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Daf Yomi Rabbi Dov Linzer Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School

The book… that became… a bride – Simchat Torah 5772

If you want to understand Jews and Judaism, think of Simchat Torah. It’s the only festival that is the pure creation of the Jewish people. All the others were either written in the Torah or came about through historical events, like Purim and Hanukkah. Not so Simchat Torah, which isn’t mentioned in the Torah, not even in the Talmud. It appeared for the first time in the early middle ages. 
Now you might have thought that with all their dispersion and persecution Jews would have created a fast, but they didn’t. They created a day of pure joy. And joy in what? In the Torah, a book of law. 

Imagine a group of English or American judges or law professors, so seized with the beauty of their subject that they dance around the supreme court holding books of legislation in their arms. You’re right. It couldn’t happen. On 14 October 1663 the great diarist Samuel Pepys visited a synagogue in London. It happened to be Simchat Torah. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. People dancing around in a house of God? He’d never seen anything like it. The majesty and impartiality of law you can find elsewhere, but Simchat Torah, the joy of the law — for that you need to go to shul. 

If you want to understand Jews and Judaism, think of Simchat Torah and we realise that Judaism is really a love story: the story of the love of a people for a book, the book with which we dance with on Simchat Torah as if it were a bride.

(Thank you to the Hebrew Academy, San Diego for use of the Simchat Torah dancing video.)

Joy is… An open roof, an open door, an open heart – Succot / Shemini Atzeret 5772

I don’t know about you but when I sit in a Sukkah I think to myself: that is how our ancestors lived. Not just in the desert in the days of Moses, but for most of the twenty centuries of exile, not knowing from one year to the next whether they’d still be there, or whether they’d be forced to move on, as Jews were so often. Between 1290 when they were expelled from England and 1492 when they were expelled from Spain, Jews knew what it was like to have no fixed home: to know that the place you were living was just a temporary dwelling, which is what a sukkah is. 
Yet what did they call Sukkot? That is the strange thing. They called it zeman simchtenu, the time of our rejoicing. Somehow Sukkot decodes for us the secret of joy. Joy doesn’t come from great houses of brick or stone; it doesn’t come from what we shut out but from what we let in. Joy comes from a roof open to heaven, a door open to guests, and a heart open to thanksgiving. Ben Zoma was right when he said: who is rich? Not one who has everything he wants but one who celebrates what he has. Sukkot is one of the world’s great seminars in happiness, because it shows us that you can sit in a shack with only leaves for a roof, exposed to all the hazards of the cold, wind and rain and yet still rejoice, when you are surrounded by God and the people you love. Have that and you have everything. Chag sameach.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: Life Worth Living and the Jewish Tradition

 27.03.2015
Dr. Volf interviews Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on the vision of the good life in the Jewish tradition, as part of the 2015 Yale College Life Worth Living course.

Rabbi Sacks is the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at NYU, the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and Professor of Law, Ethics, and the Bible at King’s College London. Previously, he served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

Powerful Speech By The Bobov Rebbe After Latest Ruling

Powerful Speech By The Bobov’er Rebbe Shlita, Just Days After Latest Ruling.
Rosh Choidesh Elul 5774 August 26 2014

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