As I lit the holiday candles I felt a tinge of sadness as my mind was still full of the voices of disgruntled women and unenthused men about the expected program they anticipated ahead.
I didn’t to go to shul that night, but I did participate in a community women’s gathering where each one of us shared a summary or thought on one of the 54 parshiot in the Torah.
On the way home I happened to be walking alongside a procession of yeshiva boys with arms around each other singing and dancing with the Torah. It was as if G-d timed it perfectly for me. I enjoyed seeing the genuine celebration and joy on their young enthusiastic bright-eyed faces and hearing the unified voice of holy ancient songs roll off their tongues so naturally.
I was having a great start to the holiday and felt content and peaceful.
When I had a moment to think I realized just how horrible all the ongoing complaining is and lamented the fact that it blinds our people to the point of the holiday.The day is supposed to be about not wanting G-d to leave us, but rather imploring him to stay another day celebrating our relationship together and the amazing Torah he gave us. The Torah is meant to unite us with Her at the center. Instead, in many places, it has become a tug of war about ownership, rights and obligations. I can’t help but think this displays how much we love ourselves and put our needs above what the Torah begs us to do.
So I decided rather than take place in a fractured celebration I would return home and stay there for the duration of the holiday. I invited G-d to stay with me and celebrate more modestly. He knows how much I love the Torah. I devote my life to living and learning it. I apologized to G-d for not singing and dancing in shul. I’ve never been any good at either of those anyway and although I didn’t embrace the holy scroll with my two hands, my heart has always held it securely in the sanctuary within with the deepest love and respect.