1. Though Simchas Torah is the second day of Shemini Atzeres, it also has a unique aspect of its own. The Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya that the name of an entity expresses its life force and nature. Thus, the fact that Simchas Torah has a name of its own implies that it represents a different entity than Shemini Atzeres.

In this, we see a difference between the diaspora and Eretz Yisrael where the holiday is only celebrated for one day. Nevertheless, since the celebration of the holiday in Eretz Yisrael cannot possibly lack anything, we are forced to say that there the qualities of both holidays are revealed on one day, while in the diaspora each one is revealed on a day of its own. Since time itself is also a creation, it follows that in the diaspora, added emphasis is placed on this quality for an entire day was created for Simchas Torah.

Simchas Torah is, as implied by its name, a celebration associated with the Torah, in particular, the giving of the second tablets. Though they were given on Yom Kippur, our celebration is held on Simchas Torah. The essence of this day is that the highest aspects of the Torah are revealed within the contexts of our world.

The Torah existed two thousand years before the world. After the world’s creation, we find that Adam studied Torah in Gan Eden. Rashi (Genesis 2:15) explains that he was charged with the performance of both the positive and negative commandments. It is self-understood that unless he studied Torah, he would not have been able to perform those commandments.

Furthermore, we can conclude that he also studied Pnimiyus HaTorah (Torah’s mystic realm). This is obvious from his naming of all the creations. The Midrash relates that G‑d told the angels that Adam’s wisdom exceeded theirs as proven by the fact that he was able to name all the animals. The Maggid explains that Adam comprehended the life-force and nature of each animal and therefore, was able to give each one a name that was representative of that life-force.

This comprehension stemmed from Pnimiyus HaTorah. Since G‑d “looked into the Torah and created the world,” by looking into Pnimiyus HaTorah, one can appreciate the inner life-force of all the creations, the source and their root. As the Shaloh states, the knowledge of the creations of this world allows one to grasp “the secret of the Divine chariot.”

This was true before the giving of the Torah. At the giving of the Torah, Torah, including Pnimiyus HaTorah, was revealed within the context of this world. This is implied by our Sages who explained that before the giving of the Torah, there was a separation between the spiritual and the material and, with the giving of the Torah, that gap was bridged and Torah could be revealed within the context of our world.

The giving of the second tablets represented an even higher revelation. Our Sages associated G‑d’s granting of them with the verse (Iyov 11:6): “A hidden wisdom, for they are two-fold...” Thus, they included a “two-fold” revelation, i.e., an increase of Torah knowledge including “hidden wisdom,” Pnimiyus HaTorah. Furthermore, since the giving of the second tablets was preceded by the service of teshuvah, its effect within our world is emphasized more.

The revelation of the highest aspects of the Torah within the context of our world on Simchas Torah is further emphasized by the Zohar which associates Simchas Torah with Kesser Torah, “the crown of the Torah,” the aspect of Torah which transcends intellect.

This quality is also associated with the study of practical Halachah which is also described (Megillah 28b) as “Kesser Torah. In the Torah’s halachos, we find the above qualities, the revelation of the highest qualities, G‑d’s will which transcends wisdom, and the expression of that will within the context of our world.

The latter quality is further emphasized by the fact that the study of the Torah’s halachos is applicable to every Jew. The relation of a person to the theoretical aspects of Torah study depends on his individual abilities. Even though the entire Torah was given as an inheritance to every Jew, each person’s ability to comprehend Torah differs. However, these variances do not apply in regard to Halachah. In that realm, every Jew, man or woman, is equal.

In regard to the theoretical aspects of Torah, there is a difference between the obligations of men and women. However, in regard to Halachah, the Alter Rebbe writes that woman are obligated to study the laws governing all the halachos they must fulfill. This encompasses a vast field of knowledge. Thus, in regard to the halachos of Torah, there is a basic equality between all of the Jewish people.

(Indeed, in a certain regard, there is a prominence to the women’s connection to Torah. Our Sages explain that, in preparation for the giving of the Torah, G‑d told Moshe to speak to the women before he spoke to the men. Furthermore, G‑d told Moshe to approach the women gently, but to speak to the men in harsh terms.

