Here’s a teaching of R. Aharon of Karlin (1802-1872) based on teachings his grandfather, Aharon the Great of Karlin (1736-1772), one of the earliest Hasidic rebbes, gave at Simhat Torah. Before we start, it’s worth taking a look at the midrash that will be the lynchpin of the teaching, from Bereishit Rabbah 8:1.
Said Rabbi Jeremiah ben Elazar: “When the blessed Holy One created the ﬁrst Adam, He created him an androgynos, “androgynous,” as it is written (Gen. 5:2) ‘When God created the Adam, He made him in the likeness of God; male and female God created them.’ Said Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachman: “At the time that the blessed Holy One created the ﬁrst Adam, He created him du-partzufin, “double-faced,” and then split him, making for him two backs – a back here and a back there.” They asked him: “But isn’t it written: ‘and He took one of his ribs [tzela]’?” He said to them: “This actually means one of his sides, as in (Ex. 26:20) ‘and one of the sides [tzela] of the tabernacle.’”
Now on to the Karliner Rebbe’s Torah.
People speak of the joy of Simhat Torah, but why is that? The answer is in the verse, ‘And the Lord God built the side [tzela] which he had taken from Adam into the woman, and brought her to him.’
At first, Adam had to be created du-partzufim. And truly, the purpose of creation was so that all the worlds should be united as one, completely, and so God cut Adam in two, so that they could unite face to face and complete the creation. And when did this happen? We know that the creation of the world began on the 25th of Elul, and the beginning [of Adam’s creation] was on Rosh Hashannah. So was all the brokenness of creation mended and unity achieved, but it was incomplete until the joy of Shemini Atzeret. For on Rosh Hashannah there is tremendous fear because of the world is judged on that day, but during Sukkot, when we dwell in the sukkah and shake the lulav in joy, it sweetens the judgements and brings mercy into the world, and so creation is made complete. This is the meaning of (Ps. 35:15) ‘They rejoiced in my tzela‘ — the union which began on Rosh Hashannah is completed on Simhat Torah because of our joy.
Jeff wants to know… who are the ‘they’ who are separated so that they can unite and complete creation?