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To the best of my knowledge, the Minhag by all on Simchas Torah is to first have Hakafos, and then complete the Torah. By a Siyum the general rule is to first complete the Siyum and then to start dancing. Why the difference between Simchas Torah and a regular Siyum? Is there a reason why one is different than the other? (looking for a sourced or a logical answer)

  • Nice question. FYI, many shuls that I have seen actually read and complete the Torah first, daven Musaf, and have hakafot after all davening has completed. I'm not sure what their reason for doing this is (I said, "many", not a majority). Perhaps, it's because of what you just mentioned? – DanF Apr 20 '15 at 16:40
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    What makes you say the Hakafos are dancing for the Siyum? – Double AA Apr 20 '15 at 16:40
  • @DanF: I have never seen that done. It would be interesting to know if that is their reason, or if it is done for other reasons, such as better timing for wife and kids to come, etc. – Gershon Gold Apr 20 '15 at 16:41
  • Perhaps, because unlike a typical siyum Gemara, where we just finish a masechta, and that's it, on Simchat Torah, we don't actually "finish", we restart with Breishit immediately? Maybe that's the main difference? Also, see DoubleAA's query. – DanF Apr 20 '15 at 16:43
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    @GershonGold It's an honorary procession to the Bimah for the Siyum. Like an honorary procession to the Chuppah at a wedding or to receive an award. Hakafot aren't a celebration. Why is walking in a circle 7 times celebratory? – Double AA Apr 20 '15 at 16:55
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See p. 180 in this book. Hakafot on SImchat Torah was a relatively late addition done in the 16th century. One of the reasons mentioned in the source is that it is actually a supplication and extension of the prayer for rain. That is why we say Ana Hashem Hoshi'ah Na.

Reason #2 on that page notes that the Hakafot use one of the last phrases in Halel. I am surmising that because of this concept, the Hakafot were positioned closer to Halel.

Regardless, it does not appear that Hakafot have any connection to it being or resembling a siyum. If anything, perhaps, the Kiddush after you get the aliyah is closer to the siyum :-o

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