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Simchas Torah - Karen's Musings
Random Rambling
estherchaya
estherchaya
Simchas Torah
I love Simchas Torah. It is my favorite holiday of the year (closely followed by Pesach). On this day we celebrate our love for Torah with joy and singing and dancing. The cycle of Torah reading is completed and we begin anew.

Since my shul wasn't playing the accordian this year, we went to services Saturday night. We had 6 sifrei torah and a whole lot of "mini-torahs" for the kids to carry around. I think anyone who wanted to got to dance with a Torah.

We had so much fun... We danced and sang. The Sifrei Torah were danced into the Social Hall and we danced around and around and the Cantor (sometimes with help) sang beautifully. Then the scrolls were danced back into the sanctuary and the portion was read, we sang and danced some more and eventually things wrapped up and we came home.

The rabbi said yesterday that Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah are sort of "tacked on" to the end of Sukkot. But Simchas Torah is always very special for me. I love Sukkot... but I don't feel that Simchas Torah is just tacked on. It stands alone as a beautiful, perfect day, intended really to rejoice in Torah. What better holiday could you have?

honeybea offered a beautiful explanation...
We do and should celebrate the Torah at least once a week. But when we've finished the yearly cycle, we go even further and show our joy, our simcha, at having finished, and even more that we can now begin all over again. How great is our G-d that He gave us a gift that never ends? We read it over and over again, and the words never change, but every time, it is different.

Anyway, we had a beautiful time in shul last night and Seth went today, though I stayed home because I wasn't feeling great (having slept poorly), but once I relaxed a bit, I felt terrific. I studied today's Torah Portion, relaxed with the kitty cats, and did some other reading. When Seth came home, I gave him lunch and then he took a nap. All in all, it was a beautiful holiday. :)

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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Comments
cellio From: cellio Date: September 30th, 2002 06:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Since my shul wasn't playing the accordian this year, we went to services Saturday night.

Oh, it's not just a quirk of one shul here? I've only ever been two places for Simchat Torah; one always has an accordian (and the other doesn't). Is this a common thing? Why an accordian?

The rabbi said yesterday that Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah are sort of "tacked on" to the end of Sukkot. But Simchas Torah is always very special for me.

Simchat Torah is neat. I have trouble thinking of Shemini Atzeret as anything other than an add-on to Sukkot, though -- probably in part because it has neither props nor unique ritual.

Glad you had a nice holiday!
estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: September 30th, 2002 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

The accordian is not standard for Conservative shuls. I don't know about reform. As for why the accordian...at our shul it happens that we have an accordian player in the congregation and it's her thing to do every year. Any time other than Yom Tov would be fine for me. But I will not attend our shul on Chag if it's being played. Incidentally, I'm not the only one at our shul that feels this way, though I have no doubt that I am in the minority.

As for special ritual on Shemini Atzeret... Yizkor is part of the service as is the Prayer for Rain. I don't know of any other special ritual for Shemini Atzeret, so I see your point, as regards that day, but it still has some significance for me.
cellio From: cellio Date: September 30th, 2002 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)

instruments

The place I went that has an accordian is Conservative. I wondered about the Yom Tov problem.

My Reform congregation uses a piano and sometimes a guitar on Simchat Torah. (I can argue for the halachic validity of the piano using the "look at the reason for the fence" approach, but obviously not for the guitar.) Or at least this is what they did back when I went there for that service.

estherchaya From: estherchaya Date: September 30th, 2002 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: instruments

The Conservative movement has not changed it's stance on instruments on Yom Tov (and Shabbat for that matter). That certain congregations choose to do things a certain way does not change the current status of the halacha.

I suspect it's just a coincidence that both places use an accordian. Of course, it's not an uncommon instrument for Jewish Music, so it may just be that it's common for someone in the congregation to play it. (our congregation, for example, has a Klezmer band, so we have a variety of instrumentalists that are skilled in Jewish music, which is fantastic)

I actually understand many of the arguments for why using an instrument on Shabbat and Yom Tov could conceivably be permitted. It's just that I disagree with them.
cellio From: cellio Date: September 30th, 2002 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: instruments

Thanks. I thought Conservative interpretation of halacha still banned instruments on Shabbat/Yom Tov, but I wasn't sure.
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