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Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah

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Sefer HaMinhagim
The Book of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs

Months and Holidays
Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah
Translated by Uri Kaploun

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(a) Tachanun:

In every prayer service at which Tachanun is not said (such as from Motzaei Yom Kippur until the conclusion of Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan; at Maariv throughout the year; at Minchah on erev Shabbos or erev Yom-Tov; etc.), one does not beat one's chest while saying the words chatanu and poshanu in the blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh that begins selach lanu.

(b) The Sukkah:

Even initially, [i.e., lechatchilah, and not merely bidieved, as a concession after the event,] the walls of the sukkah may be made of materials which are unfit for s'chach, which is its vegetative covering.[535]

It is our custom to construct a sukkah of four walls.[536]

We use an abundance of s'chach. It is not our custom to decorate the sukkah.[537] It is not our custom to construct a special floor for the sukkah.

(c) The Four Species:[538]

One does not necessarily have to pay for the Four Species before Sukkos.[539]

The esrog should be yellow (like wax).[540]

The blessing is [preferably] made over an esrog from Calabria [in southern Italy], (of the species also known as Yanover esrogim).[541]

The [leaves of the] lulav chosen should not have the rounded tips which are known in Yiddish as kneplach (lit., "buttons").[542]

One does not take more than one esrog, one lulav, and two willow twigs - but more than three myrtle twigs may be taken.[543]

I have heard of various individuals being instructed to take four, twelve, thirteen or twenty-six myrtle twigs, but not nine,[544] sixty-eight or sixty-nine.[545]

One makes a point of binding the lulav [with the hadassim and aravos] in the sukkah on erev Sukkos.

Those who are meticulous bind the lulav themselves.[546]

One should try to make the aravos inconspicuous.

Two rings [made of leaves of the lulav] are bound around the lulav alone, [higher than the other three rings which will bind the lower ends of the hadassim and aravos to its base].

One should endeavor to see that these two rings are hidden by the [upper ends of] the hadassim and aravos. Even the upper ring should be at least partly concealed.

In addition to the above two rings, the hadassim and aravos are bound to the [base of the] lulav by three rings, which should all be tied within the space of a tefach [approx. 8 cm.]. There are thus five rings in all.[547]

The rejoicing of the festival begins on the first night of Sukkos.[548]

One rises early to fulfill the precept of the lulav [i.e., the mitzvah of pronouncing a blessing over the Four Species] at an early hour,[549] especially on the first occasion [in any particular year].

[When reciting the blessing,] the lulav should be held [vertically] in such a way that one faces its spine.[550]

The blessing shehechiyanu, [which is added on the first occasion in the year that the Four Species are being used,] is begun while the lulav is held in one hand [viz., the right hand] and the esrog in the other [viz., the left hand]. At the conclusion of the blessing they are brought together.

When they are held together, the lulav should be touching the upper third of the esrog, which is held slightly inclined.[551]

For the naanuim, or "movements", [the Four Species are held together, with the lulav held vertically throughout, and moved (in each of the directions listed below) three times to and fro, forward almost to arm's length (holachah) and back (hovoah), until each time their base touches the chest. Throughout the naanuim one faces east, so that south and north are on the right and left respectively.] The directions are as follows:

  1. south-east;

  2. north-east;

  3. due east;

  4. upwards - but when lowering the lulav, before bringing it back to touch the chest, one first extends it somewhat earthwards, (suggesting hamshachah baolam, drawing Divine light downward into this world);

  5. earthwards - but when raising the lulav, before bringing it back to touch the chest, one first extends it somewhat upwards, (suggesting haalaas haolam, elevating worldliness heavenward); and finally,

  6. westward - except that in this case the first two dual movements are directed to the south-west, and only the third dual movement is directed due west.

"The first seventeen movements back and forth represent keilim ('vessels'); the last dual movement represents or ('light') - the yichud of the Shechinah in the west."

Throughout the naanuim the esrog is held enclosed in the hand, except for the last time, when it is uncovered somewhat.

At each Hovaah, i.e., each time the lulav is brought back towards oneself, it should touch the chest "at the place one beats during the confession of ashamnu."[552]

When handing someone the Four Species so that he can recite a blessing over them, it is proper to say explicitly that this is "a gift on condition that it is returned."[553] This practice applies especially on the first day, and "it is of benefit both to the donor and to the recipient."

