“Ask your father and he will tell you, your grandparents and they will share.” (Devarim 32:7)
These noble, aged palm trees on the Kinneret formed the backdrop for our recent Friday – Shabbat retreat for new Russian-speaking Olim – the 90th such retreat since the founding of our national grassroots initiative, Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, 12 years ago.
If I think about the moments that shaped me – the melodies of Tefilla from childhood; new-old niggunim revived recently by Israeli musicians that make me want to dance; teachings and customs that I gathered throughout my life, as I met Jews from diverse communities – their holiday tables aesthetic works of art. These are the sweet experiences that make us want to both preserve and create new cherished customs to pass on to our children and communities!
In his last moments, Moshe reminds us to listen to our Avot and Imahot – to learn their Torah, to make our Shabbatot and holidays a joyful feast for the eyes, pallette and soul, to behave ethically, with conscience and sensitivity, to whisper Shma Yisrael in our children’s ears with a hug before they go to sleep, as our parents may or may not have done. But as our great grandparents most likely did.
Moshe’s final words before all of Israel are poetic blessings, without rebuke.
Tzaddik KaTamar Yifrach – why is a tzaddik compared to a date-palm tree? Because it grows one layer upon the next. Its flourishing, bright green palm branches on high are connected, through many layers of wisdom, love, and experience, to their roots.
The Chassidic masters teach that dancing on Simchat Torah is the final stage of cleansing us and reconnecting us steadfastly to these roots – the source of our blossoming and Simcha for the entire year ahead.