Similarly, in regard to the second tablets, which were given in response to the service of teshuvah, there is an aspect in which the women’s connection is greater. Though the women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were also involved in teshuvah. Indeed, theirs was a higher level of teshuvah, for it was not preceded by sin. This also corresponds to the difference between the approach of “harsh terms” which are sometimes necessary to motivate a person to repent for sins, and gentle persuasion which may prompt a person to the higher level of teshuvah.)

The aspect of Halachah also relates to the effect of Torah within the world. Halachah refers to practical acts to be fulfilled within the context of our material world. Thus, the fundamental aspect of the effect of Torah within the context of our world is expressed through Halachah, “the crown of Torah.”

The aspect of Halachah also relates to a Jew’s activity in the matters of the world which are “permitted,” neither forbidden, nor commanded. These should be carried out in a manner of “Know G‑d in all your ways,” and “All your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.”

The latter quality shares a connection to Simchas Torah, which is the second day of Shemini Atzeres. The Haftorah of Shemini Atzeres relates how “On the eighth day, the king sent away the people. They blessed the king (after the king blessed them) and journeyed to their dwellings happy and glad of heart.” This implies that they returned to their lives within the context of the material world.

(The word used for dwellings is literally translated as “tents,” i.e., a temporary dwelling. This implies that they had comprehended that their material affairs were only “temporary” matters, secondary to Torah and mitzvos. Accordingly, their involvement in the material world conformed to the directive of “Know G‑d in all your ways,” and “All your deeds should be for the sake of Heaven.”

In a larger sense, the concept of temporary dwelling relates to the idea that all of our present circumstances are “temporary” in relation to a Jew’s ultimate and true circumstances which will be revealed in the Messianic age. Further, at present, we can get a taste of that ultimate situation as on the Shabbos eve, one tastes the food prepared for Shabbos.)

The concept mentioned above — that Simchas Torah relates to the revelation of Torah within the context of material reality — has particular relevance to the present age which has witnessed the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah and its explanation through the teachings of Chassidus.

Pnimiyus HaTorah is associated with light. Accordingly, the fundamental book of Pnimiyus HaTorah is the Zohar which means “shining,” a light which shines within darkness, revealing its inner truth. In particular, this quality relates to the teachings of Chabad Chassidus whose intent is to explain the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah within an intellectual framework.

The propensity to appreciate the inner truth in darkness can be seen in the story of the Mitteler Rebbe who was so harshly effected from hearing the reading of the Tochachah (the curses enumerated in Parshas Ki Savo) that he fainted. When he was revived, he was asked if this happened every year. He explained that “when my father reads this portion, I never heard any curses.”

We see how even when the Alter Rebbe read the Torah publicly — in regard to the study of the portion, it can be explained abstractly — and all that was heard was the simple meaning of the words, one could sense that since “my Father,” a Jew’s true Father, authored the portion, there are no curses. This aspect was revealed by the Mitteler Rebbe, who had been charged by the Alter Rebbe with directing the development of the younger Chassidim. He added the quality of “the broadening of the river,” in-depth explanation of the Alter Rebbe’s concepts. Similarly, in the generations that followed, each of the Rebbeim continued this approach while adding an aspect that reflected his own nature.

The Tzemach Tzedek taught how the teachings of Pnimiyus HaTorah could be united with those of the revealed, legal tradition, to the point where it could be appreciated that they were “one Torah.” This, in turn, was continued by the Rebbe Maharash in a manner of “lechat’chilah aribber — (Initially, one should go upward)” and the Rebbe Rashab, who founded the Yeshivah of Tomchei Temimim. This process was continued by the Previous Rebbe who spread Chassidus outward, reaching the furthest corners possible. His work included the translation of Chassidus into other languages so that even those who could not appreciate the texts in their original would have access to them.

The importance of the spreading of Chassidus by the Previous Rebbe can be appreciated in light of the Rambam’s statements in Hilchos Melachim which explain that “Moshe was commanded by the Almighty to influence all the inhabitants of the world to accept the commandments which were given to the descendants of Noach.”

