Simchas torah Dvar Torah:
Simchat Torah is the holiday on which we celebrate completing the Torah. We rejoice with Torah, restart the cycle of reading from the Torah, and all day everyone’s talking about Torah, Torah and more Torah. One would assume, therefore, that this series of events follows the holiday which is also about the Torah and receiving it: Shavuot, zman matan torateinu. It just makes sense that way, right? Wrong. Simchat Torah takes place after Sukkot, not Shavuot. Why does a day of rejoicing over the completion and restarting of the Torah happen after seven long days of eating, sleeping, and living in a hut in your yard? To help us understand this more, I would like to share two nice ideas inspired by one of my rebbeim at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah, Rav Michael Siev.
The Jewish people traveled in the desert for 40 years, and after that long period of time they were given the privilege to enter the land of Israel, which Hashem had promised to them. The time spent wandering in the desert, in a way, was like a preparation for kedushah, holiness, that the Jewish people would encounter in Israel. When they finally went into Israel, they took the Torah and all of its teachings, wisdom and guidelines with them, to have it forever, know it well, and apply it to daily life in Israel. They could also pass it on to future generations and spread the word of Hashem.
This can relate to why Sukkot is followed by Simchat Torah. We dwell outside in a hut for seven days, which reminds us of the 40 years the Jews traveled in the desert. Then comes Simchat Torah, when we rejoice and think about the Torah that Hashem gave us – an experience that mirrors the Jews entering the land of Israel for the first time with a newfound ability to incorporate the Torah into their lives.
The second explanation comes from Navi; namely, in the book of Yehoshua, chapter six, with the story of Yericho. The warriors of Israel did what Hashem had commanded them to do: circle the walls of Yericho once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they were commanded to circle the walls of the city seven times, and then blow a shofar and cry out to Hashem. Once they fulfilled Hashem’s instructions,” וַתִּפֹּל הַחוֹמָה תַּחְתֶּיהָ”, “and the wall fell down flat.” The walls of Yericho came crashing own by themselves, and the Jewish people were able to enter the city and conquer it.
This can relate to the seven days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which follows. For seven days we dwell in the sukkah, doing what Hashem has commanded us to do each day. And after the seven days, Simchat Torah comes along, and we have the opportunity to rejoice with the Torah that Hashem has given us. This progression of events is similar to when Hashem gave the city of Yericho over to the Jewish people after seven days of keeping what He had commanded them. Additionally, on Simchat Torah, we do seven Hakafot around the Bima, corresponding to the army of Israel encircling the walls of Yericho seven times on the seventh day.
This similarity between the story of Yericho and Simchat Torah can teach us that just as Hashem broke the barrier between the people of Israel and Yericho, so too He will break down the barrier between us and anything stopping us from continuing to read and learn Torah if we follow His command.
Student Studying in yeshivat Lev HaTorah