Recently, on the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7), Tents of Mercy Congregation gathered together to express our thirst for God and receive his outpouring of water (John 7:38). On this same day, we also commemorated God giving us His Word. This celebration is called Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah).
God’s Faithfulness from Generation to Generation
In Tents of Mercy Congregation, as in many synagogues throughout the world, a weekly portion of the Torah is read on the Sabbath through the year. Yonatan, who coordinates the congregation’s readings, relates that, “This practice is a way of making tangible the consistency of God’s word in our life.” The Joy of the Torah is the day in the annual synagogue reading cycle when Deuteronomy ends and the reading begins all over again, from Genesis 1.
Tents of Mercy has developed a tradition of having a father and son read a portion from the two sections (end and beginning). Part of the motivation is to demonstrate God’s faithfulness from generation to generation as we pass down His word, handing off the “torch.” This year not two but three generations stood on the podium as we celebrated God’s word – grandfather, father and son.
One of the things that stood out in the reading, was the overarching emphasis on God being the center of attention – both at the end and at the beginning:
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, and in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is a refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” (Deuteronomy 33: 26-27 at the end of the Five Books of Moses).
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light!’” (Genesis 1:1)
Generational torch to pass in the “middle”
Now let us draw a parallel between the Torah reading cycle and the broad scope of history with a beginning, middle and end. Of course, all throughout, God remains the center of attention. But, what we saw as we were standing there as grandfather, son and grandson, was that in the “middle” where we are now, our generational task is:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall impart them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up…” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
Let us all take this as an encouragement to impart God’s words to the next generation. This is an even higher priority than our vocational callings in the marketplace and in ministry. Parents teaching their children God’s words is central. Let us not put this off to a future time when we imagine we will be less busy and more expert, but rather, let us make even small brief steps to do this, preferably daily.