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Please Take a Child to Shul this Simchas Torah
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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This week’s dvar Torah is dedicated to the heroic single mothers and fathers who are rising above their challenges and doing their very best to raise their children under trying circumstances.

Countless times in the past ten years since Project Y.E.S. was founded, I have been approached by single parents, usually mothers, asking me to assist them in finding a caring, responsible adult to take their child, usually their son(s), to shul on Shabbos and/or Yom Tov.

Talk about, “Water, water everywhere, but nothing to drink.” Lost in the anonymity of big-city life, many of the children of our single-parent neighbors and friends are struggling with this dilemma. So, as we approach the child-centered holiday of Simchas Torah, please, please, look around your neighborhood and community and see if you can help see to it that ALL our children experience true simchas Yom Tov in the welcoming embrace of our communities.

Over the next weeks and months, Project Y.E.S. will be launching a “Take a Child to Shul” campaign. We will be publishing posters for dissemination in shuls and taking out ads in newspapers with the “Take a Child to Shul” theme.

I would greatly appreciate your assistance with this project. If you would like to lend a hand with the dissemination of the posters, if you can donate your creative talent to create appropriate, sensitively-worded ads and posters for this project, or if you have any ideas to help reach our noble goal of seeing to it every single Jewish child can attend Shabbos and Yom Tov davening with dignity, please email me at .

In the zechus of helping Hashem’s children, may He give us the bracha of endless nachas from our own children and grandchildren.

Best wishes for a Gutten Yom Tov.

Yakov Horowitz

A Torah Thought for Teens – Simchas Torah/Parshas V’Zos HaBracha

By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz


The reading of V’zos Habracha on Simchas Torah marks the completion of the one-year cycle of the weekly Torah parshiyos (portions). We mark this event with great fanfare and celebration each year as we dance with the Torah, complete the parsha of V’zos Habracha, and immediately begin reading from the opening words of the Torah in Sefer Bereshis. This demonstrates that a Jew never ‘finishes’ learning the Torah. Rather, we mark the completion of another lap in our never-ending cyclical journey to the mastery of the Torah’s eternal lessons.

One of the questions that come to mind is why we celebrate Simchas Torah at end of Succos, when a more logical time would seem to be during the Yom Tov of Shavuos. After all, wouldn’t the appropriate time to celebrate with the Torah be at the time when the Jews actually received it at Mount Sinai in the month of Sivan? Why wait four months to celebrate?

A Parable

Rabbi Yakov Kranz, better known as the Dubno Magid, once offered an interesting mashul (parable) to explain the reason for the delay in celebrating our acceptance of the Torah. (A Magid was one who traveled from town to town delivering stirring lectures. These talks usually included quite a few parables, which were used to illustrate a point or simply to generate interest.)

He related the story of a king who sheltered his only daughter during her formative years in order to protect her from danger. When it came time for her to find a life-partner, however, most people knew precious little about her personality, character and talents –due to the fact that she was so secluded from public view. In fact, several potential suitors were unnerved by the conditions of her upbringing and did not ask for her hand in marriage. One bright and gifted young man, however was undaunted by this factor. He approached the king and asked to marry his daughter – without ever laying eyes on her. He informed the king that he wished to become part of the royal family and would be proud to marry his daughter. The king recognized the sterling qualities in the suitor and after his daughter met with and was eager to marry this young man, the king readily gave his blessing to the match. They were soon thereafter married in the palace of the king.

A Wonderful Surprise

During the first few months of marriage, the groom became more and more impressed with the qualities and talents of his wife that he was unaware of at the time of their marriage. It seemed to him that each day he would discover a new facet of her life that he was not privy to before.

He was so pleased with his evolving discovery of the incredibly talented woman that he had the fortune to marry, that he decided to do something unusual. He re-invited all of his wedding guests back to the palace for a second celebration. In his invitation, he noted that during the wedding, he was celebrating marrying his wife and having the privilege of becoming a son-in-law of the king. Now he will be celebrating his good fortune to have married such an outstanding woman.

So too, explains the Dubno Magid in the instance of the Jews and the Torah. We accepted the Torah sight unseen – when we said “na’aseh v’nishmah.” During Shavuos we celebrated becoming Hashem’s Chosen People. We then spent several months in the desert developing an appreciation for the beauty of the Torah and the wisdom of its eternal lessons. Having done so, we reconvene and offer a second celebration – Simchas Torah – once we realize what a precious gift we were given.

Best wishes for a Gutten Yom Tov.

© 2006 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

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