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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,
Although we just celebrated Simchat Torah, and I brought my three children to synagogue to participate, my 10-year-old son asked me why we celebrate this particular holiday. I was at a loss to explain and surprised that he didn’t learn this at Sunday school.
Beth G.

Dear Beth:
Simchat Torah is the day that Jews complete the yearly cycle of reading the Torah in synagogues around the world. It is a joyful holiday that brings great satisfaction and simcha (joy) that we have again studied the entirety of Torah, all the Five Books of Moses. This is also a celebration of true Jewish continuity, the eternal nature of our people. Despite all attempts to destroy us and our Torah over the generations, and even despite rampant assimilation in our own generation, we still are completing the study of Torah.
We also celebrate the beginning of reading the Torah again. We complete the book of Deuteronomy (Devarim) and immediately begin the book of Genesis (Beresheet), reading the story of creation. Our Torah never really ends, but is a CYCLE of study, like the cycle of life itself, as the Torah is the life of our people, the “People of the Book.”
To parents who attend synagogue only twice a year with their children, I often encourage them to bring their children on Purim and Simchat Torah rather than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let them see the joy, beauty and happiness of our Torah and traditions! Keep up the good work.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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