Thousands stood around, standing in bleachers reaching close to the ceiling. The Rebbe said loudly the first verse: (Deuteronomy 4; 35) “Ato horeiso lodaas, ki Hashem Hu Hoeloikim, ein oid milvadoi.” (You were shown to know, that the Lord is G-d, there is nothing else besides Him.) Everyone repeated it, and then the next verse was said.
When all the verses had been recited, the Torahs were taken out. Someone handed a small Torah to the Rebbe, and another small Torah was given to the Rebbe’s brother-in-law. They both walked to the centre of the synagogue, the Rebbe switched the Torah to his left arm, and put his right arm on his brother-in-law’s right arm, and as the Chassidim began to sing, the Rebbe started to dance with his brother-in-law, going around in a circle. With no arm free to encourage the singing and dancing, the Rebbe motioned with his head, up and down, quite vigorously. I remember singing with all my might, dancing (sort of jumping) up and down. The sound was tremendous, the joy overwhelming. I remember thinking that I felt like I wasn’t standing on the ground, my body soaring with my soul in a tremendous outpouring of song and feeling. It was an experience that unless you were there, you can’t fathom it. You felt like you were touching the heavens.
And then, suddenly, after maybe three minutes, it all stopped, as the brother-in-law tightened his grip on the Rebbe’s arm, and the Rebbe stopped.
The Rebbe danced with his brother-in-law the first and seventh (last) “hakofo” — round of dancing.
Sometimes, when I sing to myself the nigun (wordless melody) that was sung at the Rebbe’s hakofo, I relive it, imagining myself there, feeling the tremendous power of simcha — joy, that the Rebbe imparted.
People wonder from where Chabad Chassidim have the ability, determination, going beyond limitations and over obstacles, to bring G-d’s words to every corner of the world. I think of Simchat Torah with the Rebbe. And even the next generation of Chassidim, who never saw the Rebbe, heard it from the first.
The Rebbe taught the deepest secrets of the Torah. He did miracles. He gave guidance. And he was a role model par excellence. But I remember those special days of Simchat Torah, when the Rebbe lifted Chassidim to the heavens and beyond, even as we stood on earth. and we brought the joy down to earth.
Simchat Torah with the Rebbe. Unlimited joy to transcend all limits. A very special time.