Simchat Torah (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12, Genesis 1:1–2:3)
This Week’s Torah Portion: Simchat Torah – שִׂמחַת תוֹרָה (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12, Genesis 1:1–2:3)
There is a tradition that when we say a blessing over food, like the motzi, – between the blessing of the bread and the eating of it, we must not talk or wait any amount of time, but eat the food right away. Similarly, there is a tradition on Simchat Torah that when the Torah Reader says the very last word of the Torah, Yisrael, immediately afterwards they should say the very first word of the Torah, Bereisheet, all in one breath.
On this last day of our harvest festival of Sukkot, we read the last words of the story and then we return to the beginning. This is the ultimate act of T’shuvah, which means repentance or return. Immediately after the High Holy Days, we complete our annual cycle for the reading of the Torah. We turn to the last page and we return to the first: back on the path of Torah, back on the path toward the building of our better selves, back on the path toward the building of a better world.
Now is the time for turning. The summer has past, the leaves have begun to turn, from green to yellow and orange. Our Holy Days are now a memory, may we return to our path renewed.