By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER
In one of my family’s favorite movies, “The Princess Bride,” Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) avers: “You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have.” His statement represents a turning point. Montoya here begins his transition from a dissolute and lawless past to a heroic and redemptive future.
Going back to the beginning is the defining experience of Simchat Torah. We finish the final chapter of the Torah (Deuteronomy 34) – and, amid celebratory singing and dancing, we immediately return to the Torah’s opening chapter (Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning…). The Torah Reading cycle begins afresh… as do our efforts to embrace its message of heroic and redemptive living.
The parallel to “Princess Bride” is particularly apt. We honor those called to the Torah for its last and first verses as “Chatan (or Kallat) Torah” and “Chatan (or Kallat) Bereishit” – the Bridegroom (or, in some congregations, “Bride”) of the Torah, and the Bridegroom (or Bride) of “In the Beginning.” These bridegrooms and brides give dramatic expression to the “true love” (a central theme of “The Princess Bride”) with which we properly aspire to the Crown of Torah.
Simchat Torah asks us to go back to the beginning. For a People with such a proud past, anything else would be… “Inconceivable!”
(Rabbi Joseph Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and is the National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.)