Simchat Torah Customs 

  •   Hoshana Raba 

    Late Night On the night of Hoshana Raba (Thursday night, October 8) many have the custom of staying up to recite the entire books of Devarim and Tehillim (Psalms). 

    Hosha'anot Though Hoshana Raba (Friday, October 9) is part of the intermediate days of the holiday, it takes on a holiday spirit of its own. At Shacharit, the Bima is circled with the lulav seven times and many extra Hosha'anot prayers are said. A separate set of willows, called Hosha'anot, are used.

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    Kreplach It is customary to eat Kreplach on Hoshana Raba and to dip the challah in honey. 

  •  Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah

    Hakafot It is a well-established custom to make Hakafot and dance with the Torah on the night of Shemini Atzeret in addition to Simchat Torah. This unites Jews outside of Israel with those in the Holy Land where Simchat Torah is celebrated on Shemini Atzeret. 

    Simcha The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, writes that whatever we accomplish during the 48 hours of Rosh Hashana through prayer and introspection can be achieved during the 48 hours of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah through boundless joy and Simcha. 

    Sukkah The Chabad custom is to eat all Shemini Atzeret meals in the sukkah. The blessing of Leishev BaSukkah is not recited. 

    Rain On Shemini Atzeret (Shabbat, October 10 the prayer for rain is recited. From that point on, beginning with the Mussaf prayer and continuing all winter long, we mention mashiv haruach umorid hageshem("who makes the wind blow and brings down the rain") in the Amida prayers. 

    Second Day Preperations Preparations for the second day of Yom Tov, Saturday night, October 10, should not be done until after nightfall, 7:03 PM. Preparations include cooking, setting the table and lighting candles (from a pre-existing flame).

     Yaknehaz - Havdallah and Kiddush together

    As the Saturday night Kiddush (10/10) leads from Shabbat into Yom Tov, Havdala is recited along with the Kiddush. The special Kiddush is referred to by the Hebrew acronym of YaKNeHaZ. The order of events is printed in the siddur. We begin by saying the blessing on the wine and Kiddush. Then the blessing of Meorei HaEsh is said over the Yom Tov candles. These blessings are followed by the recital of the special Havdala prayer and the Shehechiyanu blessing. Due to various halachic issues, the flames are not brought together as is usually done during Havdala. Additionally, we do not hold our fingernails near the candles when the blessing is recited. We merely look at the candles.