Simchat Torah: Soulful Soles




There is a story told by the Baal Shem Tov about the morning of Simchat Torah when the angels find strange objects – torn shoes and broken heels – scattered in heavenly Paradise. Perplexed, they came seeking clarity…

We can all appreciate the dramatic moments in our lives. Pleasure and excitement can be found in glorious events and magnificent vistas. Joy and celebration are easily experienced in times of grandiosity. But can we expect to discover anything of significance in the doldrums of daily life? During the “regular,” dull moments, which occupy most of our lives, when nothing spectacular or breathtaking is happening – does any of it matter? Does anybody care? Is anybody watching? We know how the awesome power of prayer can pierce the heavens and change destiny. But what about our simple, mundane activities? Can we ever hope to relieve the monotony of the daily wear and tear and experience transcendence?

The surprising answer to these questions is captured in the Simchat Torah morning story about the perplexed angels in Paradise. The explanation given to the bewildered angels teaches us to have a new perspective on even the seemingly most banal aspects of our lives. It shows us the enormous power generated by the simplest of acts and by the lowest of objects After all, what can be more pedestrian and uninspiring than a … pair of worn soles?

Declares the Baal Shem Tov: Precisely in our sub-ordinary life experiences can we experience the extra-ordinary. The tattered heels and frayed soles – when infused with passion – can move worlds.

And as we learn, the morning after Simchat Torah, the usual crown is not fashioned for the Almighty out of the lofty prayers of holy men, but a quite different, yet more glorious crown is fashioned out of the dance-worn shoes of Jews.

So let’s dance.


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