1. The fundamental concept of the Hakkafos of Simchas Torah is action — in the form of dancing — as opposed to intellectual study. This is expressed in the manner in which the actual dancing is performed, with the Torah covered, ruling out the opportunity to read from and study the Torah. [Similarly, with this in mind, the Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur, that even after celebrating the Hakkafos in one’s own Shul, if one enters another Shul one should participate (and increase) in the rejoicing and dancing with the Torah].

This concept can be further comprehended through a Passuk in “Ato Horaisa” (which we recite before the Hakkafos): “There is none like you among the supernal beings, O my L‑rd, nor any deeds like Yours.” G‑d’s deeds mentioned in the Passuk (verse) refer to the sustenance which the worlds receive directly from Hashem, as opposed to that which we obtain through intermediaries. The Passuk is teaching us that the direct actions of Hashem Himself are totally removed from those performed through other means. This is related to the ultimate purpose of the creation of the Worlds; that G‑d designed a dwelling place for Himself in the lowest world — Asiyah (the world of action) ; and in this world of Asiyah — in the realm of action (as opposed to thought etc. which is a higher level in the world of Asiyah). The Alter Rebbe explains that the formation of this-world (Asiyah) could only be attained through the powers of the Essence of G‑d, for it is a creation of “Something from Nothing.” (ex nihilo) Nothing less than this specific revelation of G‑d could achieve it, similar to the way the redemption from Egypt was performed by “Myself1 — and none other,” for an angel would have been devoured by the intense impurity prevalent in Egypt.

The connection between the actions of G‑d (in the creation of the world) and the Essence of G‑d is accomplished through the Torah and the Jewish people. The Torah preceded the world by 2,000 years and (as the Midrash informs us) it served as the intermediary through which G‑d created his world. (Similarly), Yet a higher intermediary (than Torah) the Rabbis taught that G‑d consulted the souls of the Tzaddikim2 before deciding to create and acted on their advice.

2. Rosh Hashanah, the first of the festivals of the dominant month of Tishrei, illustrates the authority the dews have in that G‑d asks them to proclaim his Kingship over the entire creation. We are able to do this because we, His people, are a portion of G‑d Himself. This, however, is related to the Soul of a Jew. In contrast, Simchas Torah, the conclusion of the holidays of Tishrei, emphasizes the unique relationship we have with G‑d based on our actions. For, as mentioned earlier, on Simchas Torah, we dance with our feet (action). This is illustrated in a well-known narrative from the Previous Rebbe. On the morning after Simchas Torah, the angels found worn-out heels (of shoes) in the Garden of Eden. In answer to their inquiry as to what they were, they were informed that these heels were torn during the dancing of Simchas Torah.3

Thus, the connection between the Passuk, “There is none like You... Your Deeds,” and Simchas Torah is explained, for Simchas Torah stresses the unification of Jews with G‑d, through action. This theme is continued throughout the 17 posukim of the Ato Horaisa (recited before the Hakkafos) prayer, reaching a climax in the last verse, “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L‑rd from Jerusalem.” The Torah extends from Zion4 and Jerusalem, (not only as Zion is explained in Chassidus but a Zion) which is a city of bricks and mortar. (i.e. the terms city bricks and mortar show on the idea of action, in contrast to a spiritual Zion). The Torah does not remain on Mt. Sinai from which Moshe received it, but it is brought down to the Chamber of Hewnstone (Lishkas Hagazis) in Jerusalem, where the Sanhedrin, (the Supreme Court), presided. It was given from Heaven, but once it was revealed in our world — Asiyah, the world of action — here is its proper place.5 The Midrash relates that G‑d says to the Ministering Angels, “Come, let us descend to hear the Halachic decision of the Beth Din” — in reference to the determination of the date of Rosh Hashanah etc. The reason for this, explains the Alter Rebbe in ‘Iggeres Hakodesh’ is that since the solution of any doubts in Torah law can only be resolved in this world, the Higher Beings have to resort to lowering themselves to discover the answers.

