South Central, USA
Simchat Torah question: We are planning on doing scaled down, outdoor hakafot on Simchat Torah. Is there any reason we would need to be inside around the bimah to begin the hakafot, or can we do the whole thing outside (with one person holding a Torah in the middle)?
It’s fine outside around a person holding a Torah. Here’s what I responded to an earlier similar question:
The point of the bimah is that it is the place of the sefer Torah. It is not the place where the chazan davens, which is the amud. The center of the circle is supposed to represent them mizbe’ach, so that would suggest a focus on the bimah, not the sifrei Torah, as Mishnah Berurah 660:1 writes.
שהיא נשארת לנו במקום מזבח.
However, in some early sources the emphasis is on the sifrei Torah – see Yalkut Tehilim,
כל ישראל נוטלים את לולביהם וכו’, בזמן הזה, חזן הכנסת עומד כמלאך אלוקים וס”ת בזרועו וכל העם מקיפים אותו כדוגמת מזבח.
The Gra in OC 660 quotes this as does the Pri Megadim. So I think if you need to do it with sifrei Torah without the bimah, you are fine.