With regard to the verse beginning hodu at the end of Hallel,[554] it is debatable whether the naanuim ought to be done while the verse is read the second time or the first.[555] This doubt also affects the phrase ana Hashem,[556] [which likewise is always read twice, but] which on certain occasions requires naanuim only once.[557]

(d) Miscellaneous:

I have not seen the practice [in Chabad circles] of kissing the sukkah upon entering or leaving.[558]

Those who are meticulous do not drink even water outside the sukkah, even [in the Diaspora] on Shemini Atzeres.

Regarding Birkas Kohanim, see the above section (p. 82) on The Priestly Blessing.

There is a directive from the Rebbe Shlita that during the days of Sukkos people should take their lulav and esrog out to the streets, or wherever Jewish men and women are to be found, in order to afford them the opportunity of fulfilling the commandment.[559]

At the daytime Kiddush [just as at the nighttime Kiddush] of Yom-Tov and of Shabbos Chol HaMoed, the blessing of leisheiv basukkah is said immediately after Kiddush rather than immediately after hamotzi.

At Kiddush on the second night one first says the blessing shehechiyanu and then the blessing leisheiv basukkah.[560]

It is customary to sing, clap and dance even on Yom-Tov, and even when it coincides with Shabbos.[561]

During Hallel, the lulav [alone] is held in one's hand until the naanuim, at which time the esrog is joined with it.

(e) Hoshaanos:[562]

One is particular to make a complete circuit [of the bimah], ending it as one reads the phrase that includes the word beginning with the letter taf.

According to our custom, the sheliach tzibbur starts reading aloud at the phrase that includes the word beginning with the letter samech or ayin.

When one reads the alphabetical phrases which the sheliach tzibbur says aloud, the word hoshana is read before and after each phrase; in the case of the earlier phrases it is said only once, [before each phrase].

The verses [and excerpts from verses] beginning ki amarti and lecha zeroa and so on are said only on Hoshana Rabbah.

The bimah is not circled on Shabbos, nor is Hoshaanos said.

The omitted Hoshaanos reading for Shabbos is added to Sunday's reading,[563] but the bimah is not circled during its recitation.

(f) Additional Points:

In the Shemoneh Esreh of Mussaf, the phrase beginning uminchasam veniskeihem is added immediately after one reads the verse(s) that enumerate(s) each day's sacrifices.[564]

On the Yom-Tov days of Sukkos and likewise on Hoshana Rabbah, the bread over which one recites the blessing hamotzi is dipped in honey. During Chol HaMoed (including the Shabbos of Chol HaMoed) this practice is optional.[565]

In the course of Sukkos, some or all of the hadassim and aravos may be replaced [according to need].[566]

On Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos, the last of the blessings of the Haftorah[567] concludes with the words, mekadeish hashabbos veYisrael vehazmanim, but Sukkos is not mentioned in the body of the blessing.[568]

(g) Hoshana Rabbah:

When reading Parshas VeZos HaBerachah in the course of the Tikkun on the night of Hoshana Rabbah, its Hebrew text only is recited [as with all the other parshiyos], once. The reading of each verse twice in Hebrew and once in the Aramaic rendition called Targum Onkelos[569] takes place on the eve of Simchas Torah.[570]

A gartl is worn for the reading of the entire Book of Tehillim after midnight on Hoshana Rabbah. This reading is customarily not lengthy.

At the completion of each of the [five] sefarim of the Book of Tehillim, one reads the brief prayer (beginning yehi ratzon)[571] which is read on Hoshana Rabbah, as well as the similar prayer which is read after the moon has risen,[572] but not the prayer[573] which is said on Yom-Tov.[574]

On [the morning of] Hoshana Rabbah, before Hallel,[575] one removes the two upper rings that are bound around the lulav alone, leaving only the three rings which join it with the hadassim and the aravos.