3. This provides us with a unique lesson in our service of G‑d. For after we leave Simchas Torah and the month of Tishrei with all its festivals and added inspirations, we are faced with an inferior world, lower than which cannot be conceived, accompanied by its trials and temptations. We have, however, the belief and knowledge that Jews are totally united with G‑d, a belief which we can take from Simchas Torah and apply throughout the year in our fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. We should be affected to the extent that every action is for the purpose of serving G‑d and wherever we go we discern Divine Providence. In every aspect of life it has to be apparent that Jews are united with the essence of G‑d, and Torah is the judge in even all one’s mundane actions.

Even in circumstances when the Shulchan Aruch determines the consultation of a doctor or military experts, etc, one is not merely following the dictates of a professional, rather the doctor’s or soldier’s opinion becomes the opinion of Torah and we follow their advice because that is the command of the Torah.6 There is an analogy from the mitzvah of Tefillin. In order to fulfill the mitzvah, leather, ink, a pen and parchment etc. are necessary means. Similarly, in a situation of danger due to a health hazard, Torah requires the opinion of a doctor and in dangerous situations related to security from enemies, the advice of a military expert is essential. In other words, the doctor and soldier are “vessels” to clarify Torah ruling. To hear Torah law is not yet enough — it has to be brought “home” to each individual and he has to ensure that even in all daily mundane motions, the Torah is the determining factor.

Then the world does not seem as frightening a prospect. True, it does not concede easily. But since all Jews have perfect faith that G‑d created and governs the entire world, our mission to conquer and purify it is not all that overwhelming. Eventually the whole world will accept G‑d’s sovereignty, as Jews do now, but in order to effect this we have to work beyond our physical limitations, in leading our lives according to Torah doctrines, until the whole world becomes a Torah world, without restraint.7 This will lead, in the immediate future, to the establishment of a dwelling place for G‑d in the lower worlds when, after the redemption through Mashiach, Torah will emanate from Jerusalem and Zion.

4. The aforementioned lesson from Simchas Torah concerning action (the world of Asiyah) was in a general text. However action (the world of Asiyah) itself incorporates different levels: Thought, Speech, and Action in the simple sense. The Alter Rebbe explains that actions encompass speech, thought, emotions, intellect, will and even pleasure. So, too, in reference to mitzvos, the Torah tells us “Zos HaTorah — Adam,” which literally translated, implies that the Torah is identified with and is comparable to a person. Different mitzvos of the Torah are related to different parts of the body. Some mitzvos are fulfilled with the head, others with the feet etc. Yet they all form part of the same Torah. — Similarly, the Torah describes varied levels of Jews, from the Tribal Heads, down to the Wood Choppers and Water Drawers. However, there is also the notion of how all Jews., equally, are embodied in their leaders and, through them, in the King. In fact, every Torah concept contains within it many details, each of them in turn, acting as the source of more detailed items.

Sukkos expresses the same idea. The four species taken and bound together both collectively and individually stress the importance of unity and togetherness. The Esrog is able to survive and even thrive in all (even contradictory) seasons of the year. The Lulav is described by the Torah as “Kapos Te’marim,” the word “Kapos” means tied. The Hadassim are, in the words of Rashi, to be woven together like ropes and nets, and the Aravos grow in close proximity to each other. The same theme is consistent both in the four species as a unit, and in each plant individually.

Similarly, mitzvos are termed “earth,” denoting a lower degree of revelation, in comparison to Torah which is “heaven.”8 Amongst mitzvos themselves there are different categories, mitzvos of thought, mitzvos of speech and mitzvos of action. The Sefer HaChassidim explains that the various mitzvos are associated with their corresponding parts of the body through which they are accomplished. Thus the mitzvos performed with the feet retain the same advantage the foot has over the remainder of the body.

5. With this in mind, herein are expressed sentiments of satisfaction and gratitude towards those people who participated in the “Mitzvah connected with the feet” — in walking (particularly those who walked long distances) to share with other Jews the Yom Tov Simchah. [Of course, the greatest achievement of all mitzvos is that G‑d derives pleasure from their fulfillment, but it is still in order for an individual Jew to voice such feelings, since G—d’s joy is reflected in His people, who are a portion of G‑d Himself; besides the fact that one of the major principles of the Torah is gratitude and its expression.]

