Halacha Club

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried

Chapter 138 : Laws of Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah


The last intermediate day is Hoshana Rabbah. It is the custom to stay up the preceding night and study Torah as laid out in the prayer book, this is because on the festival we are judged on the water, and all the life of man depends on water. This day is the last day of the festival and everything goes after the sealing (of judgement). In the morning we increase slightly the lights in the synagogue like (we do) on Yom Kippur. The Reader wears the Kittel (white robe), we say 1 "For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David" like on a festival and also say 2 "A Psalm of thanksgiving", we do not say "The breath of every living being", we say "There is none like unto You" (and) "Hear O Israel" as on a festival day in the additional prayers Kedusha (we say) "We will reverence"

  1. Psalm 19
  2. Psalm 100


It is a custom (from) the Prophets that every one takes on this day a special willow apart from the willow on the lulav. Every thing that makes the willow on the lulav invalid, also makes this willow invalid. Therefore, the Israelite (Jew) should not cut for himself for his own use, however if there fall off even the majority of leaves, it is still valid. Even (if there remains only) 1 leaf on 1 stem it is valid. In any event, the commandment is best carried out when this (willow) has many leaves and long stems. The fine custom is to take 5 stems and tie them together with the leaves of a lulav. It is a custom (from) the Prophets that every one takes on this day a special willow apart from the willow on the lulav.


One does not take them together with the lulav, but when we come to "Answer your faithful ones" we put down the lulav and etrog and take up the (5 stems of willow), because now we are (about) to pray for water (rain). After the Hoshanot one waves with it and then beats it against the ground 5 times. This is sufficient even if the leaves did not fall off. After the beating, we do not throw it on the ground, because this would be disrespectful to the commandment. It is better to put it away, and throw it into the fire used for baking the matzot. This way one has used it for one commandment and then moved it to use for another commandment.


On the night of Shemini Atzeret one should wait and not make kiddush until (it is definitely) night. One blesses in the Kiddush "who has kept us in life" because this is also a festival in its own right. One does not bless "to dwell in the succah" because in the prayers and the Kiddush we say "the eighth day, this festival of assembly" 1 and if we blessed "to dwell in the succah" this would be a contradiction. 2

  1. The name of the festival "Shemini Atzeret" comes from "Shemini" which means eight, and "Atzeret" which means assembly, making "the eighth day of assembly".
  2. Because Succot is over.


On the night of Shemini Atzeret and the whole day we eat in the succah without blessing as we (have already) written. And after we finish we say "May it be your will..." etc. Concerning sleeping in the succah, some are lenient and this is the custom, but it is more correct to be strict.


On the eighth day, as darkness approaches, one can remove the furniture from the succah to the house, but not put (the succah) in order during the day because this is like preparing from one festival to the next. On the eighth day, as darkness approaches, one can remove the furniture from the succah to the house, but not put (the succah) in order during the day because this is like preparing from one festival to the next.


This last day of the festival which is also Shemini Atzeret, is called Simchat Torah, 1 because we finish on it the Torah and are happy (about) that. In the evening after the service we have the Hakofot, and afterwards put back the Sifrei Torah (in the Ark) and leave one out in which three men read from the portion "And this is the blessing" and there are some places that have the custom of reading the portion on oaths. After the Torah reading we say Half Kaddish, put back the Sefer Torah and say "It is our duty to praise"

  1. The Rejoicing of the Torah.


On Simchat Torah day it is the custom in many places שהכהנים נושאים כפיהם בתפלת שחרית that the cohanim bless the congegration during the morning prayers ולא במוסף משום דבמוסף and not during the additional prayers because at the additional prayers יש חשש שכרות there is concern of intoxication.1 ואין אומרים ותערב בתפלת שחרית One does not say "And may be pleasant to you our prayer..." in the morning prayers.

  1. From strong drinks given out during the Hakofot or from the Kiddush.


In the day , after the Hakofot, we leave out three Sefrei Torah and we read for many in one Sefer Torah from "And this is the blessing" to "The eternal G-d is a dwelling place" many times. 1 At the end we call up all the youth, and the correct way if that the oldest of them makes the blessing and the rest listen, and we read for them from the portion "The angel who has redeemed me..." 2 After this we call up the Hatan Torah 3 and read for him from "The eternal G-d..." to the end. In the second Sefer Torah we call up the Hatan Berashit. 4 We say Half Kaddish and read in the third (Sefer Torah) the Maftir. 5 It is the custom in many places to be scrupulous and call as Hatan Torah an eminent person, and even one who already went up during (the multiple readings from) "And this is the blessing" can in any event, go up (again) as Hatan Torah or Hatan Berashit. In a place where they only have two Sifrei Torah, we read in the first "And this is the blessing" and in the second "In the beginning G-d created...", then we return to the first Sefer Torah for Maftir.

  1. These are the first 5 aliyot (Deut. 33:1-26), and we repeat the order Cohen, Levi, then three Israelites, until every adult present has had a turn.
  2. Parashat Veyehi (Genesis 48:16), said by Israel (Jacob) while blessing Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. The whole verse reads "The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."
  3. Bridegroom of the Torah.
  4. Bridegroom of Genesis - The Beginning.
  5. "On the eighth day..." from Numbers 29:35 to 30:1 in Parashat Pinchas.


It is the custom for the Hatan Torah and the Hatan Berashit to give donations. They call all their families and friends and make a joyous feast (to celebrate) finishing reading the Torah and starting again from the beginning. As was explained in the Midrash: 1 "and he will come to Jerusalem and will stand before the Ark of the covenant of the Lord..." "and will make there a feast for all his servants". Rabbi Isaac said "from this (we learn) that we make a feast after finishing the Torah."

  1. Shir Hashirim Rabba.