It was a wedding that I’ll never forget. We gathered in a small room just before the Chupah – Marriage Ceremony. The groom, a few close friends, and two rabbis. We hummed a meditative tune and unconsciously formed a circle. We danced slowly, peaceful, trancelike, silently praying that this couple would find joy and blessing. Each step was precious, higher, and otherworldly.

In middle of the ceremony, people began to step forward and crowd under the canopy, which seemed to expand to embrace all who came. Soon, everyone was gathered together as one, even the photographers and musicians. There was no room to dance, but we each rocked back and forth on our feet according to the beat of the blessings, the Ketubah – Wedding Contract – the rabbi’s speech and the Seven Blessings; so different from the pre-ceremony dance, but equally powerful.

We were all so inspired by the Chupah that we danced as never before during the meal. Three dances. Three dance steps. Each, a unique experience.

We will dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah. Two sets of seven dances; Seven Hakafot at night and seven more the next morning. Each dance can have its own step. Each step can be a journey. For these, are the dances of Torah. Dances that have helped us survive darkness, even thrive. The rhythms of Torah, allowing each to step along his or her special path, according to a beat heard only in the heart of the dancer, small steps and large, fast paced and slow, graceful and clumsy. The Torah guides each step, which is why we speak of Halacha – Walking. Each individual path, each step, is steadied, nurtured and guided by Torah.

When we remember that – in the words of Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (1141 C.E.), excited and frightened as he began his journey from Spain to Israel – “at each step I thank Him,” we can continue the dance throughout the year, wherever we go, with each step.

Aravot Smashing offers some practical suggestions for Hoshana Rabbah. We have posted Practical Spiritual Exercises to enhance your Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Please join our dance of celebration over each step forward in life.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom & Moadim L’Simcha

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg

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