Simchat Torah, the celebration of the conclusion of the reading of the Torah begins this evening as the Jewish High Holidays come to an end. The Torah scrolls are carried in ceremonial processions in synagogues and even around neighborhoods. In Jerusalem and many other cities around Israel, people dance, celebrate and pray in the streets and squares. A highlight of the celebrations is the the reading of the final chapter of the fifth book of Moses (Deuteronomy), and immediately afterwards the first chapter of Genesis, thus beginning again this sacred annual cycle.
At the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, God’s judgments and the future world are remembered. These are days of joy for the gift of God’s Torah, though which God revealed His will and destiny for the Jewish people.
Children especially enjoy Simchat Torah as they are allowed to participate in the processions and are presented with fruits and sweets. During the services they are even allowed to play pranks on each other and the adults who traditionally celebrate with wine. In the courtyards of the synagogues and in larger squares choirs sing while all experience the exuberant joy over God’s revelations and His promises for the future of Israel.
Simhat Torah is not mentioned in the Bible and the tradition of celebrating on the final days of the Feast of Tabernacles, called Shemini Atzeret, was established in the 17th century.
The editorial board of Israel Today wishes all readers a Joyful Holiday and we will be back with you on Tuesday with fresh reports from Israel after the celebrations. Chag Sameach!