Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah is also Sh’mini Atzeret, In Israel they are one, celebrated on the same day.  In the US we celebrate Sh’mini Atzeret and then Simchat Torah.  Sh’mini Atzeret means “assembly of the eighth [day]”… It represents the last day of the seven-day-long holiday of Sukkot.  It is explained in Jewish tradition that G!d is like a host who is hosting us in the sukkah for seven days…  on the seventh day, when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed the visit so much that He asks us to stay one more day as a sign of His great love for us.  The actual holiday of Sukkot is over, we don’t say blessings in the sukkah and we’ve concluded the intense period of teshuvah that began on Rosh Hashanah and ended the day before with Hoshanah Rabbah.

Simchat Torah is quite an incredible holiday, it is represented by the Eight, the sideways symbol for infinity and the aspect or energy that transcends/is above/outside of nature.  It in fact is a day of both ending and beginning… We both end the cyclical reading of the Torah and begin it all over again.  This teaches us that every end has within it a new beginning… That every level we begin to journey upon has an end, which is the beginning of the next level.  This is also represented in the sefirot, the Tree of Life, the levels of the soul, the four worlds, and in natural processes of growth/life.

The bottom or end of Keter, is the top or beginning of Chochmah, the bottom/end of Chochmah is the top/beginning of Binah etc.  And the same is true for the levels of souls and four worlds… the Top of nefesh is the bottom of ruach and so on… The four worlds: The bottom of Atzilut is the top Beriyah etc.

This is also shown in nature… The death of the seed, is the birth of the sprout, the death of the sprout, is the birth of the plant.  And so too with us, the infant (stage) “dies” and becomes a child, the child (stage) “dies” and becomes a boy or girl, the boy or girl (stage) “dies” and becomes a man or woman, and so on.

On Simchat Torah, besides reading the end and the beginning of the Torah, we physically take out the Torah scrolls and ecstatically dance with them, we make seven hakafot (circuits) around the bimah (central synagogue reading table which represents the alter of the Holy Temple) which correspond to the seven lower sefirot.

This is the final blow-out party/celebration of the end of the High Holydays and the beginning of the cycle of the new year to come.  We celebrate, dancing in ecstatic joy and bliss, lost in the realm/reality of the infinite eight where beginnings and ends are indistinguishable.  Aaahhhhhh!!!


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