some of you pointed out, the text doesn’t read that way. Instead, it seemed from my article that Yom Kippur would be the last time Rabbi Lewis would ever speak from our bimah. Period. I hope that here you will appreciate the famous words of Mark Twain who once quipped that “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Or perhaps, you might consider this a case of confusing “would” vs. “wouldn’t.” Of his choosing, I know for a fact that there will continue to be opportunities for us to learn Torah from Rabbi Lewis as our Rabbi Emeritus: provided he is not too busy writing, traveling the world, spending time with his adorable grandchildren, and working on his golf swing (in the last case, I’ve seen it, and we both could use the practice).
Needless to say, if you read the online edition of the September bulletin, this “unforced error” has been corrected. In the meanwhile, I hope you will all allow me to say chatati (I’ve made a mistake) for which I imagine I will be beating my chest as Rabbi Lewis delivers a beautiful (but not final) Yizkor sermon on Yom Kippur.