Sunday, October 7, 2012

Simchas Torah Hakafos – Standing Up

Five Towns Jewish Times by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
As people grow older, often the infirmities of age can change what used to be simple activities into situations with some challenges.  Simchas Torah is, of course, a time of intense joy in which we celebrate both the completion and the continuity of the Torah.  In doing so, we generally remove all the Sifrei Torah from the Aron Kodesh and encircle the Bima with seven joyous Hakafos.  The Sifrei Torah are always on the move and in front of us, and this brings up some halachic questions

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 282:2) states that one who sees a Sefer Torah being moved is obligated to stand up in front of it.  All should stand up until the person moving the Torah reaches his place or if it is no longer within their sight.

This Halacha would seem to dictate that the entire period of Hakafos of Simchas Torah, one must remain standing.  In many places the Hakafos can last several hours.  There are places in which the Hakafos last for four or five hours and rare is the Shul that has Hakafos for less than an hour and a half.  Must one really stand the entire time? 

Rabbi Yair Bacharach, author of the Chavas Yair writes in his newly discovered commentary on Shulchan Aruch (Mekor Chaim 141:7) that, in fact, there is such an obligation to stand.  ONE 

The Aruch HaShulchan (YD 282:5) expresses a somewhat more lenient view.  He writes that while the Hakafos are going on and the Torahs are encircling the Bima, there is certainly an obligation to stand.  However, in between the Hakafos, even though the Torahs are being held by individuals, one may sit down.  His reason is that this is uquivalent to the Torah having reached its place.   It is interesting to note that Rav Yoseph Teomim in his Pri Magadim (Mishbetzes HaZahav 141) writes that when a Chazan is holding the Torah while reciting Yizkor it is considered as if the Torah is resting in its place and there is no obligation to stand up.  So we do see some precedent for the Aruch HaShulchan’s opinion.

1 comment :

  1. See where the bring a psak of Rav Shlomo Zalman in which he is meiqil, allowing people to sit for most of the time that the haqafot are going on.


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