Sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Daniel Kahane in honor of their son Jacob. May he have a Refuah Sheleimah.
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Hoshana Rabba – Saturday night and Sunday
21 Tishrei/ Oct. 22 and 23
Hoshana Rabba (the last day of Sukkot) is the day on which the judgment of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur is considered final. The Talmud says that on Sukkot we are judged for water upon which the entire food chain depends. This is symbolized by the water libations which took place on the Holy Altar in the Holy Temple on every day of Sukkot. Many of the Hoshanot prayers also discuss this judgment of water. In addition, the mitzvah of the four species represents the judgment for water since these species are especially dependent on water. Since Hoshana Rabba is the last day of Sukkot, this judgment is finalized today.
In addition, Hoshana Rabba was a day that more (private) sacrifices were brought than on any other day of the year. This was because Hoshana Rabba, as the last day of Sukkot, was the final day of the year for bringing the sacrifices one had pledged during the year without transgressing the prohibition of delaying the fulfillment of one’s vows. (If one vowed to bring a sacrifice and delayed doing so past a full cycle of the three holidays of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot (in that order), he would transgress the prohibition of delaying a sacrifice.) For the sin of not fulfilling one’s vows, rain is withheld, says the Talmud. For this reason, when bringing their sacrifices, the Jews would tie the animals with willow branches and say: “Master of the World, we have not withheld our vows to you. So please do not withhold from us. Just as these willows grow on water, so grant us water.”
In addition, the Zohar says that “On the seventh day of Sukkot, the judgment of the world is finalized, and the edicts are sent forth from the King… On Hoshana Rabba the idolatrous nations come to the end of their blessings and enter into judgment while Israel comes to the end of its judgments and enter into its blessings. For on the next day (Shemini Atzeret), they rejoice privately with the King and receive blessings from Him for the entire year and obtain any request which they make.”
The Torah study, extensive prayers and Hoshanot of this day reflect this judgment.
What’s in the Name?
The name “Hoshana Rabbah” is given to this day because of the additional aravot/willows that were waved in the Bait HaMikdash and which we still wave on this day. (The aravot are referred to as hoshanot because we pray “hoshana” [save us] with the aravot.)
In addition, hoshana (הושע נא) can be translated as “save 51.” This alludes to the fact that this is the 51st day that we are praying for salvation (since Rosh Chodesh Elul).
- On the night of Hoshana Rabba, it is customary to stay up all night and study Torah. This is reminiscent of David HaMelech (King David), the guest (ushpizin) of Hoshana Rabbah, who would stay up all night studying Torah and singing praises to the Al-mighty.
- The widespread custom is to read the entire book of Devarim (most read it from a Chumash while some read it from a Sefer Torah). This symbolizes the reading of this book by the Jewish king on Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot every seven years, in fulfillment of the mitzvah of Hakhel.
- It is also customary to read the entire Book of Tehillim. This alludes to the fact that King David, the author of the book of Tehillim, is the honored Sukkot guest of Hoshana Rabbah.
- It is preferable to read the Tehillim after midnight (1:04 a.m.) or at least after the moon rises. (The moon rises in Miami at 1:09 a.m. on the night of Hoshana Rabba. So this does not help much in Miami.)
- The Chabad custom is to say Tehillim while wearing a gartel and to recite it quickly.
- There is a special prayer (Yehi Ratzon) for Hoshana Rabba that should be recited after each sefer (section) of Tehillim. This is in addition to the regular Yehi Ratzon that is recited after every book of Tehillim.
- There are also certain readings from the Zohar that are customarily recited on this night. The Sefardic custom is to recite these as part of the Tikun Leil Hoshana Rabbah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe mentioned this custom on several occasions.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe mentioned that there was an ancient custom for the Gabboim (shul attendants) to give out apples in Shul on this night during the saying of Tehillim. One should eat his apple in the Sukkah (after finishing Tehillim) and dip them in honey before doing so.
Some men have the custom to immerse in the Mikvah before dawn. The Rebbe Rashab would do this. Some say that it is preferable to immerse before nightfall in order to study in a state of purity.
It is best for couples to refrain from relations on this night. If it is the Mikvah night, it is permissible.
Hoshanot, The Mitzvah of the Day
- The Hoshanot are five willow-branches (aravot) which are used during the prayers of Hoshana Rabba (see below).
- Some have the custom of only using three branches.
- The custom of hitting the ground with willows originates from the prophets while the ritual of leaning willow branches against the altar in the Holy Temple (see below) is an oral tradition handed down from Sinai.
- This custom is so important that the Jewish calendar was structured in such a way to ensure that Hoshanah Rabbah never coincides with Shabbat, thus ensuring that this custom is fulfilled every year.
- It is customary in some communities to prepare hoshanot for each member of the family including small children.
- Although technically one can fulfill one’s obligation with one willow branch that has only one leaf on it, it is customary to take five branches that are complete with leaves and that look nice. The Arizal said that the aravot for the Hoshanot should have all the specifications that would make them kosher to use for the Lulav.
- The branches should be at least 3 tefachim (10 inches).
- Some have the custom to tie the branches together with a lulav leaf. One should not break off a leaf from his Lulav for this custom. If one’s Lulav is larger than the required size (four tefachim / handbreadths) some permit the removal of leaves from the bottom for this purpose. If one’s aravot are tied with a rubber band, it is best not to hold them in the place of that band.
- Some have the custom of personally preparing the hoshanot for every member of their family.
