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Simchat Torah

October 8, 2020
20 Tishrei 5781

Simchat Torah

Dear Friends,

Here we are again, at the beginning. That is always where we need to start, even when it is not clear that it is a beginning. Simchat Torah marks the end of the holiday period by bringing us to the very beginning of the Torah with the story of Creation.

As much as I am fond of Sukkot, there is something about Simchat Torah that gives me the oomph to go forward.  Even before becoming a rabbi, the holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah were akin to running a marathon. There seemed to be no end in sight; where was the normal rhythm of daily life? But after chilly nights of eating in the Sukkah, there was Simchat Torah, an opportunity to let go and appreciate the miracle of getting to start all over. It was not and is not starting over ex nihilo. The past certainly exists and we have not forgotten what has come before, but here is our chance to both finish and begin again. Simchat Torah places hope right into the center of our tradition.

After chastising ourselves for all of our missteps over the past year, Simchat Torah is a moment of affirmation and hope. We celebrate this holiday with music, dancing with the Torah, honoring the members of our community who do so much in sustaining us, and of course, reading both the end and the beginning of the Torah.

We hear about the end of a well-lived life and then we hear about the beginning when the world was created.  This holiday, which is neither Biblical (not mentioned in the Torah) nor found in the Talmud, came out of our practice of reading Torah; as such, it has become a holiday of celebration and joy. One could say that it is a holiday that developed organically through the ages.  It comes with the truth that even as we begin again we are no longer the same individuals we were just a short year ago. As we begin reading the Torah again, we read it with fresh eyes, ready to unlock what it has to teach us in the coming year. May we find this a moment of affirmation and strength as we are called upon to act and support one another as we begin anew.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781