Going Back to the Beginning on Simchat Torah

Torah on the mountain
Steve Gratz raises the Torah at his son Aidan’s Bar Mitzvah this summer in Jerusalem.
Photo by Steve Allan

As the new year begins, we go back to the beginning. It is always good to go back and learn from past experiences, while at the same time, steadily moving forward. Each week of the year has a Torah portion dedicated to it and during the upcoming holiday of Simchat Torah, we celebrate as we roll the Torah back to the beginning.

The first portion of the Torah relates the story of creation. While this passage has been a controversial subject in the news, our students choose to focus on the metaphorical lessons within the Torah’s creation story, often relating it to the creation stories of neighboring Near Eastern cultures.

In his Dvar Torah (teaching about the Torah), our student Ethan Kahn focused on how the creation story is “all about water with its formless nature; it is always in flux, ever-changing. Everything is chaotic and then, the ‘WaterWorld’ is transformed into order. The Torah gives us a phrase for this water chaos – ‘Tohu vaVohu’ which is usually translated as ‘unformed and void,’ but I think about ‘Tohu vaVohu’ as the chaos, things being unstable and fluid.”

He explained to his family and friends, “I was drawn to the concept of Tohu vaVohu, because of the many interpretations over what was at the beginning and why ancient cultures like the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Babylonians were fixated on creation being a way of ordering the world rather than starting something new. What we learn from this first Torah portion is that order can be created from chaos. I find it to be a message of hope. Hope that when things are out of control, we can overcome the disorder and create something better.”


Let’s look to create the world going forward while paying tribute to our past.

Edible Torah Project

While we parade with the Torah and read the last section and first section of the Torah at services for Simchat Torah, there is not as much ritual to do at home.

What a perfect time to create an instant edible craft for the holiday! All you will need are pretzel rods, a fruit roll-up, frosting and sprinkles!

Check out the Edible Torah Project from the Bible Belt Balabusta for some Simchat Torah fun at home.

The Edible Torah
Mazel Tov!
Motzi moment
Caleb Kline and his mentor Ronit Aranoff share a Motzi moment at his recent Bar Mitzvah Service. Mazel Tov Caleb!

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