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Three Torahs - Triple the Love

Thursday, 15 March, 2018 - 12:43 pm

This coming Shabbat we will experience something that is fairly uncommon in Jewish life, three Torahs will be taken from the ark and read. Usually we use only one Torah. On special days we use two Torahs. Three Torahs are used on Simchat Torah. There are three other occasions when three Torahs are used depending on calendrical quirks. When Chanukah, Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh Tevet coincide, when Rosh Chodesh Adar and Shabbat coincide (we add parshat Shekalim), and when Rosh Chodesh Nissan and Shabbat coincide, as it does this year. We will read the weekly Parsha – Vayikra, the section for Rosh Chodesh, and Parshat Hachodesh (the section about the Pesach offering).

Even children, who do not necessarily comprehend what is being read in the Torah, recognize that something special is going on in Shul, when they see three Torahs being removed from the ark. The can line up to kiss not one, not two, but three Torahs as they pass through the Synagogue.

Why is this so special? The Torah represents many things to the Jewish people. It is our history, our heritage, our guide for G-dly living, some of the most profound wisdom available to humankind, and much more. One of the most important of all is, that Torah is a symbol of G-d’s love for the Jewish people. The Torah is described in Talmud, Midrash and Kabbala as one of the most precious entities in G-d’s possession. The greatest expression of love that G-d ever demonstrated was to give this most precious gift to our people.

Think about the words of the blessings we recite when reading the Torah. “Who has chosen us from among all the nations and given us His Torah… Who has given us the Torah of truth and planted eternal life within us…” The depth of G-d’s love for us was, and is, on full display with the giving of the Torah. So each individual Torah scroll is a symbol of that deep love. When three Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark – that is Hashem’s love in triplicate. Love so deep must elicit a reciprocal love from us to Hashem. Consequently, when three Torah scrolls are removed from the ark – that is also triple the love rebounding from us to G-d.

Last week an elderly woman, who’d been living in a senior’s facility for years, passed away. Adele Cahn was quite involved in the Jewish community in her younger years, but the last few years she led a somewhat reclusive life at Lambeth House. Chabad offers quite a bit of programming at Lambeth House, including monthly and holiday events, but Adele declined to come out to participate. Every Rosh Hashanah a delegation of adults and children (usually led by Adam Stross and Saadya Kaufmann) walk from Chabad to Lambeth House to sound the shofar for the Jewish residents there. After sounding the Shofar for the group that gathered, they would go to the rooms of the residents who were unable to come down. Each year Adele Cahn would receive the delegation in her room, and delight in the ability to participate. It was one of the highlights of her time there. She will be missed. We are proud to know that our annual delegation was able to give her that joy, making her last years a little more meaningful.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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