We are at the beginning of the new Jewish year, the year 5775, when we begin reading the Torah all over again, from the Book of Genesis. On the 8th day of Sukkot, a holy day which is called SHE’MINI ATZERET, we read two portions, the last portion in the Book of Deuteronomy which is called VE’ZOT HABRACHA (AND THIS IS THE BLESSING), and the first portion, PARASHAT BERESHIT (GENESIS PORTION). This is what the Jews did while they exiled in Babel and they brought it back with them when they returned to the Holy Land during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Until then, the custom in Jerusalem was to read the Torah for 3.5 years and then start from the beginning all over again. Now we are reading the Torah for full 12 months and then start from the beginning on a yearly basis. Our sages wrote that we have to begin reading the Torah every time as if it is our first time reading it; that we should not be arrogant thinking that we know everything and that there is nothing new to teach us. This perspective, to read the Torah every time as if it is our first time, allows us to be open to new discoveries. Reading the Torah on a yearly basis is part of the Jewish circles of life. Jews have different circles throughout the year: circles of life, circles of holidays, circles of memorials, etc. The circles of Jewish life are actually spiraling ones, and do not have a definite beginning and end. Every new circle begins at a higher level than the previous one. Every new circle brings us to a higher place spiritually. So, remember that this year you are higher than last year and, therefore, you are more open to receive spiritual experiences than you were last year.
Leave a comment