With Its Subversive Customs, Simhat Torah Reaffirms Jewish Values

Oct. 23 2019

Yesterday, Jews in the Diaspora celebrated Simḥat Torah—the Rejoicing of the Law—so called because on this day the annual cycle of Torah readings is concluded and the opening chapter of Genesis is read to begin the cycle anew. To mark the occasion, the scrolls are brought out from the ark and congregants dance with them. In most communities, the day’s prayers are marked by levity, an almost-carnivalesque atmosphere, and customs—ranging from consuming hard liquor in the midst of services to, in times past, setting off firecrackers—that fly in the face of normal practice. Chaim Saiman documents the centuries-long tension between these customs and strict halakhic requirements, noting that time and again rabbis—sometimes reluctantly, sometimes enthusiastically—bent the rules to accommodate folk practice. He sees part of the reason in the placement of the holiday on the heels of the most solemn period of the Jewish calendar:

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Halakhah, High Holidays, Simhat Torah

 

The U.S., Israel, and Their Arab Partners Should Work Together to Create the Next Generation of Defensive Weapons

Jan. 18 2021

Last month, Jerusalem and Washington announced the successful testing of jointly developed, sophisticated systems for knocking incoming rockets and missiles out of the air. This technology, writes Michael Knights, is not only of strategic importance to both countries, but can be of use to the Gulf states, which also are under the growing threat of Iranian missile attacks. Further improvements are necessary, however, and the Abraham Accords may be the best tool for advancing them:

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Abraham Accords, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology, U.S. Security, US-Israel relations