1. We have discussed the relative superiority of the rejoicing of Sukkos as compared to the joy of the other festivals. In this respect there is an even greater measure of rejoicing during the holiday of Shemini Atzeres which becomes even more intense on Simchas Torah.

While happiness is the underlying theme of all the festivals, it is to the holiday of Sukkos that we attach the appellation, “Season of Our Rejoicing,” whereas Pesach is called, “Season of Our Freedom,” and Shavuos is known by the name, “Season of the Giving of Our Torah.”

In addition to this specific theme of rejoicing on Sukkos, when Shemini Atzeres begins, we consider it a new holiday and we recite the blessing “Shehecheyanu ... who has granted us life.” It is in appreciation of the renewed joy of the new holiday that we actually recite this blessing, (see Shulchan Aruch, Laws of Sukkah ch. 641) which leads us to the logical conclusion that the rejoicing on Shemini Atzeres must be greater than on Sukkos.

We may consequently deduce that when we recite the “Shehecheyanu” on Simchas Torah we are once again acknowledging an increase of joy!

Although the holiday of Simchas Torah would normally be considered as the “Second day of the Diaspora,” which was originally instituted by the sages because of the doubt of the correct date, nevertheless, in modern times when all dates are calculated according to the fixed calendar, it has come into its own. Thus, the second day of the holiday has been accepted as a custom which was established and not rescinded; in fact, in the diaspora we observe several customs on Simchas Torah which are not carried over from Shemini Atzeres.

A proper Jewish custom takes on the validity of Torah. Thus the Shehecheyanu on Simchas Torah is said in appreciation of the additional practices of Simchas Torah and for the increase of rejoicing, relative to the joy of the previous holidays.

The attribute of happiness exists at all times of the year and in various different degrees and ever-ascending levels:

(A) The joy of creation.

The Talmud relates:

All creatures of creation were brought into being in their full knowledge. (Rosh Hashanah 11a)

Rashi explains:

They were asked whether they wanted to be created and they said: “Yes.” (Rashi, loc. cit.)

Thus, there is an essential gladness in being created. This, of course, takes on a double gladness; that of Creator:

May the L‑rd find delight in His works. (Tehillim 104:24) As a gratification of spirit before Me — that I commanded [the creation] and My will was carried out. (Rashi, Shmos 29:18)

And that of created (Man):

The Jews should rejoice in their Maker. (Tehillim 149:2)

(B) The joy of fulfilling the mitzvos.

Observance of mitzvos must include joy, as the Rambam rules:

Rejoicing in the fulfillment of a commandment and in love for G‑d who had prescribed the commandment is a supreme act of Divine worship ... as it is said: “Because you did not serve the L‑rd your G‑d with joyfulness and with gladness of heart.” (Devarim 28:47) ... “King David leaping and dancing before the L‑rd” (Shmuel II, 6:16). (Laws of Palm Branch 8:15)

In this celebration of religious duty there are also the two aspects mentioned above: The Holy One, Blessed be He, is happy that we fulfill His command, and we rejoice in that we have brought satisfaction to G‑d. Thus, all through the year, in every mitzvah we do, there is an increased awareness of joy.

(C) The uniqueecstasy of observing mitzvos whose essentialtheme is rejoicing.

If every mitzvah includes delight, how much more joy will we experience in doing those activities which are inherently acts of rejoicing!

When the Torah commands us: “Rejoice in your festivals,” and when Sukkos is referred to as the “Season of Our Rejoicing,” we can understand how intense and great the joy of Shemini Atzeres, and subsequently Simchas Torah must be; the summumbonum of joyfulness.

There is an additional facet and implied emphasis which applies to the joy of mitzvos and especially the special mitzvos of rejoicing.

When the Rambam describes the aspect of cheerfulness in religious duty he refers to it as a “supreme act of Divine worship” — “Avodah Gedolah.”

Tanya discusses the category of “One who is serving G‑d (Oved Hashem)” and explains:

This will explain the statement in the Gemara that “One who is serving G‑d” refers to him who reviews his lessons 101 times ... because that exceeded their customary practice. (Tanya ch. 15)

In other words, Chassidus teaches us that the concept of true Divine Service involves modifying and exceeding one’s customary practice. Only then can he be called “One who is serving G‑d.”

