Simchah Torah, a holiday named for joy

Rabbi Evon Yakar
Temple Bat Yam

In the Jewish cycle of the year, there are many moments of elevated joy. Yet, one holiday says it all, as its name says it all. Simchat Torah, The Joy of Torah, marks the official end of the High Holiday season in Judaism. It is a time when we end the yearly reading of the Torah (the first five books of the Jewish Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). But this ending is different than most. For most people the end of a process, of a task usually marks a break from that activity. When we finish the school year, we take the summer off. When the baseball season ends, there is the off season and when we work 50 weeks of the year, we take two weeks off, but not so with the Torah.

The Simchat Torah holiday is a chance to not only celebrate the culture of learning and study within Judaism, but also to begin anew. As soon as we end the reading of Torah, we immediately jump to the beginning of the scroll. With the final words of the book of Deuteronomy we jump right to the first words of Genesis to begin again. It is symbolic of the cyclical nature of our world. It is a chance to learn again what we learned before, a year younger, a year less experienced and it urges us to find new or renewed meaning in a story, a character or a teaching. The Jewish tradition teaches that we should, “Turn in and turn it for everything is in it.” (Mishnah Avot 5:22).

Tonight we will gather to welcome Shabbat, the day of rest, but also to conclude our Torah reading for the year and begin again. The evening will begin with a nosh at 6 p.m., light appetizers, and continue with our Shabbat and Simchat Torah celebration at 6:30 p.m. Our celebration will include Torah readings, dancing with the Torahs and celebrating the year ahead!

Join us at Temple Bat Yam for Simchat Torah. For more information, contact the temple office today between noon and 5 p.m.

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