Our Sages tell us, “According to the effort is the reward.” (Ethics of the Fathers 5:26). This is similarly expressed in another popular quote, “The greater the effort, the sweeter the reward.”
Perhaps this sentiment explains why Passover (remember that holiday last spring?!) is the most widely celebrated of the three major festivals — Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. As anyone who experiences Passover can tell you, the preparations go above and beyond what we do before any other holiday, making a huge impression on the entire family.
There are so many mitzvot in the Torah. One of the most complex, time-consuming and expensive mitzvot is to write an entire Sefer Torah by hand, or, as in most cases, to commission a trained scribe, a sofer, to do so on our behalf.
So when a new Sefer Torah is written and dedicated, it’s cause for a huge celebration in the community. Last month, the Flagstaff Jewish community was overjoyed to celebrate this tremendous milestone when the family of Bruce Goldberg dedicated the writing of a Torah in celebration of Bruce’s 70th birthday.
The Torah completion ceremony took place on Sunday, Aug. 8, Rosh Chodesh Elul, amid joyous celebration and fanfare. The writing of a Sefer Torah was the most appropriate gift Bruce Goldberg’s family could have given him, honoring Bruce’s dedication and commitment to the values of Torah and to Jewish continuity. Fittingly, on this historic occasion, Bruce and his wife Barbara were surrounded by the love of their children and grandchildren.
It was incredibly moving to see family and friends being honored with writing the final letters in the Torah with special ink on parchment, under the direction of a skilled scribe. When Bruce and Barbara completed the final word of the Torah, “Yisroel,” it signified our community’s endless commitment to G-d and appreciation for the gift of the Torah. Amid singing and dancing, we then escorted the Torah, which is compared to a bride of G‑d, under a chuppah to its new home in the ark at the Molly Blank Jewish Community Center.
The entire ceremony will remain in our collective hearts and memories forever. From the lifting of the brand new Torah after completion, dressing it with its beautiful new velvet mantel cover, the parade, the music, the dancing, the food, the l’chaims, the immense joy — all made for a truly memorable occasion.
We wish abundant blessings of health, happiness, prosperity and nachas to Bruce and Barbara and the entire Goldberg Family.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, who inspired the founding of Chabad of Flagstaff, sent this message to another community upon the completion of a Sefer Torah: “May G‑d grant that the dedication of the Sefer Torah in the Chabad House should symbolize the dedication of the Sefer Torah in each and every Jewish home in the community, and strengthen adherence of the Torah and mitzvot in daily life, not only on special occasions or special days, but in accordance with the well-known commandment in the Shema, ‘And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak them when you sit in your house or when you walk in the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.’”
In these special Days of Awe, when we pray collectively and individually for a blessed New Year, the tremendous celebration upon the completion of the Sefer Torah reminds us that the greater effort we expend on living a Jewish life illuminated with Torah values, the more our efforts will be rewarded and have a lasting impact upon ourselves, our families and generations to come. JN
Rabbi Dovie Shapiro is the spiritual leader of Chabad of Flagstaff.