The Rambam continues to explain that the gentiles must be influenced to follow these mitzvos because G‑d commanded them to do so. Thus, we see that the giving of the Torah had an effect on gentiles as well. From this, it can be understood Pnimiyus HaTorah is also relevant to them and its ultimate revelation will also include its becoming accessible to gentiles. This was accomplished by the Previous Rebbe for the translation of Chassidus into other languages has made it possible for them to comprehend its concepts.

For example, Deuteronomy 4:39 states: “There is no other [entity than G‑d]” and Deuteronomy 4:35 states: “There is no other [entity] aside from Him.” Chassidic thought explains that these verses explain two different concepts. The first verse negates the existence of other entities. The second verse implies that though in its own right — “aside from Him” — no entity can exist, together with Him and as an expression of Him, other entities can exist.

The Previous Rebbe explained these concepts in a manner in which they could be understood by gentiles as well. This was continued to an even greater degree by his shluchim — and those appointed by his shluchim — until the concepts have been spread over a very wide expanse.

The spreading of Torah concepts to the extent that they reach the gentiles is also relevant to Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. The Hebrew word Atzeres means to “gather in.” During Shemini Atzeres, one gathers in all the revelations of Sukkos. Sukkos shares a connection with the gentiles. The seventy bulls offered as sacrifices on Sukkos are representative of the seventy gentile nations. Similarly, the water offering brought on Sukkos is representative of Pnimiyus HaTorah.

The fusion of these two concepts — and their being gathered in to the extent that they can be drawn down even to the gentiles — is emphasized by the verse “so that all the nations of the world shall know that the L‑rd is G‑d, there is none else.” This verse is recited daily throughout the holiday of Sukkos and is included in the Haftorah for Shemini Atzeres. As mentioned above, the extension of Pnimiyus HaTorah to the point where it could be appreciated by the gentiles is the contribution of the Previous Rebbe.

One should not be amazed at the fact that in our generation — a generation which is, at least to all external appearances, on a lower spiritual level than the previous generations — the teachings of Chassidus were able to be extended this far, for a similar pattern can be seen in regard to the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah in general. In the previous generations, Pnimiyus HaTorah was hidden from most people, even many Torah sages. However, in these later generations, the AriZal has taught that it is a mitzvah to reveal this knowledge. Furthermore, the teachings of Chassidus have taken these concepts and explained them in a manner that allows them to be internalized. Thus, as the darkness of exile has increased, there has been a need for greater revelation and therefore, there has been an additional spreading of Chassidus.

We find a similar concept in the Talmud. Our Sages (Yoma 54b) relate that “when the gentiles entered the Temple, they saw the Cherubim intertwined together” as an expression of the love between G‑d and the Jewish people. It was at the time of the ultimate descent, the destruction of the Temple, that this essential love was revealed. Furthermore, this revelation was powerful enough to be appreciated by gentiles as well.

Similarly, at present, though the darkness of the exile continues, the spreading of Chassidus also grows to the extent that it has also been extended to gentiles.

A reflection of the above concepts can be seen in the discoveries of the present generation including the discovery of trees whose age has been approximated at over 3000 years old. This allows for added insight into a fundamental Jewish concept, G‑d’s lack of change. When we see a tree that has continued to grow in the same place for such a long time, despite the variety of changes undergone by the surrounding environment, — in addition to its adding a new rung every year without losing any of the previous ones — we can derive additional insight into G‑d’s unchanging existence.

(The above also shows how — with a proper approach — the discoveries of modern science can be seen as an asset and not a challenge to Torah.)

May the revelation of Torah — including Pnimiyus HaTorah — on Simchas Torah and its extension until the lowest levels including the gentiles, hasten the ultimate revelation which will accompany the coming of Mashiach. Then, “a new Torah will emerge from Me” with the revelation of Pnimiyus HaTorah. Though this revelation is included in the original revelation at Mount Sinai, nevertheless, in the Messianic age, the manner in which Pnimiyus HaTorah will be revealed will differ. It will be revealed in a manner of sight: “The glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken.”

