Simchas Torah: The Festival of Ingathering the Torah

We call the last day of the festival Simchas Torah, because we rejoice and eat a festive meal to honor the completion of the Torah (Rem”a, Orach Chaim 669:1)

וקורין יום טוב האחרון שמחת תורה, לפי ששמחין ועושין בו סעודת משתה לגמרה של תורה – רמ”א אורח חיים תרס”ט, א
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The second Luchos were given to Moshe on Yom Kippur, after G-d forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf. Chassidus explains that earning the Torah through our repentance is an even greater source of joy than being gifted the Torah (as we were originally on Shavuos). This is why we rejoice with the Torah on Simchas Torah, which follows Yom Kippur, much more so than we do on Shavuos.

While this explains the connection of Simchas Torah to Yom Kippur, yet the holiday on which we actually celebrate Simchas Torah is Shemini Atzeres,  which by very name –shemini, the eighth – indicates that this holiday is a continuation of Sukkos and not only of Yom Kippur. Why?

One of the names which the Torah gives for the holiday of Sukkos is חג האסיף, the Festival of Ingathering. Rashi (Shemos 23:16) explains: “For all summer the grain dries in the fields, and on Sukkos they gather it into the house before the rainy season.” Accordingly, notes the Midrash (Yalkut Shimon Emor 654), of the three times that the commandment to rejoice on the holidays is mentioned in the Book of Devarim, two of them are said in the context of Sukkos.  This is because the joys of the grain budding in the spring and being harvested around Shavuos, are incomparable to the complete joy of actually having brought the grain in to your home (i.e. Sukkos), when it is ready for your eating pleasure.

In spiritual terms, the agricultural cycle represents: the budding of our relationship with G-d through the faith instilled in us on Pesach, harvesting and receiving the Torah and its commands on Shavuos, and then bringing the harvest into our homes on Sukkos, after fully implementing and incorporating the mitzvos into our lives.

This is why we celebrate the Torah that we received on Yom Kippur through teshuva, the second Luchos, as a continuation of Sukkos, the Festival of Ingathering. Having “tasted” sin and distance from G-d, and yet determinedly returning to Him through teshuva, the complete penitent has shown that the Torah and mitzvos are truly ingrained in him; they have been fully “gathered into his home”. Now he truly has what to celebrate.

 

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—Likutei Sichos vol. 29, pp. 231-235

 

 

 

 

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