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Can someone sit during his Shul's hakofos or is there an actual obligation to walk around the bimah? Does one have to hold the sefer torah? Does one have to say the pesukim in the Siddur that introduce each hakafah?

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    I don't believe there's an obligation to do anything pertaining to hakafos. This might come as a shock to some, but Sinchas Torah is mentioned nowhere in either Tanach or Shas. – DonielF Oct 26 '16 at 5:02
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    No to all. Hakafot are neither a biblical nor a rabbinic requirement.they are just a recent custom. – mevaqesh Oct 26 '16 at 7:22
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    @mevaqesh. Don't customs/minhagim also create obligations? – Mark A. Oct 26 '16 at 7:33
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    My rav instructed a few congregants including me NOT to dance during hakafot during the year of mourning for a parent. The reason is that Simchat Torah hakafot is a rather "late" minhag (I think as late as 16h century) and a mourner is not allowed to dance and be joyous. – DanF Oct 26 '16 at 16:24
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    @DanF A mourner is allowed to and is in fact obligated to be joyous on Yom Tov. – Double AA Oct 26 '16 at 18:33
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See Mishna Berura 669 sk 11:

...ולכן יש להתאמץ בזה לרקד ולזמר לכבוד התורה כמו שכתוב גבי דהע"ה מפזז ומכרכר בכל עוז לפני ד' וכ"כ משם האר"י ז"ל

והעידו על האר"י ז"ל שאמר שהמעלה העליונה שהשיג באה לו ע"י שהיה משמח בכל עוז בשמחה של מצוה וגם על הגר"א ז"ל כתבו שהיה מרקד לפני הס"ת בכל כחו: ... ‏

The Mishna Berura mentioned a couple of responsa from MHRI Kolon advising to maintain all the customs. He concluded that we must make a special effort to dance for the prestige of Tora, and reported in name of the ARI zal this.

Additionally scholars testified that the Ari said about himself that his reached high degree the great gain from Simcha of Mitsva, and that the GRA was dancing with all his strength before t Sefer Tora.

Sitting may be a problem when people pass near you with the ST. Stand up may be obligatory. Solutions exist to permit sitting.

Can someone sit during his Shul's hakofos

No, see this link for few explanations.

is there an actual obligation to walk around the bimah?

Not an obligation but a strong advice.

Does one have to hold the sefer torah?

Not mentioned in SA Baer Heytev and MB. But there is mention of multiplying Aliot (RMA). (In many synagogues every body receive an Alya, but RMA did not say "everybody").

Does one have to say the pesukim in the Siddur that introduce each hakafah?

Not mentioned. Obviously it is impossible to call this an obligation. But maybe a problem to be "batel" when others are saying them. So if you are learning Tora no problem.

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    and reported that ARI zal emphasized the importance of this custom for himself That's not what your quote says! Your quote just says והעידו על האר"י ז"ל שאמר שהמעלה העליונה שהשיג באה לו ע"י שהיה משמח בכל עוז בשמחה של מצוה that he attained spiritual heights through joyously serving God; nothing at all about Shemini Atseret celebrations. – mevaqesh Oct 26 '16 at 20:39
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    @mevaqesh The Ari is mentioned in the first Hebrew quote too וכ"כ משם האר"י – Double AA Dec 27 '16 at 1:41
  • The 'for himself' quote indicated, I assume that he did do himself, although it's hard to tell exactly what is intended. If so, I don't think the text supports the claim. Even the previous line is ambiguous about which element is supported by the arizal. @DoubleAA – mevaqesh Dec 27 '16 at 1:45

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