May the redemption come immediately and then, we will continue the farbrengen, and afterwards Hakkafos, together with Mashiach in the city of Jerusalem.

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2. Even though in certain aspects, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are considered as a separate holiday, in other contexts, they are considered as an extension of Sukkos. This is implied by the very name Shemini Atzeres, “the eighth day of assembly.”

The Rashba explains the significance of the number eight as follows. Seven refers to the perfection of the natural order. Eight refers to a revelation above the natural order which “protects” the natural order. Our Sages associate the number seven with seven mitzvos of Sukkos — the four species in the lulav, the sukkah, the chagigah sacrifice, and the celebration associated with the water libation. Similarly, within the lulav itself, there are seven entities — one lulav, one esrog, two willows, and three myrtles. The Midrash explains that the four species of the lulav represents four different types of Jews. In particular, the seven entities can be paralleled to the seven categories of souls represented by the seven branches of the menorah.

In contrast, Shemini Atzeres represents an eighth quality, a higher level. Our Sages stated that the harp of the Temple was of seven strings and the harp of the Messianic age will be of eight strings.

In particular, we can see seven levels of happiness, three which are relevant to creation at large, and four which are relevant only to Jews.

In relation to creation: a) the happiness which stems from being G‑d’s creation; b) the happiness associated with being created in a manner representative of the Creator; c) the happiness connected with the creation of a special time for joy, the season of our rejoicing.

In addition, there are four other sources of happiness for Jews: d) the happiness that stems from the ability to serve G‑d; e) the happiness which results from fulfilling the command to “serve the L‑rd, your G‑d, with joy;” f) the additional happiness that accompanies the mitzvos directly associated with joy which include all the holidays; g) the particular happiness associated with Sukkos, “the season of our rejoicing.”

Shemini Atzeres represents an eighth level of happiness, an even higher and more elevated level.

To explain the above in greater detail: The first level of happiness stems from G‑d’s creation of the world. The very fact that creation stems from G‑d’s essence, for only He whose Being is from His essence can create, is itself a source for ultimate joy.

The second level of happiness stems from the manner in which each creation was brought into being. The creation does not actually sense that it is dependent on a source. Thus, it resembles its Creator. Only G‑d’s essence and the creations of our world share the feeling that their existence is not dependent on another entity.

In addition, our Sages explained (Rosh Hashanah 11a) that the creations were created willingly. G‑d asked them if they desired to be created and they consented. This can be interpreted to mean that G‑d created them in a manner in which their very being would be dependent on their will and desire, without being able to be forced. Thus, they resemble their Creator whose actions are also willful and not forced.

The third level of happiness is related to the idea that time is also a creation and thus, the creation of a special time for joy, the festivals in general, and, in particular, the holiday of Sukkos, calls forth special joy.

Though the festivals are sanctified by the Jewish people, it is G‑d who has established them as times of rejoicing. When the festival will be celebrated is dependent on the activity of the Jewish people. However, it is G‑d who has established the existence of a festival, a time dedicated to happiness.

The above three levels of happiness exist by virtue of creation, independent of man’s efforts. The following four levels are brought about through man’s service and thus, though his own choice and decision, he can increase that happiness.

The fourth level comes when a person merits to fulfill his mission to serve G‑d in actual deed; i.e., he makes a choice to serve G‑d through his acts. The fifth level results from G‑d’s command to serve Him with joy. In addition to the happiness a person feels from the service of G‑d, his happiness is increased in response to the command that this service should be conducted with joy. The sixth level represents the happiness associated with a particular mitzvah which is intended to stimulate joy, such as the festivals which have that feeling as their objective. The seventh level is associated with the festival of Sukkos which the Torah singles out as “the season of our rejoicing,” associating it with happiness more than any other festival. Indeed, it can be said that the essence of happiness is experienced on Sukkos and from Sukkos, happiness is drawn down to the other festivals.

