September 30th 2023

15th of Tishri 5784

The Essence of our Joy on Simchat Torah

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

Simchat Torah is called Chag Ha’atzeret, as we are told (Bamidbar 29:35), “The eighth day shall be a restriction (atzeret) for you.” It is a time when every person feels great joy, for we have been told to linger one more day with Hashem. As Chazal tell us, “Remain behind with Me for one more day, it is hard for Me to take leave of you.” If so, Hashem certainly showers a person on this day with abundant blessings which will assist him in his battle against the powers of the evil inclination, for the evil inclination feeds off the holiness of Bnei Yisrael and wants to ensnare them in his net, but Hashem helps us overcome him.

In addition to this, at times of joy a person connects to Hashem, as it says (Devarim 16:15), “You will be completely happy.” “Ach” (completely) has the same numerical value as one of the names of Hashem - אהיה ” “. As if to say, his joy is a rejoicing with Hashem. The outcome will be that despite all the chagim that have passed, a person will not tire from serving Hashem, but on the contrary, specifically on the last day he increases his joy and forgets all his problems and challenges, since he feels he is standing before Hashem, and he dances before Hashem with great humility.

A person must know that to prepare properly for Simchat Torah, that the focus of all his happiness should be Hashem alone, he must exert himself and try and become a new person already from Hoshana Rabba night. The word “Rabba” ) רבא ( is made up of the same letters as “create” ) ברא (. How is it possible to achieve this level? By connecting to David HaMelech a”h, the Ushpizin of Hoshana Rabba.

David HaMelech testified about himself (Tehillim 119:97), “Oh how I love Your Torah! All day long it is my conversation.” And he also said (ibid. 119:59), “I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies.” David HaMelech is telling Bnei Yisrael: I examined all the approaches that don’t include Torah and mitzvoth, to see if they give any kind of pleasure, or perhaps they have a way to prevent a person from sinning, and I saw that all the nations are mistaken with their way, for they do not have the Torah. The only way is “to Your testimonies” and “How I love Your Torah.”

And indeed, David HaMelech, with his love for Torah, was an example to all Bnei Yisrael. For example, when he danced with all his strength in front of the Aron Hashem, and didn’t pay attention to the scorn of his wife, Michal, as it says (Shmuel II, 6:16), “And it happened as the Ark of Hashem arrived at the City of David, that Michal daughter of Saul peered out the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before Hashem, and she became contemptuous of him in her heart.” David HaMelech also honored Torah Scholars and studied Torah with great humility (Mo’ed Katan 16:2). His sole desire was to become absorbed in Torah.

Therefore when a person learns Torah on Hoshana Rabba night, which is compared to Yom Kippur, and says chapters of Tehillim which David HaMelech wrote, he is cleansed from his sins. As Chazal say (Berachot 5:1), “One who occupies himself with Torah and kindness, is forgiven for all his sins.” In Mishlei too (16:6), it is written, “Through kindness and truth iniquity will be forgiven.” Hashem will definitely help him become a completely new person, as it says, “One who wishes to be purified receives assistance.” This is the idea of Hoshana Rabba, a person becomes a new creation, as in .רבא ברא

Following this holy day, on Simchat Torah he merits standing in proximity to our Creator with great joy. Then, at this auspicious time, Hashem inspires him with the power of David Hamelech, our holy forefathers and Moshe Rabbeinu (the Torah ends with his passing) and he becomes a new creation for whom it would be worth creating the whole world, and then a person enjoys all the abundance that Hashem showers on him. This is the reason why we read of Moshe Rabbeinu’s passing on Simchat Torah; to remind each person that Torah is only acquired by one who kills himself for it (Berachot 63:2), just like Moshe Rabbeinu who, throughout his life, sacrificed himself for Torah until his last day, and therefore the Torah is called by his name.

One who joyously devotes his entire being to Torah study experiences the greatness happiness. Therefore on Simchas Torah a person should make sure to joyously give his all for Torah, just like Moshe Rabbeinu. It is brought in the sefer Beis Ahron that on Shemini Atzeret Hashem takes hold of all the good influences to prevent them from going back up to heaven, so they should stay down below to shower blessings on the Bnei Yisrael. This is the true joy of Simchat Torah.


Based on the teachings of Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

The Most Suitable Time to be Joyous with the Torah

I thought of a wonderful reason why Chazal established that we finish reading all the Fives Books of the Torah on Shemini Atzeret, the end of the Chagim and Holy Days.

It is known that the number seven symbolizes nature, and eight symbolizes a dimension beyond nature. All physical things are seven: seven stars, seven middot, seven days of the week.

