[Avodah] What Will be with Simchas Torah?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Sep 17 13:40:15 PDT 2020

Taking this to Avodah. I wrote on Areivim on Monday, 14-S-2020,
10:41pm EDT:
>  Early in the pandemic, I wondered about the validity of the heteirim
> we rely on for numerous Simchas Torah minhagim: Leining at night is
> problematic, but it's only to eliminate the problem of taking out sifrei
> Torah if it weren't for leining. The number of aliyos. Aliyos given to
> 12 year olds, etc...

> This year many minyanim missed more than entire chumash. So I asked how
> we can just assume it's okay to rely on those heteirim to celebrate a
> siyum that itself is iffy.

> But when I wrote that, few of us really thought that Israel would be
> closing down for the chagim, and that ever minute of shul in nearly all
> of chu"l is increasing medical risk. So now we're talking about invoking
> heteirim to party at the peril of the medically fragile in the community.

> I am not sure what we would be marking with 7 simple trips around the
> bimah, given the gap for Shemos and Vayiqra my qehillah has in this year's
> leining. But if we psychologically need to pretend there is a Simchas
> Torah this year, and that too has medical positives, how can anyone argue
> for more but the barest minimum to satisfy that psychological need for
> the majority of people?

On Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 2:03pm GMT, R Harry Maryles replied on Areivim:
> It's true that most Shuls had a pretty big gap in their weekly Kriyas
> HaTorah and that many Parshios were missed. But some Shuls hae made them
> up. In a few cases no Parshios were missed. For example in my son's
> neighborhood of Ramat bet Shemesh which is over 90% observant, my son
> did KhT every Shabbos from his balcony with a Minyan made of of all of
> his neighbors within earshot. (Don't know how he arrived at calling this
> Teffilah B'Tzibur, but that was his Beshas Ha'dechak Psak.)

> IIUC, Doing Hakafos on ST is a Minahg of the Tzibur, not the Yachid.
> It is based on what the Klal as a whole does. The celebration of
> completing yearly cycle with Hakafos is therefore appropriate this year
> just like every year. But only along the lines I suggested because of
> the pandemic.

There are cases where every parashah was leined beause the members of
the minyan can't disband anyway -- like in a nursing home or on an army

But I fear you presented a false dichotomy. Yes, leining and therefore
the siyum on leining we celebrate on ST are about the tzibur.

But I wouldn't assume that means the global tzibur. After all, there
was even a time when annual leining wasn't a universal norm.

I had presented a third option, because I had assumed a neighorhood
tzibbur. With all the modern complications now that most communities
have shenei batei din ba'ir, as we put it WRT the tzibbur accepting
Shabbos. But whether your town, your shul, or something else, that
I didn't have a position on.

So as I saw it, if no minyan in town leined the whole seifer Torah
betzibbur, how is that community making a siyum? Shouldn't the shul
making the party include at least person completing the text being

In any case, there are at least those three possibilities, and we only
agree on ruling out the first one, the yachid.

But my point on Areivim, just like the point I made here to begin with,
was more about most of the minhagim for celebrating Simchas Torah are on
the defensive. We lein at night. (At least most of us do.) We take out
more sifrei Torah than we read from. We give way too many people aliyos.
We are relying on heteirim on a slew of dinim about kavod ST and qeri'as
haTorah. We need a certain level of justification for it.

We don't have to just say that ST celebrates someone else's completion
of the Torah -- we need to be able to argue that's true strongly enough
to justify those heteirim.

Or, that we need ST for our mental health strongly enough to qualify
as justification. Which is an approach I am more sympathetic to than
saying I am dancing in my shul with a seifer Torah to celebrate the men of
Nachal Yehudah (eg) and in the senior living facilities a couple of miles
outside our eiruv at Daughter of Miryam completing a cycle of leining.

Of course, a full Simchas Torah observance isn't safe right now either

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Despair is the worst of ailments. No worries
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   are justified except: "Why am I so worried?"
Author: Widen Your Tent                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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