By Arik Levin
This Simchas Torah, there will be certain scenes that we will all commonly see, scenes that have and will fill us with a sense of joy, a bit of nostalgia, and a warm feeling inside.
Families walking to shul, young children on their father’s shoulders waving little flags above their heads, young and old dancing with the Sifrei Torah. And then the Kiddush table, the Farbrengen spread with a variety of bottles of L’chaim and hosts of salads and refreshments (farbaisen).
The beauty of the Simchas Torah joy comes hand in hand with the chassidishe (limited) saying of Lechaim, and the positive openness and uninhibitedness that comes along. Hakafos, that Ata Horeisa’s, the joyous dancing, are held together beautifully in the warm aura of a Chassidisher Farbrengen.
[I refrain from using the terms Mashke and Shikkor because I remember something my teacher told me growing up, paraphrasing the famous Yiddish song “Shikker is a Goy”, that “a Chossid is never Shikkor, a chossid though, may find himself after Lechayim”, this distinction is not trivial, it sets aside the warm Lechaim of a Chossid from the dangers and boorish nature of common drinking.]
I think back to the Farbrengens and Hakafos of my youth, looking at my father with wide-open eyes, seeing him and his friends with their spirits high, reciting the Pesukim of Ata Horeisa, dancing energetically with bright smiling faces, uplifting our young hearts as well. We kids would dance cheerfully around the bimah, outrunning our fathers, but following their spirited and joyous mood and beat. Simchas Torah day, we’d precede and follow the dancing at the Yom Tov Kiddush with a beautiful farbrengen, we’d watch our parents relive their past Simchas Torahs with the Rebbe, sharing and recreating those moments of joy that they experienced with the Rebbe, at times actually getting up and demonstrating to us what the Rebbe’s Hakafos were like, imparting to us some of that joy and richness from those moments.
And of course there was some banter, maybe a bit of stumbling, and the next morning there was definitely a headache, but it was all part of the fun, it was good-natured, comical, and special, it was Simchas Torah!
“Simchas Torah shat nisht” (Simchas Torah doesn’t harm), throughout the years, by the Rabbeim and by our Rebbe, Simchas Torah we were lifted to a different plain, to a sphere where the important things really matter, we were able to listen and hear things that weren’t spoken the rest of the year, we could experience and enjoy our Chassidishe Simcha with an open, uninhibited, and outgoing attitude.
The descriptions and tales of the all-night-long-dancing, L’chaim-infused, no-barred Hakafos, throughout the history of Chassidei Chabad, by all the Rabbeim, and specifically in our generation range wider and go deeper than what can be covered in one short letter, but the general gist and spirit of what Simchas Torah meant and means by us Chassidei Chabad, is definitely based on the unique “Frelichkeit” that we bring to the table (Literally as well as metaphorically…)
Just to clarify, this is not meant to condone the saying of L’chaim by those too young, those who it is unhealthy for, or those who can’t hold their L’chaim, neither is the point to celebrate any elements of Shikrus, i.e. any wild, aggressive, inappropriate, or careless behavior, that would come from irresponsible drinking and of course this is not excusing drinking more than one is allowed to drink, rather this is just to remind ourselves of the beauty of a Hakafos and Simchas Torah done right, with the healthy amount of Frelichkeit.
In response to the age-old question, “Why can’t the Simcha of Yom Tov be enough?” there is the story they tell of a prince who ended up in a common man’s tavern when great news from the king was delivered to him. He wanted to celebrate this happy occasion with song and dance, but the riff-raff with their uncouth attitude were holding him back from letting himself go and dancing, not seeing any other way, he went and ordered a round or two of drinks for the guys, and within a few minutes, the entire bar was on their feet dancing and singing, and though the simple bar-goers didn’t know why they were dancing, this allowed the prince to rejoice fully and openly. This parable told by the Baal Shem Tov, explains the “deal” we must sometimes make with ourselves, to allow ourselves to fully experience the true joy and elation of Simchas Torah.
