Custom Made Judaism
Dancing in Circles (aka The Torah Two-Step)
By Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort
My children taught me a cute song; “Ring around the Torah, a pocket full of Mitzvos, with Mitzvos, with Mitzvos you won’t fall down!” But why is it that when we Jews dance we go round and round? This question is of particular significance at this time of year after holidays filled with dancing all around the Bima (on Simchat Torah).
The first answer to this vexing conundrum is simple; it is to prove that we Jews can and do dance circles around everyone else (even ourselves)! But seriously, there really is an answer that explains why we dance in circles (we Jews seem to have answers for just about anything).
When dancing in a circle each participant steps into the place just vacated by the previous dancer, hence we go round and round. This is significant. This gives us a practical taste of some ancient and profoundly wise advice; “Never judge your fellow until you have stood in his place.” By circling we are physically modeling our holy creed of loving one another as we love ourselves. Dancing in a circle builds bridges between people as it emphasis that we all share a common source, the Almighty. It reinforces the notion that we are truly dependant upon one another, and that none of us can be complete on our own.
And once we understand the nature of our connectedness we then come to grasp how it is that we encounter such reckless abandon and joy at such times. The more one comes to realize that we are all connected; that we share a common heritage and purpose with our beloved friends and neighbors, the more joy we will feel! It is really a great joy factory that we have built!
So put on those old dancing shoes and get out there and join the original and authentic “merry go round!”
Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort is director of Chabad at La Costa and a scholar on Rabbi Eilfort welcomes readers comments and questions and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected].