Thursday, June 15, 2006

Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah falls on a Sunday this year (October 8). I get an image of Jews dancing joyously around with the sacred scrolls.

Have any of you UUs ever used Simchat Torah as the central message of a sermon or service on Law or tradition?
There seems to be wonderful potential there.


Blogger Christine Robinson said...

We always "do" High Holy Days, on the Sunday that falls during that time, and that is a marvelous excuse to cover profound spiritual themes and teach about Judaism. One Judaism sermom is enough for a season in this, only sparsly Jewish congregation

Blogger WFW said...

Yeah, but even in Brooklyn (land of the free and home of the Lubavtichers an Satmars and...) it took some work. I think it is a cool holiday, but the place to go I think is Shavuot, which is similar in nature and has less 'splainin' to do.

Simchat is about the end and beginnings of the cycle of parashot, and the emssages is the bottomless wisdom of Torah. You've got to grok the place of torah before you get the Simchat.

Shavuot is about receiving the lawe, and thus anchored in a Biblical story which is known beyond the confines of Judaism. It is also the premise for Pentecost, and playing the two off against and with the other is cool. Just preached on it this year - Tha Passionate Mind.

See Arthur Waskow's book, "The Seasons of Our Joy" for a fun and unusual (i.e. reconstructionist) perspective to get started.

BTW, belated hag sameach, the festival was just two weeks ago. Now comes the long slog to Tisha B'Av. Zy gezunt!

Blogger LinguistFriend said...

I know that Simhat Torah is a Jewish holiday which acquired rather late importance, although it is a long way ahead of Christmas. I also do not forget reading of its recognition in the late Soviet Union, as a time of open expression of Jewish identity at which Jews gathered together at the synagogues and danced in the streets. Clearly that was something moving to see. Beyond that, however, lies the whole concept of joy as an integral part of religion. To unite joy and courage in that way as a religious event must have been a memorable human height.


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