Halacha for Sunday 21 Tishrei 5780 October 20 2019

Simchat Torah

The Rambam (end of Chapter 8 of Hilchot Lulav) states: “Even though it is a Mitzvah to rejoice on all the festivals, there was an additional celebration in the Temple on the festival of Sukkot, as the Torah commands: ‘And you shall rejoice before Hashem, your G-d, for seven days.’ What was the nature of this celebration? The flute would be sounded and songs played on the harp, lute, and cymbals. [In addition,] each person would play on the instrument which he knew. Those who could sing, would sing. They would dance and clap their hands, letting loose and whistling, each individual in the manner which he knew. Words of song and praise were recited. The entire people - the men and the women - would come to see and hear. Whoever holds himself proud, giving himself honor, and acts haughtily in such situations is a sinner and a fool. Concerning this, Solomon warned ‘Do not seek glory before the King.’ [In contrast,] anyone who lowers himself and thinks lightly of his person in these situations is [truly] a great person, worthy of honor, who serves G-d out of love. Thus, David, King of Israel, declared: ‘I will hold myself even more lightly esteemed than this and be humble in my eyes,’ because there is no greatness or honor other than celebrating before Hashem, as the verse states: ‘King David was dancing wildly and whistling before God.’”

The Rambam derives the above Halacha from King David’s behavior when the Holy Ark was being carried to Jerusalem at which time he danced wildly before it. When King David returned home, his wife, Michal, daughter of King Shaul, told him, “My forefathers would never behave in such a manner and not even a small portion of their arms or legs would ever become uncovered in public. They were more honorable than you.” King David replied, “Your father’s household were concerned about their own honor and they disregarded the honor of Heaven. I disregard my own honor and am concerned about the honor of Heaven! Was I dancing before a king of flesh and blood? I was dancing wildly before the King of all kings!”

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l understood from here that one should put forth great effort to dance and rejoice on Simchat Torah. Indeed, in his youth, Maran zt”l would remove his frock coat (rabbinical garb) and dance joyously and vigorously in honor of the Torah. This was likewise the behavior of his esteemed father, Rabbi Yaakov zt”l, on Simchat Torah. People actually exclaimed that Rabbi Yaakov merited a son like Maran zt”l because of how he would rejoice on Simchat Torah. Hagaon Rabbi David Attieh Shlit”a (son of the venerated Rosh Yeshivat of Porat Yosef, Hagaon Rabbi Ezra zt”l)and several other great Torah scholar would dance before Maran zt”l on Simchat Torah as though dancing before the Torah itself. This sight was reminiscent of how the Sages of the Mishnah described the festivities in the Bet Hamikdash during the Sukkot holiday.

Our Sages stated: “One who has not seen the festivities in the Bet Hamikdash during the Sukkot holiday has never seen a true joyous occasion.” However, this seems difficult since there are many joyous occasions in one’s life, for instance, one’s own wedding or the marriage of a child! What is it then that made the festivities in the Bet Hamikdash on Sukkot so special? Rather, the joy in the Bet Hamikdash was a spiritual joy from whence people drew Ru’ach Ha’Kodesh (see Yerushalmi, Sukkah, Chapter 5). On Simchat Torah, we are likewise rejoicing about the fact that Hashem has given us an Eternal Torah. May we merit drawing a spirit of sanctity and purity from this special joy, Amen!

Tizku Le’Shanim Rabbot Ne’imot Ve’Tovot!

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha


Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha

Using an Electric Hotplate (Plata) For Both Meat and Dairy

If one uses an electric hotplate to warm meat pots and the like, it is quite common that some of the meat food inside these pots will sometime fall onto the hotplate thus causing the hotplate to absorb this meat flavor. As such, if one then wishes to place dairy foods onto the hotplate, if one does ......

Read Halacha

An After-Blessing After Drinking Tea or Coffee-An Incident Involving Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l

In the previous Halacha we have discussed the basic laws of reciting an after-blessing after drinking a beverage in that as long as has drunk a Revi’it (approximately 81 cc or 2.8 fluid ounces) of the beverage in one shot (in a continuous manner without interruption between gulps), one recites......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one recite the “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot” blessing after drinking hot tea or coffee?

Answer: We have already discussed on several occasions that after drinking any beverage, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing. The amount one must drink in order to become obligated to recite this blessing is a Revi’it in one shot, i.e. approximately 81 cc or 2.8 flu......

Read Halacha