Simchat Torah: The Secret to Strengthening Our Spiritual Walk with God
As the High Holy Days come to a close, Jews around the world spend one last day in an intense celebration with God before resuming their normal routines. Simchat Torah, which means “Rejoicing in the Torah,” is unlike any other observance that takes place in synagogue. As host Yael Eckstein describes in today’s podcast, the entire congregation — from the youngest children to the oldest adults — takes out the Torah scroll and joins in a never-ending circle of dancing and singing. The celebration marks the completion of reading through the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy, before the reading cycle begins again. But the lesson of Simchat Torah, says Yael, lasts throughout the year. Simchat Torah is a reminder that the way to stay close to God and transform inspiration into action throughout the year is through God’s Word. Learn more about this amazing celebration in today’s powerful podcast.
Jews around the world are just completing an intense time of worship and focus on their relationship with God, a time known as the High Holy Days. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), through the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and the seven-day celebration of Sukkot (the Festival of Tabernacles), this holy season has come to an end. It’s time to return to daily life.
But before the Jewish people return to their regular routines, God beckons His children to spend one more day with Him in worship and praise. This day, known as Simchat Torah, “Rejoicing in the Torah,” is all about celebrating God’s Word and remembering the importance of taking God’s Word with us into the new year.
It is a raucous celebration, one that Yael describes as “holy unhinged.” The entire congregation participates as they take out the Torah scrolls from the Ark at the center of the synagogue and begin dancing and singing in a never-ending circle of praise and worship to God.
“Everyone is moving together in the same direction, and people of every background are joining together and holding hands, dancing in circles several rounds deep. And in the center of all these circles, you see people holding Torah scrolls tightly against their chest — and they are dancing and singing the loudest of all,” Yael says.
But what are they celebrating?
“On this day we finish our annual reading of the Torah — from the opening chapters of Genesis to the closing sentence of Deuteronomy — which we call the Parshah. We celebrate to show our joy at having completed the Torah another time and the joy we receive from studying God’s Word,” Yael explains.
The celebration also marks the beginning of the reading cycle anew from the opening lines of Genesis, and as Yael says, it is an important reminder “that our study of God’s Word never ends. There is always more to learn. We always have more to grow from reading God’s Holy Word.”
Simchat Torah also teaches that this is how the Jewish people can take the intense closeness and nourishment of the soul that they received during the High Holy Days into the new year with them.
“As we read and study the Torah throughout the year, it tells us how to transform inspiration into action, how to transform physical daily living into a spiritual walk with God. It tells us how to make our lives holy on a continuous basis,” Yael says.
And this is something that we all can do, Yael says, Christians and Jews alike. “God Himself tells us how important it is to be in His Word continuously, and honestly, how simple it is. The Bible is always within our reach. God’s Word is continuously near to us. And we can find the joy in His Word every day as we take His Word with us in our heart.”