- The hoshanot should preferably be prepared at night. Some have a custom to pray for children to be upright Jews at this time. The gematria (numerical value) of ערבה /aravah (willow) is זרע /zerah (seed) – see below.
- It is possible to discern one’s destiny in the coming year by standing in the moonlight on the night of Hoshana Rabbah and observing one’s shadow. Since most people do not know how to interpret this properly, it is recommended that one not try to do this. Rather, one should trust in Hashem and not seek to figure out the future.
Sunday, Hoshana Rabba Day
- It is proper to wear Shabbat clothes on this day.
- The appropriate greeting for this day is “Good Yom Tov” or “Chag Same’ach.”
- It is customary in many communities to come to Shul early on this day.
- There are five days that one should arise early to go to Shul:
- Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabba, Purim, Tisha Be’Av
- There are five days that one should arise early to go to Shul:
- A mnemonic to remember these days is the verse וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר (And Avraham rose early in the morning
- אַבְרָהָם stands for
- אב(Tisha Be’Av)
- בּריאת העולם (Rosh HaShana, day of Briat Ha’olam/creation of the world)
- רבּה (a reference to Yom Kippur which is referred to as the great fast day [Rabba means great])
- הושׁענה רבּה (Hoshana Rabba)
- מגילה (Purim on which we read the Megillah)
- אַבְרָהָם stands for
- It is proper to add in giving Tzedakah on this day. This helps “sweeten the judgments.”
- In some communities, the chazzan wears a kittel on this day. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Some have the custom of praying the Pesukei DeZimrah of Shabbat and Yom Tov on this day as well as the Kedusha of Musaf. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Before Hallel, one should remove the two upper rings binding the lulav, leaving only the three bottom rings. Several reasons are given for this custom:
- To increase in joy with the extra spreading of the lulav branches.
- The waving of the lulav is done as a prayer to G-d that He protect us from bad winds and dew. Thus, on the final day of the prayers for rain, this waving is increased.
- The lulav branches, which are now more spread out, represent the Jewish people who are spread out amongst the nations.
- The removal of the constricting rings also represents the easing of the birth pangs of Moshiach and the birth of Moshiach.
- It is customary to take out all of the Sifrei Torah from the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) and have people hold them at the bimah (table for the Torah reading) during hoshanot. Preferably, people who do not have their own lulav and etrog should be given this honor. All the hoshanot are then recited while the congregation and Chazzan circle the Bimah seven times (Siddur pg. 368).
- When reciting the Hosahnos, the Chabad custom is that the chazzan begins reading aloud from the stanzas which begin with the letter samach or ayin just as he does during the hoshanot of the other days of Sukkot (according to Chabad custom).
- This is similar to the procedure that was done in the Bait HaMikdash on this day.
- In addition, the number of circles around the bimah corresponds to the number of circles the Jews walked around Jericho when conquering it. This may be related to the custom that some have to blow the shofar while circling the bimah. This is reminiscent of the Kohanim blowing the shofar while circling the city of Jericho. In addition, the fact that we circle the bimah once for six days and then seven times on the seventh day parallels the way the Jewish people encircled Jericho. (This may relate to the fact that the Jewish people began encircling the city of Jericho on the 22nd of Nissan – the day after Hoshana Rabbah.
- These seven circles also resemble the seven times that the Kallah walks around the Chattan under the Chuppah. This is done to preapre the Chattan and Kallah for their unification. We are similarly preparing ourselves for our unification with G-d which takes place on Shmini Atzeret.
- At the conclusion of the Hoshanot, the Sifrei Torah should be returned to the Aron Kodesh, and the Chazzan should recite Kaddish. One should then take the five Aravot and beat them on the ground five times. One should then recite the paragraph beginning Yehi Ratzon (pg. 382).
- According to the Arizal, one should not hold the aravot together with the lulav and etrog at all as this can cause an improper “mixture” of Chessed (kindness) and Gevurah (severity).
What to do with the Aravot and the Lulav and Etrog?
- Some have the custom to throw their aravot on top of the Aron Kodesh (holy ark). Some relate this to the leaning of the aravot on the Mizbe’ach (holy altar) in the Bait HaMikdash.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often put the aravot in his Siddur and take them out of Shul with him.
- Some save the aravot (as well as the lulav etc.) and use them for burning the Chametz before Pesach. If this is not possible, they burn them beforehand to ensure that they are not used in an innapropriate way.
- Some say that carrying a leaf of the hoshanot is a segulah (spiritually propitious act) for general protection, safe travels, protection from anxiety and bad dreams, and for having children. (Arava is the same gematria as zera [seed].)
- Some have a custom of using the etrog as besomim (spices for havdalah); others cook it and make jam out of it. Eating it is considered a segulah for an easy childbirth. This is especially true if eaten on Tu Bishvat.
- Some save the Haddassim and use them for besamim for havdalah.
- If one does not plan on using these items in the above ways, it is best not to throw them out with the garbage. They can be left somewhere (under bushes or the like) where they do not get in the way and just naturally decompose. They can also be burned.
It is proper to give extra Tzedakah on this day to sweeten the judgments just as the striking of the aravot sweetens the five levels of judgment.
Hoshana Rabba Meal
It is customary to eat a festive meal in the Sukkah during the day of Hoshana Rabbah. The meal should be eaten in the morning or early afternoon but not in the late afternoon as this would diminish one’s appetite for the evening Yom Tov meal. No Kiddush is recited.
