Inside Unbelievable Hasidic Jewish Torah Celebration

Jul 26, 2021 663.3K Views 3.9K Comments

It’s not often you get invited to a party with Hasidic Jews as a non-Jew. In this video we go deep into a festive and meaningful celebration bringing light to a new Torah that was hand scrolled for 1 year.

There he is!
Oh!
Oh!
How you doing?
Shloime!
Looking good
I was going to tell you to bring a suit
but I guess you got the memo on your own
Schloime, you’re looking dapper, buddy
Thank you, you too
Thank you
Did you bring the Santenello suit?
Got the Santenello
Okay
So, what are we getting into today?
So…
It’s a really long story
but to make a long story short
Alright
We have this Holy Book called the Torah
Essentially it’s the Old Testament
it was given to the Jewish people
by G-d on Mount Sinai
3,333 years ago
Yup
And
it’s also the basis for
many of what are considered the great religions
So, obviously Christianity
is based on the Old Testament
Islam as well
more or less
so
this is the book that we live by
Yup
And
we’re not writing a new one
but what we’re doing is we’re writing a new copy
of the book
and we’re going to see the celebration
the completion of writing the book
and then the celebration, the procession
of taking it into the synagogue
It’s gonna get pretty crazy
Written as by hand?
Written by hand, 100% by hand
600,000 letters
For how long?
It takes a full year
Wow
So, hopefully we didn’t miss that
We probably didn’t
but it’s gonna be happening any second
We are on Shloime time
No offense, no offense buddy
My bad
I came only 2 hours late for this
This is a solid party, Shloime
Hello
Right, here we have a normal neighborhood, guys
and then we go right into this party
This party is happening
Thank you, nice to see you
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Quite a celebration
quite hectic, festive
Yes!
Eli, how are you?
What’s going on right now?
They’re writing the last bit of the…
Yeah, the Torah was already written in Israel
by a special scribe
a sofer
And then…
the tradition is that the family and friends finish it off
So, actually the letters are written
and then people just fill in
It’s like stencil
Is this very rare
having a Torah come into the world like this?
It’s not so rare anymore
I think it used to be more rare
when there was less money in the community
but, you know, when people start making money
and then they want to do good things with it
You basically hired someone to write this for a year?
Yes, it took a year
So, what does it feel like now for you?
Ahh
It feels like when you
are
expecting for 9 months and you have your baby
You know?
Or like you raise your child
for twenty something years
and you marry them off
that’s what it feels like
this like…
Feeling of ecstatic joy
and relief that like you did it
And also
it’s a tremendous um…
honor
I feel very humble
Not everyone at my age or…
Yeah
You know, is able to do something like this
and for me to be able to do this
is actually an honor to my grandmother
who died 1 year ago today
she was a Holocaust survivor
And I was very very close with her
and when she passed away, I said like
“What can I do that’s everlasting?”
Okay
And this is something that’s everlasting
It’s her legacy that stays forever
And so that’s why we decided to do this
So, this is dedicated to her
and then where do you put it?
It stays in the synagogue
Okay
And it gets read from
every Sabbath
and
and then if the synagogue is used during the week
it gets read during the week too
How many pages is this?
Well, it’s a scroll…
Yeah, it’s a scroll
This is real ink with a quill
It’s written very specifically
He’s trained for
a long time to know how to do this
So, there’s a certain amount of people in the community
that have been trained for this
Yeah
Okay
Is it a dying art
or is it growing?
No, it’s actually…
Look, he’s young
He’s newly married
young guy
young rabbi
in his twenties
Shterny said it was like giving birth
Oh, thank you
What is this thing? This uh…
It’s like a cart?
It’s a canopy
Oh, it’s just a canopy
There’s live music coming from a truck
that you’re going see in a second
The truck is going to lead the procession
Okay
Everyone’s gonna follow after it
What do you think of this event, officer?