But now, leaving the philosophy and the theology behind, the beauty of an old “home-style” chassidisher Simchas Torah replete with Niggunim, Farbrengens, and L’chaim, is something that one truly needs to experience. Especially in our times, it’s important to reemphasize the meaning of true Lubavitch Joy, L’chaim, and farbrengen. So whether by the Rebbe, at a local Lubavitch Shul or Chabad house, let us let ourselves go and recreate the truly freilicher Hakafos and show our children and the world how we do it.
One thing you have to understand is that moderate drinking is very difficult for a lot of people.
Studies show that driving on a straight road, most drivers will speed
Drinking feels good, one wants to continue to feel good.
It takes a lot of self control and many hangovers to get yourself to a place where you can drink moderately.
Sadly for some, it never happens.
That’s why drinking in minors is illegal, because they lack the ability to make informed decisions. Many adults do too .. but adults hopefully have some experience to know better.
I was at hakafos until around 3 on shmini atzeres and on simchas torah until around 5 I didn’t see any inappropriate behavior aside for some frencheis who always get drunk ‘וכו
The assumption that the majority of lubavitch is drinking for the true and pure expression of Simchas torah, is essentially flawed. The common farbrengens of the previous generations, were a group of friends coming together to discuss their challenges in Avodas hashem and the lchaim was used as a way to become more open. Or in regards to Simchas torah the lchiam was used to express the inner joy of receiving the torah. But that can only come after the true joy is already planted in your life, and cannot be manufactured through excessive consumption of alcohol in the name… Read more »
But given the fact that in our generation, many do struggle with not knowing how much is too much and there is altogether too much “letting go,” now isn’t the time to wax nostalgic about the beauties of “letting yourself go” with mashkeh. The toll in lives, health, shalom bayis etc is simply too high.
I think even little kids should have have lchaim, just to taste true fun.
hope your talking about grapejuice.
Maybe not geleh but for sure vayseh
Wow, a real article, with no click bait. While I may have worded the caution a bit stronger, I appreciate and echo the sentiment. Good ol’ Lubavitch varemkeit needs to make its way back. The young generation needs to know what true Lchaim farbrengens are supposed to look like and discern them from the dubious-meaning party-goers of the Avenue.
Gut Yom tov!
Today’s drinking is on a whole different level then before gimmel tammuz drinking. Today it’s for relieving themselves from the pressure of being teenagers or/and mental health….
The bottom line is: there is a saying when you drink wine all the secrets come out. Before gimmel tammuz our Rebbe, our Rebbeim revealed G-dly secrets. Unfortunately today the youth are revealing the truthful secrets of today’s society/community. It’s not a phase and it’s not “he has an issue to be drunk, ” it’s what going on within the community that no one wants to address or talk about.
Chassidim farbrenged together between themselves and with mashpi’im before gimmel tammuz as well. It wasn’t only the Rebbeim sing g-dly secrets, there were mashpi’im who said L’chaim and instructed others to do so.
It’s all true. The good, the bad the ugly and the pretty. The extremes are usually best left there and moderation – a blend – offers the sweet spot. Sometimes, some mood enhancer, elevates the experience. Try to be honest with yourself, and perhaps have one or two relatively unbiased friends from who you can check yourself if aligned with your ideals and objectives. Laugh, cry, think, feel, dance, introspect, give, take, push, pull, sleep, run… Live fully. Don’t kill yourself trying to live and don’t lock yourself to be free. L’Chaim – a nice one word encapsulation of this:… Read more »
What memories do you want your children to have? Brechting tatteh who goes around pulling beards and using nivul peh or tatteh who is b’simcho giving out brochos b’ahavas Yisroel?
Know your limits…
Thank you for the beautiful vibes in this article! Let’s remember that the most important part of our life is our hiskashrus to the Rebbe, and one of the only things (or the only thing?) which the Rebbe said breaks/weakens this connection is ignoring his limits on drinking l’chaim. We all want to be the Rebbe’s shluchim, do the Rebbe’s mivtzoim, go on the Rebbe’s tahalucha, etc. – let’s make sure that the Rebbe also wants us there by following this important directive. [P.S. For those who didn’t understand: The Rebbe made it clear that those who chas v’shalom drink… Read more »