After reciting Hamotzi, one should dip the bread into honey. According to Chabad custom, this is the last “honey dip” of this season. It is not necessary to have lechem mishnah (two loaves of challah) at this meal.
Ashkenazim have a custom to eat kreplach (pockets of dough and meat) at this meal.
The reason for this custom is that on Yom tov days we eat meat. On days that are semi Yom Tov – Purim, Erev Yom Kippur and Hoshanah Rabbah we eat a Yom Tov meal but work is not forbidden. , On those days it is customary to eat meat that is covered with dough (kreplach). In addition, the meat symbolizes (Divine) judgment and the dough (Divine) kindness. Thus the covering of the meat with dough represents the tempering of the judgments with kindness.
According to Chabad custom, the last time one recites LeDavid Hashem ohri (Psalm 27) in this holiday season, is during mincha of Hoshanah Rabbah. In some communities, this psalm is recited on Shmini Atzeret as well.
Shmini Atzeret – Night and Day
Sunday night and Monday, Oct. 23 and 24 / 22 Tishrei
This holiday is called (Shmini) Atzeret to indicate that the Divine Presence asks us (so to speak) to remain behind and celebrate for one more day with G-d (Atzor means to stop). The holiday of Shavuot is also called Atzeret, indicating that Shmini Atzeret is considered equal to the day of the giving of the Torah.
Candle-lighting time is 6:27 p.m. (Miami time)
Accepting Shmini Atzeret Early
One who accepts Shmini Atzeret early should not begin his meal until nightfall. The reason for this is that technically it is still Sukkot and during Sukkot one must make a bracha before eating in the Sukkah. In fact, however, he has accepted Shmini Atzeret upon himself and on Shmini Atzeret we do not make a bracha on the Sukkah (see below). We therefore avoid this situation by not eating until nightfall.
If one mistakenly said “Chag HaSukkot Hazeh” instead of “Shmini Atzeret HaChag Hazeh” in the Amidah or in Kiddush he should go back and correct that mistake. If one realized their mistake after they already completed the Amidah or the Kiddush, there is an argument as to whether they should repeat the Amidah (or Kiddush) or not. In practice, in this case, if possible, it is best to listen to the Chazan’s repetition of the Amidah (or to someone else reciting Kiddush) with the intention of fulfilling their obligation.
If one will be eating in the Sukkah (see below), the candles should be lit in, or visible from, the Sukkah.
The following two brachot should be recited: L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov and Shehechiyanu.
It is customary for those who recite Yizkor to light a 24 (or 48) – hour candle in memory of their departed relatives. One candle is sufficient even if one is reciting Yizkor for more than one person. No beracha (blessing) is recited over this candle.
Even those who (thank G-d) do not have to say Yizkor should light a 24 or 48-hour candle to ensure that they have a flame with which to light the candles on the eve of Simchat Torah.
Hakafot on Shmini Atzeret
After Ma’ariv, the custom in many Chassidic communities is to do Hakafot (Siddur pg. 383) and dance with the Torah.
In the words of the Alter Rebbe in his siddur: “It is an ancient custom of the pious to make Hakafot on the eve of Shmini Atzeret just as on Simchat Torah – to carry the Torah Scrolls in procession around the bimah seven times with great joy, to dance and sing before them [the Torah Scrolls], to go around (the bimah) with them with great rejoicing…
The reason for this custom seems to be that since Simchat Torah is celebrated in Israel on the eve of Shmini Atzeret, so the Jews outside of Israel participate in their rejoicing by making Hakafot as well.
In non-Chassidic communities, there are no Hakafot on this night.
In some Chassidic communities, there are Hakafot on the day of Shmini Atzeret as well. This is not the Chabad custom.
In Israel, Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shmini Atzeret.
It is best to refrain from marital relations on this night (unless it is mikvah night). The same applies to the night of Simchat Torah.
Precious 48 Hours
The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote: “My revered father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, citing his father, the Rebbe Rashab, earnestly taught that the 48 hours of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah should be dearly cherished, for at each moment one can draw bucketsful and barrelsful of treasures both material and spiritual, all of which is accomplished through dancing.”
In or Out of the Sukkah?
According to most Halachic authorities, it is proper to eat in the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret, as one does on Sukkot, albeit without the bracha of leisheiv basukah. The reason for this is that outside of Israel, every day of Yom Tov is treated as if it might be the previous day. We cannot, however, say the bracha of leisheiv basukah since it is actually the holiday of Shmini Atzeret when one is not obligated to eat in the Sukkah (by Torah law).
Regarding one who sleeps in the Sukkah on Sukkot, some say that one should not sleep in the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret as this would demean the holiday of Shmini Atzeret, while others say that one should sleep in the Sukkah on Shmini Atzeret.
- Some say that while one should eat grain foods in the Sukkah on Shminit Atzeret, one need not be particular regarding consuming non-grain foods outside the Sukkah (although during Sukkot it is a mitzvah to be particular.)
- Despite the above, the custom of many Chassidic communities is to make kiddush and have mezonot in the Sukkah and to eat the rest of the meal indoors.
- As the simple reading of the Talmud does not support this view, one should only follow it if this is the custom of one’s family and/or community.
- The Chabad custom is to be particular on Shmini Atzeret and eat and drink all foods (including water) only in the Sukkah.
In Israel, one need not eat in the Sukkah at all on Shmini Atzeret.
The Chabad custom is to not dip the challah in honey on Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, rather, one should dip the challah in salt as usual.
