In Israel on motzei Shemini Atzeres/Simchas Torah, many yeshivos, shuls etc. do "Hakafos Shniyos". What do they do exactly? Where does this custom come from and what's the idea behind it?
It's another 7 hakafot, but this time with live music.
At the ones i've been to, they do the standard hakafah opening verses (with Hashem's name -- it's just reciting psukim, at least in the Sfardi version), and then sing and dance with music. It's not much more complicated than that.
I don't know where exactly the custom comes from, but it may just be to have more fun.
Indeed, I noticed this interesting phenomena in Gan Hapa'amon ("Liberty Bell" Park) in Jerusalem when I was there in the mid 1980's. 3 Orthodox Israelis explained that the reasoning for this was a combo of these reasons:
- "Balancing out the score" with the Jews living outside Israel. Many outside Israel do hakafot on Shemini Atzeret to honor those in Israel who celebrate Simchat Torah on that night. Thus, the Israelis do likewise to honor those who live outside Israel who celebrate Simchat Torah
- Somewhat supporting the above idea is the concept that Succot, in particular, was meant as a holiday where both Jews and non-Jews gathered at the Temple in Jerusalem. I understand that numerous non-Jews come to Jerusalem during Succot, to this day, albeit without our Temple. Thus, Succot is notable as being a holiday of unity. There is a Midrash that says that G-d created Shmini Atzeret (Simchat Torah was a later concept) because our departing from him was difficult. Thus, G-d wanted Jews tolinger in Jerusalem an extra day to celebrate just with G-d. Thus, Shemni Atzeret is specifically a Jewish holiday. As this is meant for the gathering of Jews, and there are many Jews visiting Israel, perhaps this extra hakfa was meant also as a means of having them join in unity with their Israelis while in Israel visiting
- Isru Chag, which is the day following the holiday is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch as being a day of celebration and feasting, as well. The additional "hakafot" is partially attributed to Isru Chag.