In honor of Simcath Torah, which is celebrated today, sermons in local synagogues concerned themselves primarily with the Bible and with the value of the Bible to the Jew and to the whole world.
On Simcath Torah the reading of the book of Deuteronomy is ended and the reading of the book of Genesis is begun. The occasion is celebrated festively in the synagogues and the scrolls of the law are carried around the synagogue in a procession headed by men carrying the “lullov” palm branch, and the “esrog” Palestinian citrus fruit.
Rabbi William F. Rosenblum of Temple Israel, defending the Bible from the attack of moderns and Jewish intellectuals said in yesterday’s Simcath Torah sermon:
“The Bible, after twenty-one hundred years, is what it was from the beginning and what it will be unto the end of daysâ€”a masterpiece of auto-analysis and autobiography of a people whose experience has been typical of man as an individual and man as a social community. Therefore its appeal will be eternal. The Bible will live even though the Jew may die but the shame is that millions of Jews know so little about their book which has become The Book of the World. “Thou shalt meditate in it day and night” was the injunction to Joshua’s generation. It may well be the slogan of ours. The old cheder was not an attractive place in which to study Torah, yet our fathers meditated in it day and night. Our religious schools and adult courses today are made attractive and interesting. No time is as fitting for a return of the Jew to his own Torah.”
MORAL EFFECT OF BIBLE
Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, at the West Side Branch of the Institutional Synagogue emphasized the strengthening moral effect of the Bible.
“We have become morally flabby because of our neglect of the Bible. Bible-reading leads to sturdiness and elevated thinking. Our sense of justice is whitted away, because we have not been influenced by the standard-bearers of justice, the prophets. Lawlessness has become rampant, because the Laws of Moses are regarded as ancient. Poetry has become secular, because the spirituality of the Psalms is lost to us,” he said.
“The whole of our lives has become sordid because we lack the inspiration of the Bible. A return to daily or periodic reading of the Bible will make the individual transcendental, the home ideal, and the nation exalted.”
Rabbi Israel Goldstein, Congregation Bnai Jeshurun, pointed out the lesson that the Feast of the Tabernacles teaches us:
“The Feast of Tabernacles, now concluding, which recalls Israel’s frail and temporary dwellings on the way to the Promised Land, holds a valuable lesson. We all need to be reminded of the tentativeness of life, so as not to sink into the complacency of security. We must be ever ready to meet life with eagerness and zest. We all need to be taught to face changes that confront us in our personal lives and in the lives of society, to meet them with faith not with fear, with zest not with panic,” he said.
Rabbi Sidney S. Tedesche of Union Temple, Brooklyn, spoke on the renewed heart that the Sukkoth concluding service affords:
“We read the current record of Jewry in the Jewish Daily Bulletin and somehow we are often saddened by the deceiving futility of it all. We seem to get nowhere. We accomplish very little. There is the same sordid story of blasted hope, disappointed ambition, pogroms, disillusion, exile and discrimination.
“Yet year after year we read of Moses and are uplifted and reassured by a realization that his greatness was futile when judged by material standards. Then we turn from the last chapter of the Torah to the first and make a new beginning of renewed faith; that is why the Sukkoth concluding service can still find us thankful though we have suffered, become discouraged, wondering whether life is worth it all.
“Let us then realize that Moses, who knew God face to face, only saw cherished visions and peace from afar off. Yet he left us his Book of the Law, his festival of the Thanksgiving, and the memory of dear ones so that we may begin life anew.”