Today is Simchat Torah ( שמחת†תורה†), Joy of the Torah, of which John Parson, writes,
“This holiday marks the completion of the Torah reading cycle for the year. Simchat Torah is based on the “hakhel gathering” ( הַקְהֵל†) commanded by God in the Torah: “At the end of every seven yearsat the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Sukkot ( בְּחַג†הַסֻּכּוֹת†), when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God … you shall read this Torah before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble ( הַקְהֵל†) the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this Torah” (Deut. 31:10-12).”
Sitting on the deck yesterday as I began writing this post, looking out into the wooded area where the pines are beginning to shed their inner needles, preparing for winter, I thought over this entire season. It begins with a shofar blast on New Year, which is a call to us all. The shofar is a rams horn, that reminds us of the ram that took the place of Issac. (Click link for reference.)
This season calls to us to pray, to look within ourselves, to be prepared for the Day of Atonement. Are we to be found among the goats or the sheep? Are we in a right relationship with G-D? Are we in a right relationship with our other people? It is a season of repentance and rejuvenation. It is a season that concludes with the Feast of Succoth, in which we are called to remember that we, during our lives on Earth, live but a temporal life. It reminds us of the time Israel spent in the desert after its exodus from Egypt.
The last day of Sukkoth is Simchat Torah. YeshuaJesus celebrated this Feast, as described by Apostle John in chapter seven.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, asf the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37,38)
YeshuaJesus would have heard read the last two chapters of Deuteronomy and Genesis chapter one through chapter 2, verse 3. (Click on link to read this Simchat Torah reading.)
The first section of the reading is Moses’s final blessing upon the children of Israel. Deuteronomy concludes with Moses going to “Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho.” There G-D shows him the land Israel is being given, the land that Joshua will lead Israel into as its possession. Moses is only allowed to see the land, but not cross the Jordan, not enter the land of Israel. Moses sinned against the Lord. He “broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel.For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:51,51)
As John Parson puts it, the scroll is rewound and we begin reading from Genesis, the story of G-D creating the world, and all that is in it.
Early this morning two cats were creating havoc, making noise in the living room. I got up to see what the commotion was about, only to find them chasing a mouse. I sat for a while drinking a cup of tea and thinking about Creation. After a creative event, the passages state that “G-D saw that it was good.” Once G-D created the first humans, He “saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”
I began to think how many times I’d sit in the garden and look out over the ponds, to the yard and into the woods and think of all the things that still need to be done. Trimming, tending, fertilizing. And there’s the pile of tree limbs I trimmed late last Spring that I still need to burn. . . If I don’t ignore it, it consumes by prayer time, my Garden Time. Contrast that attitude with G-D’s who surveyed all He’d done and saw that “It Was Very Good.” Didn’t G-D know there’d be more that needed doing? Didn’t G-D know the fragility of that pair of humans He’d created? They’d need a lot of care to be able to survive in the world outside of the Garden. G-D knew He kick them out for their rebellion against Him. He had a plan. Yet He looked out over the expanse of the world and saw its goodness, its rightness.
When I came back to bed, walking through the living room, I looked with a different set of eyes at some photographs on the wall. I’d walked by them thousands of time, but ignored them. They are of houses with blue shutters, taken on a trip to Siberia twenty years ago. They are beautiful. I looked around the dimly lite room, and though how lovely the room is. I didn’t see the dust on the furniture, the pillows pushed of the sofa–our ill mannered dog thinks she needs to stretch out the whole length of the couch.
It seems I can get so caught up in all that “needs” to be done, and simply not be grateful for the blessings that are around me.