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Home » Simchat Torah

Simchat Torah: A Basic Overview

Submitted by on November 4, 2005 – 8:22 pmNo Comment | 2,800 views

Concluding the Torah

Every Shabbos during services we read a portion from the Torah. It takes a full year to complete the entire cycle of the Torah reading. The last day of the High Holiday season is devoted to celebrating the annual completion of the Torah reading.

We read the last portion of the Torah and immediately turn back and read the beginning. We sing, dance and celebrate with the Torah, in a manner that both children and adults enjoy.

In Israel the last day of Sukkos is merged with Simchas Torah. Outside of Israel we add a special day to the holiday and celebrate Simchas Torah on that day. (For more information see extended holidays in the Jewish calendar.)

Order of Simchas Torah Services

Shemini Azeres Service

This marks the beginning of the Simchas Torah holiday. At Chabad it is customary to begin the special festivities on this night – one day earlier then most synagogues. (For more information see the following entries.) From this night forward it is no longer obligatory to eat in the Sukkah. Many communities continue to eat in the Sukkah till the next night but refrain from reciting the benediction for this Mitzvah.

Shemini Azeres Morning Service

During services on this day we chant the Yizkor in memory of our departed loved ones. It has become customary in recent years to include a memorial prayer for all Jewish martyrs, especially those who perished in the holocaust. A prayer is also customarily added for the brave young men and women who have given their lives in defense of Israel, our Homeland.

Gala Simchas Torah Celebration

Simchas Torah is the last holiday and therefore the culmination of the High Holiday season and all that it has come to mean. We have climbed the ladder of spiritual fulfillment and successfully reached the top. In addition, at this time of year we complete the annual cycle of the weekly Torah reading. To celebrate the completion, we carry the Torah scroll around the Bimah (Torah reading table) and dance with it in great joy and jubilation. It is written that more can be accomplished with dancing and happiness on Simchas Torah then with fasting and prayer on Yom Kippur.

Simchas Torah Morning Service

The morning service on Simchas Torah is a unique service indeed. In addition to repeating the festivities of the night before, we also chant the last reading of the Torah for the past year and the first reading for the upcoming year. A festive introduction is chanted before the last and then first portions are read from the Torah.

Many vie for the honor of being called to read these portions and in many synagogues these honors are auctioned to the highest bidder, the proceeds go to charity. The title of Groom of Torah and Groom of Genesis are respectively on the honorees .