Yesterday, in Israel, and today in the US, my Jewish friends celebrated and are celebrating Simchat Torah. A holiday that marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah reading, and the start of the new cycle. In English it is called Rejoicing with the Torah. The main celebrations take place in a synagogue. During evening and morning services, when the ark, which holds the Torah scrolls is opened, the people dance and sing with the scrolls.
As I scanned through social media yesterday, my eyes beheld pictures of this worship. Such joyous observance of the Word of G-d.
Today in a small town somewhere in the US, me, a follow of Jesus, who has been enlightened about Israel, Judaism, and Hebrew over the last year and half completed reading the Torah as well. Not only did I finish the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible, I also completed the Nevi'm or in English, the Prophets, and the Ketuvim or Writings. These books complete the full Hebrew Bible, known as Tanach. Tanach is an abbreviation for the three parts of the Bible. I was taught that the Prophets and Writings are referred to as Nach. I also read all the books of the New Testament.
In other words, I have spent the last year reading both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I did not sing and dance as I closed my journal that guided me in my readings this morning, but I wrote in it, words from Joshua 1, "Be strong, be bold". I scribbled Todah Rabah, which means thank you very much.
I don't share this with you to pat myself on the back, it is only G-d. I share this to encourage you to read your Bible with different eyes. Along with reading each portion, I listened every week to the Lone Star Podcast. This podcast brought together a Rabbi and a Pastor, who studied the portion each week. This time spent in the Word and listening to this podcast has blessed me in numerous ways.
I have completed this reading before, however, I would get sleepy eyed as I read through the Old Testament, not grasping the significance of the words nor gaining insight to who G-d is. I had a lack of understanding. As I grew in my faith, I grew to appreciate the Old Testament more, but never like I have this year.
Learning to grasp the Jewish roots of my faith, has opened up the beauty and truth of the different portions of the Old Testament. Learning Hebrew has increased my desire to read the language and increased my knowledge and excitement. Understanding the language of the Bible is life changing. I have learned to study the Bible better by listening to the podcast mentioned. And in all of this I have learned more about the character and heart of G-d.
I remember finishing the book of Leviticus this year and asking Rabbi Dov Lipman the following question, do you every get sad when the reading of a book of the Torah is over? We spent so much time in each book, it was bittersweet for me, sad to be done with one book yet excited to read the next. His response was, "No. I don't get sad. We continue to the next one." This appreciation of each book, only stems from G-d and Him allowing me to understand the Jewish roots of my faith.
Thank you so much to all my friends, acquaintances, and future friends who have helped and will help me grow in my faith by allowing me into yours.
Thank you to the Lone Star Podcast for to teaching me so much this year as I read along.
And todah rabah Hashem for Your Word.