Simchat Torah

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Simchat Torah is the day when Jews across the world complete the reading of the Torah and there is a celebration upon this completion. Outside of Israel, the second day of Shemini Aseret is called Simchat Torah because that's when this completion takes place. [1] In Israel, the one day of Shemini Aseret is also Simchat Torah.[2]

Hakafot

  1. It is praiseworthy to engage in the celebration of Simchat Torah with dancing and clapping as much as one is able. [3]
  2. It is customary, by both the night and day of Simchat Torah, to remove all of the Torahs from the Aron and to sing songs and praises.[4] It is also customary to encircle the Bima (table where the Torah is read) with the Torahs just as is done with the lulav during Sukkot and Hoshana Rabba.[5]
  3. In Israel, there is a minhag to do Hakafot the night of Motzei Simchat Torah.[6]
  4. Even those who are strict about not dancing or clapping on Shabbat and Yom Tov all year round are lenient about dancing and clapping on Simchat Torah in order to give respect to the completion of Torah.[7] However, playing musical instruments is absolutely forbidden on Simchat Torah, both in Israel and outside Israel.[8]
  5. In some shuls, the bima is encircled 3 times, while in other shuls the bima is encircled 7 times.[9]
  6. One should be careful not to give a Sefer Torah to a young child to dance with because he may drop it. [10]
  7. Some say that having a person ride on someone else's shoulders is a bad minhag. [11]
  8. It is permitted for the elderly and the sick to sit between Hakafot but they should stand during the Hakafot and when the Sifrei Torah are being returned to the Heichal. Healthy people should stand during the entire duration of Hakafot until the Sifrei Torah are returned to the Heichal. [12]
  9. On Simchat Torah, it is permitted to move a Torah for the purpose of dancing or reading it somewhere else, even though this is not generally permitted.[13]
  10. Regarding the laws of davening and reciting brachot after drinking wine and other intoxicating beverages see Avoiding Davening After Drinking Intoxicating Beverages.

Nighttime meal

  1. One should not make Kiddush on the night of Simchat Torah before certain nightfall (i.e. Tzet HaCochavim). [14]

Everyone Getting an Aliyah

  1. The minhag is that everyone receives an aliyah on Simchat Torah in order to be involved in the happiness of finishing the Torah. Also, it increases our honor for the Torah. [15]
    1. The Sephardic custom is to repeat the aliyah that begins "ולאשר אמר" until everyone got an aliyah besides those who are designated to get an aliyah afterwards.[16]
  2. It is permitted for the congregation to break up for kriyat hatorah into multiple groups where a minyan or more takes a sefer torah to another room and reads it there so that the distribution of the aliyot is quicker.[17]

Special Aliyot

  1. It is customary to call up all the children up to receive an aliya called Kol Ne'arim (all the children).[18] The reader reads from "uli'Dan amar" until "Me'ona" and the children recite the brachot. This is done in order to educate the children regarding the reading of the Torah and in order to bless them with the blessing Yaakov gave to Ephraim and Menashe: "Ha'malach ha'goel oti mi'kol ra hu yi'varech et ha'nearim viykare bahem shimi ve'sheim avotai Avraham ve'Yitzhak ve'yidgu la'rov be'kerev ha'aretz" (Breisheit 48, 16). The blessing is given before the children begin their bracha following the Torah reading.[19]
  2. The person called up for the aliya during which the reading of the entire Torah is completed (beginning with the words "Me'ona E-lokei kedem") is known as Chatan Torah.[20] The person called up for the aliya during which the Torah is begun once again is known as Chatan Breisheit.[21]
  3. Even if someone already received an aliya he may still be called up once again for Chatan Torah or Chatan Breishit. However, the one who was called up for Chatan Torah may not be called up for Chatan Breishit because there is not a large amount of time between the two aliyot (unless one receives one honor in one shul and the other honor in another).[22]
  4. Even a Kohen or Levi may be called up for Chatan Torah or Chatan Breishit.[23]
  5. It is customary that the ones receiving these honors donate money for needs of the Beit Midrash and to strengthen those learning Torah.[24]
  6. If possible, it is proper to arrange that the men receiving these aliyot should be wise in Torah or, at least, respected members of the community.[25] Nonetheless, even a child may receive Chatan Torah and in some places this is the custom.[26]
  7. Two different people should receive Chatan Torah and Chatan Beresheet and not the same person.[27]

