Unbridled joy is the gift that children often experience as they go through their daily lives. They are capable of so much feeling, of happiness and sadness, and with such intensity. We celebrate with them when they are happy, and we are sad when they grieve. At times it’s important not to get too caught up with our children’s emotions and to maintain a calm front in the face of their ups and downs. At other times, it’s important to get right in there and rejoice or grieve right along with them. As a parent it takes wisdom to know when to hold back and when to join in.
Simchat Torah, literally the happiness of the Torah, is the Jewish day for rejoicing—for children and adults alike. We dance with the Torah scroll, celebrating the completion of a year of reading the entire Torah in our community. It’s a time to express unrestrained joy. Children are often put at the center of this rejoicing and form circles with one another in the midst of adults or ride on their parents’ shoulders. It is a time of great excitement, a moment to share our joy.
Having a day set aside to celebrate is important for community and family life. Simchat Torah, along with the weekly opportunity for joy and rest, the Sabbath, give us communal opportunities to feel and express one of the most important emotions of childhood and adulthood—joy.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the joy they feel after successfully completing a big goal in their lives.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- How do you express your happiness? Your sadness? And with whom?
- Why does feeling joy in the midst of others enhance the experience?
- What makes us hesitate to show happiness or sadness in front of others?
By Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses
© 2009, 2010 Joyce and Fred Claar
Torah Topics for Today is created to introduce values/ethics through a Jewish lens into family discussions. Visit our site at www.torahtopicstoday.com.