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    It isn’t Purim

    In popular thinking Simchat Torah is a sort of Purim, a day for carnival jollification. But the popular view is wrong.

    Simchat Torah is, in some respects, more spiritual. It epitomises the simchah shel mitzvah, the joy of the Divine commandment, a day to rejoice in the study and observance of the Torah.

    Purim is more down to earth. It symbolises the fear and fright of the antisemite’s plan to exterminate us, and our relief at escaping.

    Both are occasions of joy. The one reminds us that it’s hard to be a Jew, the other that being a Jew is good.

    Both, however, are days of happiness, and on both it is we have to share our rejoicing with others, not just by being generous but by being thoughtful.

    One Simchat Torah, Rabbi Chaim Gutnick of Melbourne asked one of his congregants who insisted on dancing with the Torah, “If you were a person who studied the Torah I would understand why you want a Torah to dance with!”

    The congregant responded, “If someone else has something to celebrate, I am happy too!”

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