Simchat Torah Laws & Customs -
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Simchat Torah Laws & Customs


Hosha'anot Though Hoshana Raba (Sunday, October 16) 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. 



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 (Monday, October 17) 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 Preparations- Preparations for the second day of Yom Tov, Monday night, October 17, should not be done until after nightfall, 6:53 PM. Preparations include cooking, setting the table and lighting candles (from a pre-existing flame).





Tzedaka- It is customary to give extra charity on Sukkot Eve (10/9).

Lulav Binding- The Lulav is bound to its Aravot (willows) and Hadasim (myrtle branches) before the onset of the holiday. The Chabad custom is to bind the Lulav on Sukkot Eve in the Sukkah.

Italian Etrog - For both Halachic and mystical reasons, it is the Chabad custom to use an Etrog grown in Calabria, Italy.

Honey - The Challah is dipped in honey at all the Sukkot meals.

Joy - There is a specific commandment to be joyous on Sukkot. Extra efforts are taken to participate in activities that bring joy to all family members. Torah law encourages parents to purchase gifts for their children and husbands to present their wives with jewelry. In this spirit, one makes an extra effort to drink wine on each day of the holiday including the intermediate days.

The Sukkah Experience-

  • One should eat all meals in the Sukkah. One is obligated to eat bread and cake in the Sukkah, and the blessing Leishev BeSukkah is recited. Ideally, one should eat and drink exclusively in the Sukkah.
  • If possible, it is preferable to light Yom Tov and Shabbat candles in the Sukkah.
  • There is an additional obligation to eat in the Sukkah on the first night of the holiday, Sunday, October 9. If it rains, one should wait until it stops and then enter the Sukkah for Kiddush.
  • It is a widespread custom to eat in the Sukkah even when it is raining. The blessing of Leishev BeSukkah is still recited.

Lulav and Etrog-

  •  The Lulav and Etrog are not used on Shabbat.

  • In the spirit of Zerizim Makdimin LeMitzvot (the assiduous rush to fulfill Mitzvot), most people shake Lulav before beginning the morning service. However, one should be careful that the Mitzvah is performed after sunrise, on 10/10 after 7:02 AM through 10/16 after 7:08 AM.  

  • A right-handed person holds the Lulav in the right hand and the Etrog in the left hand.  

  • A left-handed person holds the Lulav in his left hand and the Etrog in the right hand.  

  • When shaking the Lulav, one faces east. After reciting the blessing, wave or gently shake the Four Kinds in all six directions. It is important to shake the Lulav in a gentle fashion to ensure that the middle leaf of the Lulav remains intact. A split middle leaf may invalidate a Lulav.  

  • Men and women recite the blessing and shake Lulav each day of Sukkot aside for Shabbat.   

Preparations for the Second Day of Yom Tov- Preparations for the second day of Yom Tov, Monday evening, October 10, should not be done until after nightfall, 7:04 PM. Preparations include cooking, setting the table and lighting candles (from a pre-existing flame). 



Late Night- On the night of Hoshana Raba (Motzaei Shabbat, October 15) many have the custom of staying up to recite the entire books of Devarim and Tehillim (Psalms).