One year, I met a sofer (scribe for holy Jewish books) right before Succos. He asked me where I was going for Simchas Torah. I told him I hadn’t decided. Maybe Lakewood, maybe Chaim Berlin. There were so many wonderful choices where I could see true Simcha (happiness) with the Torah. “Would you like to hear about how you make a great, Simchas Torah?” asked the sofer. Of course, I did. So, he began.
“There was an elderly couple in my neighborhood in Boro Park. They had made it through the Holocaust and, by the time they were married, it was too late to have children.
“They clearly never made much money. Their clothes always looked dated and worn. The couple themselves looked worn out by life. But they had each other. After all these years, they looked at each other with love.
“From time to time, they would come to my store. They had one dream in life. They wanted their own sefer Torah. And they would look at the Torahs, slowly, longingly and when one looked a little worn or frayed, they would ask me how much it was. I felt bad telling them because it was always more than they could afford. They would leave my store slowly, sadly, as if life had done them one more tough turn.
“One day, they brought two sifrei Torahs to my store. I was shocked. ‘Where did you get these?’ I asked. ‘Well’, said the old gentlemen, ‘we were passing by an antique store and they had two Torahs in the window. The store owner told us they were antiques that made it through the Holocaust, but no one wanted them because they were ripped and torn and smudged. The store owner told us that if he could not find a buyer, he was going to throw them away. We felt bad for the Torahs that made it through the Holocaust only to be thrown away. We couldn’t stand the thought that they would be desecrated so we bought them. We used all our savings,’ said the old gentlemen. ‘Please take a look at them”, he practically begged, ‘maybe you could save one.’ ‘
“I asked them to leave as it usually takes a long time to examine a Torah. The couple left and I began my work. I opened up the first sefer. This didn’t take that long. It was clearly pasul (invalid, not acceptable for use). As I looked at the Torah, it appeared as if almost one in two amudim (pages) was beyond repair. I felt terrible for the couple.
“I prayed as I opened the second. ‘Please Hashem, if this Torah is not kosher, please help me find some way to comfort the couple.’ My hands were shaking as I opened the second Torah. But before long, it was clear, this sefer Torah was pasul too. Again, so many amudim were beyond repair. I closed the second sefer in despair. How could I tell the couple that another of their dreams was dashed?
“But then, almost from Heaven itself, an idea flashed through my head. Maybe, just maybe… Holding my breath, I quickly opened the first sefer Torah again. I began finding the kosher amudim. I frantically did the same with the second. And then, miraculously, I found if I took the kosher pages from each sefer and matched them with the kosher pages from the other, I could take each Torah apart, saving the kosher pages from each and have one kosher sefer Torah. Of course, the combined sefer Torah needed a little cleaning up and some work. But it would be kosher.
“I called the couple, nearly shouting over the phone. They came back to my store. Their faces shone.
“That Simchas Torah, the old gentleman danced with his Torah. I don’t know what Moshe’s face looked like after he talked with Hashem, but I have some idea after seeing the look on that old man.
“Well then, that’s how you make a great Simchas Torah. You take a couple of sifrei Torahs that have flaws, that have been damaged, and are worn but if you put them together, you can make something really great.”
Like two imperfect people coming together to make a great marriage.