Before the Hakkafos on Simchas Torah night, the Rebbe would hold a farbrengen in the main synagogue at Lubavitch headquarters in 770.

At such a gathering, the Rebbe would explain the spiritual significance of the holiday. In between thoughts, the chassidim would give expression to their feelings through joyous song.

One year, one of the chassidim felt uniquely inspired. The songs penetrated his heart. As the Rebbe smiled broadly and encouraged the singing by waving his hands, the chassid’s feelings began to mount. Suddenly, he could control himself no longer; he climbed up onto one of the tables and began to dance. It was a natural, spontaneous outpouring of emotion. His body flowed with the song, expressing the inner rhythm all those assembled shared.

The Rebbe looked at him and gave an even broader smile; he swung his hand in a motion not unlike a cheerleader’s motion to charge.

At this point, the chassid’s eye caught the Rebbe’s and he became self-conscious. There he was dancing on a table in front of the Rebbe and the entire chassidic community! Which steps should he use? How should he move his hands?

The Rebbe immediately sensed the change. He looked down and gave a downward motion with his hands. The chassidim understood and they helped their colleague descend from the table.

What had happened? At first, the chassid had been dancing naturally. His happiness had welled up from an inner source. He wasn’t attempting to impress anybody; indeed, he had no thoughts of self whatsoever. Afterwards, he was showing off his happiness. It wasn’t phony, but it wasn’t natural either. There was a dichotomy between his self and his experience.

Our Rabbis say: “On Simchas Torah, the Torah itself wants to dance. It can’t, however, dance by itself, and so a Jew becomes its feet, becoming the medium for the expression of its joy.”

Sukkos and Simchas Torah are known as “The Season of Our Rejoicing.” At this time, true, genuine happiness is overflowing and we can capture it with barrels and buckets. In this way, these holidays serve as the natural conclusion to the sequence begun with the High Holidays. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we tap into the essential bond our souls share with G‑d. On Sukkos and Simchas Torah, the joy this bond generates wells up inside and bursts forth into expression.

Simchas Torah

“Why are you celebrating so powerfully?” the scholar asked the simple man. “It’s Simchas Torah, the day of the Torah’s rejoicing. Since you are not learned, what is your connection to the Torah and why is today a reason for you to rejoice?”

“When your brother married off his daughter did you celebrate?” the simple man asked.

“Of course,” replied the scholar, unsure of the simple man’s intent.

“Well, for that same reason, I am celebrating today,” the simple man responded. “All Jews are brothers. So, if today is a day of celebration for the scholars, it is also a day of celebration for me.”

In truth, the reason for our celebration on Simchas Torah goes deeper than the connection to the Torah forged through study. On Simchas Torah, we celebrate our connection to the essence of the Torah, a level that transcends comprehension entirely. For that reason, the celebrations are held when the Torah is tied closed.

On Simchas Torah, we rejoice because we are Jews. And as Jews we share a connection to the essence of the Torah, a connection that in turn bonds us to the essence of G‑d.

At this level, the scholar and the simple man are equal — for the soul is a part of G‑d Himself, infinite and unbounded as is G‑d. This applies to each of us. Every Jew has a soul which is an essential G‑dly spark, and by virtue of that spark, we share a connection to the essence of the Torah. As the Zohar states: “Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.”

Therefore, the scholar and the simple man celebrate equally, for one is no more Jewish than the other. If anything, the simple man’s celebration is greater, for his intellect does not get in the way of his connection to his Jewish essence.

With the outpouring of joy of Simchas Torah, we chart our path into the new year. Having touched the core of our beings on the High Holidays and celebrated this connection to G‑d on Sukkos and Simchas Torah, we prepare to elevate the realm of our ordinary day-to-day functioning in the year to come.

Looking to the Horizon
Celebrating with Mashiach

After the conclusion of the Simchas Torah celebrations, the prayers say: “I will rejoice and celebrate on Simchas Torah. Tzemach (Mashiach) will certainly come on Simchas Torah.”

On one level, the connection between the two statements can be explained as follows: At a time of great happiness, a Jew takes time out to appreciate that the happiness which he experiences in the present age is merely a glimmer of the ultimate happiness to be experienced at the time of the coming of Mashiach. In that era, mankind will be “crowned with eternal joy,” for all the distressing elements that restrict our happiness at present will dissipate, and all existence will appreciate the G‑dliness present throughout existence.

But there is a deeper message. Happiness is also a catalyst that will actually bring the Redemption. Our Rabbis teach: Simchah, happiness, breaks down barriers. For when a person is happy, he is not restrained by any of his inhibitions, and shows generosity and kindness above the norm.

The same motif applies in the spiritual realms. Our simchah shel mitzvah, the happiness felt in connection with the fulfillment of G‑d’s will, arouses G‑d’s happiness. And this in turn causes Him to overlook any possible shortcomings in man’s Divine service and bring the Redemption immediately.