The haftarah1 for Simchat Torah is the beginning of the book of Joshua, which is the continuation of the events we had read about at the conclusion of the Torah. It begins: "And it was after Moses died..."2

When we delve deeper into the haftarah, we begin to see how it connects with Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. It speaks about keeping and studying Torah and doing good deeds, loyalty and brotherhood.

The haftarah records the first communication from G‑d to Joshua and the preparation before crossing the Jordan into the promised land, Israel.

G‑d tells Joshua that the people would be crossing the Jordan, saying, “everywhere that the soles of (the Jewish people's) feet will tread, I will give to you.”3 He continues to tell Joshua what the borders of Israel are, and that no man will ever stand up against him. G‑d will be with him just as He was with Moses.

Now comes a statement that is repeated over and over again to Joshua, chazak v'ematz,4 “be strong and have courage.” G‑d tells him this three times. First with regards to leading the people, then about keeping the Torah, and finally about going to war.

About keeping the Torah, G‑d says, “Just be strong and very courageous to observe and do in accordance with all of the Torah that Moses My servant has commanded you. Do not stray therefrom right or left, in order that you succeed wherever you go. This book of the Torah shall not leave your mouth; you shall meditate therein day and night, in order that you observe to do all that is written in it, for then will you succeed in all your ways and then will you prosper.”5

This message that G‑d communicated to Joshua is a lesson to each of us, and connects to Simchat Torah, when we conclude the last parshah of the Torah and start reading once again from the beginning.

The Midrash6 tells us, that from the words, "This book of the Torah shall not leave your mouth," we learn that Joshua constantly had a Torah scroll with him. Rashi tells us that it was the book of Deuteronomy. When he completed the last words, G‑d said, “chazak v'ematz.” Until this very day, when we finish reading a book of the Torah, we say “chazak.

The Talmud7 tells us that there are four areas in which a person must strengthen himself. The first two are Torah and good deeds. The Talmud draws support from our haftarah. “Be strong” refers to Torah and “very courageous” alludes to performance of good deeds.8

“Do not stray therefrom right or left, in order that you succeed wherever you go.” Since9 Torah is G‑dly knowledge and truth, the closer you align yourself to it and the more accurately you follow it, the more you will succeed and find happiness and meaning.

It is not enough to learn and understand. Rather, “you shall meditate10 therein day and night.” We have to take it to a whole new level, each according to his or her ability, making it part of who we are. This will allow us to have a deeper understanding of what G‑d wants, and to know the inner workings of the Torah.11 “In order that you observe to do all that is written in it,” because you will find pleasure in doing it, now that you see the purpose in it.

G‑d continues, “for then will you succeed in all your ways and then will you prosper.” A Torah life is a successful and prosperous life. It is a life of truth and values, one that is real and fulfilling. As a result, we will find satisfaction and won't feel empty.

Now, Joshua sends word to prepare to cross the Jordan. He calls on the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Menasheh to keep their promise to lead their brothers in battle, although they were already settled on the other side of the Jordan. They wholeheartedly consented and told Joshua that they would do whatever is requested of them.

Keeping their promise was an act of brotherhood and unity. And that is the idea of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah While on the seven days of Sukkot there were 70 bulls brought as sacrifices for the 70 nations of the world, on Shemini Atzeret, there was only one bull, brought for the Jewish people. It is a time of unity among the Jewish people and us and G‑d. This idea is seen in Simchat Torah as well, as we all dance with the Torah, irrespective of our level of scholarship. We dance together as equals because the Torah is our inheritance.

Being the last day of our holiday season, Simchat Torah sets the tone for the whole year. That is why we have these themes stressed at this time, because these ideas of keeping and studying Torah, delving deeply into it, doing good deeds, unity, brotherhood, and loyalty to the holy amongst us, our tzadikim, is what fortifies us and enables us to do our mission.

Just as in the haftarah, where they prepared to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, we will soon complete our mission and go together to our Holy Land, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.

This essay is dedicated by Irving Bauman in memory of his father, Rabbi Moshe Aron Bauman, of blessed memory.