Our Rabbi & Simchat Torah

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Our Rabbi would carry a Sefer Torah that was given to him during the Hakafot until the end of the Hakafah, even if it went on for a long time. And when they wanted to make it easier for him and take it from him, he explained that a Sefer Torah is in the category of "a living being which carries itself." (Gadol Shimusha p. 91)

The davening would become longer each year. They would take the Sifrei Torah outside and go to visit the Chief Rabbis. During the dancing, the students would stop traffic and our Rabbi would justify their actions, since one must honor the Torah when it is in the street.

There was a certain street famous for the desecration of Shabbat which occurred on it. Our Rabbi went around it on Simchat Torah, and he said that he avoids walking on it on Shabbat. (Gadol Shimusha p. 96)

On Simchat Torah, even though our Rabbi was elderly and suffered great pain in his foot, he went with all of the students dancing to the Kotel. One student suggested: "Ha-Rav is tired. Perhaps he should rest a little and afterwards say some Divrei Torah." These words startled our Rabbi: "Fatigue is not in our lexicon." (Iturei Cohanim #265 in the name of Ha-Rav Tzvi Kostiner)

On Simchat Torah, our Rabbi would begin the Hakafot at eight in the morning and finish at five in the afternoon. In order to strengthen the Chief Rabbinate, he would dance to the houses of the Chief Rabbis. The students would try to convince our Rabbi to shorten them, but he would not agree. During the entire time he would dance without a break, and he would encourage others with come with him, even though they wanted to end quickly and sit to learn Torah. He danced with vigor the entire time, even at the age of 80-90, and even though he had throbbing pain in his feet. One time at the end of the day when he removed his socks there was blood inside, but there was no sign of it on his face; rather he was happy the entire time. (Iturei Cohanim #265 in the name of Ha-Rav Tzvi Kostiner)
On Simchat Torah of the year 5738 or 5739, our Rabbi came to the old Yeshiva building on Ha-Rav Kook Street, without any strength, dragging his feet, and they were sure that he would not place a foot in the street. This was not so, however, andeven though in the Yeshiva he succeeded in standing with difficultly, he went from there to King George Street to the building of the Chief Rabbinate and danced four straight hours, with great strength. After a half an hour, however, the students were spent, their strength was already gone. (Iturei Cohanim #265 in the name of Ha-Rav Tzvi Kostiner)

He would not make Kiddush before the Hakafot of the morning. They explained that he acted this way because he did not want to drink wine before Birkat Cohanim of Musaf. (ibid. p. 95)

One year on Simchat Torah, the students were singing "Next year in Jerusalem." Our Rabbi stopped everyone and said: "This year!" (Ha-Rav Yechezkel Greenwald – Iturei Yerushalayim #3)

He explained the meaning of the second "Hakafot" (on the night after Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah concludes in Israel) in two ways: 1. Identification with the Jews in Exile (who celebrate Simchat Torah on that night). 2. The state of joy towhich we reached in the string of holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret, brings us to an exalted state of joy, and this level does not end with nightfall. (Gadol Shimusha p. 119)