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 “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5781, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

Following halachic nightfall on Tisha Be’av which is approximately twenty minutes after sunset (somewhat later in the United States), one is permitted to eat and drink. It is customary to recite Birkat Ha’Levana (blessing on the new moon) following Arvit prayers on Motza’ei Tisha B......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

Yesterday, Shabbat, we marked Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), will mark Tisha Be’av. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebration. The Jewish Nation’s Fortune During the Month of Av Although we customarily implement some mourn......

Read Halacha

Tisha Be’av Falls Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat- Clothing for Tisha Be’av

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Travelling by Car

Question: If one is eating while travelling by car, may one recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to travel? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that our Sages have instituted that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while seated in order for one to have optimum concentration while bles......

Read Halacha