Simchat Torah: Rejoicing in the Torah
It is almost time to celebrate Sukkoth again, a season of the year that I have come to appreciate greatly for all of its prophetic significance that points to our soon-coming Bridegroom, Yeshua. Most of BibleInteract’s readers are familiar with the many facets of the High Holidays that begin on Rosh HaShanah, which is September 13 this year. For that reason, I am going to discuss a lesser-known aspect of the Fall Feasts of the Lord, that is commemorated on the eighth day of the ancient feast of Sukkoth.
Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) celebrates the conclusion of the annual public readings of the Torah Portion (Parashah). The final Parashah of the book of Deuteronomy is read in the morning service, and the first Parashah of Genesis is read during the evening service. This service bridges two years on the Hebrew calendar. On this day, the congregation participates in singing, dancing, and processions with the Torah that can last for several hours. The Word of God gives the people reason to rejoice! They quite literally party with God! Actually the Jews party with God all through Sukkoth. Men can be seen dancing all night in the synagogues and streets of Israel for the duration of the feast.
Special ceremonies are conducted during Simchat Torah to mark the onset of Jewish education for young children, and older children are confirmed on this day. The young children stand under a Tallit (prayer shawl), while the congregation pronounces the blessing over them that Jacob pronounced on his two young grandsons. I believe there is much to be gleaned from Jacob’s blessing today:
He blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Gen 48:15-16
The two lads spoken of in this passage are Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph and the Egyptian woman. The two lads are also mentioned in the weekly Shabbat Blessing when the father of the household pronounces the sacred words over his own sons. Jewish girls are blessed in the names of the four revered matriarchs of Israel: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah. We are left to wonder why Ephraim and Manasseh were exalted above all the other sons in the Bible, including the patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This conundrum perplexed me until I finally found an answer that bore witness in my spirit.
Consider for a moment the many instances of sibling rivalry mentioned in the Bible. We have the accounts of Cain and Able (Gen 4), Jacob and Esau (Gen 27), Joseph and his green-eyed brothers (Gen 37), the politically ambitious sons of King David (1 Kings 1), and the prodigal son and his jealous brother (Luke 15:11-31). Unlike the conflicts that ensued in all of these situations, there is no record of quarreling between Ephraim and Manasseh. They’re supposed peaceful relationship entitles these two lads to be lifted up as an example to brethren everywhere. Yes, indeed, bless your sons in the names of Ephraim and Manasseh as you, too, dance with the Torah during this holy season of divine revelation and joy.
*For additional information on the High Holidays, see my newly released book: The Fall Feasts of the Lord – A Dress Rehearsal for Eternity. For additional information regarding the customs of Shabbat, see my four-part DVD series: The Shabbat Queen – Ascending to the Presence of God. Both publications are available from noreenjacks.com or bibleinteract.com.