Decorum Simchat Tora

The Simchat Tora services are the most festive services in our congregation. Historically, Shabbat Bereshit, Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Nachamu (the anniversary of the Esnoga) were also very festive, but after the decimation of the community during the Shoa this was stopped. Only Simchat Tora was, and is, kept.

At night, all candles are lit

Special prayers are added and special melodies sung. The gold pontairo (pointer, Yad) is used and the Sefarim get dressed in the most beautiful gold brocade mantles and with the most beautiful silver and gold ornaments.

The Sefer carried by the Chatan Tora is dressed with the “open golden crown” and with the mantle of Namias or Josef Teixeira de Mattos [1].

The Sefer carried by the Chatan Bereshit is dressed with the “closed golden crown” and with the mantle of Josef Henriquez de Castro.

The Sefer carried by the Lavador is dressed with the silver crown and with the mantle of Fundam or Namias.

The Sefarim are placed in the Hechal in this order בראשית, to its right וזאת הברכה and to its right פנחס. As the Hechal has an even number of (fixed) places, so there is no “middle place”. Therefore, בראשית is to left from the middle, the other two, to the right.

                                 B            V          P (evening seting)
בראשית, V=  וזאת הברכה, B= פינחס. Picture: Stibbe 2022: 

In the morning, before the reading, Sefer וזאת הברכה is brought to the Tebah by the Lavador, Sefer בראשית by the Chatan Tora and Sefer מפטיר by the Chatan Bershit.

After the reading, Sefer וזאת הברכה is brougt back to the Hechal by the Chatan Tora, Sefer בראשית by the Chatan Bersihit.and Sefer מפטיר by the Lavador 

Two 18th century (1741) canapés are placed in front of the Hechal for the Chatanim and their acompanhador (escort), one on the left side of the Hechal and one on the right side. The Chatan Tora sits on the left side (when looking from the Esnoga, “Muiderstraat” side) and the Chatan Bereshit sits to the right side (“Meijerplein” side) [2]. The Chatanim sit on the inner side, the acompanhadores on the outer side.


            Chatan Tora                           Chatan Bersihit

Etch by Picard, approx 1725, dated before the canapés were donated.
Picard placed the Chatanim on the wrong side and depicts five open Hechal doors, which is done in the evening and Chatanim holding sefarim, which is during the day. 

On the big canapés the sefarim are placed on two small raised platforms, because one is not allowed to sit on a bench with a Sefer resting on it (שו"ע יו"ד רפ"ב ז' ובית יוסף שם)

On the right ladies gallery (“Meijerplein” side) two chairs are placed for the two Callot, Callat Tora left and Bereshit right (seen from below).



The Chatanim enter and leave the Snoge in procession via the left aisle (“Muiderstraat”). In front goes the Samaas, then the Chatan Tora and his acompanhador and finally the Chatan Bereshit and his acompanhador. The Samaas opens the left gate of the Hechal fence before the Chatanim enter, and closes it when they leave the Snoge at the end of the Service.

 Poem אלף נר

Although not related to the service, I add the anonymous poem אלף נר (thousand candles) by a visitor of the Simchat Tora service in Snoge in 1962. The poem was copied by Mr. Uri Eliav (original name Swelheim) on two pages of a dairy in 1964. I publish it so it won’t get lost.

wpeF.jpg (49458 bytes)

[1] Some of the mantles are not used due their very fragile condition, being hundreds of years old.

[2] This is logical. This way they never cross each other, as in the morning the Chatan Tora goes first to the Teba and when the Chatan Bereshit goes, the Chatan Tora is still on the Teba. And so their way back: the Chatan Tora goes whilst the Chatan Bereshit is on the Teba.


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