dance a chassidic dance

Wednesday, 11 October, 2017 - 8:18 am

 We are about to celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah, to sing and dance with the sifrei Torah. On Simchat Torah we rejoice with the Torah, about the Torah, about our existence, about the repeating cycle of Hashem, the Torah and the Jewish People.

I would like to tell you about a different, very sad Simchat Torah, which was nevertheless much more powerful. Actually, it didn’t take place on the holiday of Simchat Torah, but it did involve a sefer Torah and the tunes of Simchat Torah.

It was the 10th of Kislev 5702 – December 1941. Riga, Latvia. Dozens of Jews were shoved into the local shul by the Germans and their volunteer Latvian helpers. In a moment, the shul was going to be set afire and all those in it would be burned to death, sanctifying Hashem’s Name. Among them were three of the greatest of Chabad chassidim of all time – chassidim that even today, over 70 years later, every Chabad child knows: R. Itche der Masmid, R. Chatsche Faigin and R. Eli Chaim Althaus.

The story is told by an eyewitness who somehow survived: As the door of the shul closed upon them, R. Itche approached the holy Ark, took out a sefer Torah and said, “Yidden, we are hereby merited to perform the mitzvah of giving up our lives al Kiddush Hashem and we should do it joyfully.” He then placed his hand on R. Eli Chaim’s shoulder, who then placed his hand on R. Chatsche’s shoulder, and together they started to dance a chassidic dance, singing the tune of the Chabad hakafas, the one sung in Chabad communities on Simchat Torah.

Yidden, it’s Simchat Torah. Take a cupful or two, say L’chaim wholeheartedly and dance. Dance, Jews, dance; dance as much as you can. Be endlessly joyful, and Hashem will shower endless blessings on us, until our lips will tire of saying “Enough”!


Chag Same’ach,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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