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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Simchat Torah

I'm going to borrow an article, because I have just been so busy this weekend! This is so perfectly and beautifully worded I couldn't give you nearly the gift this is.

Simchat Torah by followingtheancientpaths

On the eighth day of Sukkot is Simchat Torah (rejoicing in the Torah) which is said to be the most joyous day of the year. It is to be on par with a wedding, for at a wedding and on Simchat Torah there is dancing and celebration and joy. What do we celebrate and rejoice in? We are rejoicing in the fact that the Almighty has blessed us with His Torah, His very Word.

Have you ever been to an event with loved ones and have hated to leave? Have you ever found yourself longing to stay a little longer and lingering with those you love? This is Simchat Torah. We have spent 7 days of Sukkot with our Master, sitting at His feet and reveling in His Great Light. This eighth day is the lingering good-bye. This is the day that says to us, “Don’t go just yet, please stay for one more day.” Goodbyes can be hard. I well remember last year’s visit from a dear friend who had moved away. “Parting is such sweet sorrow” the saying goes. We didn’t find a lot of sweetness that morning in the train station as I dropped her off for her journey home. Funny thing is that we had gone to visit her family just a few months prior and our parting then was much the same - tearful. Simchat Torah is the “Please, stay with me one more day.” Parting is sweet sorrow when we have spent a delightful time with a loved one - we are sorry to have it end but the time spent was so sweet.

But just as it is a good-bye and a lingering among loved ones it is also a new beginning. We begin a new calendar year (though this is nearing the end of the month) and the annual Torah reading cycle begins anew with Genesis. We say goodbye to Moshe and hello to creation. It is a cycle. When one thing is completed, another starts out fresh. We welcome this new year with excitement and joy. It is like when we were nearing my friend’s home after traveling for several days, not having seen each other for quite some time. The excitement we felt was almost too much for us. Some giggled as someone shouted, “There it is! That’s their house!” Just like when she came to visit us and we waited anxiously for the phone call letting us know that she had arrived and we were to come pick her up. Oh the anticipation and excitement of being able to spend time with loved ones!

Simchat Torah, Rejoicing in the Torah. Saying goodbye to one and hello to another. Good friend, good teacher - the letters of instruction from our Loving Father.

It is as if we have been spending the festival of Sukkot with our Father, worshiping Him at His feet. We have taken time out of our lives to focus on HaShem as our shelter, our refuge, our protection, our provider. We have thought about Yeshua as the Light of the World, the Living Water Who was poured out for us and that if we drink of Him we will never thirst again. We have thought about leaving our bonds of sin in Egypt and living a life of freedom. We have thought about Yeshua having gone to prepare a place for His bride. There would have been (were there a Temple) 70 bulls offered, which may very well represent one for each of the 70 nations. On Simchat Torah there is the final bull offered, only this one is offered on the eighth day (though the daily sacrifices are still offered, they never stop). This final day is a special and sacred assembly, to be sure. This is a day to participate in a holy convocation, a special Shabbat to the L-RD. We have dwelt in this way for the past 7 days and now we are saying “goodbye” to the fall festivals, to our time at the Masters feet. It is a sweet and sorrowful parting. But we are rejoicing in that we have His Word, the Torah and that through it we are given instructions for life and peace, joy, righteousness, and holiness.

Maimonides describes how we should long for G-d’s presence as we do for a loved one. And the feeling is mutual. We should long for time spent with HaShem just like we long to be with friends and family. More than anticipating a visit from grandparents or dear friends, more than anticipating our children returning home from far away - we should long for the presence of HaShem.

There are many teachings related to Simchat Torah and the uniqueness of this day. A simple internet search will yield a lot of results.

For those who read the annual cycle it is a day of saying goodbye to Deuteronomy and hello to Genesis as the scroll is rewound to begin the cycle anew. For those who keep to the triennial cycle it is still a day of rejoicing and celebrating, though the ceremonies will be different.

This is one of my favorite stories of all time that I thought I’d share here with my readers:
A True Simchat Torah Story by Rabbi Yerachmiel Milstein If you read this true story you will find at the bottom of the story that this is #3 in a series of 7 articles. Read #4 as well.

May you find blessing and joy in this day of rejoicing, Simchat Torah.

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