|Ma'gen Da'vid Synagogue's Torah Scroll - from Morocco - over 300 years old|
(This is re-post from last year's Simchat Torah celebration)
The last festival of the fall season is Simchat Torah. Although it is not listed as one of the seven feasts and festivals in Leviticus, a tradition has developed over many years to observe the holiday seven days after
Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). On Simchat Torah, the Rabbi and congregation (who are able) spend all night long studying and celebrating Torah.*
Simchat Torah fell on Shabbat this year, so after oneg, the event began with parading the Torah scroll. The looks on the faces of those carrying the scroll are priceless. (see below) We realize that carrying Torah is a very tangible expression of the fact that we "carry" Torah with us wherever we go. As the Torah is paraded, people follow along behind, dancing and praising G-d. It is a joyous time. While they follow along, they keep their eyes on the Torah at all times...another tangible lesson about how important it is to never turn our backs on G-d's Word.
Rabbi Jem and I were very excited that 19 people decided to spend all night studying the Torah this year. He had a quiz prepared to find out how much everyone knew about the Torah, and several studies. These alternated with eating, drinking, and dancing. Yes, we love to dance. Several of the men did the bottle dance from Fiddler on The Roof. So much fun to watch those guys try to out do each other. (I'm so sorry I didn't get pictures of this.)
Of the 19 people who stayed, 14 made it through until daybreak. After the all-night Torah study, the Rabbi led the remaining faithful to the local diner for breakfast. Sad to say, I was not one of the remaining faithful (although I did join them for breakfast). I had to leave about 11:00. A night owl, I am not. Maybe next year if I take a good long nap that day. Those who stayed were jubilant and very glad they stayed because they learned so much and had a great time together. They all agreed they would do it again next year.
|Harry carrying Torah|
|Big Jim dancing with joy!|
|Will lifting up Torah with joy!|
What joy we realize as we meditate on the fact that G-d has preserved His Holy Word over thousands of years. Yes, He left an instruction book, penned with His own hand. In future posts, I will tell about the joys and blessings of studying Torah.
* The Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are the books given to Moses. These words have been carefully preserved, revered, and cherished by the Jewish people for thousands of years.