The need to exceed is necessary whether the person is on an elementary level of Divine Service, or a very lofty level. In all situations the real attribute of delight one must strive for is a supreme act of Divine worship, “Avodah Gedolah” and must be worked at — constantly exceeding one’s own achievements — continuously rising above the previous level of attained joy, which in the meanwhile had become the customary practice.

This thought is similarly symbolized by the closing verses of the Torah reading of Simchas Torah, when we read the portion Berachah in its entirety and thereby concludes Devarim and the entire Torah. The concluding verses relate:

For all the signs and miracles that G‑d sent him to display in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his land, or any of the mighty acts of great signs that Moshe did before the eyes of all Israel. (Devarim 34:11-12)

In these words we can find reference to the joy of mitzvos as well as the supreme Avodah Gedolah.”

What does the Torah really mean when it says “signs and miracles”? Miraculous events are the manifestation and revelation of the spirit of G‑d. Which miracle was paramount in the land of Egypt? The splitting of the Red Sea. In what way was this manifest — by the great revelation of G‑dliness which affected every single Jew, so that everyone said: “This is my G‑d” — and as Rashi comments:

They pointed to Him — as it were — with the finger exclaiming, “This is my G‑d.” A maidservant beheld at the Red Sea what even the prophets never saw. (Rashi, Shmos 15:2)

The result of this revelation was exuberance:

Then Moshe and the children of Israel sang ... and all the women followed ... with drums and dancing (Shmos 15:1-20)

To which the Gemara adds:

Even children [yet unborn] in their mothers’ womb chanted a song by the Red Sea. (Berachos 50a)

This indicates how far the G‑dly revelation reached and how intense it was and how clearly perceivable it became, that even the unborn child saw and comprehended, and therefore sang praise for the great miracle.

When on Simchas Torah we read the concluding verse of Berachah: “For all the signs and miracles ... before the eyes of all Israel,” clearly we are speaking of a G‑dly revelation to all Israel in a manner which brings rejoicing to the point of song like the “Song of the Sea.”

There is an important point which comes to the fore here. Revealed G‑dliness — the signs and miracles — apply to all Jews — everyone can and does see aspects of revealed spirituality.

The product of this revelation must be joy, just as the Song of the Sea was the result of the miracles of the splitting of the sea. The Song of the Sea begins with “az — then” which refers to the continuity into the future — that there must be continuous happiness and singing.

It should also be noted that if someone does not sing a song of praise when it is necessary to do so, it can have very serious consequences. As the Gemara relates regarding King Chezkiah — that because he did not sing the praise of G‑d for the great miracles that G‑d performed, he was not chosen to be Mashiach, and we are still in the galus.

We can now discern a common theme between the last verses of the Torah:

All the signs and miracles ... and of the mighty acts ... (Yad hachazakah) before the eyes of all Israel.

and the words of Rambam:

Rejoicing in the fulfillment of a commandment ... is a supreme act of Divine worship (Avodah Gedolah).

Just as the theme of the “signs and miracles” is G‑dly revelation, so, too, is the theme of “the fulfillment of a commandment,” a form of spiritual revelation — both increase the manifestation of the immanence of G‑dliness in the world.

And just as the song of the sea is a manifestation of the feeling of joy and exhilaration when the G‑dliness was revealed through a miracle, so too, the joy of the mitzvah is felt when G‑dliness becomes manifest through observance of mitzvos.

This brings us to the introduction of the “Yad Hachazakah” factor. When the Torah indicates “and of the mighty acts (Yad hachazakah — lit. hand)” it is hinting that we cannot be complacent with the normal joy of a mitzvah, but rather we must strive for the “mighty hand” — the Avodah Gedolah. Our ability to effect this greater accomplishment evolves from the fact that Torah (in this case the Rambam’s ruling of Avodah Gedolah) — demands it of us, as it says in the verse, “the mighty acts.”

These points come together on Simchas Torah when we read the entire Berachah and when the Rambam’s rule comes into effect, for it is in the last halachah of Laws of Palm Branch — clearly relating to Simchas Torah.

