Give honor to the Torah in the Covid 19- year
Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald
שִׂישׂוּ וְשִׂמְחוּ בְּשִׂמְחַת תּוֹרָה, וּתְנוּ כָּבוֹד לַתּוֹרָה
“Be glad and rejoice on Simchat Torah, and give honor to the Torah”.
Every year we rejoice with the Torah, and we shower upon it much love and is given much honor.
We are glad that we were privileged to finish the reading, and that we were privileged to keep the commandments.
We rejoice and sing in thanksgiving to the Almighty, for the Torah is strong and enlightened, אֲשֶׁר בָּֽחַר בָּֽנוּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים וְנָֽתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־תּוֹרָתוֹ “Who chose us from among all the peoples and gave us His Torah”.
The joy is great, from the firmament of the skies, in the Hakkafot and in the circles of the dancers, in the multitude of people and in the company of friends. With love and kisses, the Torahs are hugged and embraced to the hearts. In their honor, they are passed from hand to hand to the celebrants, because everyone feels that they belong.
And the Torah is honored, even more than it asks for, and it is as happy as the day it was given.
And the Kiddush, oh the kiddush, who is unparalleled in honor of the Torah, with drinks from the finest kinds. And the Kuggel, and the herring. A mitzvah meal in honor of the completion of the Torah.
And the Torah is honored and glorified and the people rejoice in it.
And this year, the year of Covid 19.
This year, too, the Torah will demand its honor, the joy of the Torah!
And we, too, will rejoice, that we have had the privilege of concluding its reading in the number of courtyards this year. And that we were privileged to keep the commandments.
And moreover, in the center of the court, the Torah will be asking for its honor on the table as a queen, and the Hakkafot around it will be smaller circles.
And it asks that there be much joy in its honor, from a distance, wearing masks, in singing. And we will not dance hand-in-hand as every year. And will not pass the Torah from one another, so that, G-d forbid, we will not be endangered and fall sick.
In honor of the Torah we will observe as it is written the commandment וחי בהם ולא שימות בהם ‘which a person shall do and live by them” and not that he should die by them’ and it is also written: 'וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם' “Take therefore good heed unto yourselves”.
And let us take care of the 'פִּקּוּחַ הַנֶּפֶשׁ שֶׁדּוֹחֶה אֶת כָּל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ' “All cases of saving a life supersede the entire Torah”
That on its day to rejoice we are reminded of the mitzvah: בִּטּוּלָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה זֶהוּ קִיּוּמָהּ “Setting aside Torah perpetuates it”
For this year the Torah seeks that all human beings will recognize its sanctity, that it cares for its sons’ peace as it is written in the ending לְעֵינֵ֣י כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל “in the sight of all Israel”.
Because the preservation of life is the most important of all mitzvahs, and “he who saves one soul’ is exalted above all. And this way, there will be great honor in the world and the honor of the people who take care to maintain it.
And this year, we will also honor the conclusion of the Torah with a festive mitzvah meal.
But not with the neighbors, but each in his own house with the immediate family.
And there shall be fine drinks like at the king's table, and also herring and kuggel as one pleases with joy.
And in its honor, we will begin a new beginning from בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א.
With great hope and good health.