Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Alone” On Simchat Torah?

[explanatory note to non-Jewish readers: On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which this year fell on Wednesday evening and Thursday day, it is customary for the men to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls. Women often watch from their section.]

     As I mentioned a few days ago, we had no guests for the first day of Sukkot, and only on Shabbat. Then on Simchat Torah we were again “guestless”.
    Somehow, being by oneself for the holiday is worse than not having guests for Shabbat. On the holidays, nearly all my friends had oodles of visitors. Many had to limit the number of couples coming, due to the logistics of fitting everyone into the succah.
    I understand very well why my children were unable to attend. They all had excellent reasons. Yet I still felt rather “stuck”.
    Somehow, we all tend to base our “simchas yom tov” (holiday happiness) on the externals: the food, the clothing, etc, which is OK, up to a point. After all, there is a REASON why our sages tell us to honor the day with wine and meat, and tell men to buy presents for their wives. The externals affect us.
    However, that should not be the entirety of our pleasure in the holiday. A good friend asked which synagogue I would be attending Wednesday evening for the dancing with the Torah scrolls. My reply was that I saw no reason to push myself through a crowd of other women to watch THEIR families dance. If I have no husband, children, or grandchildren there, why should I bother?
   However, on Wednesday evening I felt differently. I decided to YES go to the synagogue, to hear the dancing and singing. The simcha (happiness) of the Torah is also mine. I have participation in my offspring’s Torah study. And I have made sacrifices to keep the Torah as well. My happiness on the holiday should not disappear just because I have no one dancing downstairs to point to (and brag about). Even if no one will notice the delicacies that I cooked for the holiday, nor the new dress I purchased for myself, I can foster my own connection with G-d, based more on internals than externals.

   So I “invited” G-d for the holiday, and I was not alone.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rickismom,

Thanks for taking your time to share your thought with the readers.

I appreciate your blog and use to check it regularly for new posts.

Not that I would try to give you any kind of Mussar on anything - I'm a simple Jew coming from a 100% secular upbringing, who at his middle-age discovered the need for connection with G-d and the Torah.

Anyway, I'd like to contribute my 2 cents to the subject by saying the following: I'm a Brazilian engineer working for a design company which sent me to Japan for a new project, and I've been living since May 2014 in a hotel room in Nagoya.

Until now I had the opportunity to fly back home twice for respective 1-week stays. During the first one, I attended my younger son's barmitzvah, bravely and competently organized by my wife - wonderful Torah reading and a nice party with "essen un tantzen"; then the second stay was on the week of Yom Kippur - I had barely the time to fast, stay in the Shul, and then fly back to Japan a few hours after breaking the fast with my family.

Throughout all these months I had no opportunity to go to any Synagogue on Shabbat (there seems not to be many a Jew hanging around here in Nagoya...), and my Simchat Torah was literally "alone" - no Torah reading, no dancing, just reading on my Tanach, on my own at the hotel.

And I thanked HKB"H for my utter solitude, and for sending me to this difficult test - He knows exactly what I need in order to grow in spirituality and also in Middot, and surely this long absence from home fits perfectly into His plans for me and for my loved ones.

Just wanted to share with you that your being alone was not as lonely as you may have thought...

All the best for you and your family, and for all Am Israel.

With kindest regards from Nagoya,
R. Halevy

Batya said...

R. Halevy, may you merit to be with a Jewish community as soon as possible, G-d willing.

RM, I get great joy in seeing the growth of our community here in Shiloh. We, too, were without any of our kids, though we did invite guests for a meal. Actually, they had been invited for a year and kept postponing until his mother would be by them. She and her late husband had hosted us forty-four years ago a number of times, and we were overjoyed to finally repay her hospitality.