In practical terms, our joy on this Simchas Torah must transcend all limitations and “customary practice” to the point of “Avodah Gedolah.” It must penetrate the entire being: the song on your lips, the joy in your heart and the dance which animates your feet, in every aspect “to do it.” And it must become your joy and the song of praise must be yours.

Simplyanddirectly: clap your hands, let your feet dance, gyrate, shake your head; you must use the extreme totality of all your strength. You have the ability, and it is “close to you” to do it.

The deed is of the essence, therefore: enough discussion — and on to the rejoicing — good resolutions will not suffice — tomorrow’s rejoicing will not exempt you from tonight’s. It cannot be put off for tomorrow, or for a few hours, not even for several minutes, but it must come instantaneously, no sooner said than done — real actual joy; clapping and dancing with extreme strength.

[With these words the Rebbe suddenly rose and began to sing the Hakkafos song of his father and danced in his place with great and intense joy.]

2. We are now entering into the evening of Simchas Torah which brings to mind a unique aspect of the Maariv service of this night.

During the Mussaf of Shemini Atzeres we began reciting the formula (Mashiv Haruach):

He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall. (Siddur)

The second time we said “Mashiv Haruach” was in Minchah of Shemini Atzeres, and in the Amidah of Maariv tonight we recite Mashiv Haruach for the third time. Thus, it is on Simchas Torah that the prayer for rain reaches the state of “chazakah,” it “takes hold” and attains the “strength of presumption.”

There is an important connection between this and the matter of the revelation of Mashiach. Normally, we understand that the context of the prayer deals with the blessing of abundant rain and the resultant physical blessings of G‑d for bounty and prosperity. It is because we understand the need for rain that we ask G‑d for His blessings and our prayers are answered with beneficial rains.

So, when we recite, “He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall,” for the third time tonight we establish the chazakah connected with the acceptance of G‑d’s benevolence in matters of abundant sustenance, as well as the blessing in all our material needs, children and life-health, all with abundance.

There is however, another, esoteric explanation of this prayer which deals with the subject of redemption. When the Torah told us: “G‑d’s spirit moved on the waters surface,” (Bereishis 1:2) the Midrash commented: “This is the spirit of the King Mashiach.” (Bereishis Rabbah 2:4)

In this context the sentence “Mashiv Haruach” reads thusly: “He makes the spirit of Mashiach come down into the physical (geshem)”: a soul clothed in a body in the material world. It follows that on this night of Simchas Torah we establish the chazakah — the presumption — for the spirit of Mashiach to descend into the corporeal world.

The custom of Hakkafos (dancing with the scrolls of the Torah) similarly points up the theme of establishing a chazakah of bringing the spiritual into the physical world — the revelation of the spirit of Torah into the corporeal existence.

In the first place the Torah has progressively descended ... until it clothed itself in corporeal substances and in things of this world ... in the combinations of material letters, written with ink in a book. (Tanya ch. 4)

This function of Torah is much more emphatically revealed when one holds a closed Torah scroll wrapped in its mantle — in a way that it cannot be studied. Instead — it is embraced while dancing. Then we see the impact of Torah not only in the intellectual realm but also in the very down-to-earth reality of the physical realm — dancing.

Our custom is to celebrate Hakkafos three times, which again introduces the framework of chazakah. The 17 verses which are recited prior to the Hakkafos serve as an intellectual preface, in that they describe the concept of G‑dliness descending into physical form and phenomena, and becoming immanent in the mundane. This introduces the idea that Torah, too, descended from its supernal level of G‑d’s wisdom and became clothed in the physical words and then in the dancing of Simchas Torah, in an inner and essential way.

Let us analyze the first three verses of this series starting with: “You have been shown....” The Alter Rebbe explained this verse in the following manner:

You, the essential Ein Sof (Infinite), Blessed be He, You have shown Yourself, so that we should know You.

The verse concludes: “There is none else aside from Him.”

Chassidus explains the distinction between the two phrases: “There is none else aside from Him” and, “There is none else.” The latter conveys the idea that there is no external existence at all, while the former connotes that with G‑d’s power reality does in fact exist. The intrinsic power of the essence of the Creator does give life to the corporeal world and therefore the essence of existence is not independent but rather a manifestation of the creative spiritual life force. And since there is a genuine reality of existence the verse can begin by stating, “You (the created one) have been shown.”

