Reflections About Simhat Torah and the Book of Genesis

Reflections About Simhat Torah and the Book of Genesis

For many of us, the Jewish holidays do not conclude with Yom Kippur. We celebrate days of Sukkot along with Shmini Atzeret and Simhat Torah. There are synagogues activities, family activities and much, much planning which goes into these holiday observances. At this season of the year traditional Jews expend serious energy-physical, spiritual and emotional. Such is the way our calendar emerges. In 2017, Simhat Torah concludes and Shabbat begins immediately afterward. Yes, we are tired, but the joys of Sukkot far outweigh its ‘burdens.’

Tonight and tomorrow we will celebrate Shmini Atzeret and Simhat Torah combined. Shmini Atzeret represents the 8th (and last) day of the Pilgrimage, which Jews of old made to Jerusalem for Sukkot. The Sukkot festivities so brought people together that they did not want to return home to their respective communities. Shmini Atzeret (literally eighth day gathering/assembly) was an opportunity for everyone to spend one more day collectively before returning home to everyday life. Simhat Torah, is the occasion when we finish the last reading in the Torah. Aside from it representing a day to sing and dance over another year of Jewish life; it is also an expression of defiance. Despite perennial enemies-external and internal-the beat of Jewish life goes on…We are still here; celebrating our festivals with the same passion as our counterparts from antiquity. With this Shabbat, we being the reading of Genesis; back to the beginning. The Jewish cycle continues…

Genesis (Braisheet in Hebrew) provides a second opportunity for us to begin with a new slate. Yom Kippur marks an occasion to resolve moral dilemmas and to make amends both with God and with other people. Genesis, on the other hand, marks the occasion to renew our spiritual and cultural commitments to the Jewish people. As we begin re-reading about Creation; I hope we think about re-investing in the spiritual life of Am Yisrael and in our local Jewish community. Each of us will approach Judaism from a unique perspective. The key is to make that approach in a manner which satisfies our personal, spiritual needs; but also expresses renewed allegiance to the greater Jewish community.

May Shmini Atzeret, Simhat Torah and Genesis represent a spiritual renewal for us and for Jews throughout the world.

Hag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Klayman

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SIMHAT TORAH TONIGHT:

– 6pm Families for Sundaes and Pizza (no 4:15 regular start)
– 6:45 Celebration with dancing and singing (approx. one hour)

SHMINI ATZERET/SIMHAT TORAH TOMORROW (Thursday)

Service 9:30am with Yizkor (as usual). We will incorporate Simhat Torah into the service.

There is no Thursday night or Friday am service…