In the above context, Shemini Atzeres can be seen as an eighth level which surpasses the previous seven. The seven levels mentioned above all reflect a limited degree of happiness. Shemini Atzeres allows these levels of happiness to be “gathered in” and internalized. However, it also contributes a different dimension of happiness, a happiness which surpasses all limitation. This can be seen in actual practice throughout the Jewish community. The happiness of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah is much greater than that experienced throughout the holiday of Sukkos.

In particular, we see that despite all the heights reached in the celebration of Sukkos — including the celebration of Simchas Beis HaShoeivah concerning which it is said: “Whoever did not witness Simchas Beis HaShoeivah never witnessed simchah in his life” — still left a degree of separation among the Jewish people. Thus, we find that at the Simchas Beis HaShoeivah celebrations, the actual celebration was only carried out by the Sages and the pious, while the common people would stand and watch.

In contrast, on Simchas Torah, we see all Jews dancing together with the Torah without any differentiation between them. All dance as equals. This is further brought out with the practice of dancing with the Torah while it is closed and covered with a mantle. While the Torah is held in this manner, it cannot be studied. This emphasizes that the happiness is not connected with the appreciation of wisdom of the Torah — where divisions exist between the scholars and others — but with the essence of the Torah. On that level, all Jews are equal.

This happiness is also shared by the women. Though they celebrate in a separate place — lest the happiness lead to an undesirable outcome — they join together in the same celebration as experienced by the men.

The unique quality of the celebration of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah is also reflected in the sacrifices of that day. On each day of Sukkos, many bulls were offered. On Shemini Atzeres, the sacrifice consisted of “one bull, representative of the single nation.” In particular, it refers to the level of Yechidah, the level of soul which transcends all division. This level is reflected in dancing with one’s feet on Simchas Torah.

In particular, this aspect of unity is expressed more on Shemini Atzeres. On Simchas Torah, there is a difference in practice between Jews in the diaspora and those living in Eretz Yisrael. In Eretz Yisrael, the qualities of Simchas Torah and Shemini Atzeres are both revealed on the same day. In contrast, in the diaspora, Simchas Torah is celebrated on a day of its own.

3. The celebration of Shemini Atzeres has its source in the Torah itself, while Simchas Torah is only a Rabbinic decree. From a certain perspective, a commandment mentioned specifically in the Torah has an added strength and power. However, from a different standpoint, there is an advantage to Rabbinic commandments as our Sages said, “The Rabbinic decrees are more precious (alternatively, “more powerful”) for Me.” They represent concepts that are too high to be expressed within the Torah.

(In this context, emphasis is placed on the Hakkafos of Simchas Torah which are so powerful that they could not even be contained within the oral law and have there roots only in Jewish custom.)

The Jewish people’s ability to bring out the practices mentioned in the oral law and in Jewish custom reveals the ultimately high source of the Jewish soul; how it supersedes even the Torah itself. This concept is expressed by Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu:

Two entities preceded the world: Torah and the Jews. I would not know which came first. However, since the Torah says: “Command the children of Israel,” “Speak to the children of Israel,” I may presume that Israel comes first.

Since the Jews preceded the Torah, they have the power to bring out new concepts in Torah and to add to the Torah, thus, creating the oral law and Jewish custom. The latter express the power of the Jewish people which transcends the Torah.

This aspect is emphasized on Simchas Torah when we dance with the Torah as it is covered in its mantle. When the Torah is opened and studied, we appreciate how the Torah effects the Jewish people. When it is closed, we see how the Jews can effect the Torah and bring it joy, allowing the Torah to rejoice to the extent that when a Jew holds the Torah and dances, the Torah dances with him. The Jew’s ability to do this stems from their source which is above that of the Torah.

Based on the above, we can appreciate how necessary it is to increase joy on the present night when Simchas Torah begins. This night represents the fusion of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. On one hand, the night represents the beginning of the new day, the day of Simchas Torah. Nevertheless, “in regard to consecrated matters, the night follows the day,” and thus, it is still connected to Shemini Atzeres. Indeed, it can be said that the present day is representative of the Messianic age when Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah will be celebrated as one day, for Eretz Yisrael will spread throughout the entire world.

