Monday night, September 30, we bring the holiday season to a close with Simchat Torah celebrations.
Simchat Torah adds the last piece to the lessons learned during this holiday season. During the holy month of Tishre we have celebrated four distinct holidays, each teaching us a different lesson.
Rosh Ha’Shanah is the holiday when we take a spiritual inventory of our lives. Its central question is: where did I come from and to where am I going in my life. In close proximity to Rosh Ha’Shanah is Yom Kippur. It is more than the day when we seek atonement for our mistakes. It is the time that we turn to G-d, humbly admit that we are but mere mortals, and beg to be allowed to start again. Judaism, being the ultimate religion of love reminds us that even when the gates of prayer are closed, the gates of repentance are always open.
Succoth teaches us that each day is a precious gift from G-d, and that perhaps the greatest of sins is to waste the days that G-d has given us. Now we touch on the final and fourth holiday of this season: Simchat Torah. It teaches us that to succeed in life we need a guidance system; that no one knows everything and for this reason, G-d provides us with law as a means to structure our own lives and our society. This is the holiday that teaches us that no human being is wise enough to develop his own ethical system and even if she were, there would be no ethical way of imposing such a system on others. To do so would be approaching fascism.
Simchat Torah teaches us that we are not all-knowing, that there is no perfect system of government, that when humans do only what is right in their own eyes, society breaks down. It is in Simchat Torah that we learn that it is an error to emphasize mercy without justice and justice without mercy. Both are necessary.
Simchat Torah harmonizes these two qualities. In a world of too filled with the politics of personal destruction, Simchat Torah’s gift is the lesson that societies do best when they combine justice with mercy. It is in the act of demonstrating a sense of humility that comes to with G-d. What do you think?
Chag Samech/Happy Simchat Torah
Youtubes of the week:
Getting Ready for Simchat Torah. Music for Simchat Torah.
Simchat Torah Medley:
Sissu Vesimchu – Simchat Torah: