Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sukkot in Jerusalem: The Joy of Simchat Beit Hashoeivah in a Chasidic Yeshiva


When the Temple in Jerusalem stood, a unique service was performed every morning throughout the Sukkot holiday: the Nisuch ha-Mayim (lit. "Pouring of the water") or Water Libation Ceremony. 

According to the Talmud, Sukkot is the time of year in which God judges the world for rainfall; therefore this ceremony, like the taking of the Four Species, invokes God's blessing for rain in its proper time. The water for the libation ceremony was drawn from the Pool of Siloam (Hebrew: Breikhat HaShiloah‎‎) in the City of David and carried up the Jerusalem pilgrim road to the Temple. The joy that accompanied this procedure was palpable. 

Afterwards, every night in the outer Temple courtyard, tens of thousands of spectators would gather to watch the Simchat Beit HaShoeivah (Rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing), as the most pious members of the community danced and sang songs of praise to God. The dancers would carry lit torches, and were accompanied by the harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets of the Levites. According to the Mishnah, (Tractate Sukkah), "He who has not seen the rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life." Throughout Sukkot, the city of Jerusalem teemed with Jewish families who came on the holiday pilgrimage and joined together for feasting and Torah study. A partition separating men and women was erected for this occasion. Nowadays, this event is recalled via a Simchat Beit HaShoeivah gathering of music, dance, and refreshments. This event takes place in a central location such as a synagogue, yeshiva, or place of study. Refreshments are served in the adjoining sukkah. Live bands often accompany the dancers. The festivities usually begin late in the evening, and can last long into the night.

Join us for a few minutes of Sukkot rejoicing at a Simchat Beit HaShoeivah at the Toldos Aharon center in Jerusalem.  The Toldos Aharon sect, based in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood is one of the most extreme in the Haredi world, but certainly one of the most fascinating as well as devout.

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3 comments:

  1. while i enjoyed the video, i also feel sad because these children are denied a secular education and often live in abject poverty.

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  2. If you get a chance to visit there - like I did - you'll find that those children are happier than most kids in the US

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    1. happy is non definable. They are happy because they know nothing else but.... and I do agree with you somewhat. They have an innocent happiness.

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