The day after
The day after

 The day after - Sh'mini Atzeret & Simchat Torah features

torah opeds


OzTorah from Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple via 

Wed, Sep 26, 4:52 AM (6 days ago)

There are three views about the day after Simchat Torah:
* "I’m glad it’s all over. Synagogue Season knocks you out!"
* "I enjoyed it. Being in touch with your religion for a month is great!"
* "I don’t take it seriously, just an occasional passing nod!"

You encounter any or all of these views if you talk to people the day after the festival.

The fact is that though most Jews keep Rosh HaShanah (at least the first day) and Yom Kippur, only a minority bother with Sukkot and less than half keep Simchat Torah.

There may be two extra factors about Simchat Torah – some people come specially because it tends to be light-hearted, whilst others deliberately stay away because of the noise and length of the service.

The really important thing is to say to yourself, "Jewishness is part of my being, even if I don’t keep everything scrupulously. I really should spend a bit more time this year in becoming more knowledgeable as a Jew and even in trying out some of the practices that have never been part of my Jewish consciousness.".


In the haftarah for Sh’mini Atzeret, Solomon blesses Israel and says, "Let your heart be whole with the Lord your God" (I Kings 8:61).

To understand what it means to let the heart be whole, an analogy is called for.

Think of physics. The physicist used to know more or less everything about his subject, but now his discipline has many branches.

Once a builder had enough skill to cope with the whole job; today he needs an array of tradesmen.

In religion too, the old-time Jew was a Jack of all trades. He went to synagogue to pray, to learn, to give tz’dakah. The smallest community had a Chevra Shass or Chevra T’hillim; the poorest house had an array of charity pushkes.

A Jew wore tzitzit, put on tefillin, bensched after meals. On Shabbat he was a king and his wife was a queen; the children were princes and princesses. In business all was honest and above board. At night one could face God and one’s conscience.

These were all-round Jews; their hearts were whole with the Lord their God.

Today many lead a fragmented Jewish life. We support the synagogue but don’t pray, establish schools but don’t study, give to the Holy Land but don’t think of living there.

We daven without understanding, refrain from food but speak lashon ha-ra on Yom Kippur, eat matzah on Pesach but ignore those who eat the bread of affliction all the year.

We are Bar-Mitzvah, cemetery, food or humour Jews.

We think because in other areas the Jack of all trades is outmoded, it is like that in Jewish life too. As a result, Judaism suffers; we all suffer, because we miss the full richness of the Jewish experience.

In Judaism you can have your own emphases, but you have to be a Jack (or Ya’akov) of all trades.