Simchat Torah: In Hell or In Heaven




Simchat Torah is not a time for talk, and certainly not for drawn-out sermons. It is a time to dance and celebrate with the Torah.

Instead of studying the Torah, on this day we dance with it, thus testifying to our essential connection with the Torah which transcends words.

And yet, sometimes the unspoken has to be spoken. Sometimes we have to describe what seems indescribable and express what seems inexpressible.

Simchat Torah was not always a happy time for the Jews – throughout our history we often faced intensified persecution at holiday times. The Nazis in particular relished rounding up and exterminating Jews during the Jewish holidays – anything to further brutalize and demoralize the people they considered sub-human. For example, Simchat Torah 1941 was particularly brutal, as the Germans massacred entire Jewish communities, including tens of thousands in various Ukrainian cities.

A few remarkable stories about Simchat Torah in “hell” teach us volumes about our indestructibility and how we should be celebrating Simchat Torah in the relative “heaven” we now live in – considering the freedom and comfort that we have been blessed with in our day.

For like the eclipse of the sun which reveals deeper dimensions of light, the blackest darkness uncovers deepest truths and strengths, which otherwise would have remained hidden.


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