God himself created sexuality, which is a marvelous gift to his creatures. If this gift needs to be cultivated and directed, it is to prevent the “impoverishment of an authentic value.” Saint John Paul II rejected the claim that the Church’s teaching is “a negation of the value of human sexuality”, or that the Church simply tolerates sexuality “because it is necessary for procreation.” Sexual desire is not something to be looked down upon, and “and there can be no attempt whatsoever to call into question its necessity.” To those who fear that the training of the passions and of sexuality detracts from the spontaneity of sexual love, Saint John Paul II replied that human persons are “called to full and mature spontaneity in their relationships,” a maturity that “is the gradual fruit of a discernment of the impulses of one’s own heart.” This calls for discipline and self-mastery, since every human person “must learn, with perseverance and consistency, the meaning of his or her body.” Sexuality is not a means of gratification or entertainment; it is an interpersonal language wherein the other is taken seriously, in his or her sacred and inviolable dignity. As such, “the human heart comes to participate, so to speak, in another kind of spontaneity.” In this context, the erotic appears as a specifically human manifestation of sexuality. It enables us to discover “the nuptial meaning of the body and the authentic dignity of the gift.” In his catechesis on the theology of the body, Saint John Paul II taught that sexual differentiation not only is “a source of fruitfulness and procreation,” but also possesses “the capacity of expressing love: that love precisely in which the human person becomes a gift.” A healthy sexual desire, albeit closely joined to a pursuit of pleasure, always involves a sense of wonder, and for that very reason can humanize the impulses. In no way, then, can we consider the erotic dimension of love simply as a permissible evil or a burden to be tolerated for the good of the family. Rather, it must be seen as gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. As a passion sublimated by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a “pure, unadulterated affirmation” revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable. In this way, even momentarily, we can feel that “life has turned out good and happy.”
- · It is customary for people dance with the Torah Scrolls in Orthodox and Traditional Synagogues with singing and dancing. They make seven cycles Hakafot around the synagogue, both on the Eve of Simchat Torah and in the Morning Service.
- · Children often join in the main adult Synagogue service carry flags, mock Torah scrolls. Young children are often carried on their fathers' shoulders or piggy-backed around the Synagogue. All the children under 13 are called up to the Torah under a canopy or prayer shawl (Tallit). This is considered to be a special honor, which is not allowed the rest of the year and brings the children closer to the Torah.
- · Many congregations often have children's services in which each child gets a turn to read part of the Torah, to dance with a mock Torah scroll or to sing a Jewish song.
- · It is customary to make a festive Kiddush (light meal with wine) after the morning service.
- · Attend a local Simchat Torah Celebration held at many Synagogues.
- · Pray for Rain. Shemini Azeret and Simchat Torah is often accompanied by prayers for the rain. The holidays are in the autumn, which is a critical period in Israel for harvests.
- · Attend a Hakafot Shniot on the night after Simchat Torah. This is a replay of the Simchat Torah festivities, but in which Orthodox people can play musical instruments (which are forbidden during the festivals).