EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY. That’s the rule of the day for all Jews. Why? To celebrate the giving of the Torah. Simchat Torah is the day’s official name and it is immediately follows the last day of Sukkot.
The Jewish contract with G-d is that they will obey all the rules of the Torah–quite an undertaking that many do not achieve. It helps to remember the story of Hillel, a Rabbi teaching 50 years before Jesus, who when asked by someone bent on mocking Jews:”Teach me the Torah while I stand on one foot. ”
Hillel replied, “You want to learn a great deal in a short time. This is our Holy Torah: ‘What is hateful to you, do not do unto others.'”
The story goes on to say everything else is only explanation.
God does ask obedience to the “explanation” of non-Jews. He gives his love to all who follow the Golden Rule as stated by Hillel.
Before I converted, as student of history and philosophy, I had reached the conclusion many share: trying to impose a belief in one God or one religion was not only wrong, but a tool of war mongers. At the same time, I felt religion had a great deal to offer all. I do have a sense of a higher power or force beyond humans. I was happy when studying to convert to find learn the above. I was even happier when following my conversion the Rabbi said, “I have taught you the law, not it is up to you and God to judge how you obey it.”
I wish I could say all Rabbi’s were like Hillel and the Rabbi who converted me. But Rabbi’s are people and vary. Moreover, as the joke among Jews goes:”Discuss Torah with three Rabbis and get seven interpretations.:
One of the blessings of moving to Colorado has been finding Aish Denver. Aish, meaning flame, is a network of teaching synagogues and found in many communities. Aish Denver, in my mind, is the twin to the Lincoln Square Synagogue where I studied, was converted, and married. The love and caring are so strong in both shuls the sky should be lit with the light of love. Both Rabbis exude a caring that spreads warmth and welcome to all who come. The emphasis is on learning, not judging; caring, not preaching. Some even come and never go into the sanctuary. I combine prayer and study. Today, I volunteered to care for the few children not old enough to be involved in the dancing and marching that is Simchat Torah. I made merry with a small group of great kids. I am weary, but happy. Amy, Dan and Gabe are joining us for Shabbat dinner. My heart runneth over with joy.