In Devarim 33:4, it says, “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is a heritage of the congregation of Yaakov.”
Every Jew, no matter his level of scholarship, can connect with G-d by studying the Torah on his own level, so all Jews rejoice equally on Simchas Torah. Hence, we dance with the Torah closed, and nobody learns Torah from inside the scroll on Simchas Torah night, emphasizing every Jew’s connection to the essence of Torah. In Chapter 48 of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe (the first Lubavitcher Rebbe) explains: “He has given us His Torah and has clothed in it His blessed will and wisdom, which are united with His Essence and Being in perfect unity; and surely this is as if He gave us His very self, as it were.”
So, holding a closed Torah, every Jew dances with his feet, not with his head, blurring the distinctions between scholar and layman, and uniting all Jews in one seamless celebration of G-d and the Torah.
On Simchas Torah, we do not approach the Torah through intellect. We sing and dance in a way that does not imply understanding. We sing and dance, because intellect is not the only way for a person to connect with Torah. The Torah is comprised of two dimensions – one that we can understand through our intellect, and one that is infinite, beyond all comprehension. This infinite dimension is the essence of Torah, the hidden dimension, represented by a closed Torah.
The intellectual dimension of Torah represents G-d connecting to man, but the infinite, hidden, dimension represents the Jewish people trying to connect with G-d, reaching beyond themselves and their rationality to connect with their essence. This connection happens when the Jewish people dance with the Torah on Simchas Torah.
The joy of intellectual understanding is a limited joy. Therefore, if we celebrated the intellectual dimension of the Torah on Simchas Torah, even the greatest scholar would be limited in his joy. Since the joy that we feel on Simchas Torah should be boundless, we celebrate the essence of the Torah, since it, too, is boundless, unlimited by human comprehension.
The Baal Shem Tov once told the following story to his students: On Simchas Torah, the angels awoke at their usual time for the morning prayers. Down on earth, the Jewish people were still sleeping, exhausted from a night of dancing and rejoicing with the Torah. Since the angels cannot sing G-d’s praises in the heavens until the Jewish people pray on earth, the angels found themselves with some free time.
All around them, the angles found broken heels, soles of shoes, torn slippers and lost shoelaces. This was quite out of the ordinary! The angels were used to finding old mezuzos, tefillin, tzitzis, and prayer books, but never shoes! So, the angels got together and asked the Angel Michoel if he could explain the strange phenomenon.
Michoel told the other angels that these broken shoes belong to him. He gathered the shoes at the end of hakafos on Simchas Torah night. Michoel sorted the shoes by Jewish community: these from Mezeritch, these from Kaminkeh, and so on. “The archangel ties crowns for G-d out of Israel’s prayers, but today I will make an even more beautiful crown for Hashem out of the torn shoes and “soles” of the Jewish people.”