By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
Chazal established Simchas Torah to be celebrated on Shemini Atzeres in Eretz Yisroel or the day after Shemini Atzeres in Chutz L’Aretz. Why isn’t Simchas Torah celebrated on Shavuos? Shavuous is the time when we received the Torah so it would seem to be a fitting time to for Simchas Torah. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana, daf daled, amud bais says that Shemini Atzeres is a Yom Tov in and of itself. The reason for Shemini Atzeres being its own Yom Tov is brought down in Rashi who quotes a Midrash that the posuk of “Atzeres Hee” tells us that Hashem is compared to a king who invited all his children to a meal for a number of days. When the time comes to say good bye, the king tells his sons that he has one request, “Please stay here for one more day, I have a hard time parting from you.” This does not seem to have anything to do with Simchas Torah!
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin explains that the reason Chazal did not establish Simchas Torah on Shavuos is because Hashem does not look to find fault with people. The Gemara in Eiruvin, daf yud gimmel, amud bais says that both Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel agreed that it would have been a lot easier if man was not created; since man has a constant battle with the Yetzer Hora. We see this in the Gemara in Kiddushin, daf lamed, amud bais which says that the Yetzer is constantly looking to kill the person. If a person does not do the mitzvos of Hashem, it truly would have been better for the person not to be created. That is the reason why Hashem did not command us to celebrate Simchas Torah on Shavuos; it is a day of fear since the person is not sure he will be able to conquer the Yetzer Hora.
The reason why Chazal established Simchas Torah right after Sukkos is because after a person does teshuva m’yirah during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and then teshuva me’ahava during the days of Sukkos, he is thereby fulfilling the phrase in the Gemara in Eiruvin that states that now that the person is created he should be “mefashpesh be’maasov” (search and correct his actions.) Every yid just finished doing the “pishpush” when doing teshuva. Only after this process can a person reach the true simcha of Simchas Torah; hence the reason why Simchas Torah takes place right after Sukkos.
Let us all reach the height of the ruchniyus’dige Simcha of Simchas Ha’Torah.