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Celebrating & Studying Together

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A shofar, and apple and a jar of honey.

One of the last mitzvot written in the Torah is the mitzvah of hakhel, gathering the people in order to study Torah. 

Deuteronomy (31:12) states:

הַקְהֵ֣ל אֶת־הָעָ֗ם הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֤ים וְהַנָּשִׁים֙ וְהַטַּ֔ף וְגֵרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶ֑יךָ לְמַ֨עַן יִשְׁמְע֜וּ וּלְמַ֣עַן יִלְמְד֗וּ וְיָֽרְאוּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְשָֽׁמְר֣וּ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃

Gather the people — men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities — that they may hear and so learn to revere the LORD your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching.

Every seven years, the community was to gather to hear the Torah, thereby reestablishing their commitment to live by its principles. The power of having an entire community stopping and dedicating themselves to one idea at one time must have been awe-inspiring.  

Nehemiah (9:18) describes a similar phenomenon when people returned to Israel from exile and celebrated Sukkot.

וַ֠יִּקְרָא בְּסֵ֨פֶר תּוֹרַ֤ת הָאֱלֹהִים֙ י֣וֹם ׀ בְּי֔וֹם מִן־הַיּוֹם֙ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הָאַחֲר֑וֹן וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ־חָג֙ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים וּבַיּ֧וֹם הַשְּׁמִינִ֛י עֲצֶ֖רֶת כַּמִּשְׁפָּ׃ 

He read from the scroll of the Teaching of God each day, from the first to the last day. They celebrated the festival seven days, and there was a solemn gathering on the eighth, as prescribed.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Jewish community will be gathering together to pray, hear the shofar and celebrate the new Jewish Year.  It is a time for reflection, time with family, and a chance to renew one’s commitments. 

As a school, we will once again be learning as a community.  On October 3, in a display of unity and commitment to the study of Jewish values, more than 35 Toronto rabbis, representing all denominations, will be joining us for our annual yom iyun (day of study). Students have selected the class that they would like to attend and will be studying on the theme of “being a positive agent of change”.  At TanenbaumCHAT, we aspire to build strong future community members and leaders who are rooted in timeless Jewish values. With today’s students’ strong desire to innovate, we are hopeful this theme will resonate.

A special thank you goes out to all of our rabbinic partners for helping to ensure a meaningful program. We appreciate their partnership in continuing to foster connections between our school and synagogues, and for inspiring our students to take an active role in making our community stronger.

Wishing you and your families a Shana Tova U’metukah, a year of good health, happiness, peace and strong partnerships.