In many areas, without the visitors the celebration of Simchas Torah in the form of dancing may not have been observed. Even where this was not the case, the influx of new faces further intensifies the Simchah.9 This is illustrated in the laws related to the mitzvah of Simchah pertaining to a wedding. The presence of someone who has not yet been seen at the wedding celebrations facilitates the recitation of the Sheva Berachos, although they have been repeated many times. In essence, each mitzvah is analogous to the union achieved through a wedding, for through a Mitzvah, G‑d’s unification with His Creations becomes apparent.

The efforts of the “walkers” should serve as an example to many others for this and similar occasions. The participants in this Mitzvah are indeed privileged, particularly in this case when the Mitzvah was part of the celebrations of Simchas Torah, concerning which the Alter Rebbe writes that after performing the Mitzvah in one’s own shul, one should add to the intensity of the joy in another shul.

In order to remove all limitations, the participants in the Mitzvah, together with the remainder of the people here, should say LeChaim as is customary each year, to draw down blessings for the entire year, a year during which we will RUN to greet Mashiach on his arrival.

6. The concept of “Running to perform a Mitzvah,” the Mitzvos dependent on the feet is for many Jews merely a part of their service of G‑d together with the majority of mitzvos connected with the remaining limbs of the body. For the Shluchim, emissaries sent to different and sometimes distant localities to forge there “dwelling places for G‑d in the lower worlds,” it takes on a more far-reaching connotation. Each mitzvah, irrespective of the part of the body it is associated with, is performed in an unfamiliar environment, reached by the Shaliach in his great zeal to found a sanctuary for G‑d in that foreign town. In other words, every mitzvah is directly related to the initial “Running to perform a Mitzvah,” which was performed with alacrity and pleasure This is evident from the mode of fulfillment of the Shlichus, despite physical hardships — may G‑d grant them (in addition to increased love and fear of Hashem, which are also referred to in Chassidus as Gold and Silver) the financial aid they need.

The form of transport which carried them to their destination is insignificant — under all circumstances, Shlichus is a mitzvah of the foot. This applies to all their activities from learning Torah, to even the most mundane such as sleeping, for the very fact that each individual realizes that before the shlichus, he slept at home; and now he is sleeping in a place to which he has been sent to spread the light of Torah and Mitzvos validates the sleeping itself as part of the shlichus.

The above applies to the Shluchim in the Old City of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Tzfas, Nachlas Har Chabad, Kfar Chabad; Australia, USA, France, England and the other countries which are too numerous to be mentioned — and may G‑d grant that they should number even more.

Through the happiness discharged during the “season of our Rejoicing” the distances and limitations of time and space are abolished. Everything is achieved at one time and in one place. Therefore it is fitting that all the Shluchim who are present and particularly the fathers and teachers of Shluchim who are in their location of Shlichus — should drink LeChaim. This will inject them with added inspiration and blessing in their efforts to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus together with the teachings of the revealed portion of the Torah. Although they may not be present physically, certainly their souls are here in the shul where the Previous Rebbe served Hashem for 10 consecutive years.

All assembled should sing a Niggun, and may G‑d grant that together we will merit completing Hashem’s Shlichus, to the extent that “all flesh will discern that G‑d’s mouth has spoken.” Elijah’s Shlichus, to announce the Redemption, will be followed by Mashiach’s arrival, who will lead us upright to our land, speedily in our days.

7. The Acharonim, the latter commentaries, describe three grades of Shlichus:

(a) Although the action is performed by the Shaliach it is attributed to the Meshaleach, or sender. In this case, only the deeds of the Shaliach become those of the sender.

(b) The Torah empowered the sender to consider the hand of the Shaliach his own hand.10 Thus any action of the Shaliach is ascribed to the sender.

(c) The whole being of the Shaliach becomes part of the sender, so understandably, his hand and actions are the sender’s.

It is of this third level we spoke earlier; the Shaliach gives over his total existence to the Meshaleach, so that even when asleep his being is that of the sender.

This is more precisely demonstrated in the relationship between a slave and his master. The slave is merely an extension of his master, thus the law: All the acquisitions of a slave belong to his master — through the slave gaining the object, it becomes part of the master’s possessions.11 The Shaliach is an independent individual who gives himself over to the sender whereas the slave’s whole existence is the fulfillment of the wishes of his master.

