Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Simchat Torah

Fall is such a busy season for Jewish holidays. At sundown tonight, Oct. 21 (remember that days in the Jewish calendar go from sundown to sundown), Simchat Torah, which means Rejoicing in the Torah, begins. This one-day holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of weekly readings of Torah chapters (from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Deuteronomy). Just as it celebrates a completion, it also marks a beginning--at the same service the reading starts anew, beginning a new yearly cycle with Genesis.
All the Torah scrolls are brought out and are paraded with singing and dancing seven times around the synagogue, and sometimes outside as well. Children wave flags or carry toy stuffed Torah scrolls. "On Simchat Torah," goes the beautiful hassidic saying, "we rejoice in the Torah, and the Torah rejoices in us; the Torah, too, wants to dance, so we become the Torah's dancing feet."
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