The timing is perfect. Well, it was perfect a few weeks ago, and I am once again playing catch up… Kosher Catsup… Thank you, I’ll be here next week!
No, I am playing catch up with the Parsha that is. My goal is to follow along for the year… be current and up-to-date, and have a definitive reading and plan to study each and every week.
I dream of doing this with the Talmud, like my friend Sal Litvak, and his brilliant self-discovery and learnings that became The Accidental Talmudist… But I am intimidated by the time frame…
Then again, that’s what all of this is about, isn’t it? The path should never end. It is a lifelong journey into learning… discovery… It is a jump into Judaism and a swim in a never-ending ocean. So what is seven years???
But when it comes to the Torah, we are reading the same thing over and over and over again. I know… shocking… as if you did not know that!
To many this would seem redundant. But it’s not… not even close… And the main reason, is that each time we read it, it is with different eyes, different thoughts, different emotions, different understandings. Time passes between readings. We age, we grow, physically, emotionally, intellectually. With each reading we may hear something new… and we certainly bring something new to the table.
Steely Dan sings:
“You go back Jack do it again
Wheel turnin’ ’round and ’round
You go back Jack do it again.”
Harry Chapin sings:
“All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by.”
Joni Mitchell sings:
“We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.”
I like music… It’s powerful and important… and I need to fit it in somehow. But these lyrics make a lot of sense… They’re insightful… meaningful… and there’s Judaism in there… intended or not!
The Torah scrolls are not circular, per se… but they form a circle… And on Simchat Torah they literally form a circle around us! And while there is a definitive end, and beginning… we structure it in a way, that keeps it (and us) going… like an eternal flame… like an infinity loop…
On Simchat Torah we celebrate the Torah, and thus celebrate life! And… We start again… How amazing is it to have a do over? To be able to literally begin again? It is a lesson that teaches us to keep living… to seize each and every moment, because as Jews we get a do over. And while it officially starts on one particular day of the year, the philosophy should not preclude us from doing this on any given day.
We can start something… change something… on any given day. For example, over the next few days I will catch up on the Parsha and be truly ready for a year of weekly learning… That is powerful stuff.
Somewhere on the internet it defined Simchat Torah as “marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle.”
I love the word cycle… A completion, yes… but not the end… Like a bicycle… The pedals move us forward, those wheels keep turning… and can keep going and going… cycling us through life.
Cycles… Circles… Always moving and growing and expanding… Always turning… We bring people in to the circle… We dance in a circle…
It is what Torah is all about and why everything in life springs from the Torah, is supported by it, and why and how we can use it to support ourselves.