Here are a links to a few online articles and stories to get into the spirit, mentally and emotionally, for the joyous spirit of Simchas Torah, the climax of the entire High Holiday and Sukkot season. Hopefully you will find some of these meaningful as you prepare you and yours for this momentous Jewish day of celebration and spiritual uplift!
7 Reasons Why We Dance in Circles – Rabbi Israel Rubin’s Seven Reasons (one of for each of the Hakafah circuits) why we dance in Circles. Each reason is only a sentence or two, its simple and sweet, and a little humorous. For many years we read or announce one of these before each of the Hakafot.
Dancing in Circles – this article more at length by Tzvi Freeman on Chabad.org, also on why its traditional to dance in circles. But we can dance any way, it doesn’t have to be in a circle!
A Brothers Wedding!? – We don’t like the “Brothers Wedding” perspective on Simchas Torah. See why not.
The Yom-Kippur Drunk – is an old Chassidic story that we sometimes share at the end of Yom Kippur, that tells us how Simchas Torah is the ultimate climax, even beyond the holiest day of Yom-Kippur!
This is My Torah Scroll – a Post-Holocaust story with survivors celebrating Simchat Torah, Abe Foxman’s (former head of ADL) first Jewish memory. Fits our theme, Simchas Torah is more about people than books, it celebrates Jewish continuity and connection, especially when the flame struggled most.
Dance because you are Jewish! – a memory of R’ Shlomo Carlebach at an Albany concert in the early 1990’s. It ‘s about “Am Yisrael Chai” which is a song and a sentiment that we sing with much enthusiasm each year on Simchas Torah at Shabbos House.
Start off on a High Note! – Not in the mood? Feeling in the dumps? See this piece about Reb Levik’s (the Rebbe’s father’s) uplifted Hakafot Niggun (melody) against the backdrop of his challenges in Soviet exile. Rabbi Galperin (Raizy’s father) loves singing this Niggun on Simchat Torah.
Ufaratzta! and Al HaSelah Hach! – Speaking of songs from the Rebbe’s Hakafot dancing in Chabad, these are two more Chabad Hakafot melodies and their background and meaning. Think of how they fit the Hakafot theme. And then there’s the classic Hoshiya Song. And the lyrics to the beautiful 1842 Torah Song by Abie Rotenberg including that one line we don’t like.
Fiery Hakafot – This story is longer than most of these links, and the advice given isn’t something you should try at home, but it speaks to the healing effects of Hakafot, and the passionate dedication and sincerity of those Chassidim.
We may add a few more links soon..
A few things to know about Simchat Torah at Shabbos House:
We hope to be dancing from 8pm to (hopefully) Midnight. Come anytime, and for any length of time. Four hours, 15 minutes, whatever.
Dancing (even a bit) on Simchat Torah is an important energizing springboard for the year ahead. Get off the ground! Give it your Jewish all! (Even if only for 15 minutes).
You don’t need to know how to dance. Most of us don’t. No need to RSVP. No dress-code.
There are special Shabbos House traditions, Simchat Torah is a once-a-year type of event. Memories to last!
No prerequisites. You don’t need to know the songs, the Hebrew, no need to be religious or observant. Just come and celebrate! Chabad emphasizes that we dance with closed Torahs. This isn’t about knowledge or scholarship or observance, it’s about celebrating our heritage and connection!
Even if it falls on a weeknight, it is observed as a holiday. That’s why Mendel & Raizy won’t respond to text/phone/email, no posts etc until end of holiday. No pictures either.
The collectible souvenir has that dancing Torah Rabbi on it each year, but the theme changes. Start or add to your collection.