SIMCHAT TORAH ~ The Joy of Torah
SIMCHAT TORAH is the annual celebration of an ancient love affair!
The Old Testament Bible is the foundation of our Christian faith. It is imperative that we, The Wild Olive Branch (grafted into the eternal vine of God’s chosen people) comprehend and connect with the amazing love affair of the Jews for Adonai’s Torah.
The giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai is regarded as the engagement ring from ADONAI to His chosen nation and all who would come to faith, because of His Torah testimony. Torah simply means; “The Way to Go”. What originated on leather scrolls inscribed with the words of Torah, has become a BOOK, as we all know it. The Old Testament or Tanakh (the complete Jewish Bible) holds within it the five Books of Moses, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. For the Jewish people and for Messianic Christians, this is a book to study and teach from, in order to know the Lord and His precepts.
The scrolls of God’s testimony, the Torah, given by Adonai to Moses and the new Nation of Israel at Mount Sinai is the essential text which Jews have engaged in, intellectually and spiritually, and which has upheld the Nation of Israel for more than three thousand years!
The beauty of Torah and the fullness of the Tanakh are the foundation of the Bible we read, study, and love, from Genesis through the Revelation. By studying the fullness of God’s word, including a zealous walk through the Old Testament, we will get to know the Lord intimately. He promises this, for those who seek Him wholeheartedly!
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, British theologian and member of the House of Lords, said of Torah and the Jewish love for God’s word, “We stand in its presence as if it were a king. We dance with it as if it were a bride. We kiss it as if it were a friend.”
Simchat Torah occurs on the last day of the three-week Cycle of the Jewish Fall Holy Days called the Moed’im. Simchat Torah follows Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Simchat Torah is not one of the Feasts of the Lord. It was not imposed by Jewish law, but has unfolded like a beautiful rose, over time, with the growing love of the Jewish people for their treasure of Torah.
The practice of reading the entire Torah from Genesis through Deuteronomy over the course the Hebrew year dates back at least 15 centuries. The completion of the annual reading cycle is spiritually satisfying and provokes a great celebration of joy! In Synagogues around the world there will be singing and dancing, with the Torah scrolls as a dance partner! As the final verse in Deuteronomy is read from the end of one scroll, another is unrolled, and the first chapter of Genesis is read, beginning with these words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
The cyclical dance with Torah never ends! Those who find joy in Torah finish, in order to start the eternal rotation of Torah study, all over again! My own personal Torah observance spans nine years, with the new Hebraic year of 5782. Each fall season, as we re-roll the scrolls all the way back to the beginning, I learn as if for the first time! Each year it is more brilliant, more eternal, with deeper than the year before. God’s word truly is ALIVE!
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote that by the time the celebratory night of Simchat Torah spread throughout the dispersed Jews worldwide, they had lost everything, individually, and as a nation; their inheritance of the land of Israel, sovereignty as a recognized Nation, all political freedom, and their defensive Military. Yet, Jews had the engagement with Adonai who gave them Torah to study, teach, and rejoice in as it draws all who immerse, into divine intimacy with the Creator. Torah, and the beautiful Feasts of the Lord including Shabbat, have been enough to preserve God’s chosen people over millennia.
Simchat Torah, The Joy of Torah, greets us during this harvest season, falling just after the Fall Festivals of the Lord; Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, amid escalating global anti-Semitism. Just one year after the Tree of Life Massacre, in Pittsburgh, and now, days following the Yom Kippur Shooting in Halle, Germany, many Torah observant Jews must seek police protection when simply meeting corporately, for prayer.
Jews all over the world will rejoice on this Simchat Torah, because of the giving of Torah to their nation at Mount Sinai. Simchat Torah, the Joy of Torah, is for the Jew first, and yet, for all who have been called to the roots of their faith in the Hebrew ways, God’s language, and His eternal ‘way to go’; we will sing, dance, and celebrate together, the love of God’s instruction for His people and His creation. Baruch Hashem!
I, for one, intend to dance and sing on Simchat Torah, celebrating my love affair with Torah and the Divine Author of it!