Hashem says in reference to Jews that they are His servants and are forbidden to be subservient to others. This entails that the entire existence of a Jew is that he is G‑d’s servant. Not only the G‑dly soul of a Jew, not only his animal soul but even his physical body are holy. This applies even in a situation wherein, for whatever reason, a Jew is absolved from keeping mitzvos; even when he sleeps. (L)12

Since the life of a Jew totally revolves around his service to G‑d, it has to be recognizable in his every action. The Rambam describes ten motions through which a scholar is noticeable, including the manner in which he eats, drinks, etc. This applies to all Jews, for the Torah describes us all as “A wise and understanding people.”

Even at the time of sin, not only does a Jew’s G‑dly soul remain intact, but, in addition, his physical body is still the body of a member of the Holy Nation. There is no interruption in the unique quality which Jew’s possess in that we have been chosen as G‑d’s Nation.

8. This answers the question of many people who claim that since they have financial problems and other disturbing worries, how should they act regarding bringing children into this world. We have to realize that this issue is directly related to G‑d Himself, who desires that the world should benefit from another of his messengers. In the times immediately prior to the coming of Mashiach this is particularly significant. For the Gemara declares that Mashiach will not arrive until all the souls will be enclothed in their respective bodies. The coming of Mashiach is hastened through the birth of more children, and it is our responsibility to ensure this comes into effect as soon as possible.

9. Chassidus explains that although the natural tendency of a servant is to desire to be free, he becomes a faithful and totally dedicated servant. This is through the acceptance of the yoke of servitude which is the basic precondition for all mitzvos. The observance of mitzvos should be neither a result of one’s mental appreciation, nor due to feelings-of sympathy and mercy (in the case of Tzedakah), rather because G‑d “sanctified us with His Mitzvos and instructed us “to perform the Mitzvah.” The Mishnah declares that the first paragraph, of the Shema, which requires the acceptance of the Heavenly Yoke, is to be recited before the second paragraph, which demands the acceptance of the Yoke of Mitzvos, for the acceptance of the former is a prerequisite for the fulfillment of mitzvos.

Each Jew should be fully aware of his responsibility, so that it affects his thoughts, speech, and most important, his actions. The Rambam directs every individual to consider himself and the whole delicately poised in terms of merits and liabilities and to realize that through his solitary thought, speech, or action, he can swing the balance for himself and the world and thereby effectuate salvation for all. The whole redemption is dependent on Teshuvah (repentance) which can be achieved through even one pure and sincere thought. Immediately after Teshuvah the whole Jewish nation will be freed from Galus through Mashiach who will lead us joyfully to our land.

10. During Simchas Torah, there are two significant events: Firstly that through the reading of the last portion we finish the Torah. Secondly, we begin the Torah once again — from the first portion. There arises an oft repeated question. Since the Torah is subdivided, so that each week we read one part, why don’t we begin the Torah at the beginning of the year, on Rosh Hashanah? Why wait until Simchas Torah?

The answer supplied by the commentaries is that the delay is in order to confuse the Satan. If we would start the Torah on Rosh Hashanah, the Satan would realize that the occasion then is Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment when all Jews are inscribed for a good year. He will then endeavor to prosecute etc. However when Rosh Hashanah arrives and he sees that we are not yet near the end of the Torah he is not aware that it is Rosh Hashanah, for he assumes that the Torah is begun at the start of the year.

The same logic is used to explain why on Erev Rosh Hashanah we do not blow the Shofar, although it is customary to sound the Shofar throughout Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. When the Satan sees that we have stopped blowing Shofar, he thinks that

Rosh Hashanah has passed and doesn’t attempt to disrupt the judgment on the following day.

This explanation remains difficult to comprehend. How is it possible to confuse the Satan, an angel, to the extent that he won’t know when is Rosh Hashanah? The date of Rosh Hashanah is a well-publicized fact, printed on calendars, etc. How can the absence of the sound of the shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah, or the fact that the Torah is not re-started convince the Satan that Rosh Hashanah has passed?

The confusion of the Satan is caused through is observation that the Jewish people lack the merits which the blowing of the Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah provides. In addition to the fact that each mitzvah strengthens the Jewish people’s position when the judgment of Rosh Hashanah arrives, the sound of the shofar naturally arouses fear in those who hear it. Thus when the Satan sees that this is missing, he realizes that our service of Hashem will be affected, since we didn’t have the blowing of the Shofar as a preparation on the day prior to Rosh Hashanah, and therefore he maintains that he need not exert himself in prosecution against the Jewish people (on Rosh Hashanah).

