Shnayim Mikra V’echod Targum

Every year on Simchas Torah we start reading again from the beginning of the Torah, from the very beginning of Beraishis. It’s so exhilarating and exciting to start anew! When we read “Beraishis bara Elokim,” it feels as if the heavens and earth were just created. It’s like the wonderful feeling of going out at sunrise: Everything is glowing and fresh, a delightful breeze is blowing, the birds are singing in full chorus, and your soul is singing along with them. It is surely an experience to begin the Torah anew from “Beraishis bara.”

However, as we know, nothing of lasting value comes from momentary excitement alone. The key is: A person should always complete his parasha with the community, [reading] mikra twice and targani once…. Anyone who completes his parasha with the community will have his days and years lengthened (Berachos 8a).

There is no better time than now to strengthen ourselves in reading sh’nayim mikrah ve’echad targum each week. The Ari z”l would finish the parasha on erev Shahbos and afterward immerse himself in a mikveh, because the combination of the two enables a person to fully receive kedushas Shabbos. At least one should try to finish before the Shabbos day meal.

And when you go through the parasha, it shouldn’t be a mere recital. You should take a moment to understand the words. Imagine you’ve never seen these words before. You’re now reading “Beraishis bara Elokim” for the very first time. It’s awesome: The great heavens, with millions and billions of stars, each many times bigger than the whole world – Hashem created all of this!

The same applies to the stories of Adam HaRishon, Noach, and Avrohom Avinu. When we relate to them as if the Torah were given just today, as the Shema tells us to do —”And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart” — we find them sweet and inspiring.

The intense celebration that surrounds the starting of the Torah anew is akin to a wedding. Just as by a wedding, on Simchas Torah we sing and dance for hours. And just as a wedding celebration is the culmination of all the preparations, the Simchas Torah celebration is the culmination of all the preceding Yomim Nora’im.

But let us take the comparison a step further: The real purpose of a wedding celebration is that the bride and groom should live their lives together from now on. Similarly, the real purpose of the Simchas Torah celebration is that we should live our lives together with the Torah throughout the coming year.

Bereishis bara is just the beginning…

(Nefesh Shimshon)