As we continue on our journey of living with corona, and the one constant of the nothing-is-constant impact on our lives, we also continue to be pleasantly surprised! The Yamim Noraim came and went and ended up being so uplifting! Then came Succos and celebrating in G-d’s great outdoors with His incredible ever -present kindness and gifting us beautiful weather that certainly enhanced our V’Samachta B’Chagecha! What about Simchas Torah you ask? To all those who predicted doom and gloom of how depressing Simchas Torah of 2020 would be because of the Big “C,” I say, “SURPRISE,” again!
All the neighborhood chit chat included who was doing Where What and When (yes pun intended) which inevitably led to the discussion of what’s a woman’s chelek in it anyway. Moving right along, the discussion meandered from what will be with the children, to the plight of The Bochurim, followed by the practical implications of the dancing and singing, etc…, I told myself that Yom Tov is Yom Tov no matter what no matter where. I have an 8 year old boy at home who still needs a Simchas Torah of some sort. As the sun went down with the above discussions in full swing, I went inside to bentch licht and get everyone ready. (read: directions to those at home for warming up food, washing dishes, setting table, etc) And that’s when I felt the buzz.
Akin to flicking on a light switch, upon lighting (pun again) the candles, I experienced the natural excitement that ushers in on Leil Simchas Torah. Here I am a grown woman, who B”H’ has brought children throughout the years to shul for the Celebration, and despite Covid and all her restrictions, the thrill was still there. It was in this spirit of “Zeh HaYom Asah Hashem Nagila V’Nismicha Bo” that my son and I walked again to our very special outdoor Minyan.
Along the way, we talked about what is Simchas Torah, when did it historically begin, interspersed with inspecting the nosh inside the extra special pekeleh for some extra special simcha. And, then we arrived.
The sight again was so uplifting. Different yes, but inspiring and reassuring to who we are as a People; Am Yisroel Chai. That all the songs we sing on Simchas Torah are so true and reverberated with so much more meaning and depth this year. Think: KI Heim Chayeinu… and so on and so on.
Some of the teens there were disappointed by the lack of people, I however loved it. On a practical level, there was no jostling for a seat to see. There also was no other pushing adults and children also vying for a seat to see. I had a birds-eye view from outside the minyan’s fence or on the other side of the sparse women’s section. I enjoyed observing the social distanced dancing, a unique concept in itself. I smiled at the visible smiles so apparent through the proper mask wearing! I could hear the heartfelt and ehrlich singing and actually make out the words to the Ana Hashem Hoshea Na… In fact, my husband admitted that never before did he daven these words with such intensity! I shepped nachas as I was able to clearly watch with pride my son dance with his father cocooning the glowing Sefer Torah. And then again, I was delighted when I was able to see my son get the Kibud of Galilah!
The children who were there felt the roshem of this unforgettable moment and received some additional pekeleh from other enthusiastic and generous people. The Bochurim who attended did their singing and clapping and added “leibedik.” The girls and women were able to participate in the requisite shmoozing that is the backdrop to the mens avodah. Another woman and I compared notes about yom tov and how it was just so different, and who would’ve imagined, etc…
I remarked that as a child of survivors, my thoughts, were how did they do ANYTHING in the camps? And that some people were there for years! This is temporary! We have so much good in our lives, and not just the basic needs of food, running water and shelter! We are here. We are alive. We are still keeping Hashem’s Mitzvos and following in Moshe Rabbeinu’s footsteps of being His faithful servants the way He wants us to be for just right now. Ashreinu Mah Tov Chelkeinu.
Best Simchas Torah Ever.