Since the number eight is above nature, the Chag of Shemini Atzeret, which is the eighth day of Chag HaSukkot, hints to what existed before the world was created — there was only Hashem and Torah. Therefore Shemini Atzeret is a most fitting time to be joyous with the Torah.

One can also say a different reason, as drush. There is a well-known Rashi (Midrash Agadah), that on each day of the Chag the Bnei Yisrael sacrificed seventy cows, symbolizing the seventy nations. And when it came time for the Bnei Yisrael to leave, Hashem said to them: “Please, make for Me a small se’udah. Linger with me a little longer.” This is an expression of love, comparable to sons who are about to take leave of their father and he tells them, “It is hard for me that you are about to depart. Stay with me one more day.”

One can say that just like Hashem longs for our presence, each person, too, should feel that he longs for the days of the Chag that have passed, and it should be hard for him to take leave of them and their holiness and the avodat Hashem he achieved during this time. One who feels this longing will merit that the holiness of the Chag and the closeness he feels to Hashem will stay with him throughout the year.

It is impossible for a person to feel this yearning unless he learns Torah. Through devoting himself to Torah he longs for avodat Hashem and devotion to Him. This idea explains why Chazal established the last day of the Chag as the day when we complete the Torah and make a great celebration. Through celebrating we will feel love and devotion for the Torah, and thereby we will carry forth the holiness of the Chag and the uplifting feelings which surrounded us during these holy days, into the rest of the days of the year.


Helping Out

One Friday, Mrs. Chana Lankry was walking home from the marketplace, carrying heavy baskets laden with food for the holy Shabbat. Her steps were measured and slow, since at that time she was expecting a child, and the added load weighed her down considerably.

Just then, Rabbi Chaim Hakatan passed by and noticed Mrs. Lankry straining under her burden. He hurried over to her and said, “With your permission, we will carry the baskets to your house.”

The tzaddik took one basket and handed the other one to his attendant. Mrs. Lankry was very touched by the sensitivity of the tzaddik, and she burst into tears, saying, “I must beg forgiveness from your honor. I am but dust and ashes beside you. I cannot permit your honor to carry my baskets as a common porter.”

“Madame,” the tzaddik addressed her and declared with delight, “You are the one who is actually doing us a favor. You are giving us the privilege of fulfilling the important mitzvah of ‘You shall help repeatedly with him.’ Our reward is reserved for us in the World to Come, and we are grateful to you for granting us the opportunity to fulfill this exceptional mitzvah.”

Upon arriving at Mrs. Lankry’s house, Rabbi Chaim took out a substantial sum of money from his pocket and handed it to her to cover the expenses of new clothing and provisions required for the baby’s imminent birth.


Even his Father or Teacher

There is no difference in the prohibition of rechilus, if he told over something on his own accord, or whether his friend who partially understood the story pressed him to tell exactly what ploni said about him. Even if his father or teacher pressures him to reveal what ploni said about him, and even if it is only avak rechilut, nevertheless it is forbidden.


The Rav of Chevron, the holy Rabbi Eliyahu Manni zt”l, tells over a story in his sefer Siach Yitzchak: There was a chassid who used to kiss the Sefer Torah on Simchat Torah, while crying and pleading. They asked him if he could explain the reason for his tears.

He answered them: “On Simchat Torah I beg the Torah to be appeased for any bitul Torah or disrespect, and I accept upon myself from now on to observe all its commandments!”

If the Sefer Torah passes in front of the congregation and a person is not moved to regret and repent for transgressing mitzvot or for wasting time that could have been spent learning, and he does not plead to Hashem to forgive him for all his sins — but on the contrary, he continues on the wrong path — he is included in “The brazen goes to Gehinom” and deserves a great punishment.

It can be compared to a king whose servants insulted him. One day the king passed by but they were not moved and did not even consider using the chance to ask for forgiveness. They are now even more deserving of a punishment. So too, if a Sefer Torah passes a person and his heart is not moved to repent for insulting the Torah, common sense tells us that he deserves to be punished greatly, rachmana litzlan!

The Tzaddik R’ Meir of Parmishlan used to say that at the time of the hakafot a person can tear up his decree. It is interesting that something similar is written in the prayer said at the beginning of the hakafot, composed by the Chida. He writes that the hakafot have the power to bring down all partitions of iron which create a barrier between us and Hashem.

The great Chassidic masters were of the opinion that everything a person achieves on Rosh Hashana through crying and a broken heart, one can achieve on Simchat Torah through one thing — joy and dancing. In addition, they say that the minutes of Simchat Torah are extremely precious; buckets and barrels of material and spiritual treasures can be drawn from each minute, and all this can be achieved through joyful dancing.


