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    Drinking & thinking

    Some congregations wax and wane on Simchat Torah morning.

    There is a custom to call as many people as possible to the Torah reading. After each Aliyah it seems to be the practice in such places that the person who has just been called up immediately makes an exit from the synagogue.

    When I first encountered this practice I became a detective, following the person concerned to see where he was off to. I discovered that in a nearby room there was a drinking club in session. Each Aliyah was followed by a whisky (plus, in that particular shule, herring on a cracker).

    I must say I was underwhelmed. A whisky has its place and time, but what it adds to the love of the Torah which is the purpose of the Simchat Torah festival is highly debatable.

    I am even less impressed with the habit in some places of plastering young people with alcohol which often ends up as vomit in the gutters. No God, no religion, no spiritual joy.

    The answer is not necessarily to be a teetotaler, but can’t we think of something better? Can’t the policy be that of the Psalmist, “Worship the Lord in gladness, enter His Presence with song” (Psalm 100:2)?

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