I, along with the entire world, am about enter the appointed time in the year when all of my physical enjoyment and love of the Torah manifests itself into one day. I mention ‘physical enjoyment’ because I believe that Shavuos is more of celebration for our physical being, guf, while Shavuos (and learning Torah) is more of a neshamah-oriented Yom Tov (of course, you do have to physically learn Torah).
So here I am. I’ll dance and sing with fellow yidden on Simchas Torah night and the next day. I can’t wait! I find that Simchas Torah recharges me and, in a way, attaches me physically to Mitzvah observance in a way that lasts the entire year.
All of the passion I have for Torah Judaism can find expression through dancing and singing. This only can happen if there is a spark within me to begin with. What if there that spark is buried too deep for me to find?
That’s alright, because, I can feed off of others’ passion. That how things work, I think. We at times create our own energy and excitement about things. At other times, we rely on various forms of outside stimuli to jump start us.
When I was single, one erev Shavous (I think it was in 1993 or 1994) I got a call and was asked to go last minute out to a small town in Westchester (New York). There was an outreach program in place there and they needed another ‘body’ to bring ruach to their Simchas Torah. I usually had spent Simchas Torah with friends, primarily in a yeshiva. I thought about it and decided, that, as a BT, being with a group of not-yet and newly-observant Jews would be a nice change and an inspiring time. It was pretty cool, I admit it.
I spent yom tov meeting people who came (almost out of the woodwork) to celebrate our continuing cycle of reading our precious Torah. This was a time when I was able be a klei (vessel) for the energy of Torah to reach others. By doing so, I also gained.
Last year, I was in Far Rockaway for Simchas Torah, at Shor Yoshuv. Words really can’t describe it. It was great. 800 people dancing for hours!! It was an experience that I (and my family) will never forget. It was a situation where I was definitely receiving outside stimulus. I felt so charged and plugged in.
As incredible as the ruach was, the real highlight for me was Hallel on Simchas Torah morning. Rabbi Shmuel Brazil davens a 45 minute Hallel (this is the emes). Then words and niggunim still echo in my head and neshamah. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. For me, it’s outside stimuli like this that I can absorb and hopefully use to stimulate myself (and others, with Hashem’s help).
It makes no difference if we are the ones motivating others or we, ourselves, need the motivation. The end result is that we all are dancing and singing with the Torah.
One quick thought. The last pasuk in the Torah states (thanks to Chabad.org):
“and all the strong hand, and all the great awe, which Moses performed before the eyes of all Israel.”
The last comment Rashi makes on Chumash is this:
before the eyes of all Israel [This expression alludes to the incident, where] His heart stirred him up to smash the tablets before their eyes, as it is said, “and I shattered them before your eyes” (Deut. 9:17). – [Sifrei 33:41] And [regarding Moses shattering the Tablets,] the Holy One Blessed is He gave His approval, as Scripture states, “[the first Tablets] which you shattered” (Exod. 34:1); [God said to Moses:] “Well done for shattering them!” – [Shab.. 87a]
Of all the things that Moshe, our teacher and leader, accomplished in his lifetime, breaking the first set of luchos was, in Hashem’s eyes, his greatest action. When all is said and done, I think, Hashem ultimately wants us to do the right thing. Even if it means going again popular opinion or starting over again from scratch and beginning anew. I always find this to be a beautiful message to think about as I listen to the end of the annual cycle of leining and start another one. Gut Yom Tov!
The artwork shown above is by Judith Yellin. The Modern Uberdox family actually owns this piece of artwork.