Shmini Atzeret Day
Monday, Oct. 24 / Tishrei 22
Shacharit of Yom Tov should be followed by complete Hallel.
We do not shake the Lulav on this day since it is muktzah on Yom Tov. (On the first days when it is an actual mitzvah, it is not muktzah. But since the eighth day is not actually Sukkot, we do not shake it since it is muktzah, despite the fact that we eat in the Sukkah as explained above.)
Ashkenazim begin the Torah reading begins with Aser Te’aser (“Tithe, you shall surely tithe”) since this is the season of separating the tithes. Sefardim begin with Kol HaBechor (unless Shmini Atzeret coincides with Shabbat in which case they, too, begin with Aser Te’aser in order to complete the seven aliyot).
- After the Torah reading, Ashkenazim recite Yizkor (pg. 337 in the Siddur).
- The reason we recite Yizkor at the end of every Yom Tov is to elicit the merit of our holy ancestors on behalf of ourselves and our children. A similar occurrence would take place in the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) on the three Regalim (pilgrimage festivals) – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. The nesahmot (souls) of the patriarchs are manifested in the spiritual Bait HaMikdash that is in heaven. This Bait HaMikdash would in turn be manifested within the physical Bait HaMikdash in Jerusalem. It was for this reason that on these festivals there was always enough room to bow down, despite the vast number of people present.
- It is customary for those not reciting Yizkor to leave the Shul while it is being recited. The reason for this is that if they would remain inside, people may think (or say) that their parents passed away. This may cause an ayin hara (negative judgment) against them.
- One who is within the first year of the passing of his relative, should remain in Shul for Yizkor but not recite the prayer in their memory. This is the Chabad custom. Some say that they should leave the Shul during that year as well.
- The reason for this is that if they would remain in Shul and say the Yizkor prayer, they may wail and cry, thus disturbing the joy of their Yom Tov as well as the concentration of others. An additional reason is that during the first year after passing, the memory of one’s loved one is so strong that one need not recite the prayer to “remember” them.
- It is beneficial for the souls of one’s departed relatives that one commit to giving tzedakah in their merit. Nevertheless, one should not say that they are vowing to do so as one who does not fulfill a vow is committing a serious sin which can have negative results. Rather, one should say “bli neder” (without the strength of a vow) or simply “she’etein l’tzdakah” (that I will give to tzedakah).
The Prayer for Rain
- We begin praising G-d for rain in the second blessing of the Amidah on Shmini Atzeret day.
- Although the rainy season (in Israel) actually begins on the first day of Sukkot, we do not mention rain in our prayers during Sukkot as rain in the Sukkah is a sign of a curse.
- We do not begin mentioning rain on the eve of Shmini Atzeret since not as many people come to davening in the evening as they do in the morning. Nor do we begin mentioning rain in Shacharit (morning prayers) of Shmini Atzeret as it is forbidden to interrupt between the blessing of Ga’al Yisrael and the Amidah in order to make the announcement of Mashiv HaRu’ach (see below).
- Nevertheless, we don’t begin asking for rain in our weekday prayers (in the ninth blessing of the Amidah) until the seventh of Cheshvan (in Israel) or the fourth of December (outside of Israel).
- Prior to Mussaf (Siddur pg. 340), the Gabbai should announce that we begin saying Mashiv HaRu’ach U’morid Hageshem (G-d makes the wind blow and the rain to fall). As mentioned, this is added in the second bracha (blessing) of the Amida.
- The Chazzan recites the special Tefilla of Geshem – prayer for rain (Siddur pg. 355) during his repetition of the Musaf Amida.
If One Forgot
- Following the announcement, if one forgot to say Mashiv HaRu’ach U’morid Hageshem, the law is as follows:
- If one at least said Morid Hatal (G-d makes the dew fall) [this praise is recited during the summer by Sefardim as well as by Ashkenazim who pray Nusach Sefard], he need not repeat the Amidah. Nevertheless, if one realized their omission before saying the name of G-d at the end of the second blessing (mechayeh hameitim), he may insert Mashiv Haru’ach etc. in the middle of the bracha at any point before the words “Baruch Attah…”
- One who didn’t say Mashiv HaRu’ach and his custom is to not say Morid Hatal and already completed the blessing must stop where he is and repeat the Amidah from the beginning.
- If one remembered before beginning the next bracha, he may say it at that point.
- One who is praying alone on the morning of Shmini Atzeret should not say Musaf before the time that the announcement of Mashiv HaRu’ach is made in Shul.
- One who heard the Mashiv HaRu’ach announcement before davening Shacharit (praying the morning service) must say Mashiv HaRu’ach when he prays Shacharit (if he is praying without a minyan).
Taking Leave of the Sukkah
- On the afternoon of Shmini Atzeret, it is customary to visit the Sukkah for one last time to “take leave” of the Sukkah. In Yiddish, this is referred to as “bazegennen zich mit di Sukkah.”
- There is a Yehi Ratzon prayer that many recite on this occasion. In it, one prays that we should merit to sit in the Sukkah made of the Leviathan skin. The Chabad custom is to not recite this but rather to simply have a small snack.
- In Israel, one should take leave of the Sukkah in the afternoon of Hoshana Rabbah.
Reviewing the Final Parsha
In keeping with the law of reviewing each parsha with the Aramaic translation, (shnayim mikrah ve’echad targum), one should read the Torah portion of Vezot HaBracha (twice with the translation of Onkelus) on Shmini Atzeret afternoon or Simchat Torah morning before the Torah reading is completed. Some say that this reading should be done on Hoshana Rabbah, or on the evening of Simchat Torah. In Israel, where Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are combined into one day, this reading should be done on Hoshanah Rabbah.