Deed is most essential. In this case, this means adding to the celebrations of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres and dancing with unbounded and unlimited happiness and joy. As explained in the previous days, this dancing must also spread into the street.

This unbounded celebration reflects the aspect of the Jewish soul which surpasses the Torah, a point in soul above reason and understanding. This is alluded to in the section of Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu quoted above, in the expression, “I would not know.” Not knowing, reaching beyond one’s intellect is the key to such a level.

Generally, Torah prescribes following one’s intellect and losing mental control is not considered praiseworthy. However, there is a positive dimension to losing mental control. Thus, we find that the mitzvah of Shikchah can only be fulfilled when one forgets and does not know of a sheave’s presence.

Our Sages explain that Mashiach will come “when our attention is diverted,” i.e., his coming is not dependent on knowledge, but on the step beyond knowledge mentioned above. It is through the unbounded commitment that brings out the aspect of the Jewish soul which transcends intellect that we will merit Mashiach’s coming. May it be speedily in our days.

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4. According to the Previous Rebbe, the time to review the portion of VeZos HaBerachah (Shtaim Mikra Veachad Targum) is on Shemini Atzeres and not on Hosha’ana Rabbah as is customary in some other communities. (Even though many have been so involved in the holiday celebrations that they have not had time to review the Torah portion, it is proper for them to do so now. Generally, one has until the following Tuesday to review the portion. However, since the reading of the entire Torah is concluded on Simchas Torah and begun anew, it is highly questionable if that principle also applies in this context.)

Accordingly, since it is customary to explain a verse from the weekly portion according to Rashi’s commentary on Shabbos, it is appropriate to explain a point from Rashi’s commentary at present.

The point chosen is Rashi’s commentary on the final words of the Torah, “before the eyes of all Israel.” Rashi explains that this refers to Moshe’s act of breaking the tablets:

His heart was inspired to break the tablets before their eyes as it is said, “I broke them before their eyes.” The Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with him as can be inferred by the phrase “which you broke.” [The Hebrew word for “which,” asher, also has the implication of happiness. Thus, G‑d’s words can be interpreted:] “Praise to you for breaking them.”

A number of questions immediately arise: a) Why does the concluding phrase of the Torah deal with something which is the very opposite of the continuation of the Torah, the breaking of the tablets? b) In general, Jewish texts are concluded in a positive manner. Why does Rashi conclude his commentary on the Torah in this manner? Even if it is necessary to interpret the Torah’s phrase in this manner, the emphasis could have been placed on G‑d’s praise of Moshe and not the breaking of the tablets. c) Furthermore, the conclusion of the Torah is intended as a praise of Moshe, mentioning a long list of his positive achievements. Why is the concluding — and thus, seemingly crowning-point mentioned his breaking of the tablets? d) Why does Rashi mention that Moshe’s “heart was inspired to break” them? What sort of inspiration is involved? e) Why was it necessary that the tablets be broken in public? On the surface, even if such an act was necessary, it would have been more appropriate for it to have been done in private.

The above questions can be understood when considering the explanations Rashi provided for Moshe’s breaking of the tablets previously. Directly after the sin of the golden calf, Rashi explains (Shmos 32:19) that Moshe broke the tablets because the Jews were unworthy to receive them.

If concerning the Paschal offering, the Torah teaches “No foreign son will partake of it,” the entire Torah is here, and all of Israel are acting as apostates. Shall I give it to them?

However, when he describes (Shmos 34:1) the giving of the second tablets, he offers a second reason:

[This can be explained with] a parable of a king who traveled overseas and left his betrothed together with the maidservants. Because of the maidservant’s undesirable behavior, disparaging reports of the betrothed maiden also were circulated. What did the bridesman do? He tore up the marriage contract, saying, “if the king will desire to kill her, I will tell him, `She is not your wife yet’....” The king refers to G‑d, the maidservants, the multitude of gentiles who accompanied Israel, the bridesman is Moshe, and the betrothed of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is the Jewish people.

