Sunday, October 22, 2023

Simchat Torah and Havdalah


 Greetings Gail-Friends:

Haven't caught up since Sukkot.  Our sukkah is still up. . . and we might just leave it up.  We've enjoyed having mornings together in there.  It's cozy and it's a reminder that His presence is with us.  

One morning during our prayer time together, I prayed, "Father, please let the painted buntings come back!"  And immediately, a beautiful male bunting flew to the feeder.  I didn't get a picture that day, but here's a photo from years past.  They've been coming to Golden Cottage for over a decade, and last year, they arrived in late August.  I'm so glad they've come 'cause they fill my bird-nerd heart with JOY!

When Sukkot ended, we held our Simchat Torah service at the synagogue.  Ordinarily, this event is an all-night study of the Torah.  This year, however, we decided to make it an all day service.  Rabbi shared some great information and wisdom with us, and I will be sharing a few of those lessons with you in the weeks ahead.  


We reverently paraded the Torah - walking behind it, following it with our eyes and reverently touching it with our siddurs. Some kiss the siddur and then touch it to the scroll.  We do these things to remind us that we carry the Torah with us everywhere we go and we do not turn our backs on it.  We kiss it because the Word is like honey to our lips. 

We praised Hashem, worshiped Him, prayed, studied, and danced.  One of our ladies taught us two new dances.  I was able to dance (with my new knee) and it felt so good!  Thank you, Father.


And we ate, of course.  You remember the Jewish motto, right?  It is:  They Tried to Kill Us . . . We Survived . . . Let's Eat!   We had a covered dish lunch around noon, and then a Mediterranean meal for dinner (provided by one of our synagogue families.)  I didn't get photos, sadly.  We were there from 9:30am to 7:30pm.  At the end, we had a Havdalah service.  We don't do this service often, so I really enjoyed it.

 I think the best part was having our 364 year-old Torah scroll rolled out at the service.  Many had never seen an antique sefer Torah.  Some were moved to tears.  Think about the hundreds of years the rabbis and congregations have protected and preserved this treasure:

Rabbi  rolled it out on a table for everyone to see up close.  Since it is very fragile, we don't touch it with our hands, but use a yud to touch the pages.

 I'll never forget the tears shed when we received this scroll from Israel.  It was originally in Morocco, at the very same synagogue that Rabbi Jem attended while he was stationed there in the military.  We treasure it.

When the sun went down, we started the Havdalah service.

The special Havdalah candle was lit.  It has three blue candles woven together and it makes quite a sizable flame! The candle symbolizes our joining together in the Messiah, in His Shabbat, and in His Festivals.  
Rabbi held up the kiddush cup, full and overflowing with sweet wine (the fruit of the vine) and said the following:
 "Behold, God is my Salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord M God is my strength and my song, and He also has become my Salvation.And with JOY, you shall draw forth water from the springs of Salvation.  Salvation is the Lord's; upon Your people be Your blessing, Selah (this word means to pause and reflect on the words just said)  The Lord of Hosts is with us, a stronghold for us is the God of Jacob, Selah.  Lord of Hosts, praised is the man who trusts in You.  Lord, save, and may the King answer us on the day when we call.  The Jews had light and gladness,JOY, and honor, so may it be for us.  I will lift up the cup of Salvation and will call on the Name of the Lord, blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine."  (Isn't this a wonderful prayer for what we're going through in our country and with all going on in Israel?)
The cup was set down, and rabbi lifted up the spice box. It contains cloves, cinnamon, and frankincense.  The cup is passed around and we all enJOY the aroma of the sweet spices. 
The spices remind us of the sweetness of Shabbat, a little of which we carry over into the new week. This prayer is recited together:  Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the lights of fire  We gaze at the fire and reflect on the blessing of Yeshua, the Light of the World.

The cup was then  lifted up again and the following was  spoken together:
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who makes a distinction between the holy and the secular, light and darkness.  Israel and the nations, the seventh day and the six days of labor.  Blessed are You O Lord.  Who makes a distinction between the holy and the secular.  

At this point, we sing Ayleeyahoo Hanavi (Elijah the prophet) : Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Teesh-bite, Elijah from Giladi.  Quickly in our day come to us, with the Messiah, Son of David.   The song reminds us to look forward, to the beginning of a new week and to the ultimate end, when both Elijah and Yeshua the Messiah will return. 
Then we say together:

Shavuah Tov!  eight times!)  which means Have a Good Week.  
You can hear two versions of this song at these links:

The first is the one we sing at Simchat Torah:  Eliyahu Hanavi 
And this is the dance version:  Eliyahu Hanavi by dance team 

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