Certainly, one may not do this reading before Hoshana Rabba.
If one missed this reading before Simchat Torah, one can do it on the night following Simchat Torah.
One may not prepare for the second day of Yom Tov before 7:197 p.m.
Monday night and Tuesday, Oct. 24 and 25 / 23 Tishrei
Monday night and Tuesday, Oct. 24 and 25 / 23 Tishrei
Candle-lighting time is not before 7:19 p.m. and should be done using a pre-existing flame.
One should recite two brachot: L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov and Shehechiyanu.
After Maariv (and Kiddush) we have Hakafot with celebration and dancing.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged his Chassidim to visit shuls in other communities on the night of Simchat Torah in order to add to add joy in these places.
Some have a custom to leave a lit candle in the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) when all the Torah scrolls are removed. This is based on the verse “For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah is light.” Others question this practice. The Chabad custom is not to do this.
Technically, if necessary, one may do the hakafot without a minyan.
It is customary to recite various significant Torah verses beginning with “atah horeita” before beginning the hakafot. The Chabad custom is to recite these verses three times.
In some communities, the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) is opened during the atah horeita when the verse vayhi binso’ah is recited. This is not the Chabad custom.
The custom in the shul of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (770 Eastern parkway) in the “later years” was to repeat the Atah Horaisah verses three times.
- “One should dance and sing in honor of the Torah as it says concerning King David: ‘King David hopping and dancing before the L-rd.’ It was testified regarding the Arizal that he said that the highest level that he achieved was in the merit that he rejoiced with all his strength at a simcha (joy) of a mitzvah.”
- One may not refuse the honor of holding the Torah during a hakafah just as one may not refuse the honor of receiving an aliyah.
- While the Torahs are being carried, it is proper for all present to stand and not to sit. If one is weak and needs to sit, he may do so during the hakafot but (preferably) not while the Sifrei Torah are being placed in or taken out of the Aron Kodesh. In addition, one should try to stand for the first time the Torah is taken around the Bimah for each of the Hakafot.
- It is not proper to give the Sefer Torah to a child for him to carry and dance with.
- If one completed the hakafot in his shul and then goes to visit another shul where they are still doing the hakafot, he should rejoice and sing with them.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted that his chassidim visit Shuls of other communities on Simchat Torah. The purpose of this is that having “new faces” will help increase the joy in those shuls. This is referred to as Tahalucha (a march).
- The Chabad custom is to return the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) to the Aron Kodesh between each hakafah.
- There were certain songs that were customarily sung by the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Hakafot. Some of there were: The Hakafot Niggun, the hakafot nigun of Reb Levi Yitzchak (the Rebbe’s father), Al HaSela Hach, Vechol Karnei Reshaim and others.
- One who is in the year of mourning after the loss of a parent should not dance with the Torah. He may, however, be present during the Hakafot. According to Chabad custom, he may walk around the Bimah while holding a Sefer Torah if he is accompanied by someone else.
- Some have a custom to read from the Torah on the evening of Simchat Torah after the Hakafot. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Aleinu is recited after the end of Hakafot.
It is customary in many communities in Israel to make a “second Hakafot” on the night after Shmini Atzeret although the Yom Tov is already finished in Israel at that time. The reason for this custom, which is based on the teachings of the Arizal, is to share in the joy of the Jews outside of Israel.
Kiddush (Siddur Page 329)
The procedure of the kiddush of Simchat Torah is as follows:
1. Borei Pri Hagafen
2. Bracha of Kiddush for Yom Tov
3. Bracha of Shehechiyanu
1. Borei Pri Hagafen
2. Bracha of Kiddush for Yom Tov
3. Bracha of Shehechiyanu
When saying the blessing of Shehechiyanu on Simchat Torah, one should bear in mind that the blessing is not only on the holiday but also on the Torah itself.
For this reason, some say that it is best for every man to make his own Kiddush on the night of Simchat Torah rather than listen to the Kiddush said by someone else.
“It is known to all that when reciting the verse of Shema Yisrael before going to sleep on Simchat Torah, one should accept on himself to be completely devoted to spreading Torah with self-sacrifice of his body, spirit and soul. In fact, this must become the very essence of his being.”
Simchat Torah Day
Tuesday, Oct. 25 / 23 Tishrei
Tuesday, Oct. 25 / 23 Tishrei
It is customary in many communities (including Chabad) that the Kohanim give their blessing in Shacharit of Simchat Torah instead of Musaf. The reason for this is that many people make kiddush before Hakafot and drink alcohol. This may invalidate a kohen from reciting the priestly blessing.
In some communities the Birkat Kohanim is recited during Musaf as usual. In such a community, the Kohanim should make sure not to drink alcohol before this blessing.
On the day of Simchat Torah, the Chabad custom is to recite all seven Hakafot while circling the Bimah three and a half times. Following this, all join in dancing with the Torah.
Aliyot for All
Following the Hakafot, all men and boys over Bar Mitzvah should be called to the Torah. This is done by repeating the Torah reading as many times as necessary. In some communities it is customary to call several people up to one aliyah. In such communities it is proper that at least the first five aliyot be given to one person each.
If there are many Kohanim and/or Levyim, one may call them up for the fourth or fifth Aliyah.
