/Simchat Torah, Rejoicing of the Torah (24th day of Tishrei)

Simchat Torah, Rejoicing of the Torah (24th day of Tishrei)

One of the most joyous holidays of the Jewish tradition is Simchat Torah, which celebrates the ending of the annual reading cycle of the Torah. At the same token Jews celebrate the fact that they can restart the cycle immediately on the same occasion. Even though Jewish lore states that God gave Moses the Torah at the time of the feast of Shavuot in the spring, the Torah is celebrated separately in its own feast.
Simchat Torah is largely celebrated at the synagogue. The highlight of this service of worship is the hakafot or procession. All the rolls of the Torah in the synagogue are removed from the ark, or Torah cabinet, and carried in an indoor (sometimes outdoor) procession of seven circuits around the synagogue.
All biblical and rabbinical holidays have a special Torah reading. A text which in some way represents the holiday is read from the Torah. For the most important holiday, Shabbat, the weekly portion is read every week. In the festival of Simchat Torah the annual rereading of the entire Torah is first completed, then immediately begun again. The Torah describes the covenant between God and the Jewish people. The man who reads the final verses of the Book of Deuteronomy is called Hatan Torah, or Groom of the Torah. The man who goes on to read from the beginning of the Torah is called Hatan Bereishit, Groom of Genesis.
Simchat Torah is the final holiday of the autumn festival period.