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Verse of the Day – Philippians 1:9-10 (New International Version)
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
Simchat Torah or Simhat Torah (Hebrew: שִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה, lit., “Rejoicing with/of the Torah”, Ashkenazi: Simchas Torah) is a Jewish holiday that celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle. Simchat Torah is a component of the Biblical Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret (“Eighth Day of Assembly”), which follows immediately after the festival of Sukkot in the month of Tishrei (occurring in mid-September to early October on the Gregorian calendar).
The main celebrations of Simchat Torah take place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. In Orthodox as well as many Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year on which the Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark and read at night. In the morning, the last parashah of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can last for several hours.
The morning service is also uniquely characterized by the calling up of each member of the congregation for an aliyah. There is also a special aliyah for all the children.
The Hebrew word aliyah translates as “elevation” or “going up.” It is, in fact, used both for being called up to the Torah reading and for moving to the Land of Israel.
Aliyah to Israel
The term aliyah, going up to Israel, is used in Genesis in reference to our forefather Jacob’s bones being brought from Egypt to what would be the Land of Israel: “And Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.”1
The Talmudic sages state that the Land of Israel is higher than all other lands.2 This is not meant in a topographical sense, for clearly this is not the case. Rather, it means that the Holy Land is the most suitable place to relate and connect to the Almighty, and the primary location to lovingly engage in the observance of G‑d’s commandments. In other words, to go there is to be elevated, to go up to a higher level.
It is for this reason that anyone “making aliyah,” or moving to Israel for the right reasons, is moving “up” in the world. It is the land in which the holy Patriarchs and Matriarchs lived. It is the land upon which the Holy Temples were built. And, with the advent of the Messianic era, it is the land where the Third Temple will soon be rebuilt. It is truly a holy and elevated place.
Uploaded on September 30, 2021