By Rebbetzen Shuli Liss, Highgate United Synagogue

When we moved into our newly renovated home, it was incredibly exciting for all of us! The walls were freshly painted, the carpet was fresh and clean. We were blessed with a beautiful new kitchen with all new equipment, and most importantly a Shabbat compliant oven!

The only problem was that we needed to find the instructions. Without them, the oven stayed beautiful and clean, but a little bit useless. All those special buttons, but no idea how to use it. We searched through the various papers amongst the packing boxes and were delighted when they were found.

After reading them once, we worked out the basic instructions on how to use the oven, and then returned them to the messy pile of papers strewn across the busy kitchen. The oven actually has many more options of different ways to cook and bake, but only if I take the time to read through those instructions again, will I ever improve my culinary skills (rather than continually burn things – because I forgot about them in the oven!).

This Sunday, we are celebrating Simchat Torah. The day we finish reading the Torah and start reading it all over again. On this day, we sing and we dance, honoring the Torah. Why?

The Torah is our “Life’s Instruction Book”, the best gift we could ever have asked for! Yet, it is too often left sitting on the shelf. Life could be more, if we only take the time to read it. Many of us have read the Torah on a surface level, so it may be difficult to see how those words guide us, but just like a medical journal, although it may seem unintelligible at first glance, the longer one studies it, the more wisdom one will find within it.

God gave us this gift, and it pains Him when we ignore it’s instructions. Not for Him, but for us. Imagine watching someone in an escape room. You can see their mistakes, and know the right answers, but you need to leave them to play – you cannot tell them the answers. God gives us free choice and a book of instructions. He wants the best for us and therefore guides us as much as He can, whilst still allowing us to choose our own path. We may not understand all of them (just as we don’t always understand a doctor’s medical advice), but if we follow them, we will see blessings.

If you can come to Shul, to see the Torah and thank God for this gift – then please do make the effort to pop in! For those who are unable to come to Shul, you could find a Chumash at home, and hold it in your hand and do a little dance! This book is our lifeline! Hug it, kiss it, and ask God to open your eyes to understand it and follow it. No matter where you are, God hears, sees and wants a connection with you.

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