What is the essence of Simchat Torah?
Before Rav Makor explains the essence of Simchat Torah, upon lighting the candles on the eve of the festival, the following two blessings are said.
1. Blessing on the Candles
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל יום טוב
English Translation: Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the holiday
Transliteration: Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Yom Tov.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
English Translation: Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.
Transliteration: Baruch Atah Adonay E-loi-hei-nu Me-lech ha-o-lam she-he-chee-ya-nu v’ki-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gi-ya-nu liz-man ha-zeh.
The essence of Simchat Torah – Rav Nissim Mordechai Makor explains
Simchat Torah is one of the most joyous days in the entire year. We celebrate the completion of the Torah and our commitment to begin again. If one reflects on the entirety of the Torah, one would see that the first mitzvah is peru urvu (to have children) and the last is to write a Sefer Torah (Debarim 31:19).
Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro explains that there is a correlation between these mitzvot as it applies to parents’ obligation in the hinuch (education) of their children.
Every parent should realize that the ultimate goal of parenting is to bring up children who are living Sifrei Torah. When we commission a Sefer Torah we look for the best scribe, a scribe who is G-d-fearing and an exemplary individual. In our parental role as “scribes” of our children, are we as meticulous in our Yirat Shamayim? Are we exemplary in every aspect of our lives?
Let’s give two examples. A number of years ago a woman was getting on a bus in Israel. The child had turned five a few months prior. Since one was obligated to pay a separate bus fare for a child of five or over, she told her son, “When the bus driver asks you how old you are, tell him you are four.” The bus arrived and the mother paid only for herself. The bus driver turned to the little boy and asked, “How old are you?” Remembering his mother’s words, the child responded, “Four.” The bus driver then asked, “And when will you be five?” The little boy replied, “The second I get off the bus!”
The second story is : Someone was visiting his relative in Israel, a family with two children, ages eight and nine. The kids were playing a lively game of Monopoly with their friends. The only problem was that it was lasting for many days, each night for a whole week. On Thursday evening, while the children were playing, he asked what was taking so long? As soon as people run out of money the game is over. To that they responded, “Oh, no, not in our game. We started a gemach. When a person is low on money, we just lend him more.” These children instinctively and intuitively understood this concept, for this is exactly what they had witnessed growing up.
Will our children absorb an education of, “I will be five when I get off the bus,” or “We started a gemach”?
As we rejoice on Simhat Torah, let it be with a fervent prayer that we lead our lives as consummate “scribes” and merit raising children who will be living Sifrei Torah.
- Hakafot – Celebrating the Torah – dancing with the Torah Scrolls
- What are the Four Species – Arbaat HaMinim?
Do you know these Jewish greetings & expressions?
On a Jewish festival we greet others by saying “Chag Sameach” – חג שמח – Happy holidays
Prior to the Sabbath, we say “Shabbat Shalom” – שבת שלום – A peaceful Sabbath
When the Sabbath comes to an end on Saturday after sunset, it is customary to wish one-another ‘Shavua Tov’
Shavua Tov – שבוע טוב – Have a good week
At Rosh Hashanah the New Year, we use the greeting “Shanah Tovah” – שנה טובה – Happy New Year
After Rosh Hashanah and prior to Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) we say “Gmar Hatimah Tovah” – גמר חתימה טובה – May you be inscribed in the Book of Life