When repeating the reading in order to give everyone an Aliyah, if the kohanim already received aliyot they need not leave the room when giving the first Aliyah (of the later rounds) to a non Kohen. The Gabbai should simply call the Levi or Yisrael and say “Af Al Pi Sheyesh Kohen – Even though there is a Kohen present.”
A special Aliyah is reserved for all of the children. It is called Kol Hane’arim (all the children). In many communities, it is the final Aliyah before the Chatan Torah. It is customary in some communities to spread a Talit over the children’s heads while they receive this Aliyah and to read the verse of Hamalach hago’el after the Aliyah. Although this concept is correct on a spiritual level, it is not the Chabad custom.
Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereishit
- In some communities, the Rav or an outstanding Torah scholar is honored with the Chatan Torah aliyah. In other communities such a person is honored with the Chatan Bereishit aliyah. In any case, it should be a person who is honored and respected because of his importance or his wealth.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe would customarily receive the Chatan Bereishit aliyah.
- Some say that the Chatan Bereishit Aliyah is a segulah (spiritually propitious act) for wealth and should therefore be given (or sold) to a generous person who will use his wealth properly.
- A Kohen or Levi may receive these aliyot.
- A father and son may receive these aliyot.
- One who already received an aliyah during the regular Torah reading may still receive one of these aliyot.
- It is considered proper to pay for receiving these (and many other) honors. This indicates how precious we consider the Torah and Mitzvot.
- The Chatan Torah (the one honored with the final aliyah of the Torah) completes the Torah using the first Sefer Torah.
- It is customary in many communities for the person doing hagbah to lift up the Torah while reversing his hands and to then turn the Torah around in midair. This symbolizes the need to delve into the Torah. This is not the Chabad custom.
- The second Sefer Torah is used for the Chatan Bereishit Aliyah (the one honored to begin the Torah).
- When reading the beginning of the book of Bereishit, the community recites aloud the words at the end of each day of creation (Vayehi Erev Vayehi Boker etc.) as well as the paragraph about Shabbat (Vayechulu). This is to publicly proclaim our belief in the creation story as recorded in the Torah and to indicate that the continued existence of the world is dependent on the Jewish people’s continued devotion to G-d.
- Half-Kadish is recited after the Chatan Berieshit Aliyah. If half-Kadish was mistakenly recited after Chattan Torah, it should be recited again after Chatan Bereishit.
- The third Torah is used for Maftir.
- Following the Torah reading, we recite Sisu V’simchu (Siddur pg. 388) and pray Musaf.
- The Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereishit usually sponsor a feast on Simchat Torah in honor of the completion of the Torah. (A mourner may participate in this meal.)
Chumash of the Day
The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted that, on a daily basis, one should study a portion of the weekly parsha, a daily section of Tanya, and recite a section of Tehillim. This is called Chitas (an acronym of Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya). On Simchat Torah one should complete the Torah portion of Vezot HaBracha and begin the portion of Bereishit up until the portion of that day (i.e., the third reading – Shlishi, when Simchat Torah is on a Tuesday.)
The Lubavitcher Rebbe would lead a farbrengen starting on Yom Tov after Mincha and continuing on into the night. This was to draw the holiness of the Yom Tov into the rest of the year. It was customary at this farbrengen to sing all of the songs of the holy Rabbeim. The Rebbe would encourage everyone to wash and eat bread at these farbrengens.
Yom Tov ends at 7:18.
Havdala does not include a candle or Besamim (spices).
We do not say Tachanun for the duration of this month.
Oct. 28 and 9 / 27 Tishrei
The Chabad Rabbe’im would say, “The way one establishes oneself on Shabbat Bereishit is how his entire year will go.”
The Shabbat is called Shabbat Bereishit as it indicates a new beginning. Even if in the past we were deficient in one area or another, from this Shabbat we turn over a new leaf and begin to implement the good resolutions we accepted over the recent holidays.
The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe said that on Shabbat Bereishit, one can still “sneak in” and do teshuvah. On Rosh HaShana it (the decree) is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed, on Hoshana Rabbah the “notes of life” are brought out (to be distributed) but, until Shabbat Bereishit, they are still in the chamber (and can be altered).
- Candle-lighting is at 6:23
As we bless the month of Cheshvan on this Shabbat, all of the customs of Shabbat Mevarchim should be observed.
Shabbat ends at 7:16.
VeYa’akov Halach Ledarko
In many communities, including Chabad, it is customary for the Gabbai to give a bang on the bima and announce: “VeYa’akov Halach Ledarko” (And Yaakov went on his way ) at the end of Simchat Torah and Shabbat Bereishit services. This indicates that the Yom Tov season has finished and that it is now time to actualize one’s resolutions and “go” in the way of Torah and mitzvot.
Hoshana Rabbah to Simchat Torah times, 5776. From Chabad.org (Please double check to ensure accuracy).
|Chatzot Motzei Shabbat (Tehillim)||Moonrise on Sunday morning. (Say Tehillim after this time, if necessary.)||
|Candle lighting Sunday night||Candle lighting Mondaynight||Yom Tov ends|
|Miami, Fl||1:04 am||1:09 am||7:24 am||6:27 pm||7:19 pm||7:18 pm|
|Bklyn NY||12:40 am||12:17 am||5:50 am||4:45 pm||6:43 pm||6:42 pm|
|La, Ca||12:37 am||12:34 am||7:23 am||5:51 pm||6:46 pm||6:45 pm|
|Jerusalem, Israel||12:23 am||11:59 pm||7:24 am||5:18 pm||Holiday ends 6:34 pm||—|
|Melbourne, Australia||1:04 am||2:06 am||6:24 am||7:27 pm||8:28 pm||8:29 pm|
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a Good Yom Tov. May Klal Yisrael be blessed with a good year in every way!