So, now we’re walking the Torah through the streets
or dancing the Torah through the streets
There’s a procession with music
and the kids are all holding torches
It’s a sign of honor
for the Torah
This is a very joyous occasion
You have to understand
All of us here are Holocaust survivors
After the war
people thought
that the Jewish nation was finished
we would never rebuild ourselves
Now, all over the world it’s happening
You see hundreds of people dancing our Book
the Holy Book that we believe in
through the streets proudly
We’re not afraid of anybody
It’s a very emotional experience
What a cool
beautiful, exciting, invigorating
spiritual experience
You can just…
You can feel the connectivity here
You can feel the…
the culture, the depth
and even the cop there, right?
He was all
saying how cool it felt, the community
you feel with this group
Now, I’m in because of my other videos
but they’re very very accepting
they’ve been very accepting to me
Everyone’s been very kind
very open
And I…
I gotta admire it
I gotta just stand from the side
the sidelines here and say
I don’t know exactly what’s going on
I don’t know what it’s like to be Hassidic
I’m an outsider
but as an outsider, I can observe
and respect it and admire it
It’s quite a beautiful thing
Basically in our community
and according to the religious Jewish law
we consider it inappropriate
for grown men and women to dance together
Okay
So, this is more like uh…
the guys will do the dancing
and the women will like follow the procession
because
Again, this is the way we see things
If the women are gonna be dancing
it should be more of a private thing
so at a Jewish wedding
which unfortunately you have not yet been to
but one day we’ll make it happen
Okay
There’ll be like a divider in the middle
sort of so the men won’t see the women dancing and
the women sort of look at the guys dancing but
I’m sure you understand why there’s a difference
So why is that?
It’s a modesty thing, right?
Yeah, it’s sort of setting a boundary in a healthy place
so things don’t progress from there
Again, in our
in our values
any dating or any almost relation
between the sexes is for marriage only
Right
So…
So, by keeping the genders separate here
that eliminates any temptation or…?
Yeah, any temptation
Anyone going too far
Especially in this climate
there’s the whole “Me Too” movement or whatever
I think the Western world got it wrong
Okay
And it’s healthy to have boundaries in a certain place
so they don’t end up…
So people don’t end up crossing
really serious boundaries
The world is a very complicated place
and the Torah gives you a sort of
user manual how to
navigate life
staying out of trouble
living a meaningful life
Today it’s so easy to get distracted
people are…
I’m worried about kids today for example
kids who are growing up on the internet, right?
Playing Minecraft or whatever
it’s okay to play and get your…
You know, everyone has to have an outlet
but some people are literally living in a virtual world
and they’re gonna…
When they’re gonna hit fifty, sixty, seventy
they’re gonna say, “What did I do with my life?”
Like, “I didn’t live in reality”
Right
The Torah is just… it’s a guidebook
it’s a user manual for life
it has things about marriage, about charity
about how to bring up children, how to be kind
for health
Literally it teaches us how to live
And it’s…
I…
I love you Peter, you know that
You’re just one of my closest friends
and I just feel like
as you’re living a meaningful life your way
I’m happy for you
I’m not trying to convert you
I’m trying very hard not to convert you
No, no, we’re against it
We try very hard not to convert people
but we do believe that
there are very valuable lessons in there
that can benefit all of mankind
Yeah
Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you
This man, he is an amazing person
A very amazing person
Do you know him?
He is very famous
Yeah?
Yeah, sure
How are you feeling out here today?
I did one of these like uh
a half year ago
It’s a very
momentous time, it’s a special occasion
It’s one of the… you know the
biggest things, big celebrations
It’s like it celebrates something that’s
you know, deep and
it’s a very festive event
My name is Pesach
Pesach?
Yeah
Peter
You guys, how are you doing?
How are you guys doing?
Guys
What do these mean?
Do you know what these mean?
No?
Fire, yes
Yeah
Pure joy, yes
Okay
Yeah, passing down of the story
It’s beautiful
So this is the female section?
Yes
And so Eli brings it in (Torah)
for everyone to touch?
Is that what’s happening?
