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When I was a child in the 1980s, something the boys in my synagogue did on Simchas Tora was tie one person's talis to another, or sometimes to furniture. (Now that I'm older and in a different synagogue, I don't see this done. Perhaps children don't do it any longer. Or perhaps it's just as prevalent today as ever, and I'm merely in the wrong (or right) synagogues.)

Two (similar) questions:

  • Anyone have an idea how old this "custom" is?
  • And is there any reason mentioned for this in s'farim (as there are for some other kids' customs, say on Purim), or is it simply as it seems: an annoying, silly practical joke?
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Or perhaps it was simply a minhag hamakom, if you will, unheard of outside of the one synagogue I grew up in? –  msh210 Jul 1 '11 at 18:19
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I've certainly seen it in other places. I don't recall seeing it recently. –  Isaac Moses Jul 1 '11 at 18:22
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Been there, done that as a child too (in Jerusalem, `80s). I'm quite sure I've seen it in other synagogues in Israel (e.g. as a child, visiting family on the holidays). –  Yishai Beeri Jul 4 '11 at 6:33
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I (as a little girl) also did this with the little boys, in the 1950s. In addition, at that time, for little swigs of schnapps, there were no little plastic cups that we use today, but rather tiny glass "mugs" with handles, and we tied these heavy things to the tzitzit also. Such naughty kids we were then! –  Madeleine Apr 23 '12 at 17:02
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1 Answer 1

In a sefer called "Toldot Chag Simchat Torah" by Avraham Yaari, He expalins the origins of many Simchat Torah customs. (sorry, can't find a copy online)

It seems like he may mention* the custom in the book, but I'm not sure since this blogged timeline of Simchat Torah, made from the book, adds the custom of tying talitot in the late 20th century and the book was published in 1964. So perhaps it came about sometime after 1964:

from the blog timeline, not the sefer:

Late 20th century...Yaari, p.85 mentions earlier customs of having three or four chatanim, but not related to maftir. I also remember as a child that there was a custom for the children to tie the talitot of the adults, but I have not seen this done in years.

As I don't have a copy of the sefer, I can't check if he actually mentions it. However the oldest reference to the widespread general Shtick that went on during Simchat Torah is possibly from the Diary of Samuel Pepys (a famous 17th century English diarist). On Simchat Torah, Wednesday 14 October 1663, he visited a shule for the first time and records what he saw.

"But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this. "

via & via

*Edit: this blog supports that Avraham Yaari's Toldot Chag Simchat Torah mentions it.

and of allowing the young men to take over proceedings, including the old shtick of tying people's tallitot together, stealing food from ovens, etc. etc. etc. This was all very widespread but apparently Salonika was particularly known for letting the service become jokey.

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Good job finding documentary evidence related to this question! –  Isaac Moses Jul 20 '11 at 17:34
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What IsaacMoses said. But that page you link to last implies that Yaari's book does mention this practice. I hope I or someone can find a copy. –  msh210 Jul 20 '11 at 17:44
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תודה רבה :) & whoops, forgot to mention that. It's what sent me searching, for the book in the first place (I'll edit the post to reflect this). Maybe I'll have to order one eventually if I can't find it. –  zaq Jul 20 '11 at 17:51
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