Who Owns the Torah? – A Shazak Scenario
Speaking of Simchas Torah, it’s time for another Shazak Scenario:
Rabbi Reuven Rabinowitz is dancing away on Simchas Torah. After all, he is a Torah scholar who spends most of his time learning Torah (and he makes sure that everyone knows about it). No wonder he is soooo happy!
“One second,” the learned Rabbi mutters. “What do I see here? Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that Mr. Berel Bananavitch dancing with the Torah? Look how happy he is!”
Rabbi Reuven decides to confront Mr. Berel Bananavitch (who, by the way, was not holding a banana).
“Reb Berel,” he shouts over the singing. “Tell me. You’re not a big Torah learner, so what gives you the right to dance with the Torah?”
Berel pauses, thinks for a moment, and replies:
“Listen, Rabbi. My brother recently married off his daughter. He invited me to the wedding, of course, and I showed up wearing my fancy-shmancy tuxedo. True, it wasn’t my wedding, but when my brother celebrates, I celebrate together with him.”
“And? So? The point being?” questioned the Rabbi.
“My dear Rabbi. The point being, that Simchas Torah is your “wedding,” and I am sooo happy for you! We celebrate together!”
“Hmmm… very interesting,” hmmmed Rabbi Reuven. “But I ‘humbly’ disagree.”
R.R. (Rabbi Reuven) notices Mr. Shmerel Schreier, joyfully dancing and singing “Torah Tzivah Lanu,” with all his might. R.R. pulls him to the side.
“Reb Shmerel,” the Rabbi asks, “that’s some pair of lungs you’ve got. Now tell me. You don’t learn Torah, so what gives you the right to sing and dance with the Torah? And with such joy!”
“True. True. I am a simple person,” replied Reb Shmerel. “Yet, I do recall a Yom Kippur prayer called Al Cheit… for the sin of… such and such and then another sin, and yet another sin… and even another sin. You know, Rabbi, I bang on my chest every time I say Al Cheit, and list all kinds of terrible things that I had done. Yet, there is no way in the world I committed all of those sins.”
That’s right,” answered Rabbi Reuven, “but every Jew confesses all these sins, because ‘Every Jew is responsible for another’ – it’s called ‘Arvus’.”
Aha!” continued Reb Shmerel Schreir, “if I should be sad on Yom Kippur for sins committed by other Jews, then why can’t I be happy on Simchas Torah for Torah studied by learned Jews like you, Rabbi Rabinowitz?!”
“Hmmm… very, very interesting,” hmmmed Rabbi Reuven. “But I truly, sincerely, ‘humbly’ disagree.”
So, our dear Shazak reader, who do you think is right?
Is it Rabbi Reuven Rabinowitz, who “humbly” thinks he “owns the Torah” and has exclusive rights to rejoice on Simchas Torah?
Or is it Mr. Berel Bananavitch (without the banana), who is dancing at his brother’s wedding?
Or how about Mr. Shmerel Schreir, who claims that all Jews are one?
The answer is… THEY ARE ALL WRONG!
It’s Torah Tzivah Lanu Moshe Morashah Kehilas Yaakov. The Torah is a Morashah – an inheritance – to the ENTIRE congregation of Yaakov (that’s all of us!)
Indeed, the Torah belongs to every single Jew, regardless of their abilities or accomplishments. We are all children of HaShem, with the right (and obligation) to live according to the Torah, to keep its laws, to celebrate it. It’s not your brother’s wedding – it’s YOUR wedding. And it’s not your fellow’s sin – it’s YOUR Mitzvah.
That explains why on Simchas Torah, we don’t dance with an open Torah where we could see the words, but with the covered Torah. The message is clear: All of us are connected to the Torah and its holiness, regardless of our knowledge of the written words.