The next verse states:

[Give thanks] to Him who alone performs great wonders, for His kindness is eternal.

Miracles can be viewed as wonders only when there is a fixed natural law or rule, which the miracle disregards or supersedes.

Now, in the supernal realm of G‑dliness as it stands essentially aloof, above and transcendental, there is no meaning to the word miracles — there is no set rule or nature to supersede. In the verse, “You have been shown,” we spoke of a level on which the spirituality is visible and consciously present and all existence knew the creative power of the Creator. This verse, “To Him alone,” speaks of a condition of existence where the Vivifier is not apparent and therefore there is a system of natural laws and limits. Even here, He, “performs great wonders.”

Why? Because the source is still the essence of G‑dliness which continues to vivify and sustain it and transmits the power to transcend the limitation and perceive a miracle. And in truth, the real perception of the miracle is also only in the supernal spheres.

Hence the verse, “You have been shown,” refers to the creation as it stands in the essence of the Creator — while the verse, “To Him who alone performs,” refers to the power of the Creator as it radiates into Creation.

The third verse goes on to say:

There is none like You among the supernal beings, O my L‑rd, nor any deeds like Yours.

Here we refer to the devolution of the G‑dly creative force to a still lower level.

The terms used in this verse, “Elokim” and “Adnai” — L‑rd and Master, indicate G‑dliness as it is clothed in the mundane world; and this verse indicates that even then: “There is none like You.”

The previous verses spoke of the creative force as it prominently manifested itself, and as it pervaded the physical but raised the matter to miraculous levels. Here the verse speaks of the spiritual as it permeates the physical and descends to the level of nature and normalcy. Yet, wemustsee that they are invigorated by the spiritual.

The verses continue, and the 17th verse reads:

For from Tzion shall go forth the Torah and the word of the L‑rd from Yerushalayim,

which will be at the time of the complete and ultimate redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

May it be in a manner of Uforatzta — speedily and truly in our time. And with happiness and gladness of heart.

3. On Simchas Torah we observe several customs which are different from usual practice.

Normally a Jew’s Divine service expresses itself in the effort to fillempty vessels. We imbue the physical world with the light of Torah and mitzvos.

However, the opposite rule applies on Simchas Torah — today we empty full vessels. My reference (the Rebbe smiled) is to the bottles of wine that are still full — they must be emptied of their contents — by the drinking of LeChaim.

[The Rebbe drank the contents of his Kiddush cup and displayed it to the crowd in a turned-over position. In response to his request the assembled Chassidim proceeded to say LeChaim and after a few moments when it was apparent that the Rebbe once again wanted to speak the crown began to say: “Shh, quiet”! “Shh, quiet!” The Rebbe said:

When I was a small boy in Cheder and they wanted to explain what a King was, there was a little story they told: When the father lies down to sleep the mother and the children say, “Shh, be still, father is sleeping.” When a minister goes to sleep the servants walk around saying, “Be quiet the minister is sleeping.” Now imagine when the king takes a nap — all the people up the land run around screaming, “Shh, be still, the king is sleeping!” The moral of the story is clear — when we want quiet — the way to get quiet is for everyone to settle into his place quietly!]

The Rebbe then continued:

This practice of overturning the cups has its source in Torah. “Goblets” were engraved on the Menorah, as the Rambam rules:

The cups were shaped like Alexandrian cups, whose mouths are wide and whose bases are narrow. (Laws of the Temple 3:9)

And when the Rambam drew his sketch of the Menorah he pointed the mouth downward — upside down cups. Why?

The light of the Menorah was not needed for physical illumination — it was rather as a witness to the world of G‑d’s presence.

Similarly the windows of the Bais HaMikdash were shaped in such a way that the light radiated outward, and notinward, in order to illuminate the world.

For this reason the cups on the Menorah were overturned — they represented the benevolence from above as it is generated and radiated downwards to the world.

So when the Previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation, taught us to be “illuminating lights” he meant that we must giveall for our mission, not to think of one’s own needs — but to generate every ray of light to the distant places.

This approach will merit us the fulfillment of the promise: “The L‑rd shall be to you an everlasting light,” with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

[The Rebbe Shlita placed the goblet on the table in an overturned position.]