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SukkotHakafot - Sukkot & Simchat Torah

Hakafot – Sukkot & Simchat Torah

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Last Updated on October 13, 2021

Hakafot – A joyous celebration

Hakafot – Members of Yeshivat Har Hamor dance with the Torah scrolls around the Bimah on Simchat Torah

What are Hakafot?

Hakafot (הקפות plural)

Hakafah (הקפה singular)

Meaning “[to] circle” or “going around” in Hebrew.

Hakafot are a Jewish Minhag (custom) in which people walk or dance around a specific object, generally in a religious setting.

In Judaism, there is a custom on Sukkot to encircle the reader’s platform (bimah) with the Four Species on each of the seven days of the Sukkot holiday.

On the eve of Simchat Torah and the following morning, the custom is to take the Torah scrolls out of the Ark and to encircle the reader’s platform seven times. Worshippers celebrate throughout the synagogue with great joy, singing, and dancing. 

Before the dancing commences, a set of seventeen verses, called Atah Ha’raita, is chanted three times. 

It is a great honor to hold the Torah scrolls and at the commencement of each Hakafah, the honor of holding the Torah scrolls is given to a different group of men.    

It is also customary to hand out flags for children to carry, supposedly reminiscent of the tribal flags under which the Israelites marched in the desert. 

After the seventh hakafah, all of the Torah scrolls are returned to the Ark except for one. This Torah Scroll is returned to the reading desk on the Bimah where Torah readings are continued. When the Torah reading has been completed, the Scroll is returned to the Ark.

When attending prayer services and participating in the Hakafot, we urge you to follow latest Ministry of Health Covid-19 restrictions and directives.

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