Yeah, he’s bringing it by
so the women and the kids can kiss it
Here they come, here they come
So, as you may have noticed
we’re now joined by a few more Torahs
that were taken out of the synagogue
and they’re coming out
So
I don’t remember this being the synagogue
but
I guess it is
Okay
I saw it from a different angle, whatever
So, basically, the Torahs are coming out to
greet the new Torah
We consider the Torah like a live document
Just because it was
given to us more than 3,000 years ago
doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply anymore
it’s continuous
It stays alive and its rules are always applicable
So the idea is that
these Torahs are like coming to greet
their new companion
which will be with them in the ark
because they’re not just objects
it’s like they’re alive
You feel it like
they’re living, breathing objects?
Well, not physically
but on a spiritual level, yes
They’re like coming out because
they’re also part of the celebration
Yeah, basically, if there’s one mistake
even one letter is partially
rubbed out or whatever
then the whole Torah is no good
For example, there’s a computer program
that scans the whole Torah
cus for one human being
to go through 600,000 letters
would be insane
Yeah, they developed a computer program
that automatically scans it
and it can see if a letter’s out of place or whatever
Yeah
And if it’s out of place
they gotta go back and fix?
They stop using it until it’s being fixed
and the Torah that cannot be fixed
has to be buried
like a body
like a human body
because they’re live beings
Ellie and Sterney are the representatives
of what yiddishkeit (Jewish life) is really all about
They have the…
Their inside is so pure
and they’re able to share it with the external world
with people around them on all levels
That’s what’s so amazing about them
So they’re saying some prayers before the…
before the Torah goes into the ark
See the ark over there?
The ark?
Okay, let’s go up there
Okay
The Torahs are going here?
Torahs are going here, it’s a safe
so that they, G-d forbid, don’t get stolen
and those little things down there are little pointers
When we’re reading the Torah,
we point to the verse and the word
that we’re supposed to be reading
cus you’re not supposed to touch
the actual scroll with your
with your bare hands
Supposed to try to avoid doing that
the 10 Commandments
Alright, guys
Hear that?
Hear how quiet it is?
Thinking that’s not gonna last
So, here we are at the ballroom
Dancing… dancing, right?
Music?
It’s got a pink theme
pink-purple theme?
Yup
Alright, romantic
This is a rabbi, right?
Today is his um…
It’s Lubavitch rabbi?
Yeah
Okay, so
in Hasidim
there are many sects, right?
Like 200 sects or something?
So, this is Lubavitch which is one of the big ones
Satmar is like the very conservative
like the most conservative, right?
You’re Satmar?
Uh-huh
Lubavitch is a little more jovial, humorous
Chill, humorous, yeah
Chill?
Yeah
Okay
Is this it?
Women’s side
Beautiful
Here we have the men’s side
Dancefloor
Quite a setup
Hi, guys
There we go, look at this setup
Oh, and there he is!
How’s it going?
Shloime
You hungry?
Anytime Jews do anything
we celebrate, we eat, we drink
and we have a good time
That’s the way our religion works
So…
there isn’t an issue with liquor
or alcohol in Hasidim, is there?
Not at all
It’s completely open?
Yeah, we believe that everything is
healthy in moderation
Some people will take it farther than others
but as a general rule
we all drink
Does every Jewish party look like this?
Not every one
They all have the basic elements
of people, food, and alcohol
but this is really…. this one’s really over the top
Multi-camera shots
No, no, look at the centerpieces, the lighting
the bar
Yeah, there’s a lot going on here
We do have a good time, I promise
I’m not living a sad life, I guarantee you
Very broad
Yeah
Not yet, not yet
From an outsider, it’s interesting that
someone can be very conservative
and go out, and party, and drink
I mean, party, and meet up together, and drink
Right. So, again, it’s guys only on this side
the women are on the other side of the wall
and you can check that out in a minute
We believe everything is good in moderation
and we believe that everything that G-d created
can be used in a positive way in the service of G-d
So, alcohol
We all have our… what shall we say?
Vices?