For the reading of Hoshaanos [on Hoshana Rabbah], all the Sifrei Torah are taken out of the Ark. This is the custom of Lubavitch.574

It is not our custom on Hoshana Rabbah to wish each other blessings such as gemar chasimah tova ["May your inscription be sealed for a good year!"] or piska tova [Aramaic: "May you be granted a good inscription!" (lit., "...a good note," or, in Yiddish, "...a guter kvitl")].574

(h) Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah:

On the eve of Shemini Atzeres and the eve of Simchas Torah, seven circuits (Hakkafos)[576] are made [with the Sifrei Torah around the bimah]. At the daytime Hakkafos on Simchas Torah three-and-a-half circuits are made,[577] though the text for the Hakkafos is read in its entirety.[578]

It is the custom of the Jewish people - and hence it is Torah - to rejoice on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah more than at Simchas Beis HaShoevah, and more than on a usual Yom-Tov.[579]

"My revered father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe - citing his father, the Rebbe Rashab - earnestly taught that the forty-eight hours of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah should be dearly cherished, for at each moment one can draw bucketsful and barrelsful of treasures both material and spiritual, and this is accomplished through dancing."[580]

On Shemini Atzeres one recites Kiddush and also eats and drinks in the sukkah, both by night and by day.[581]

On Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah one does not dip the slice of bread (over which one recites the blessing hamotzi) in honey.[582]

There were times [in the minyan of the Previous Rebbe] when a point was made of completing Shacharis on Shemini Atzeres before midday.574

The Haftorah for Shemini Atzeres[583] is taken from I Melachim 8:54-66; i.e., from vayehi kechalos until uleYisrael amo.

If a person who was not praying with a different minyan heard the announcement of mashiv haruch u'morid hageshem before he had prayed Shacharis, it would appear to me that he should say this phrase in Shacharis as well [as in Mussaf].[584]

With the approach of sunset on the afternoon of Shemini Atzeres one enters the sukkah (and eats or drinks something there) to bid it farewell, but one does not recite the prayer that begins yehi ratzon.[585]

On the eve of Simchas Torah it is the custom in the Rebbe's minyan to 'sell' [i.e., to 'auction' the privilege of leading the congregation in the responsive reading of] the verses of the passage[586] that begins atah horeisa, and to honor the Rebbe Shlita with reading aloud the first and last verses and occasionally other verses too. The proceeds promised on the eve of Simchas Torah benefit the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah, while the proceeds promised by day benefit Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel.[587]

It is not our custom to read the Torah publicly on the night of Simchas Torah.

On Simchas Torah the Kohanim pronounce the Priestly Blessing at Shacharis [instead of at Mussaf].[588]

It is not our custom to spread a tallis as a canopy over the heads of the Bridegroom(s) of the Torah or the Bridegroom(s) of Bereishis [when they are called to the public reading of the Torah].[589]

The person who is called to the reading of the concluding passage of the Torah says the words chazak chazak venischazeik together with the rest of the congregation. The same applies at the conclusion of the other [four] Books of the Chumash.[590]

At the farbrengen of Simchas Torah it is the custom of the Rebbe Shlita to encourage every man and woman present to participate in Keren HaShanah.[591]



  1. (Back to text) This practice differs from the ruling in the Bach and Pri Megadim, sec. 630. See Sdei Chemed, Aseifas Dinim: Sukkah 2:14.

  2. (Back to text) See the gloss on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 630:5. (See also the sichah of the second day of Sukkos 5716.)

  3. (Back to text) Sichah of Sukkos 5704.

  4. (Back to text) [I.e., the daled minim, viz., the esrog (citron), lulav (closed palm branch), hadassim (twigs of myrtle) and aravos (twigs of willow). Note that in common parlance "lulav" often indicates the latter three - or even all four - of the species.

    In addition to the customs listed here, many further instructions are to be found in Siddur Tehillat HaShem, pp. 240-1.]

  5. (Back to text) See the Acharonim on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 658; Sdei Chemed, Aseifas Dinim: Daled Minim 3:2; ibid., Klalim, Lamed 141:24.

  6. (Back to text) This preference varies from the view of those who make a point of choosing an esrog which is partly green, following Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 21 (p. 56b) and Tikkun 70 (p. 134b); see the commentaries ad loc. of Kisei Melech, Or Yisrael, and others.

  7. (Back to text) We have a tradition from the Alter Rebbe, author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch, that one should specifically seek an esrog grown in Calabria, or Yanova, "for a reason known to him." He once said: "When G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu, ulekachtem lachem pri eitz hadar... - 'You shall take for yourselves the fruit of a beautiful tree...,' emissaries were seated on a cloud and dispatched to bring esrogim from Calabria." (See also the sichah of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah 5710, which appears in Kuntreis 85.)

