Dancing with our Books!
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
Simchat Torah, literally “The Joy/Rejoicing of the Torah” is the holiday that celebrates and marks both the conclusion of the annual cycle of the ritual Torah reading and the beginning of a new cycle. It also marks the end of the “holiday season” of the month of Tishrei, which includes Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret.
The main celebrations of Simchat Torah take place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. On each occasion, the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls. In the morning, the last and the first paragraphs of the Torah are read.
The Jewish people have been called “The People of the Book.” We read, study and take care of our sacred book, the Torah, and all the vast literature around it. Jewish life certainly revolves around books. Since during these past Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we presented some important Jewish books during our sermons, this Simchat Torah I feel even closer to Jewish books than ever.
Perhaps the best example of the Jewish love for books, especially sacred books, is the festival of Simchat Torah. Why is that? Because during this festival we even dance with the sacred books! Have you thought about it? Where else will you see people dancing with books? Only in the synagogue, during Simchat Torah!
This is the most joyous festival of the year (perhaps along with Purim), when we dance and sing while carrying the Torah scrolls, expressing our happiness about living a life of Torah, and particularly having been able to finish the annual reading and begin a new cycle immediately afterwards.
This is why we should all be present at the synagogue for Simchat Torah services. On Monday, October 21st at 7 pm, please bring your children and grandchildren, so they can also have fun with us at the synagogue. Dancing and singing with the Torah at the synagogue is a memory that will live with them forever.
Please also come on Tuesday, October 22nd at 9 am, when we will end and re-begin the cycle of the Torah reading again. Besides, I hope you come to support and congratulate our friends who have been designated as Chatan/Kallat Torah and Chatan/Kallat Bereshit. They will be called for the last and first alyiot of the Torah. More details to come, but an advance Mazel Tov to them!