By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
As the Yom Tov of Simchas Torah approaches, we look forward to dancing with gusto with our beloved Sifrei Torah. Shuls around the globe are abuzz with joyous dancing and singing that lasts late into the night and then again the next day for the good part of the morning. I’d like to share with my dear readership a parable which I invented to help put these festivities in their proper perspective.
There was once a poor man by the name of Yankel who had very little money, but he also had a voracious appetite. This posed a problem for him since he liked all kinds of rich foods but couldn’t afford them. Then he fell upon an ingenious idea. From experience, he knew that the very best smorgasbord could be found at the Marina Del Ray wedding hall. So he decided that he would crash a wedding every night and make believe he was one of the invited guests. In order to make himself blend in better, he trained himself in the art of dancing, learning to do the Hora and the Kzatzka with great expertise.
This plan, to his delight, worked fabulously for several months until one ill-fated night when he made the mistake of dancing during keizad m’rakdin, when both the Chosson and Kallah, the bride and the groom, were present. As he was performing his skillful kzatzka, the Chosson commented to the Kallah, “Is he your cousin? He really dances well.” The Kallah responded, “Never saw him before in my life. He must be from your side.” The Chosson then told her, “He’s not one of our guests. I’ve never seen him either.” Upon checking it out, they unmasked him as a fraud and the wedding hall management sternly rebuked him to never pull such a shtick again.
In a similar vein, as Chatskel (who doesn’t have time to learn Torah regularly) dances with the Sefer Torah, hugging it close and singing Toras Hashem T’mima, the Torah of Hashem is Perfect, the Sefer Torah looks at him and exclaims, “Do I know you, that you are dancing with Me with such intimacy? I haven’t seen you the whole year!”
While this story carries a painful and penetrating message, you might ask, “Rabbi Weiss, what are you advocating? That we shouldn’t dance on Simchas Torah?” Of course not! But what I am suggesting is that when we embrace the Torah, we make a commitment that this year will be different. That this will be the year that we finally are mavir Sedra, that we will review the weekly Torah portion, on a regular basis. Indeed, such a kabbalah will render us truly eligible to dance the night through with the Sefer Torah. These days, with so many scary sicknesses around, everyone is looking for a segulah for long life. The very first segulah for arichos yomim, longevity, mentioned in Shas is to review every week that week’s Torah portion, saying the text twice and the Targum once (Masechtas Berochos 8B).
Many people will defend themselves by saying, “I simply don’t have time for such a commitment. Especially when the parshios get tricky, I won’t be able to keep up such a weekly routine.” Such thinking is only the counsel of the Yeitzer Hora, the evil inclination. Since reviewing the weekly Torah portion is incumbent on every male, it definitely holds true the Talmudic adage, “Haba l’taheir, M’say’im oso – The person who wants to do right, Hashem will help him.” Rav Reuven Feinstein, Shlit”a, has the custom to be mavir Sedra immediately on Motzoei Shabbos, before he can get busy with anything else. We should know that after 120 years, a person will be asked by Hashem why he wasn’t mavir Sedra. Many will answer they simply didn’t have time, they were busy with their livelihood, they were doing homework with the children, and all sorts of other excuses. Hashem will respond that he has written down that this person spent over thirteen hundred hours reading the sports section of the Post and the Daily News. Couldn’t he find time to review the beloved Torah portion? What will we answer to such embarrassment?
So this Simchas Torah, as we celebrate to the tunes of Ki Heim Chayeinu and Ashreinu Ma Tov Chelkeinu, let’s make up our minds to really finish the Torah this year, the one Book written by Hashem Himself. And in that merit, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, much joy, and everything wonderful.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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