The movie “Fiddler on the Roof” gave Jews around the world a catchphrase that could explain Jewish culture in a nutshell: “There’s a blessing for everything!” Likewise, the Jewish calendar is filled with feasts and celebrations for just about everything, including one named Simchat Torah.
If you look throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you won’t find mention of Simchat Torah on any of its pages. So, why would the Jewish people make such a big deal about it? Where did it come from? How did it start? These are excellent questions that have a fairly simple answer: Joy.
Leviticus 23 outlines the sacred appointed times that ADONAI mandated for the Israelites to observe in recognition of their covenant with the Lord. One of the major fall feasts is the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles, known in Hebrew as Sukkot. The Lord mandated that the Hebrews observe the holiday for seven days and have a closing assembly on the eighth day. This eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret, meaning “eighth day of assembly.” When the Israelites were scattered into the Diaspora, the rabbis of the time decided to extend all feasts an extra 24 hours to allow Jews scattered throughout the world a way they could fulfill the commandments. From this, Shemini Atzeret went from only one day to two.
Throughout the centuries, that second day became a day of joy and celebration marking the completion of the Torah reading cycle. By the 14th century, it became customary to begin reading Genesis on this day and Simchat Torah, which translates to “Joy of the Torah”, became a full member of the list of Jewish holidays. So, even though it’s not a Biblical feast, it is still a valuable time of community and thanksgiving to God for “planting Eternal Life in our midst.” So, this Simchat Torah, join the Jewish people around the world and take a moment to thank God for His Word.
Joining the Journey with the TLV Bible App
Not sure how to join the journey and follow the Torah reading cycle? There’s an app for that.
We created a “companion” app to use alongside your TLV Bibles. It’s like walking through a Museum and scanning the audio recording to learn more about the object on display. The TLV All Access App includes all of the TLV Artwork, an Ancient Torah Scroll gallery, Hebrew prayer liturgy recordings, and weekly family devotionals based on the Torah reading cycle, and much more!
Introducing The Family Altar Initiative
The Tree of Life Bible Society is building 700 Family Altars in homes across the United States of America by Thanksgiving 2019.
That is 700 families making the decision to love God and love one another.
Since 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to declare the week of Thanksgiving as National Bible Week. At the time, the National Bible Association read passages on the air as NBC between radio broadcasts. Since then, every President has declared the week of Thanksgiving National Bible Week.
By joining the Family Altar Initiative, you can be 1 of the 700 families that will be gathered together around God’s Word during their Thanksgiving meals.