Tidbits of Torah

      Devotion. Dedication. Delight.      

  Erev Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah/Bereishit   

October 11, 2017- 22 Tishrei 5778
Dear Friends,headshot white 2015cropped
This coming Sunday, October 15th, I will be flying to Israel for a few weeks to see family and friends.  As you may recall, my summer vacation was postponed this year until right after the conclusion of the holidays.  I look forward to holding my newest granddaughter, Lian, in my arms, and to spending precious time with family and friends in Israel.
In the meantime, before I take off…we have two more amazing holidays and a wonderful Shabbat to spend together!
Devotion.  Shemini Atzeret [literally, eighth day of gathering] begins this Wednesday night.  On Thursday morning we will recite Yizkor at our services.  This holiday reminds me of “devotion.”   We often feel tremendous devotion toward the people we have loved and who have passed away, leaving us a legacy of both love and of loss.  Our Sages have taught us that Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day which follows Sukkot, is an extra day of rejoicing in which God simply wants to hang onto us for just one extra day of rejoicing, after all the holidays of the Jewish month of Tishrei. Shemini Atzeret represents God’s tremendous sense of devotion to us – a devotion similar to that which we often feel during the Yizkor service in relation to our loved ones.
Dedication.  Thursday evening we will celebrate the beginning of Simchat Torah with special melodies and with 7 hakafot (dancing rotations) with the Torah scrolls.  On Friday morning we will continue with the Simchat Torah celebration at our morning services, concluding our annual reading of the Five Books of Moses with the chanting of the final weekly Torah portion of V’zot HaBeracha!  And, immediately, we will begin the new cycle of Torah reading with the chanting of the first few verses of Bereishit [Genesis]!  Once again, we will sing and dance with the Torah in 7 hakafot.  Simchat Torah embodies a sense of pure joy and “dedication” to our sacred heritage.
Delight.  The first Shabbat after all the holidays of Tishrei is Shabbat Bereishit.  On Shabbat we will not only read about the creation of the world, we will also celebrate a Simchat Bat – a naming ceremony, for the newborn daughter of Rebecca and Marshall Scheetz.  I cannot think of an event more delightful than welcoming a newborn baby girl into our world and into our community.
Devotion.  Dedication.  Delight.  These are the words that come to my mind as I look forward to the final few days of holidays and Shabbat that will signal the culmination of a wonderful holiday season with our congregation.
I look forward to celebrating with you in the coming days and I will look forward to seeing you when I return from my vacation on November 14th!
This Shabbat we will also recite the blessing for the upcoming new Jewish month of Cheshvan.  Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan will begin a week from now on Thursday evening, Friday and on Shabbat.
May it be a month of blessing and may we all have many occasions for rejoicing and for celebrating as we conclude our holiday season.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Gilah Dror