Special Items Regarding Prayers

  1. Shehecheyanu is recited in Chutz La'aretz when Simchat Torah is celebrated on the second day of Shemini Aseret.[28]
  2. At night time, it is customary to read Ve'zot Ha'bracha as is done on a regular Monday, Thursday, or Shabbat afternoon and a Half Kaddish is recited thereafter.[29]
  3. During the day, 3 Torahs are removed from the aron: 1 is for ve'zot ha'bracha (the final parsha in the Torah), 1 is for Breishit, and 1 is for the special reading of the day for Shemini Aseret from Parshat Pinchas (Bamidbar 29:35).[30]
  4. In a shul in which only two Torahs are present an additional Torah may be brought from another shul even though it is being brought to be used only once (typically this is forbidden).[31] If this is not feasible, the 1st Torah should be rolled to Parshat Pinchas after completing the reading from Ve'zot Ha'bracha.[32]
  5. Some say that congregations should not say the 13 attributes of mercy (Yag Middot) when opening the aron on Shemini Aseret. [33]

Links

Sources

  1. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 138:7, Chazon Ovadya p. 467
  2. Chazon Ovadyah p. 469
  3. Chazon Ovadya p. 462. Mishna Brurah 669:11 Just as King David danced with all of his strength when the Aron was brought to Yerushalaim (Shmuel 2, 6, 14), so too have many great scholars and elders danced with all of their strength on Simchat Torah including the Arizal and the Gra.
  4. Rama 669:1
  5. Rama 669:1
  6. Chazon Ovadya p. 460
  7. Mishna Brurah 339:18, Nitei Gavriel (Sukkot 93:9), Chazon Ovadya p. 456-7, Magen Avraham 339:1, Chayei Adam 2:153, Beit Yosef 339. see also Yechave Daat 3:49
  8. Chazon Ovadya p. 458
  9. Mishna Brurah 669:10
  10. Chazon Ovadya p. 463
  11. Chazon Ovadya p. 463
  12. Chazon Ovadya p. 465, Yechave Daat 6:42
    • Orchot Rabbeinu pg. 309 says that the Chazon Ish would only sit if he was holding a sefer torah.
    • Aruch Laner YD 282:5 is lenient between hakafot, and Chazon Ovadia only allows relying on this leniency for a sick or old person.
    • Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo Moadim Perek 12:Note 13 and Shalmei Moed pg. 174) brings two potential reasons to be lenient:
    1. Perhaps one only has to stand for a torah in transit when it is being transported to a definitive place. However, if it is just being circled endlessly and aimlessly for dancing then it is not “in transit.” This is also brought in Bitzel Hachochma 5:139 and Teshuvot Vihanhagot 2:319
    2. Perhaps the circle of men dancing around the sifrei torah creates a mechitza which separates you from the torah and would allow you to sit. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata Perek 24: note 125 quotes this as well.
  13. Nitei Gavriel (Sukkot 94:1), Chazon Ovadya p. 460, Yechave Daat 1:72
  14. Kaf HaChaim 668:10 quoting Ben Ish Chai (Vezot HaBrachot #13), Nitei Gavriel 92:2
  15. Rama 669:1, Mishna Brurah 669:12. Aseh Lecha Rav 3:21 adds that this minhag is partially based on the minhag to give each person an aliyah once a month and at least in Tishrei we should ensure that this take place.
  16. Chazon Ovadia (Sukkot p. 469)
  17. Chazon Ovadia (Sukkot p. 472) permits and explains that it isn't an issue of degrading the sefer torah either because the minyan accompanies the sefer torah and it is within the same building. This is also recorded in Chazon Ovadia Aveilut v. 3 p. 22 with regards to bringing a sefer torah to a Mourner's Home. He cites Rav Shlomo Zalman (Shalmei Moed p. 176) that it is permitted specifically on simchat torah in order to increase our excitement over the Torah by having everyone get an aliyah. See Halichot Shlomo p. 156.
    • Aruch Hashulchan 135:22 writes that it is only permitted to bring a sefer torah to a new place if it is going to be there for at least 3 days of kriyat hatorah. Therefore, he disapproves of those who transport the sefer torah out of the shul to be able to read it in different locations.
  18. Rama 669:1
  19. Mishna Brurah 669:13-14
  20. Mishna Brurah 669:1
  21. Mishna Brurah 669:2
  22. Mishna Brurah 669:2 Calling up the same person for two aliyot in close succession might lead onlookers to think something is wrong with the first sefer Torah.
  23. Mishna Brurah 669:2
  24. Rama 669:6
  25. Mishna Brurah 639:1
  26. Rama 669:1
  27. Chazon Ovadia (Sukkot p. 470) as a concern that it will appear that the first sefer torah is invalid (See Kesef Mishna Tefilah 12:23.
  28. Shulchan Aruch 669:1
  29. Mishna Brurah 669:15
  30. Shulchan Aruch 669:1
  31. Mishna Brurah 669:9
  32. Rama 669:1
  33. Halichot Shlomo p. 436, Chazon Ovadya p. 469