When Yossi's grandmother asked him what he wanted for a present--because he was the most wonderful grandson in the world--he said he wanted a Torah. Not one of those plush stuffed Torahs, either. He was not some little kid. He wanted one with a real cover on it that you could take off (preferably with lions on the front). And he wanted real wood (or at least plastic) and real paper. And he wanted one with the real text in it, so you could unroll it and read it. And it should be blue. And it should be big, really big. Then he could dance with it on Simchat Torah, and he would be the envy of all his friends.
Even though his Bubbe had wrapped it in wrapping paper, Yossi knew it was a Torah the minute she walked through the front door. What else could be that shape? He tore off the paper with glee. It was everything he wanted. Big, blue, and real as can be. It didn't have the lions, but it had a really cool drawing of the Ten Commandments on it, which was even better. And over its blue cover, the Torah had a second, thick plastic cover, to protect it from stains and damage. He loved the plastic. It made the whole thing seem really important.
"Thanks, Bubbe, you rock."
Bubbe Rachel smiled a wide smile. "I guess that's a big compliment, eh?"
Yossi smiled back. "You know it, Bubbe."
"And all the words are in there, if you want to look. From Bereishit all the way to Vezot Habrachah."
"But don't take off the plastic if you don't have to, Yossi. It'll keep your Torah clean and fresh, just like the couches in my living room. That way your Torah can last forever. "
Yossi thought of the white couches in his grandmother's living room. They too were covered in thick plastic, and although they might be as old as his Bubbe, they were in perfect condition. And they made that great crunchy noise when you sat on them.
"O.K. Bubbe, I'll keep the plastic on the Torah. You can count on me."
Simchat Torah came and all the chairs were cleared from the center aisle of the shul so that everyone could dance during the Hakafot. All the Torahs were taken from the Aron Kodesh, and men danced around the bimah singing and clapping. And there was candy galore.
Yossi was in the center of everything going on. He held his blue Torah on his shoulder with pride, dancing and singing along with everyone. Normally he would have gone up on his father's shoulders as he danced with the other men, but this year he declined. He was worried that something might happen to his Torah.
Many of his friends in shul had Torahs too, but his was by far the grandest. But when they asked to look at his Torah, or hold it, or peek under the plastic cover, Yossi refused. He didn't want it to get damaged. He wanted it to stay as clean and fresh as a pure white couch (from the 1960's). That way it would last forever.
Yossi's father had been watching his son all night long, as he danced around the room. He loved that Yossi felt close to his Torah, but he could see that it was cramping his style. Yossi stayed in the outer circle of the dancing, so that no one would jostle the Torah, and he wouldn't eat a lollipop, because it might stick to its plastic cover. Normally Yossi was a pretty wild dancer (and a wild child in general), but now he was acting very cautiously. This wasn't his Yossi.
"Can I hold your Torah for you for a while?" Yossi's father asked.
"No, that's O.K."
"Then why don't you put it down for a while and go spin with Noah in the circle."
Yossi's father held Yossi's hand and pulled him to the side of the sanctuary for a moment.
"You know, Yossele, we always try to treat the Torah with a lot of respect. Most of the year we don't take it out of Aron Kodesh unless we plan to read from it. On other times that we take it out, like when we're announcing when the new month is at Birchat Hachodesh, we hold it carefully on the bimah."
"I know, Dad."
"But on Simchat Torah, when we finish reading all the way to the end of Devarim and start again at the beginning of Bereishit, we take all the Torahs out of the Aron and dance with them. We let down our hair a little bit and get close to the Torah on a personal level."
"You let down your hair? Dad, you do't have any hair!"
"It's just an expression, Yossi. It means that you relax a bit. We have fun with the Torahs by holding them and dancing with them. And everyone gets an aliyah. It's time to have fun celebrating with the Torah.
"So Yossi, relax a bit. Have fun with your Torah. It's O.K. to put it down sometimes, and you should definitely take the plastic off, and let your friends have a good look at it. Even the real Torah that we read from in shul doesn't have a plastic cover."
"But Bubbe said that the plastic cover would keep my Torah clean and fresh."
Yossi's father leaned down so that he could look at his son at eye level.
"Yossi, you know how when you go to Bubbe's, how you're not allowed to touch anything because everything's glass or silver? Practically the only things you can touch are enbalmed in plastic!"
He patted his son's cheek and smiled. "Live a little Yossele. Take off the plastic."
So Yossi took the plastic off his Torah temporarily and showed its inside words to his buddies. He even put it down for a while to spin with his friend Noah. And at the end of the night, when he noticed that he'd gotten some lollipop on the blue cover, he didn't worry. It was purple, and you could barely see it.
Bubbe Rachel didn't mind that Yossi had taken the plastic off his Torah. She was so inspired, she actually took the plastic off one of her couches for a bit. That is, until its white upholstery was cleaned.