Many people eat Cholpshkes or stuffed cabbage on Simchas Torah. Is there a source for this Minhag, and are there other names for this dish in the other languages of Jewish communities?
I'd always heard that the cabbage is rolled up, just like a Torah scroll.
It says in the book Rite and Reason that the minhag to eat stuffed cabbage is really on Hoshana Rabbah. And the reason is that in German (or another language?) cabbage is called something like cole (as in cole slaw) and it is cooked in water. And on Hoshana Rabbah we say "Kol Mevaser". Kol is like cabbage (cole) and Mevaser in Yiddish can mean from water (vaser). So we eat stuffed cabbage for Kol Mevaser!
(I heard this from someone who read it in Rite and Reason. It is not exactly the way it says it!)
Stuffed cabbage is alternatively referred to as holishkes, galooptchy, prakkes in Yiddish. Source: The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, page 166
Wikipedia contains an extensive listing of stuffed cabbage variations across cultures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabbage_roll
I've heard from my parents (no further source, sorry) it's customary to eat stuffed stuff on Simchas Tora, hence stuffed cabbage. (My mom some years made stuffed duck.)
Re name for stuffed cabbage in other Jewish-used languages, yebra is stuffed grapeleaves in (transliterated, of course) Syrian Arabic as spoken by Jews.
Actually, I believe "Rite and Reason" as well as what I heard from a Vishnitzer Chassid a few days ago confirmed that it is customary to eat "covered" foods several times per year:
- Purim - the miracle of Purim was "nistar" (covered / secret)
- Before Yom Kippur - asking for G-d to "cover over" our sins
- Hoshanna Rabba - similar to themes of Yom Kippur, so the same reasoning
Most Hassidm eat kreplach on these days. Some eat pirogen, some knishes, some stuffed cabbage. I've heard some Germans and Polish eat apple strudel or apple turnovers. (I would start a new trend of eating Yodels", if it would catch on!)
The point is, that any "covered" or "filled" food would work.
There was no real emphasis on eating this on Shmini Atzeret / Simchat Torah other than, most likely, there were a lot left over, and they taste good.