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Insights & Essays

Timely Messages & Thoughts

Essays on the significance of the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah, and its modern-day relevance.

On Simchat Torah, a Jew Never Dances Alone
The Absurdity of a Quarantined Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah All Year Round
Why the High Holidays? Why Not the Day of the Birthright Dance?!
Why should our Jewishness be associated with solemnity, judgment and a growling stomach? Why not with who we really are--the people that dance with a book.
15 Simchat Torah Facts Every Jew Should Know
Simchat Torah (“The Joy of the Torah”) is the day when we finish the annual Torah-reading cycle and begin anew. Learn 15 facts that you may not have known!
The Holiday That Doesn't Fit
Is Simchat Torah off the map?
The sequence of festivals makes sense only once you look beneath the surface. For Simchat Torah, very deeply.
Is It True That Jews Dance With Books?
On the absurdity of Simchat Torah
Books are for reading. For understanding. For discussing. Dancing? Really? Does anybody do this?
Why Jews Dance in Circles
For seven days of Sukkot, Jews walk around in circles, carrying an assortment of green and yellow flora. Then, on Simchat Torah, they dance in circles carrying Hebrew scrolls, working up to a frenzy.
Shemini Atzeret: Praying for Rain
At times G‑d assumes a posture of justice, and at times He assumes a only posture of kindness.
What Shemini Atzeret Teaches Us About Inclusiveness
Why a circle dance? Why move in such a way that you don’t get any further than when you started?
Walking the Distance, Feeling the Closeness
The Tahaluchah Experience
It’s Yom Tov, and scores of Chabad chassidim are leaving the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn on foot—some walking as far as Queens and Upper Manhattan! No, it’s not some fitness craze. It’s Tahaluchah.
Why Eat Stuffed Cabbage on Simchat Torah?
I was wondering, what’s the connection between stuffed cabbage and Simchat Torah? Or is it just something my mom did?
A Deeper Look at Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah
One holiday or two? Do we eat in the Sukkah? What are we celebrating?
On Yom Kippur, G‑d forgives us. A week and a half later, it is time to celebrate the atonement we've attained, time to rejoice with "the second tablets."
Souls in the Rain
As in a marriage, when the wedding-party is over, the couple's true intimate life begins. Shemini Atzeret is described as the "time of intimacy with the Divine." At this time, we ask for rain - the symbol of intimacy between heaven and earth.
Love, Marriage and Hakafot
"I love my wife," said Berl. "That's why I do everything she asks me to do. She says, 'Berl, please take out the garbage,' and right away, I take out the garbage." We all agreed that Berl loves his wife.
Torah in the Winter
Why do we celebrate our relationship with the Torah on Simchat Torah, and not on Shavuot, the day we received the Torah?
Circular Logic
An essay on why we dance in circles on Simchat Torah, and how this day celebrates—of all things—how Moses shattered the tablets in the aftermath of the Sin of the Golden Calf.
A Belated Celebration
Why celebrate our connection to the Torah more than four months after the date when it was given?
The source for our happiness on Simchat Torah, the center of attention, is of course the Torah. Yet, throughout the entire Hakkafos celebrations, the Torah is never opened...
Getting Real
Do you work in order to holiday, or do you holiday in order to work?
Lifting Your Feet
When we lift our feet, committing ourselves to one more good deed, our minds, and the Torah we are holding, are also able to dance...
Simchat Torah Questionnaire
Seven thought-provoking questions that lead us to uncover deep truths and empowering messages embedded within this holiday.
I'm a Jew and I'm Proud
Before we roll back the Torah to Bereishit, let us reflect for a moment on Moses' final words: "Fortunate are you, O Israel…"
The Dedication of the Holy Temple
After you build the Holy Temple, take it home with you, allow the holiness to be part of your daily life.
Henry Ford Sr. and My Renewed Sense of Jewish Pride
On Simchat Torah, and during the coming year, I won’t be dwelling on hatred. Instead, I will focus my mind and heart on kindness, on unity, and on a renewed sense of Jewish pride
An insight on Shemini Atzeret
Why Flags (With Apples and Candles) on Simchat Torah?
Many old-timers recall the custom for children to carry a candle stuck into an apple on top of a flag.
Why Circle 7 (or 3) Times on Simchat Torah?
The earliest known source for specifically going around seven times is Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal (1534-1572). But he provides no source.
How Simchat Torah in Tokyo Touched My Faith
The table was crowded with people I wouldn’t expect to see at a Chassidic gathering.
The soldier stared at the boy, fighting back tears. "Over these four terrible years, this is the first live Jewish child I have seen..."
Alone and in Love
Reflections on Shemini Atzeret
It’s hard work nowadays, isn’t it? To turn everything off and just be present with one.
The Peasants' Journey
G‑d created many spiritual worlds filled with angels, who have a sophisticated understanding of spirituality. Beneath these spiritual worlds is the physical world, where we human beings exist. We have almost no awareness of G‑dliness at all, but we sustain all of the spiritual worlds with our mitzvahs.
What Massage Therapy Taught Me About Simchat Torah
For maximum effect, you need to deal with your 'challenge' from all sides. You need to focus the setting, gather your energy beforehand and then dispense it evenly and deliberately. A sudden spill of forceful energy in one area will never equate to careful attention to all details...
Joy for Another
A Simchat Torah Lesson
How could I feel such happiness, and feel as though their joy was my joy? I know that in part it’s because I prayed for it. When you pray for another person, it brings you closer to them, and one Jew’s joy is all of Israel’s joy, one Jew’s pain is all of Israel’s pain . . .
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