A special thank you to Rabbi Levi Silman of South Africa for reviewing my Laws and Customs of Sukkos article
 Rosh HaShana, 16a
 Rabbi Akiva in ibid
 Yerushalmi Ta’anit 1, 1
 Levush, 664, 1, Mishnah Berurah, 664:7
 Elya Rabba ibid, 2, See Rosh HaShana 4a. But see Rambam, Hilchot Ma’aseh Hakorbanot 14:13
 Yevamot 78b.
 Vol. 3, pages 31b-32a
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 355
 Tamie HaMinhagim, 411
 Mishnah Berura, 664:1
 See Brachot 3b
 The custom of many Polish Chassidim is to read the book of Devarim from a Sefer Torah (without a bracha). See sources quoted in ibid.
 Yaavetz in his notes on Siddur Sha’arei Shamayim, page 142b cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah, 664, 1
 Piskei Teshuvot, 664:1
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 See Hitva’aduyot, 5743, vol. 1, page 247 and in many places
 Otzar Minhagei Chabad, pg. 333
 Rama, O.C. 664:1 and Mishnah Berura, 8
 Ibid, 16 in the name of the Arizal.
 This is the Yemenite custom according to the Sefer, Arichat HaShulchan, by Rav Shlomo Korach, page 210
 Sukkah 44b
 Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkah, 4, 1 This is the basis of the rule that Lo Ad”u Rosh – The first day of Rosh Hashanah can never be on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday. Were Rosh Hashana to be on a Sunday, Hoshanah Rabbah would fall on Shabbat (See Rambam, Kiddush HaChodesh, 7, 1 and Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 428:1)
See Tosfot D.H. Lo ikla on Sukkah 43b who explains why the calendar was arranged to prevent Hoshanah Rabbah from coinciding with Shabbat while no arrangement was made to prevent the first day of Rosh Hashanah from coinciding with Shabbat.
 This is similar to the custom of giving a half-shekel as well as doing kaparot for children of all ages. The principle is that all matters which are spiritually propitious for one’s soul should be done for small children as well. (Piskei Teshuvot, 664 quoting several sources.)
 Sukkah ibid See http://www.chabad.org/
holidays/JewishNewYear/ template_cdo/aid/2556/jewish/ One-Twig-and-One-Leaf.htm for a discussion of the spiritual significance of this law
 Rama, ibid, 4
 Quoted in Kaf HaChaim, 33
 O.C. ibid, 4 This is the length that is kosher for waving with the lulav.
 See Magen Avraham on O.C. 664, 4 but see Eishel Avraham there who says that they should be tied with other Aravah branches.
 See Piskei Teshuvot, 664: 4 and notes 14 – 16
 Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, note 13
 Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 334 based on the custom of the Rebbe Rashab
 Rama on 664, 1. See Kaf HaChaim, 19 for more details
 Mishnah Berurah, ibid, 9
 Aruch HaShulchan, end of Siman 664
 See sources in Minhag Yisrael Torah, 664, 15, see also there that the Ot Chaim Veshalom held that one should not say “gmar tov” which literally means “good ending,” but rather gmar chatimah tovah, a sealing for the good.
 Sefer Haminhagim Chabad, Hitva’aduyot, 5747 vol. 1, page 309
 Eliyahu Rabba, 664:3
 Hitva’aduyot, 5744, vol. 1 page 294
 Mishnah Berurah, 9
 Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 333
 See O.C. ibid, 1 with commentaries, Lu’ach Kolel Chabad, Sefer Haminhagim Chabad
 Some have the custom of removing the rings after Hallel, before Hoshanot (O.C. 664: 1. See Piskei Teshuvot, 664, note 8.)
 See ibid, O.C. ibid
 Minhag Yisrael Torah based on Bach
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 357
 Rama, 660:1
 Levush, see Sukkah 45a
 See Minhag Yisrael Torah, page 180 in the name of the Shela and others
 Kaf HaChaim, 664:38
 Tiv HaKehillah by Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz
 Kaf HaChaim on O.C. 664,:32
 See Piskei Teshuvot, ibid 7
 Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, note 24 quoting Moadim Uzmanim, 2, 131, Hagaha 4, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 340
 Rama, ibid, 9
 Kaf HaChaim, 664:59
 See Likutei Maharich and other sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot, 664, note 26
 See Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 357. See Kuntres Acharon on Mateh Efrayim, 660 that a woman experiencing a difficult labor should be given some of this Etrog jam to eat – as a segulah to hasten the labor and make it easier.
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 297, 6
 Mateh Efrayim, 660:6. This relates to the opinion that the Etz HaDa’at (Tree of Knowledge) was an Etrog tree.
 Responsa of Minchat Elazar, 5, 36, cited in Piskei Teshuvot, 665, note 2
 See O.C. 21 and Mishnah Berurah, 7
 Hitvaduyot, 5744, vol. 1 page 294
 Aruch HaShulchan 664:13
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 Minhag Yisrael, vol. 3, page 184 quoting the Ge’ulat Yisrael
 Zera Kodesh by the Ropshitzer Rebbe
 Kad HaKemach cited in Tamei HaMinhagim
 Mishnah Berurah, 668, 7 based on Responsa of Rashal, 68
See also Piskei Teshuvot 491:5 regarding making Kiddush early on the second day of Yom Tov
 Mishnah Berurah, 668:2. See Piskei Teshuvot, 3, who brings four opinions regarding this matter
 Ibid, notes 12 and 13
 Siddur of the Alter Rebbe, Likutei Maharich, and Sha’ar Yissachar. See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Tishrei page, 351 that this is the custom of Sanz, Bobov, Munkatch, Spinka and most Chassidim.
