Monday, October 24, 2011

Simhat Torah Sermon

We have come to the conclusion of the Tishrei marathon.   We observed Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and now finally, Simhat Torah.  We travel from personal introspection and repentance to fasting and the recounting of our many failings to the wandering and fragility of temporary booths to now the joy of Simhat Torah.

We celebrate the conclusion of the Torah reading cycle and its simultaneous beginning.  On this day we begin the cycle all over again.  We believe that everything we ever wanted to know is in this scroll.  It is only perhaps a matter of reading it at a different angle if the wisdom is not immediately apparent.

This is because all wisdom is contained in this book.  This day is therefore cause for great celebration.  Simhat Torah is the quintessential Jewish holiday.  It is about dancing and singing.  And these more than anything else are more the Jewish postures than the fasting and litany of sins on Yom Kippur.  We are supposed to celebrate.  We are commanded to rejoice.

In fact the Talmud Yerushalmi states that we will be held to account for all the joys we neglected to celebrate.  When we approach the heavenly court we will be asked in effect, “Did we rejoice enough?”  That in a nutshell is the Jewish message.  Revel in life.  Celebrate life. Most especially celebrate the gift of Torah.  And never pass up an opportunity to join a party.

May this year offer us many opportunities to celebrate.  May this year offer us many opportunities to learn from this Torah.

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