A Powerful Connection to God

Yael Eckstein  |  October 18, 2022

Dancing with the Torah scrolls at Simchat Torah

I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word. — Psalm 119:16

Today, my family and I mark the observance of Simchat Torah, a celebration of the completion of the annual Torah readings and the immediate beginning of the new year of Torah readings.

Imagine you were transported to a different time period in a different part of the world. Imagine how foreign everything would be. You might not understand the language being spoken. You would certainly have a different set of cultural norms and customs from everyone else around you. If you then walked into a church for worship, how different would it be from what you are used to?

Now imagine if you walked in and everything was familiar and exactly as you observed and practiced.

One of the most inspiring aspects of my life as a Jew is that I practice exactly the same customs that Jews have practiced for thousands of years all over the world. The words of the liturgy that I say when I pray three times a day or when I praise God after a meal are identical to the words recited by Jews going back centuries.

If I was transported back in time hundreds of years to a different part of the world and walked into a synagogue, I would be able to participate fully in the service. It would be completely familiar.

The traditions of Judaism provide a powerful feeling of connection to God and His people, everywhere, at all times. Talk about being part of something greater than yourself!

A Powerful Connection to God

One important aspect of this connection is the weekly Torah portion.

In early Second Temple times, Ezra the prophet instituted the practice of dividing the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, into weekly portions. These are the portions we have been focusing on in these devotions. Each year, the cycle begins and ends on Simchat Torah, literally “the Celebration of Torah,” a nickname for the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

This cycle has been going continuously for well over 2,000 years, ever since Ezra. Certainly, Jesus would have read from these same Torah portions when he went to synagogue.

But it’s not just about history. The weekly Torah portion also connects me to Jews all over the world. I may be sitting on an airplane next to another Jew I’ve never met, or I could be visiting a Jewish community in a foreign country, and we are all studying the same Torah portion that week.

So on Simchat Torah, as we celebrate completing another cycle of reading the Word of God, I also celebrate the bond that I have with all other Jews, in all places, at all times.

Your Turn:

Find more inspiration for celebrating and reading God’s Word with our complimentary devotional about Simchat Torah.