 Sha’ar Yissachar, Chodesh Tishrei, Ma’amar Zeman Simchateinu, Ot 28
 Ibid, for the same reason that Hakafot are celebrated on the eve of Shmini Atzeret – in order to participate in the Simchat Torah of the Jews in Israel.
 Mishnat Chassidim, Sukkah 12, 9
 Kaf HaChaim, 668, 11 in the name of the Arizal
 Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad
 Mishnah Berurah, 668:7
 Derech HaChaim, quoted in Shaar HaTziyun, ibid, 8
 See sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot, 668, note 3
 Sukkah 47a “And the law is that we sit in the Sukkah, but we do not make a blessing.” See Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, 1
 Likutei Sichot, vol. 9, page 227, note 17
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
It has been noted that even while in the midst of suffering a heart attack during the Hakafot of Shmini Atzeret 1977, the Lubavitcher Rebbe refused to even drink a glass of water before entering the Sukkah and making Kiddush on wine (Otzar Minhagei Chabad, pg. 347).
 Avudraham, cited in Tamei HaMinhagim
 Ibid, citing Magen Avraham
 O.C. 668:2 as explained in Kaf HaChaim, 19
 See Mishnah Berurah, 494:17 that Yizkor is recited on every Yom Tov day when we read the Torah reading of Kol HaBechor (end of Parshat Re’eh). This reading contains the words “Misat Nitdvat Yadcha asher titen” (according to the generosity of your hand that you will give, Deut. 16, 10). Thus, one is encouraged to give Tzedakah generously in memory of one’s departed relatives.
 I.e. on the final day of Pesach and Shavuot. We recite it on Shmini Atzeret instead of Simchat Torah as the mood of gaiety on Simchat Torah is incongruous with the recital of Yizkor.
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 245, see Avot, 5:5
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 247, see Brachot 60a and in many places
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, ibid, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 221
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 246
 Ta’anit 2a, See O.C. 114
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 114:1
 O.C. 117, based on Ta’anit 4b
 O.C. 114
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 O.C. 667:1, Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 365
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 285:9, Mishnah Berurah, 385:18 and 669:4, Piskei Teshuvot, 285;4 quoting Responsa Keneh Bosem, 1:16
 Hitava’aduyot, 5747, 1 page 350
 Proverbs, 6, 23
 See Piskei Teshuvot, 669:1, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 357. The Taz, 154:7 says that this is considered disrespectful to the Aron Kodesh
 Piskei Teshuvot, 669:1 citing the response Betzel Hachochmah, 4:112
 Samuel II, 6:16
 Mishnah Berurah, 669:10 in the name of the Maharik
 Piskei Teshuvot, 669:1 in the name of Rav Shlomo Kluger
 Ibid, 2 and note 10. See there in the name of the Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata that some are lenient in light of the fact that the outer circle of dancers can be considered like a mechitzah (interrupting wall) between the person and the Sifrei Torah which are in the inner circle.
 Halichot Shlomo, vol. 2, 12:9
 Ibid, 10
 Siddur HaRav
 See Igrot Kodesh Rayatz, 10, page 261 and Igrot Kodesh, 5, page 25
 Otzar Minhagei Chabad page 359
 Kaf HaChaim, 669:33, Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 Rama, 669, Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad. Those that do read the Torah, read verses of blessing such as Veyiten Lecha, Hamalach HaGoel, Vayechulu, Yevarechecha, and Mah Tovu (Kaf HaChaim, 669:37).
 See Kaf HaChaim, 669:30
 Sefer HaSichot 5705 , page 55 and 56 see also Likutei Sichot 19, pages 371 – 379
 See Likutei Sichot 19, page 371 and note 6
 The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Sefer HaSichot, 5704, page 39
 Mishnah Berurah 669:17, see O.C. 128:38 and Mishnah Berurah 141. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 128:51 regarding alcoholic beverages other than wine.
 Mishnah Berurah, ibid, 12 quoting Elyah Rabbah, and Sha’ar HaTziyun 11
 Halichot Shlomo, vol. 2, 12:15
 Kaf HaChaim, 669:35
 See Rama, 669:1 and Mishnah Berurah 14, Luach Collel Chabad and the Sicha of the eve of Simchat Torah 5715, and 5717 and Shabbat Bereishit 5724, quoted in Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 380
 Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, 4
 Kaf HaCahim, 669:39
 Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 381
 Piskei Teshuvot, ibid, note 19 quoting the Imrei Pinchas
 Kaf HaChaim, 669:11
 Mishnah Berurah, 2
 Tamei HaMinhagim
 Ibid, Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 381
 Ta’amei HaMinhagim
 Elyah Rabbah cited in ibid
 Rama, 669, Mishnah Berurah, ibid, 8
 See Likutei Sichot, vol. 20, page 556 and in many places
 Divrei Yechezkel, cited in Tamei HaMinhagim
 Likutei Diburim, page 711
 Gen. 32, 2
 See Likutei Sichot 15, page 259 and in many places