Everyone identifies the festival of Simchat Torah as a time of celebration. On Simchat Torah, we embrace our Sifrei Torah, marching around the synagogue with song and jubilation.
The festival of Shavuot comes many months later. Like Simchat Torah, Shavuot has Torah at the center of our observance. But this spring festival is more subdued in tone and I think there is a reason why.
Simchat Torah is a celebration of the heart. We show our love of Torah with singing and dancing.
In contrast, Shavuot is a celebration of the mind. We hear the Ten Commandments read from Exodus and listen to a D’var Torah that unpacks their importance. On Shavuot it is customary to study together. In doing so, we practice the mitzvah of Talmud Torah, of using our intellect to discover new meaning in our sacred texts.
Simchat Torah and Shavuot, heart and mind, reflect our multidimensional relationship to God and Torah. One does not negate the other. In fact they re-enforce one another.
This Shavuot, our Beit Midrash students and families will gather on Saturday night for Havdalah, learning, and celebration. On Sunday morning, our friends from Beth Emek will join us for our Morning Service and Yizkor, followed by lunch and study.
Celebrating Simchat Torah is a wonderful expression of our heart filled love of Torah. On Shavuot we study and learn and in doing so, affirm that the Torah is a Tree of Life to all who hold fast to it.