[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.