Archive for October 4th, 2010


Rolling the Torah scroll back to Genesis


We celebrated Simchat Torah this Sabbath at our congregation. Simchat means joy in Hebrew – so it means Joy of Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). Jews read through the first five books of the Bible on a particular schedule every year. Our congregation has a real Torah scroll that is about 150 years old. It is made of real animal skins with the words of the Bible (1st 5 books) hand written in Hebrew with a quill and ink by an official Torah scribe. It takes a year to copy one scroll. They cost about $50,000. Each week the cantor takes the scroll out of the box (Ark) and unrolls it a little to position it to the section for that day. By the end of the year, all the parchment has been moved from one spindle of the scroll to the other. At the end of the Jewish year, for Simchat Torah, we roll the scroll back to the beginning in a meaningful ceremony to get ready to begin with Genesis again.

After rolling the scroll back to its beginning we take it outside and parade the Torah (God’s Word) around the neighborhood in an expression of our joy. This year we had banners for all the 12 tribes, along with an American Flag, an Israel flag and a Jerusalem flag. It was an amazing parade, filled with deep meaning for all of us. Imagine watching a parade for God’s Word. People driving by honked and cheered. It does my heart so much good to see God’s Word honored and uplifted. I hope you are blessed just imagining it.

David carried the banner of the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe from which Israel’s first king descended (Saul). Paul, who penned most of the New Testament, also descended from the tribe of Benjamin. I stood and watched from the steps of our meeting place and wondered if it looked a little like this when King David (of the tribe of Judah) led the men carrying the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. King David was dancing and praising God every step of the way. My Spirit joined the others as I remembered the words of David’s Psalm 145, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever.”

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