    See also the Responsa of Chasam Sofer on Orach Chayim 207: "The law defining an esrog is the same as the law defining a kosher bird, which may be eaten only if there is a tradition that identifies its species. Since our forefathers and the leading scholars of early France, who dwelt in Ashkenaz [i.e., northern France and Germany] from ancient times, have handed down to us a firm tradition that the precept is fulfilled with esrogim that are brought from Yanova, these are the kosher species, and [as such] they require no other distinguishing marks...." See there.

    It is recorded in the Responsa entitled Bikkurei Shlomo, sec. 28, that the Rebbe [R. Avraham] of Ciechanov would pronounce a berachah only over an esrog from Yanova, and the same is recorded in Toldos Shlomo regarding [R. Shlomo Kluger,] the Maharshak.

  8. (Back to text) The various views on this appear in Shulchan Aruch, sec. 645, and commentaries ad loc.; Sdei Chemed, Klalim, Lamed 141:23; Chayim U'Berachah, sec. 125.

  9. (Back to text) See Rambam, Hilchos Lulav 7:7 and commentaries ad loc.; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, sec. 651, and commentaries ad loc.

  10. (Back to text) This practice is cited in the Siddur of R. Yaakov Koppel and in the Responsa entitled Avnei Tzedek.

  11. (Back to text) These customs are cited in the Kol-Bo.

  12. (Back to text) The view of the Ramban and the Rashba (Ritva?), in his Chiddushim on Sukkah 47a, that the lulav should be bound by others, is not cited as a ruling by the poskim. See Chiddushei Aggados on Sukkah 45a, which states that [binding the Four Species] is as great a mitzvah as building an altar. The conflicting views on this are set out by R. Avraham Lifshitz in Yalkut Avraham (Munkacz, 1931), and in its emendations and addenda.

  13. (Back to text) See the Taz, beginning of sec. 651; the Appendices to the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (by R. Nechemiah of Dubrovna), ad loc.; Chaim U'Berachah, subsec. 288.

  14. (Back to text) This sentence was added by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this work, based on a sichah of the Rebbe Shlita.

  15. (Back to text) Bach, sec. 644; see also Shulchan Aruch, beginning of sec. 652.

  16. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Siddur. The various views appear in Magen Avraham, sec. 108, in Shulchan Aruch, sec. 651.

  17. (Back to text) "In fact the lulav should have been placed on top of the esrog, but for a certain reason this is not done." (From a sichah of the Previous Rebbe in Riga.)

  18. (Back to text) Explained in a sichah of Simchas Torah 5669, sec. 21 (Toras Shalom, p. 137). [Summarized in HaYom Yom, entry for 20 Tishrei.]

  19. (Back to text) See Orach Chayim, sec. 658; Choshen Mishpat, sec. 241; and the sources cited in Sdei Chemed, Aseifas Dinim: Daled Minim 3:19.

  20. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 245.]

  21. (Back to text) I have not heard a definitive directive regarding this. Either approach could be justified:

    1. At the repetition, since it marks the culmination of the reading, or

    2. at the first reading, since it precedes and should therefore predominate.

    It is surprising that I have found nothing on this in the sources - except for the above-mentioned Yalkut Avraham, which considers this uncertainty, and argues in favor of the first reading of the verse. In the Siddur of R. Shalom Sharabi, the Kabbalistic kavanos of the naanuim are appended to the first hodu; so too in Yesod VeShoresh HaAvodah, Shaar 11.

  22. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 244.]

  23. (Back to text) This is the case when one has pronounced the blessing over the lulav in shul after the prayer [of Shemoneh Esreh]. (See the passage introducing Hallel in the Alter Rebbe's Siddur [p. 427], according to the Tikkunim, Tikkun 21, p. 56b.)

  24. (Back to text) This practice is cited by the Acharonim in the name of the Shelah.

  25. (Back to text) This sentence was added by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this work; cf. the Foreword to Tochen Inyanim, No. 20 (5719).

  26. (Back to text) See the Glosses by the Rebbe Rashab that appear in Siddur Torah Or (N.Y., 5701), p. 233, and in the Siddur im Dach. The varying opinions on this are to be found in the commentaries on sec. 661 of the Shulchan Aruch, and in Sdei Chemed: Sukkah 1:5.

