Home December 2011 The Joy of Torah

The Joy of Torah

Of the 613 Mitzvot, there are affirmative commandments instructing us to perform certain tasks as members of the Jewish community.  Dvarim (Deuteronomy) 31:19 tells us that, “Every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself [or commission someone to write a Torah]…”  Iser Gershon Snoyman, son of Debbie and Mark Snoyman, on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, was able to fulfill that Mitzvah with his family, friends and community members of Chabad of Irvine on October 30.  With a house full of immediate family members, extended members of the family, friends and rabbis, the Sofer (Torah Scribe) Rabbi Yacov G. Safranovich, poured over the last details in completion of
new Torah.
There is a level of joy in witnessing a Mitzvah – especially this one.  The Snoymans’ home was cramped with people, but one could feel the pride and excitement of the family members as they welcomed everyone who walked through the door.  Rabbi Safranovich sat huddled over the Torah scroll, as Hebrew, Yiddish and English resonated throughout the house while members of the community sat next to the rabbi, completing this special Mitzvah.  After the last letter of the Torah was completed, the house exploded in shouts of “Yasher Koach!” and “L’Chaim!” and then broke out into “Mazel Tov v’ Simon Tov…” with the aid of a small Klezmer band.
“Torah is what makes us Jewish,” said Debbie Snoyman, mother of Iser Snoyman.  The Snoymans have made a point of honoring their sons with a Torah on their Bar Mitzvah, and will present Torahs to their daughters at their respective weddings.  But this Torah presentation, the second by the Snoymans to Chabad of Irvine, was a process that had begun before this simcha.  Iser chose this specific Torah for his Bar Mitzvah, which had to be put on hold as he turned 13 during Sukkot.  “One cannot overshadow a Yom Tov with a Simcha,” said Snoyman.  At the same time Snoyman is grateful for the celebration.  She went on to say, “The most important thing we can give our children is Torah…  One mitzvah leads to another mitzvah.  We need help in the world.  Our hope is to make the world better by fulfilling [as many as can be] mitzvot.”
It was an amazing experience for Iser Snoyman as well.  You could see the joy in his face, while he took the serious task of fulfilling mitzvot.  However, you could see how proud he was and his level of comfort and familiarity with Torah.  “It was an amazing experience!  And the fact that it was my Bar Mitzvah made it even more amazing,” said Iser Snoyman.
The crowd grew as men from Chabad of Irvine hurriedly worked to ready the chuppah for the Torah procession to the synagogue.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all gathered behind the chuppah as the group prepared to march down Barranca Parkway in Irvine.  Led by a guitar and clarinet, the procession swelled as the Sefer Torah made its way to its new home.
It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, a perfect day for a parade down Barranca Parkway.  But the most catching emotion of the day was the joy that surrounded the Torah and the celebration of a young man’s entry into adulthood.  It was a celebration of being Jewish, but also a celebration of life.  It can be mentioned here that Iser has met and battled challenges that no young person should have to battle.  Diagnosed with Type I diabetes, he has tackled this part of his life as seriously as he has his Jewish education.  But you would not know that this young man has had any challenges – he never stopped smiling, nor did he seem to tire throughout the day of the Torah dedication.  According to his mother, he has never complained about his illness.  It is something he has learned to live with, and he does it with joy.
It is fitting that Iser turned 13 during Sukkot, the most joyous of the three mandated festivals.  The Torah instructs us to be joyful and only happy during Sukkot.  Sukkot also celebrates our unity as Jews, which was evident as the Torah procession grew in size from the Snoymans’ home to Chabad of Irvine.  Just as this Torah has found a new home, Iser Snoyman and his family have found a new joy in celebrating the mitzvah of Torah together.

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