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Growing up, I typically went to a Chabad and I have noticed that they have hakafot on erev Shemini Atzeret (meaning the night of Shemini Atzeret). What is the reason and why do they do this?

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    They do it on Sh"A not on erev Sh"A (which is Hosha'na Raba). (Unless you're referring to circling the bima during hosha'nos? I don't often see/hear that called "hakafot".) And they're not alone: many other groups do, too. – msh210 Oct 15 '14 at 20:43
  • @msh210, they do it by Maariv, so in the vocabulary I'm familiar with, that's still considered erev hayom. – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 15 '14 at 20:50
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    Oh. I'm wholly unfamiliar with that use of the word. I wonder, though, whether that's what this person meant. – msh210 Oct 15 '14 at 20:58
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    Is there a reason to do so on the second day of Shemini Atzeret that isn't equally applicable to the first? – Yirmeyahu Oct 19 '14 at 3:07
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    @Yirmeyahu, Simchat Torah isn't just just acharon shel yom tov, it was established as its own chag in Bavel, see: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/10784/4504 – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 19 '14 at 3:26
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The Baal HaTanya writes in his siddur:

מנהג ותיקין הוא לעשות יום שמיני עצרת גם כן כמו בשמחת תורה

It is a custom of the ancients(?) to do on Shmini Atzeres like on Simchas on Torah ...

And then going on to describe Hakafos.

Rabbi Nachum Greenwald notes that the language seems to paraphrase the Mishnas Chassidim, but the Mishnas Chassidim is talking about Shimini Atzeres in Eretz Yisroel.

He then goes on to note that the custom of doing it on both nights is common among all Chassidim (not specifically Chabad) as this was the custom of the Mizritcher Maggid. In terms of source, he also points to the Tur Borekes (by a student of Rabbi Chaim Vital) who argues specifically for Hakafos at night having a special connection to Shimini Atzeres specifically (more so than Simchas Torah night) kabbalistically, but feels inadequate to actually introduce the practice.

  • yishai, I think the second word of that quote should be translated 'of ancient ones', i.e., it's an old custom... (rather than 'and a rectification' - reading 'vatikkin' not 've-tikkun'). – paquda Nov 20 '14 at 0:57
  • @paquda, you are correct. Thanks. For some reason I always read it with a vov instead of the second yud. Now is it ancient or zelous? – Yishai Nov 20 '14 at 1:06
  • good point, I don't know – paquda Nov 20 '14 at 1:31
  • I just saw a note in the 'Shai LaMora' edition of the siddur ba'al ha-tanya that indicates you were mekhavein to the wording of an early edition: בסדור אדמוה"ז שנדפס בברדיטשוב בשנת תקע"ח הנוסחא "ותיקון". ויתכן שהוא לשון תקנה. וראה ספר השיחות ה'תש"ו-השי"ת עמוד 378, ובהתועדויות תשמ"ה חלק ה' עמ' 445. – paquda Oct 4 '15 at 1:42
  • @ezra, although your translation is not unreasonable, I'll stick with my last edit on this. – Yishai Oct 2 '17 at 20:42
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There is a minhag to do it then to feel more connected with the Jews in eretz yisrael.

Source : siddurim and Chabad shul.

  • which siddurim? – Shmuel Brin Nov 19 '14 at 17:45
  • @ShmuelBrin chabad siddurim-tehilas hashem. – andrewmh20 Nov 19 '14 at 18:30

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