Adrian A. Durlester

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Sh'mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah 5767

Joyful and Glad of Heart

Whether tonight and tomorrow you observe Shmini Atzeret or Simchat Torah, or whether you will observe Simchat Torah Saturday night and Sunday, I have but a brief thought to offer you this week.

Especially for those of us who are "Jewish professionals" the end of Simchat Torah marks the end of a long, intense period of preparation and work that started with Elul. When the rabbis teach us that it's all one long holiday from Elul to the end of Simchat Torah, they ain't kidding! It really is, for some of us, one really LONG holiday. Though I'm not sure we're entirely in the holiday mode (or mood) all the time. It's a narrow bridge at best for any Jewish clergy or professional finding that balance between doing the work and preparation that is necessary for Elul and the Chagei Tishrei (Holidays of Tishrei - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, Simchat Torah) and fulfilling our own spiritual needs during these important holy days. Happy are those who always manage to stay on the narrow bridge and fulfill both their own needs and those of their congregation the entire time.

Of course, it's not just clergy and Jewish professionals. Anyone who takes the time in their own life to experience Chagei Tishrei has come through an exhausting marathon.

So for all of us, there is always that sigh of relief, that joy that comes from the marathon of holidays ending. However, is this the joy with which we are intended to emerge from Chagei Tishrei? Is it just that satisfaction that our trial is over, much as we feel when it's time to end our Yom Kippur fast? Surely is should be more than this.

It may be a marathon, but through it all we have been able to renew our relationship with God, and with each other. We have examined ourselves, and promised to fix what we found wanting. We learned that just as it takes 4 different species to make up the lulav, so, too, are our communities made up of different kinds of people with different foci. We virtually cleansed our own altars, and acknowledged our thanks to G"d for the rains which enable our survival (even if they sometimes threaten and destroy, or withhold themselves.) We complete our reading of the Torah, and start again. And we revel and rejoice in Torah, G"d's gift to us.

So at the end of all this, we should be as the people were in I Kings 8:66, the last verse of the Haftarah for Shmini Atzeret:

On the 8th day, he (Solomon) let the people go. They bade the King farewell and went to their homes, JOYFUL and GLAD OF HEART over all the goodness that the L"rd had shown to G"d's servant David and to G"d's people Israel.

So remember to go forth s'meikhim v'tovei leiv - Joyful and glad of heart!

Moadim L'Simhah, Hag Sameah, Shabbat Shalom,


©2006 by Adrian A. Durlester


Some other musings on the same parasha:

Simchat Torah 5766--Have We Met The Ally And Is They Us?
Simchat Torah 5757-5765-Unbroken Circle (With additions for each year)
Simchat Torah 5764-Circling the Torah--A Story of Chelm
Simchat Torah 5762--Not So Fast

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