Tidbits of faith and trust penned by Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

With Bonds of Love

More than ten years ago when I came to New York for the first time, I thought to myself that even though I am used to influencing people and helping them return to Hashem, nevertheless I can feel in my heart that New York is different. People won’t be interested in listening to me; I doubt whether I will be able to approach someone and ask him, “Did you put on tefillin today? Do you keep Shabbat?” If he tells me no, will he then listen to me and put on tefillin and keep Shabbat?

Nevertheless, I didn’t despair and travelled to New York.

During my trip, Mr. Diamond approached me and related that he had suffered a serious eye disease which had no known cure. It had left him blind in both eyes.

“Do you lay tefillin daily?” I asked. He replied in the negative. I then quoted to him the pesukim which discuss tzitzit and tefillin (Bamidbar 15:37–39), “Hashem said to Moshe, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzit on the corners of their garments, for all their generations.

And they shall place upon the tzitzit of each corner a thread of turquoise wool. It shall will be tzitzit for you, that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and do them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray.” I also quoted the pasuk (Devarim 6:8), “Bind them as a sign upon your arm and they shall be ornaments between your eyes.”

I explained that Hashem gave us the mitzvot of tzitzit and tefillin which have the ability to protect a person from all harm. But to my dismay, he burst out in laughter.

“Honored Rav, I was born in Israel, but moved to America, the land of plenty. Thank G-d, I do not lack for anything. The only thing that bothers me is this eye disease.

What’s the connection between tefillin and my vision?

Is wearing tefillin some kind of voodoo, which will suddenly open my eyes?!”

But I would not be deterred. “Imagine if a top specialist were to prescribe some sort of concoction of various herbs and tell you to put it between your eyes every morning. Would you obey him? Of course you would. If you would unquestioningly accept the advice of a mere human doctor, listen to me, your spiritual healer and do exactly as I instruct!

“The Torah is the potion of life, with the potential to heal anyone from any ailment. The Ben Ish Chai writes that tefillin have the ability to help a person believe in Hashem. They act as buffers between a person’s eyes and heart and the temptations of this world. If they provide spiritual remedy, they surely provide physical remedy, as well, and will be the catalyst for your complete recovery!”

Mr. Diamond followed my instructions. He purchased a pair of tefillin and wore them daily.

Sometime later when his eyesight returned, Mr. Diamond came to see me and with great emotion started telling me of his wonderful experience: “Rebbi, when I laid tefillin for the first time, I felt something I had never felt in my life. At that moment I decided that my intention is solely to give nachat to Hashem and fulfill the mitzva, and I didn’t do it with the intention that it should take away my blindness.

I told him that in the merit of his complete faith, Hashem restored his eyesight. There is even a hint to this in the pasuk (Devarim 6:8), “Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be ornaments between your eyes.

I am certain this person was able to achieve this level of faith due to the power Hashem embedded in him before he was born, when He created him; the potential bore fruit and brought him to repent.


David HaMelech tells us in Tehillim, “By David; Hashem is my light and my salvation,” and Chazal explain that “ori” (my light) refers to Rosh Hashana and “yishi” (my salvation) refers to Yom Kippur.

The truth is that the work of the Holy Days does not finish with Yom Kippur, but “He will hide me in His shelter on the day of evil” — this refers to Chag HaSukkot, which is a natural continuation of the Holy Days and cannot be separated from them. The atmosphere and holiness carry on in an even stronger way, surrounding and accompanying us further.

Furthermore, Maran Rabbi Shach zt”l would say that Sukkot is not just a continuation of the Holy Days, but is a new peak in our closeness to the Creator, and this peak comes to a climax on Simchat Torah.

During the selichot in Elul, we open the Aron Hakodesh once a day when we recite the first few verses of “Shema kolenu.”

On Rosh Hashanah we open and close it many times throughout the tefillot.

During the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, the Aron Hakodesh is opened three times each day: when we recite “Shema koleinu” and when we say “Avinu Malkeinu” in Shacharit and Mincha, but we do not take out a Sefer Torah. Throughout Yom Kippur we open and close the Aron Hakodesh many times, and during the final Neilah prayer it remains open the whole time.

And then comes the festival of Sukkot. Again the Aron Hakodesh is opened, but this time the closeness has intensified to such a degree that we take out a Sefer Torah, place it on the bimah and circle it holding our lulavim. On Hoshana Rabbah we take out all the Sifrei Torah and circle the bimah seven times with our lulavim.

The climax of these fifty-one days is on Simchat Torah, then we open the Aron Hakodesh and take out all the Sifrei Torah, but we don’t put them down! We hold them in our hands, embrace them close to our hearts, and say to Hashem, “Master of the World, we, the Torah and Hashem are one, we are not taking leave, we will remain forever connected!”


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