Yesterday (today for those of us outside Israel), we concluded the reading of the torah, and began anew. It always suprises me how suddenly the death of Moses comes about, and how sad it is he cannot make it into Israel. Even as he longs to get to his destination, he is prevented from getting there.
We then conclude Devarim – Deuteronomy, and begin reading from Bereshit – Genesis, restarting the annual cycle for the forthcoming year of torah readings.
One commentator I read or heard – I no longer recall, led me to thinking about the similarity of this part of the torah narrative to the longing of the Jewish people who await the arrival of the messiah, and an ideal existence in the Land of Israel. The nature of that wait is open ended, residing over the horizon as does the Land of Milk and Honey in the longing eyes of Moses. So close. So far. Instead of giving up, though, our hope doesn’t flag. A new generation of Israel followed Joshua. And so our generations proceed with reborn hope and are continually reinvigorated. We end one cycle and immediately launch into the new cycle of reading and hope.
However one interprets this day, it is one of our loveliest traditions – simchat torah. The joy of the torah.