(Continued from here.)
As his friends and family hold the huppah, the Hatan Torah, honored for leading morning minyan a few days week for well over a decade, approaches the bima as the rabbi sings a long, beautiful, and kind of over the top but exquisitely heartfelt traditional invitation:
"Requesting permission of God, mighty, awesome, and revered, and requesting permission of the Torah, our precious treasure which we celebrate, I lift up my voice in song with gratitude in praise of the One Who dwells in sublime light, Who has granted us life and sustained us with faith's purity, Who has allowed us to reach this day of rejoicing in the Torah which grants honor and splendor, life and security, which brings joy to the heart and light to the eyes, and happiness to us when we incorporate its values which we cherish. The Torah grants long days and strength to those who love and observe it, heeding its warnings absorbed in it with reverence and love without setting prior conditions. May it be the will of the Almighty to grant life, lovingkindness, and a crown of blessings in abundance to [insert name] who has been chosen for this reading of the Torah at its conclusion.
Arise, arise, arise, [insert name], Hatan Bereshit Bara, to greet the great and awesome God with adoration, with the permission of this holy congregation, which will respond to your blessing with Amen in acclamation."
The ecstatic chaos of a few minutes ago has given way way to a room full of people holding their breath in anticipation of that last word, "Yisrael," whose final lamed, added to the bet of "Bereshit," the very beginning of the Torah, spells "lev": heart. Which is what the other 79,845 words in between are really all about, when you get down to it. The Hatan Torah recites the first blessing and begins to read the concluding paragraph of the Torah. (One doesn't have to chant in order to receive an aliyah, but since he and I know how, we get to be doubly nervous this afternoon.) He finishes, and sings the final blessing--and the rabbis grab his hands and pull him into a dance beneath the huppah, a tight, dizzy circle that soon widens to invite us all. I fly around the bima a few times and then stand back and drown in ambient music and motion, clutching my yad for dear life.