Rashi’s first explanation brings out the negative qualities of the Jewish people. In contrast, the second explanation emphasizes the importance of the Jews; how it is necessary to break the tablets in order to save them. Thus, the first interpretation emphasizes how Torah is above the Jews and, thus, if they are on a low level, the Torah cannot be given to them. The second interpretation stresses the advantage of the Jews over Torah, how the Torah can be sacrificed for them.

This relates to the passage from Tanna Dvei Eliyahu quoted earlier. Though there is a possibility to view Torah as above Israel and therefore, the passage says, “I would not know which came first,” when the essence is revealed, we see how Israel comes first. Indeed, this quality is also revealed by the Torah which states: “Command the children of Israel”, “Speak to the children of Israel.” In this vein, we can understand Moshe’s breaking of the tablets as an expression of his appreciation of the essential qualities of the Jewish soul.

Nevertheless, it is still difficult to understand how Moshe broke the tablets which contained the totality of the Torah as it was engraved (as opposed to written) on the tablets by G‑d. Furthermore, in contrast to the second tablets, the first tablets were also brought into being by G‑d, Himself. Surely, Moshe, who was totally dedicated to the Torah, understood these qualities.

However, he also understood the importance of each Jew. He appreciated that the Torah only exists for the sake of the Jews and therefore, when there was a possibility that harm could befall a Jew, Moshe did not hesitate, nor did he consult anyone, even G‑d, Himself. Rather, he was willing to break these tablets for the sake of the Jewish people.

Furthermore, the entire Jewish people were not in danger. G‑d knew that only a small amount sinned and those being the lowest of the people. Nevertheless, in order to protect these individuals Moshe was willing to break the tablets fashioned by G‑d, Himself.

Thus, we can see how the breaking of the tablets is considered Moshe’s greatest act of virtue. It shows how he was willing to give up the Torah, the most important aspect of his life in order to save a Jew who sinned by serving the golden calf. This represents the true virtue of a Jewish leader who recognizes the essential nature of every Jewish soul and, hence, is willing to sacrifice everything for him.

This is truly Moshe’s greatest quality. All of his other virtues were given to him by G‑d. Indeed, because he appreciated that these virtues were G‑d-given gifts, Moshe thought nothing of them and considered himself “humbler than any person on the face of the earth.” However, the willingness to sacrifice everything for a single Jew was a quality Moshe achieved on his own accord and “G‑d agreed with him.”

In this context, we can also understand Rashi’s expression “his heart was inspired” (literally, “uplifted”). Moshe’s act was inspired and represented an elevated level of emotion. He possessed feelings of love for every Jew in his heart. This act required that these feelings be inspired and uplifted. This activity was carried out “before the eyes of all Israel,” so that it would be recorded as an eternal testimony of the importance of every Jew.

In these matters, “G‑d agreed” with Moshe. The initiator was Moshe for it took Moshe’s action to reveal the essential quality of the Jewish soul which surpasses the Torah. Furthermore, this becomes the conclusion of the Torah; i.e., the conclusion of the Torah, which expresses the Torah’s essential message, itself emphasizes how the Jews are above Torah. Thus, this is an appropriate passage to read on Simchas Torah when the Jew’s dancing with the Torah also reveals their essential quality as explained above.

This quality is also emphasized by the practice of beginning the reading of Parshas Bereishis, directly after the conclusion of the Torah. On the surface, the Haftorah which deals with Yehoshua’s assumption of the leadership of the Jewish people has nothing to do with Parshas Bereishis. However, lest the angels complain that the Jews halt and interrupt their study of Torah, immediately after the Torah is concluded, its reading is begun again. Thus, though Torah law would require the Haftorah to be associated directly with the latter Torah reading, an exception is made to prevent a complaint from being leveled against the Jews.

Thus, on Simchas Torah when all accusations are nullified and the essential quality of the Jews is revealed, the Messianic redemption should come immediately. This is particularly true when the Jews pray for that redemption. Surely, G‑d will agree and grant their prayers and then, we will proceed, to Eretz Yisrael, to Yerushalayim, and to the Temple, led by Mashiach with ultimate and eternal joy.