Simchat Torah: The rejoicing OF the Torah

Who rejoices on the approaching holiday, the Jewish people or the Torah? Grammatically, it is the Torah. What makes the Torah rejoice, then?

Danny Ginsbourg ,

Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah
Flash 90

Our Rabbis call Succot זמן שמחתנו: ‘The time of OUR Simcha’.

The reason for our Simcha on Succot, is that we have, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, cleansed our souls of the sins which had sullied them in the previous year, and now merited to again dwell in the holy succot, on which the Shechina now resides.

We also NOW merit to enter the holy festival of Shemini Atzeret, on which our Rabbis established that we celebrate Simchat Torah, completing the cycle of the Parshiot of the Torah, by reading Parshat Vezot Habracha, and also starting the next ‘cycle’, by reading from Parashat Breishit.

The Sfat Emet gives a beautiful insight, linking these two matters:’An allusion to Simchat Torah:’And you shall love Hashem with all your heart, all your soul, and all your means..and these words shall be on your hearts..’: ‘Your hearts’ is on Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Repentance, when we return to Hashem with ‘our two inclinations’; ‘Your Soul’ is on Yom Kippur, when we afflict our souls; and ‘Your Means’, is on Succot, when we leave our ‘means’, to dwell in the temporary abode of our Succot, in the shade of His shelter.

‘After this, ‘And these words shall be on your hearts’- now, and only now, can the words of the Torah truly be ‘on Your hearts.

‘This is on Shemini Atzeret, which has been endowed with the power- as is alluded to by its name שמיני עצרת- ‘to hoard’: לעצור: deep in our hearts, the words of the Holy Torah’.

The Sfat Emet derives a beautiful insight from this:’This festival is also called שמחת תורה: ׳: ‘the simcha OF the Torah’, because on this day, say our Sages:’The Torah itself rejoices with Bnei Israel’, as it prides itself that it was the blueprint by which the world was created.

Might we not add that this is the day of ‘the Simcha of the Torah’, because it has achieved ‘its תכלית: purpose’, to be truly ‘in our hearts’?

Our Sages sweeten the joy of this day, expounding on the first words in the Torah reading of וזאת הברכה, literally: ‘And this is THE blessing’:

Said Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman: כיון שבא משה לברך את ישראל: Because Moshe came to bless Israel, the Torah and Hashem also came to bless Israel, explaining:

The Torah, as is alluded to by the word ‘וזאת’- וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל;("and this" as it says "And this is the Torah which Moses placed before Israel") and as the opening passuk of our Parasha continues: אשר ברך משה "which Moses blessed" that is Moshe, the man of God, איש האלקים: that is [also referring to ]Hashem, as it is written: ה׳ איש מלחמה, using the word for man (in the context of war).

‘And why all of these? To fulfill the words of Kohelet:’And the triple strands of the thread will not be readily untangled’.

The Ba’al Haturim, in his unique wisdom, notes that the title of the Parasha- וזאת הברכה- alludes to the Torah, as the numerical value of these two words, is the same a the numerical value of זו היא התורה: This is the Torah.

A wondrous parting thought from the Sfat Emet, the Simcha of the Torah on Shemini Atzeret is ‘greater’, כביכול, even than on Shavuot, when we received the Torah!


Expounds the sage:’The level of Bnei Israel at Matan Torah on Shavuot ‘corresponded’ to that of the לוחות ראשונים, the first set of tablets, which were given to Bnei Israel before the sin of the golden calf.

‘The ‘acceptance’ of the Torah on Simchat Torah, on the other hand, was at the level of the לוחות שניות, the second set, which were only given after that sin was forgiven- this is represented by Simchat Torah following the atonement of the High Holydays, Yamim Nora’im.

‘Only after Bnei Israel repented and Hashem accepted Moshe Rabeinu’s lengthy supplications to forgive them, and give them tablets anew, did we merit to receive the second tablets, לוחות שניות.

‘Bnei Israel were then- as we are after the Yamim Nora'im- ba'alei teshuva, and, as our Sages teach: במקום שעומדים בעלי תשובה צדיקים גמורים אין עומדים שם: ‘The place where ba’alei teshuva stand, the perfectly righteous do not attain’.

May we merit לעצור: to ‘keep’ this exalted level of closeness to Hashem and to His holy Torah, and may we always be worthy of being blessed by Hashen- and by the Torah.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה נחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.