Simchat Torah

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Simchas Torah.jpg

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]

When Hakafot take place

  1. 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.[3] 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.[4]
  2. In Israel, there is a minhag to do Hakafot the night of Motzei Simchat Torah.[5]

Other Details of Hakafot

  1. 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.[6] However, playing musical instruments is absolutely forbidden on Simchat Torah, both in Israel and outside Israel.[7]
  2. It is praiseworthy to engage in the celebration of Simchat Torah with dancing and clapping as much as one is able. [8]
  3. In some shuls, the bima is encircled 3 times, while in other shuls the bima is encircled 7 times.[9] # One should be careful not to give a Sefer Torah to a young child to dance with because he may drop it. [10]
  4. Some say that having a person ride on someone else's shoulders is a bad minhag. [11]
  5. It is permitted for the elderly and and sick to sit between Hakafot but they should stand during the Hakafot and when the Sifrei Torha 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]
  6. On Simchat Torah, it is permitted to move a Torah for the purpose of dancing or reading it somewhere else.[13]

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]

Special Aliyot

  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]
  2. It is customary to call up all the children up to receive an aliya called Kol Ne'arim (all the children).[16] 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 Ephraiim 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.[17]
  3. 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.[18] The person called up for the aliya during which the Torah is begun once again is known as Chatan Breisheit.[19]
  4. 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).[20]
  5. Even a Kohen or Levi may be called up for Chatan Torah or Chatan Breishit.[21]
  6. It is customary that the ones receiving these honors donate money for needs of the Beit Midrash and to strengthen those learning Torah.[22]
  7. 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.[23] Nonetheless, even a child may receive Chatan Torah and in some places this is the custom.[24]

Special Items Regarding Prayers

  1. Shehecheyanu is recited even in chutz la'aretz when Simchat Torah is celebrated on the second day of Shemini Aseret.[25]
  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.[26]
  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).[27]
  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).[28] If this is not feasible, the 1st Torah should be rolled to Parshat Pinchas after completing the reading from Ve'zot Ha'bracha.[29]
  5. Some say that congregations should not say the 13 attributes of mercy (Yag Middot) when opening the aron on Shemini Aseret. [30]



  1. Kitzur S"A 138:7, Chazon Ovadya p. 467
  2. Chazon Ovadyah p. 469
  3. Rama 669:1
  4. Rama 669:1
  5. Chazon Ovadya p. 460
  6. Nitei Gavriel (Sukkot 93:9), Chazon Ovadya p. 456-7
  7. Chazon Ovadya p. 458
  8. Chazon Ovadya p. 462. M.B 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.
  9. M.B. 669:10
  10. Chazon Ovadya p. 463
  11. Chazon Ovadya p. 463
  12. Chazon Ovadya p. 465
  13. Nitei Gavriel (Sukkot 94:1), Chazon Ovadya p. 460
  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. Rama 669:1
  17. M.B. 669:13-14
  18. M.B. 669:1
  19. M.B. 669:2
  20. M.B. 669:2 Calling up the same person for two aliyot in close succession might lead onlookers to think something is wrong with the 1st sefer Torah.
  21. M.B. 669:2
  22. Rama 669:6
  23. M.B. 639:1
  24. Rama 669:1
  25. S.A 669:1
  26. M.B. 669:15
  27. S.A 669:1
  28. M.B. 669:9
  29. Rama 669:1
  30. Halichot Shlomo p. 436, Chazon Ovadya p. 469