The Torah Service for Simchat Torah

Special ceremonies for ending and beginning the Torah cycle.

Print this page Print this page

Three of the aliyot are particular honors. The first of these most-honored aliyot is the next-to-last one for the reading of Deuteronomy that completes the annual cycle of Torah readings. This aliyah is identified as Kol Ha-Ne'arim (literally, "All the Children"), because it is given to a distinguished member of the community, joined on the bimah by all of the children present. The adult honoree holds aloft a prayer shawl forming a canopy above the children. In unison, the honoree and the children say the blessings before and after this reading. Then the entire congregation blesses all the children by reciting the blessing Jacob gave to his grandchildren. In this moment of Simchat Torah, we see a parallel between the unbroken cycle of Torah reading and the never-ending transmission of Torah from generation to generation.

The second very special honor is the final aliyah for this reading from Deuteronomy. The aliyah is designated as the Hatan Torah or Kallat Torah (literally, "Bridegroom of the Torah" or "Bride of the Torah"), and the honor is reserved for someone of great distinction in the community, such as the rabbi.

The third special honor is the aliyah for the Torah reading that begins the new annual cycle--the one at the very beginning of Genesis. The recipient of that aliyah is designated Hatan Bereishit or Kallat Bereishit (literally, "Bridegroom of Genesis" or "Bride of Genesis"). Some congregations have a custom to spread a tallit over the Hatan/Kallat Torah and Hatan/Kallat Bereishit, similar to making a canopy over the children.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Paul Steinberg

Paul Steinberg is a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California and is the Head of the Etz Chaim Hebrew School. He previously served as the Rabbi and Director of Jewish Studies and Hebrew at Levine Academy: A Solomon Schechter School in Dallas, Texas.