Before G-d’s Torah After
The Simchat Torah service was set for that Sunday, but had to be canceled. A fire swept through the building just after midnight. At dawn, the cinder block walls were still standing, but that was about all. The roof was gone and flaming debris had ignited most of the belongings inside-turning it into charred or melted rubble. The Marion county Fire Investigator said the fire was probably caused by an electrical short in the ceiling of the kitchen.
Mishkan Messianic Congregation has a special reason to rejoice though. The congregation was cheered by the discovery that some of their most precious religious items were spared from the blaze and firefighter’s water. The cabinet used to store religious items was relatively unscathed despite some burning beams that fell against it. Inside the cabinet a “Torah”, (a hand printed lambskin scroll of the first five books of Moses, survived with no damage. “We were really in awe”, Rabbi Keyes said, but the small congregation is calling it a miracle. “Almost all the religious items were not burned..It’s just fantastic how God protects these items.”
The Sunday celebration was to remind the members of Mishkan how God has protected His sacred Scriptures over the centuries, Rabbi Keyes said the fire didn’t even scorch the wooden ark. Inside were three Shorarim (ram’s horns), a Yad (pointer) a shield for the scroll, and the Torah. Rabbi Keyes said none of the sacred items was touched by the flames.
Also surviving the fire were three scorched pages of a prayer book. Rabbi said the writings fit in with Sunday’s planned celebration honoring the Torah. These rescued pages included the Shema, which is considered the watchword of the Jewish faith. Other portions of the text read, “Rejoice and be happy on Simchat Torah,” and “Because out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the Word of the Lord out of Jerusalem”.
A Messianic believer, Rabbi Keyes said he has experienced all aspects of Judaism. He grew up in a conservative household with a grandfather who was Orthodox. Rabbi Keyes became a Reform Jew before turning to the Messianic faith, which reveres Yeshua.
In the Orthodox Simchat service, men march in the processional, fervently dancing and singing, until exhausted. Woman reach out from behind a curtain or wall to touch the sacred scrolls. The men also bid for a chance to read a portion of the Scriptures.
For Messianic Jews there is another dimension to the Simchat Torah service. Rabbi Keyes said the festival points to Yeshua as the Messiah.
In Messiah Yeshua we are accounted righteous and have the joy of God’s own Torah written on our hearts by his Ruach (spirit). We also see through scripture “I am the Word” and “The Word became flesh”. We see we cannot have the Messiah without the Torah, and we cannot have the Torah without the Messiah. He is the essence of God’s Torah. He is the intrinsic part of the word.