Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Chaz: Simchat Torah


During the Yom Tov festivities I was asked two excellent questions. One was why we utilize the Yomim Noroim melody for Simchat Torah night. I responded that it is not for sake of levity, but in fact, just the opposite. It was instituted to remind us that Simchat Torah is considered by Chassidim as a day to change the decree of one’s fate and to achieve atonement through joy rather than fear. And, according to Rabbi Elie Munk (World of Prayer) as quoted by my teacher, Chazzan Macy Nulman, to remind us that “unbridled boisterousness is regarded quite unseemly...”. It was to remind us to temper our unrestricted emotions on this day. Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten this part of the equation – perhaps, I must admit, for the good. However, we must be careful not to make the Maariv into a “joke”.

Question #2 was – why is there elements of “Eicha” (Lamentations) in “Ata Horaisa” and “Ana Hashem” during Simchat Torah? The answer is similar to the first, as expressed by Chazzan Nulman:”…in order to temper uncontrolled levity. It is also a reminder of the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem….parallel to breaking the glass at the conclusion of the marriage ceremony…to recall the great calamity that befell the people of Israel”. As a result of our joyous celebration of the Torah on the beautiful Yom Tov that we just have experienced - may we therefore merit seeing the rebuilding of the Temple in our day, V’chayn Y’hi Ratson!

Daven well and sing along!

© 2008 Cantor Sherwood Goffin and Lincoln Square Synagogue

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