Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
We call it “Simchas Torah.”
It is the culmination of our entire holiday cycle. Pesach and Shavuos, then Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos all lead up to one enormous day of simcha.
Why do we associate simcha with Torah? And why is it the culmination of everything?
Other nations try to achieve simcha. Some people live for football games, or vacations, or wealth, or community activism, trying to make the world a better place. This is how I grew up. I lived in the non-observant world and spent my first thirty years trying to figure out how to be happy.
I tried many paths.
I was interested in conservation. My father wanted me to be the United States Secretary of the Interior, and I wouldn’t have minded. My wife and I spent two summers working for the National Park Service, one atop a mountain 8,934 feet above sea level. I was also involved in political activism, as well as newspaper publishing, advanced studies in literature, and many other fields.
On Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos, we read Koheles, which tells us (chapter 1), “I ventured to stimulate myself with wine – while my heart is involved with wisdom – and to grasp folly.… I built myself houses; I planted vineyards; I made … gardens and orchards…. I amassed … silver and gold…. I provided myself with various musical instruments…. Then I turned my attention to appraising wisdom ….”
Koheles (7:23) also tells us, “I thought I could become wise, but it is beyond me….” and (1:14), “I have seen all the deeds done beneath the sun and behold, it is all futile.”
And the following (chapter 12), which shakes me up every year:
So remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and those years arrive of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’ Before the sun, the light, the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; in the day when the guards of the house [the hands and feet in old age – Ibn Ezra] will tremble…the powerful men [the legs – Rashi] will stoop and the grinders [the teeth – Rashi] are idle because they are few, and the gazers through windows [the eyes – Tractate Shabbos 151b] are dimmed; when the doors in the street are shut … and desire fails…. Before the silver cord snaps and the golden bowl is shattered and the pitcher is broken at the fountain and the wheel is smashed at the pit. Thus the dust returns to the ground, as it was, and the spirit returns to G-d Who gave it…. Futility of futilities, said Koheles, all is futile!
Do you want to sober up? This will do it.
I’m not so old, but I feel my body slowing down. I don’t have the strength I did when I was twenty or thirty and my reactions are not as fast. I don’t jump up from my seat as quickly as I used to, or run down the stairs as fast. A friend who is over thirty told me he can’t lose weight the way he used to. Over thirty!
We gather during this season to celebrate a world of blessings God has given us. Our gratitude is limitless, because we are still alive to experience this incredible life. With all the tzouris, we are still alive. We work; we eat; we try to create a family and bring value to the world. And we live with eternal hope.
What is simcha?
There is only one simcha, and that is Torah.
There is nothing like Torah. The Children of Israel exist against all logic. How did we survive two thousand years of torture and pogrom and exile and slavery and Holocaust? How did we, the weakest and smallest and most hated nation, survive the centuries since our beloved Temple was destroyed by those who hate us?
Because we cling with strength of iron to the Eternal God. And our umbilical cord is Torah. This is the source of our life, the one and only wellspring of simcha, because through it we know that we are connected forever to the ultimate and eternal Source of life.
There is no futility in torah.
There is no end in torah.
The simcha is to know our existence is eternal. Then everything has a purpose.
Thus, at the culmination of our Yomim Tovim and the beginning of a New Year, we submerge ourselves in the one happiness that exists in this life, the Greatest Gift anyone could ever receive – the gift of Unity with the Master of the World, His Holy Torah which He has given to us with total chesed.
Through our simcha with this Torah, we will soon transform the world into a place of unity and peace, a place of Kiddush Hashem, with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid and the rebuilding of the Eternal Bais HaMikdash, may we see it this year.
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, "2020 Vision" (Feldheim), is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian with a Georgian edition in preparation. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul" (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, Georgian edition in preparation) and "Worldstorm." Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.
Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .
With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?
The Gazans are now paying for the choices they have made.
As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.
Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.
UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.
There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]
Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?
It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.
Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
At the mikveh they were discussing Egypt.
So many things seem to be unraveling. It’s not just Egypt but the entire Middle East. No, it’s not just the Middle East; it’s the entire world.
What is the relationship between Pesach and Shavuos?
Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, rosh yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, relates in the name of the Ishbitzer Rebbe a striking metaphor:
“In those days, when King Achashveirosh sat on his royal throne which was in Shushan the capital, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his officials and servants, the army of Persia and Medea; the nobles and officials of the provinces being present, when he displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his splendorous majesty for many days, a hundred and eighty days.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-greatest-gift/2009/10/07/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: