Simhat Torah

PLAYLIST
Celebrated on the 23rd of the month Tishri (on the 22nd in Israel, this ceremony takes place at the same time as Chemini atseret), Simhat Torah (in Hebrew “joy of the Torah”), is a celebration of rabbinic origin that marks the end of the year-long cycle of the weekly readings of the Torah.

This celebration is mentioned neither in the Torah neither in the Talmud, and we can think that this celebration was unknown before the time of the geonim (IXth century), that started the yearly cycle of the Reading of the Law. Earlier, the reading of the Torah in Israel followed a three-year cycle, (the Torah was divided in 154 reading sections, 167 or 141).

It seems that Simhat Torah was celebrated since the Middle-Ages, without the usual restrictions of the celebration days. Therefore, it was allowed to light candles in some communities, and furthermore to express joy by singing and dancing inside the synagogues.

Simhat Torah is therefore a happy holiday (yes, this exist in Judaism!) that follows the terrible days (yamim noraim). This fervor and joy that marks the end of the solemn celebrations of Tishri, is expressed particularly in the tradition of the hakafot: each Torah scroll is taken out of the holy arch and carried by the worshippers who turn seven times around the bimah (the reading platform) in a joyous procession. Each procession is separated by different songs and dances, where the other worshippers join the Torah bearers, in an atmosphere of joy and religious enthusiasm.

On the next morning, the worshippers read the last chapter of the Pentateuch. The last section is reserved to someone who the community wishes to honor. He is called hatan Torah (groom of the Torah). After this solemn reading of the conclusion of the Torah, a second scroll is opened in order to immediately start the new cycle of the new year « Berechit bara Elohim et hachamayim ve’et haarets ». This is why the person who reads this first section of Genesis is called hatan Berechit.

In Israel, it is traditional to organize the “second” hakafot during the night that follows Simhat Torah, outside the synagogues. At that occasion, the processions are often accompanied with orchestras and choirs. By the Hassidim, Simhat Torah is also the occasion for intense festivities where music and dance (often circle dances which represent the perpetual renewal) are omnipresent.

Listen to

In case the music player doesn't open, you must allow the opening of pop-ups for the website iemj.org in your browser settings.

  • Extrait de Sim’hat Tora (EXTRAIT) - Jacky HERRMANN

  • Le’el elim - Ensemble Texto (coll. PMJF CD10)

  • Amen - Voice of the Turtle

  • Simhat Torah (EXTRAIT) - Nehama REUBEN

  • Fête de Sim’hat Tora (EXTRAIT) - Michel HEYMANN

  • Kol Haneshama - Ensemble Texto (coll. PMJF CD10)

  • Thou Dwellest in the Meadows - UNESCO Collection Musical Sources

  • Simkhes Toyre (EXTRAIT) - Les Klezmatics

  • Cantate de Sim’hat Torah - Musique de la synagogue de Bordeaux (coll. PMJF CD1)

  • Simhat Torah (EXTRAIT) - Marlène SAMOUN

  • Omar Shirah (EXTRAIT) - Avigdor HERZOG

Lire tout

You may also like

Conference on the HATIKVA - Lyrical Odyssey, History and origins of the Israeli national hymn

A conference proposed by Théa Herz and the EIJM, as part of the Festival of Jewish Cultures in Paris, on June 13, 2018 at 6PM at the townhouse of (…)

Release of the 2 first collections of musical scores by Itaï Daniel at the EIJM’s editions

The EIJM is happy to announce the release of 2 sheet music collections of melodies for Shabbat, by the composer Itaï Daniel, one for voice and (…)

Concert « Coplas Sefardies - Judeo-Spanish songs » by Alberto Hemsi in Hanover

Thursday March 22nd, 2018 : an event organised by Das Europäische Zentrum für Jüdische Musik and the reformed Jewish community of Hanover, in (…)

Release of 2 new musical scores by Serge Kaufmann at the EIJM’s editions

2 new unreleased musical scores are now available at the EIJM

The musical instruments in the Bible - between myth and reality : conference by Hervé Roten

On February 12th 2018 at 7h00 pm, conference about the musical instruments in the Bible, by Hervé Roten, at the Institut Universitaire Elie Wiesel (…)