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Simchat Torah

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and in His law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:2

The Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyous of all the Feasts of the Lord, ends with a special day called Simchat Torah.

Tishri 22, the day after the seventh day of Sukkot, is the holiday Shemini Atzeret.

In Israel, Shemini Atzeret is also the holiday of Simchat Torah. Outside of Israel, where extra days of holidays are held, only the second day of Shemini Atzeret is Simchat Torah: Shemini Atzeret is Tishri 22 and 23, while Simchat Torah is Tishri 23.

Simchat Torah means "Rejoicing In The Law Of God" or simply "The Joy Of The Torah".

The Joy of the Torah is within the Torah of Joy, a Torah without restrictions or being burdensome.

The only way for the Torah not to be a burden for us is to carry it in our hearts and not upon our shoulders.

God desires to put His Law in our inward parts and to write it in our hearts that He will be our God and we shall be His people.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt,
My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,
says the Lord:
I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying,
‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,
says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Simchat Torah celebrates the completion and the beginning of the Reading of the Torah. It was originated by the Jews in their exile. It is a celebration of the loving relationship between God and His people.

Simchat Torah focuses on the Torah, namely the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). On this day, the annual Torah reading cycle, which is read weekly throughout the year portion by portion, is completed. As soon as the last verse of Deuteronomy is read, the scroll is immediately rolled back to the beginning where the first verse of Genesis is read. This shows that the study of the Torah is an endless cycle like a circle without end.

Moses instituted the public reading of the Torah on each Sabbath. Much later, the reading of the entire Torah was so scheduled that it would be both completed and began on Simchat Torah.

The completion and the beginning of the Reading of the Torah was celebrated, for very obvious reasons, by the reading of a selection of verses - recollecting how God had revealed Himself at Mount Sinai; declaring the greatness and love of God; and articulating our reliance upon Him to bring forth the final redemption. Then all eyes would turn to the Ark, which contained the actual scrolls of the Torah. The Ark was opened and all the scrolls were taken out. Everybody would be given an opportunity to dance with them.

On this day, great exceeding joy breaks out in all the synagogues around the world. All the scrolls of the Torah are taken from the Ark, which is an ornate cabinet. They are carried in procession around the synagogue seven times. All the people participate in the actual carrying of the Torah. Even in synagogues where women are traditionally segregated, they are welcomed into the main sanctuary on the day of Simchat Torah to touch and kiss the Torah scrolls. During the joyous procession, happy songs of praise are sung as the people dance with the scrolls. Children wave decorated flags merrily.

All eligible adults have their share in reading portions of the Torah. Even children are encouraged to come up and read from the Torah. This is the happiest and noisiest time of the year. The joyous procession usually continues into the streets surrounding the synagogues. Street observers often throw off their restraints and join in the mood of singing and dancing.

In the 1960s, some Russian Jewish students rediscovered Simchat Torah. As the Jews in Russia had been forbidden to practice their faith in any pubic manner, this group suddenly began to dance into the streets of Moscow and Leningrad in the areas around their synagogues. It was an opportunity to affirm and proclaim publicly what they believed. The Western press and visitors were amazed by these history makers. The celebrations ignited the desire and right of the Soviet Jews to live as Jews openly or to leave the Soviet Union. This electrifying event triggered Jewish communities around the world. They formed Simchat Torah rallies, marching through the streets, dancing in support of their Soviet Jewish brethren. It was this outbreak of praise and worship that brought the Jews triumphant victories. Today, many of these Russian Jews are celebrating Simchat Torah in their promised heartland and home, Israel.

Why is the Torah a joyous delight? The only way to find out is to ask those who do not have them. According to the Midrash, the angels at first disagreed that man should be given the Torah. They protested at the notion. God told Moses to answer them. He said to them, "Do you have parents, that you should need a command to honor and fear them? Do you have jealousy, that you should need a command not to covet? Do you use money, that you should need a command not to steal?" When the angels heard Moses' questions, they could not answer them. They then agreed that the Torah should be given to man. Therefore the Jews are thankful, forever grateful to God for giving them His great gift, the Torah.

The Torah is the foundation for understanding the entire Bible. It teaches us how to live the life that God desires us to live. It is simply the terms and conditions for living the abundant life in the Promised Land. Kingdom ways and kingdom rules.

In the Millennial Rule of Christ, we will experience the true Simchat Torah. Now we are just going through the rehearsal of the Feast. But when the time comes, we will be experiencing the season of our fulfilled joy when Christ establishes His Messianic kingdom on earth. The reading, teaching and understanding of the Torah will be at its glorious height during the Messianic age.

In Isaiah 2:1-5 and Micah 4:1-5, Yeshua the Messiah, also the Author and Fulfillment of the Torah, will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion the Law shall go forth, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Please also read: Shemini Atzeret