  27. (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, beginning of sec. 339, and commentaries ad loc.; Eshel Avraham (by the Rebbe of Butchatch); the Responsa entitled Minchas Elazar, Vol. I, sec. 29; the monograph entitled Sh'yarei Minchah, appended to Vol. II of Minchas Elazar; Nimukei Orach Chayim, by the author of the above; and elsewhere.

  28. (Back to text) [Siddur, pp. 326-35. For the custom regarding a mourner, see p. 179, below.]

  29. (Back to text) See Piskei Dinim of the Tzemach Tzedek, at the end of the section on Orach Chayim; Shaar HaKollel, sec. 45.

  30. (Back to text) [Siddur, pp. 260-2.]

  31. (Back to text) Sichah of Sukkos 5704.

  32. (Back to text) However, one does not necessarily take a fresh willow twig each day, or the like; see Shulchan Aruch, sec. 654, and its commentaries.

  33. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 188.]

  34. (Back to text) See the Glosses of the Rebbe Rashab that appear in Siddur Torah Or, p. 232. Not having seen this, the author of Shaar HaKollel wrote otherwise.

  35. (Back to text) [Regarding this review of the weekly Torah reading, see p. 49, above.]

  36. (Back to text) The Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 285:9. The various views are presented ad loc. in Magen Avraham, Shaarei Teshuvah, Pri Megadim and Siddur Yaavetz.

  37. (Back to text) [Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchak, pp. 181-2.]

  38. (Back to text) [Ibid., p. 185. Cf. Kaf HaChayim 664:3-4, citing Pri Etz Chayim.]

  39. (Back to text) [Ibid., p. 181.]

  40. (Back to text) Sichah of the Previous Rebbe, Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres 5708.

  41. (Back to text) This differs from the sequence implied by Siddur Yaavetz.

  42. (Back to text) [For the custom regarding a mourner, see p. 179, below.]

  43. (Back to text) Sec. 669 of Nimukei Orach Chayim cites the custom practiced in the 900-year-old shul in Cracow - and likewise in the [400-year-old] shul [in Cracow] of R. Moshe Isserles - of making three-and-a-half circuits (both by night and by day).

  44. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 335ff.]

  45. (Back to text) Added by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this work; based on a letter of the Rebbe Shlita.

  46. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5711, p. 79.

  47. (Back to text) For the differing customs see the commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch, sec. 668; the Responsa entitled Minchas Elazar, Vol. IV, sec. 31.

  48. (Back to text) Cf. the letter that appears in Me'ah She'arim (Kehot, N.Y.), p. 65, which begins: "To understand the significance of eating honey with the bread of HaMotzi from Rosh HaShanah through Hoshana Rabbah...."

  49. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 382.]

  50. (Back to text) The above directive of the Rebbe Shlita was added by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this work. "This is the view which is stated at the end of sec. 194 in the second edition of She'elas Shalom, citing the Talmud Yerushalmi, and which concludes: 'This is self-evident and clear, and the reason that the author of Biur Halachah did not cite these words is that he did not see them.'" (From a letter of the Rebbe Shlita.)

  51. (Back to text) [Various Siddurim following other customs include a request that links one's present leavetaking from his earthly sukkah with a prayerful anticipation of the sukkah that will be built for the righteous when Mashiach comes.]

  52. (Back to text) [Siddur, pp. 335-6.]

  53. (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5701, p. 93; see also Sefer HaSichos: Toras Shalom, p. 234. In Sefer HaMaamarim, loc. cit., the following appears: "On the eve of Shemini Atzeres my revered father [i.e., the Rebbe Rashab] 'buys' the verses that begin atah hareisa, the proceeds being disbursed at my discretion."

  54. (Back to text) See Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham), end of sec. 669. It is cited in the Piskei Dinim of the Tzemach Tzedek, Vol. II: Chiddushim on Rambam (6:4), which ends with the words: "The custom [on Simchas Torah] of advancing the Priestly Blessing to Shacharis is a proper one."

  55. (Back to text) [Siddur, p. 383-5.]

  56. (Back to text) [HaYom Yom, p. 98.]

  57. (Back to text) The above sentence was added by the compilers of [the Hebrew original of] this work. Keren HaShanah [lit., "the year-round fund"] was established by the Rebbe Shlita in 5714. [Charity from this fund is disbursed every day of the year, thus enabling all its participants to fulfill, every day, all the various mitzvos of tzedakah - ransoming captives, dowering needy brides, providing for the poor, and so on.] The subject is further explained in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 651ff.

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