Simchat Torah Customs 

  •   Hoshana Raba 

    Late Night On the night of Hoshana Raba (Tuesday, October 10) many have the custom of staying up to recite the entire books of Devarim and Tehillim (Psalms). 

    Hosha'anot Though Hoshana Raba (Wednesday, October 11) is part of the intermediate days of the holiday, it takes on a holiday spirit of its own. At Shacharit, the Bima is circled with the lulav seven times and many extra Hosha'anot prayers are said. A separate set of willows, called Hosha'anot, are used. 

    Kreplach It is customary to eat Kreplach on Hoshana Raba and to dip the challah in honey. 
  •  Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah

    Eruv Tavshillin We must make an Eruv Tavshillin on Hoshan Rabbah, Wednesday afternoon, 10/11. This allows us to make all necessary preparations on Simchat Torah, Friday, 10/13 for Shabbat which follows immediately afterwards. However, unlike a regular Friday afternoon, it is important to make sure that all foods prepared for Shabbat be totally cooked and edible well before Shabbat begins.  

    The Eruv consists of a challah or a matzah, and a cooked food, such as meat, fish, or an unpeeled hard-boiled egg. For details of the procedure and the appropriate Brachah that should be made, consult the siddur (Tehillat Hashem page 327) or see here

    Hakafot It is a well-established custom to make Hakafot and dance with the Torah on the night of Shemini Atzeret in addition to Simchat Torah. This unites Jews outside of Israel with those in the Holy Land where Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shemini Atzeret. 

    Simcha The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, writes that whatever we accomplish during the 48 hours of Rosh Hashana through prayer and introspection can be achieved during the 48 hours of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah through boundless joy and Simcha. 

    Sukkah The Chabad custom is to eat all Shemini Atzeret meals in the sukkah. The blessing of Leishev BaSukkah is not recited. 

    Rain On Shemini Atzeret (Thursday, October 12 the prayer for rain is recited. From that point on, beginning with the Mussaf prayer and continuing all winter long, we mention mashiv haruach umorid hageshem ("who makes the wind blow and brings down the rain") in the Amida prayers. 

    Second Day Preperations Preparations for the second day of Yom Tov, Thursday night, October 12, should not be done until after nightfall, 7:00 PM. Preparations include cooking, setting the table and lighting candles (from a pre-existing flame).