There’s no shortage of reasons that Simchat Torah might be one of your least favorite days in shul. It’s another long morning in a season of long mornings. Dancing might not be your thing. The kids running around with joyous abandon might get on your nerves. I have known similar feelings over the years. Yet, there is something about Simchat Torah that tugs at my heart, and sends my soul flying. I find that it’s worth every second of the hangin’ around shul all day.
Even though I know it’s coming, and I’ve experienced it so many times before, I find the moment when we start B’raishit to be just thrilling. Chills-running-down-my-spine thrilling. The words – so familiar, so simple, so austere – are unexpectedly moving when I hear them in the context of this craziest of days in shul. The reading, along with the pomp, ceremony and song that accompany it, feels like an affirmation of something primal and deep.
I think, when it comes down to it, that B’raishit is actually our raucous, primal re-affirmation of our belief in the continuity of the Jewish people. We know that every Braishit will end in a V’zot Habracha, as we know that all who were once young will become old. Every cycle that begins is a cycle that will end. We know it. We live it. But instinctively, responding to our deepest intuition, we always start up all over again. With all of the joy with which we started last time, and the time before that. All of us start again, together. The little ones beneath the canopy of tallitot, the elders sharing the too-many sweets, parents, children, generations, all starting B’raishit together. All the people of Israel. All over the globe.
We read B’raishit – again, anew – as the holy days of Tishrai reach their end, placing the coda on the year now past. Tomorrow we begin. With hope. With faith. With a niggun. Every cycle will end. But every end will be followed by a beginning.