Similarly the completion of the Torah is a special merit for the Jewish nation, particularly when we immediately recommend learning Torah with added fervor. The Satan believes that this virtue is lacking and doesn’t feel the necessity to prosecute etc., and as a result all the blessings granted the Jewish people on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur etc, are transmitted to the fullest extent.

Although the Satan realizes that the purpose of neglecting the aforementioned mitzvos is to confuse him; since, however, in practice the shofar was not blown and the Torah was not completed, he reasons that they cannot have their desired effects. At first sight, it seems that the calculation of the Satan is correct. Without action in the simple sense, are not our deficiency of the merits of the completion of the Torah and the .(blowing of the) Shofar to our disadvantage?

11. When a Jew appreciates that there is a Satan who wants to plot against him etc., he realizes that the strength of the Satan’s demands lie in his own misdeeds. Our. Rabbis, of blessed memory, inform us that the Satan is the same force as the snake who tempted Adam and Eve to transgress G‑d’s will. The fact that he is deprived of the merit of the sounding of the Shofar, and similarly, he has to read several more portions in the Torah before he can have the virtue of concluding the Torah, in order to mitigate the effects of the Satan’s prosecution, arouses within him deep feelings of remorse and yearning to improve his behavior; deeper than would be achieved through the Shofar itself, etc.

This is illustrated in a story Chassidim relate concerning the Rebbe Rashab. In the first few years after the passing of the Previous Rebbe, the Rebbe Maharash, the former wasn’t prepared to accept the role of Rebbe. Once, a young man requested from him a blessing for a solution to a particularly urgent problem troubling him. The Rebbe replied that he cannot help him. Since it was a critical situation for this person, after leaving the Rebbe’s room he began to cry. The Rebbe’s brother saw this man’s sorrow and asked him the cause of his distress. The young man related to the Rebbe’s brother what had transpired. The latter then entered into the Rebbe’s room and asked him whether it was correct that a Jew should cry because the Rebbe wouldn’t help him. The Rebbe donned his gartl and hat, and summoned the young man who then received a blessing which resulted in the happy solution of all his problems.

Why didn’t the Rebbe help the young man in the first instance and thereby relieve him from his agony? Chassidim explain that the Rebbe couldn’t solve his problems for him. A Rebbe can help in many situations, but sometimes it is demanded of the recipient his own preparation to receive the blessings. That the Rebbe could not help affected him so much that he cried. This affected his spiritual situation to the extent that he now was in a position that the Rebbe could absolve him from all his worries.

This concept is similar to that mentioned above. Through a person being informed that he is in a situation which demands the absence of the Shofar and the completion of the Torah, this draws out from the person a deep commitment to Teshuvah, (similar to the feelings of the Chassid when told he was being deprived of the help of a Prince amongst the Jewish people).

We can derive from all the above mentioned a valuable lesson in our service of G‑d. Our devotion to the will of G‑d has to be total. We fulfill mitzvos solely because G‑d commanded us to do so, even when G‑d’s will in this case is not to blow the Shofar, or not to complete the Torah which deprives us of merits for the day of judgment. Furthermore, the Rambam declares that each mitzvah has to be performed with unlimited joy, which is emphasized on Simchas Torah, when the joy in the celebration of a mitzvah is clearly displayed.

12. On Simchas Torah it has become customary to mention and encourage the donations towards Keren Hashanah,13 through which one can fulfill giving charity every day; including Shabbos when handling of money is forbidden.

Likewise, to mention the Shiurim of Chumash, Tanya, and Tehillim (Chitas), to be learnt each day throughout the year. Certainly it is appropriate to mention all the Mitzvah Campaigns, namely: Ahavas Yisrael, Chinuch, Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Tzedakah, Holy Books, and those mitzvos given specifically to Jewish women and girls; Shabbos Candles, Keeping a Kosher home, and Family Purity, upon which each Jewish house stands.

May we merit the fulfillment of the prophecy, “I will show you a the lights of Zion,” in the imminent complete redemption (following the intense darkness of the Galus) through our Righteous Mashiach, very speedily.