We all have our things that we have…
we get caught up in our head whenever
You have a couple of shots
you can get out of that mindset
and sometimes you can leave some of your
some of your nonsense behind
It can take you to a pure place
Now, if you drink too much
you’re gonna end up, you know, puking in the toilet
You have to know how to do everything in moderation
and that’s the key to living a very meaningful life
a spiritual life in a very physical world
Yeah, like if my wife was here
I’d take her home, I’d drop her off, whatever
Or in the hallways
Listen, if I needed to talk to her, I’d go to the
I’d go to the end I’ll show you
And I’ll mention for someone to call her
but yes, general rule it’s separate
and we believe that these boundaries are very healthy
You have your opinion, I have mine
I respect yours, please respect mine
I’m not trying to push my agenda
on anyone else, G-d forbid
Yeah, but I think that if people are
open-minded enough
they can see that there can be benefit
I understand, trust me, I understand
why people would want to mingle with women
that makes perfect sense to me
But there also is a benefit in keeping things pure
And there are…
you know, there’s a lot of chaos that
happens in the outside world
between guys and girls
and we can avoid a lot of that by
keeping to our traditions
Right here
We’re at the border between
the men’s side and ladies side
As you can see, it’s mostly closed off
but it also is open
so that if I needed to talk to my wife on the other side
or I wanted to say hi to a neighbor or whatever
I could do that
but as a general rule for the most part
it will be separated
To conclude the strength of a woman
if you didn’t know it by now is a super-power
almost unnatural
Tonight is about a woman
that despite the dire circumstances
which is my grandmother
She used her power to rise up ages of family
she was able to pass down
that power to her granddaughter
May her power continue to inspire many women
for generations to come
It feels amazing, it feels really humbling
really special…
Really special, that’s true
So emotional
It’s a bunch of emotions
I don’t even know how to process it
I can’t wait for this event to be over
to go home and to really like…
okay, what happened?
What happened over here?
Why did I feel so emotional?
But I feel it’s just added, written down the Torah
that was given so many years ago
and it’s still continues and continues no matter what
It’s something that will always stay in the family
Basically, it’s a family heirloom
It stays in the family for generations to come
Guys
You’re family already
I told him, “From now on, any family event”
“He has to join”
Yeah, I feel very welcomed with this community
So, thank you guys
Thank you very much, Peter, for coming
and I appreciate it…
And thank you for showing
the beauty of our culture
in today’s day and age, you know
everyone’s so easy to just pass judgement
about how bad we are, and how negative, and all that
It’s so important for people to see the beauty
Yes
Which is something we have
And it comes through
Thank you very much
And then Shloime
Yeah, we got Shloime
You guys are awesome, thank you so much
Thank you
It was really nice that you got to experience this
and I experienced it on a deeper level
because you were here
So that’s one thing I would say
and another thing is just like…
I don’t know, keep your eyes open
You know, be open to learning about other people
Right, right
Don’t form your opinions until you know
until you know those people
you’re forming the opinions about
That’s all
Fact, fact
Guys I hope you felt some of that…
ton of energy
ton of positivity
a lot of sweat on the dance floor
like Running of the Bulls
But you can’t fake raw emotions
and there was plenty of positive, beautiful, raw emotions, so…
I hope that gives that gives your another perspective
into the Hasidic Jewish community
It’s a…
just Hasidim is a complex world
Yeah
And that’s one angle in
so thanks for coming along
Great to see you again, Shloime
Always the best making videos with Shlom
And uh…
We’ll be doing this…
We’ll do it again
We’ll see you sometime soon
Can I tell them? Can I tell them?
You just got back from…?
You can tell them, we’ll see if we can leave it in
You just got back from?
I just got back from Kabul, Afghanistan
Met with the last Jew who lives there, it was nuts
always a crazy time in Afghanistan and uh
thank G-d I’m alive to tell the story
Shloime goes in deep
You’re actually a little more adventurous
than me these days
I know you’re going to be in Afghanistan soon
But I’m not going in as a Hasidic Jew
Alright
Alright, guys
Thanks for coming along
Till the next one

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