Tag Archives: awe

Of Torahs and Tallitot

I am sure that there are plenty of occasions in a child’s life where their parents are proud, be it a school play, a random act of kindness, or just simply being themselves.

 

Lately I find myself filled with awe, wonder and pride, as I watch all my kids grow and evolve. The recent holiday of Simchat Torah just added to these tremendous heartwarming feelings.

 

Pigeon had been talking non stop for the past few days about how this was his first year being able to dance with the Sefer Torah as he was now barmitzvah. Last year the rabbi promised him that this year he could, and he intended to remind the rabbi just in case he forgot. He hadn’t.

 

Simchat Torah night he came over to the gap in the mechitzah, beckoning me to him, with a shy grin on his face. ”Ima watch me, I am going to dance with the Torah”. I think he floated back to the men’s side. Sure enough, one of the men in the shul helped him heft the Torah into his arms, and showed him how to hold it safely. Once all the Sifrei Torah were given out, the men started to circle the Bima. For a split second I lost sight of my son in the sea of men with suits and hats – he is as big as some of them, he totally blended in. But as far as I could see there was only one “man” with an otherworldly glow to him, and that was my son. He felt the honour of holding the sacred Torah scroll, he felt the awe and responsibility, and he felt blessed to have had the chance to participate physically in this mitzvah.

 

The other boys were also enjoying the Simcha of the day – with gorging on candies, being thrown up in the air for “Moshe Emes” (I still cringe when I see little kids flying up – even though I know their daddies will catch them).  At one point Puffin came to me, and it was so hard not to laugh – he had been thrown up in the air by a couple of the guys and his knee bumped into his nose – It takes a special kind of talent to be able to do that! A kiss from Ima and he ran back to dance with his little friends.

 

Simchat Torah day this Mama got to shepp even more yiddishe nachas. After the dancing was done, they did the Torah reading, and as is tradition everyone (every male) gets called up to the Torah. When they are calling up the teen boys they tend to go in order of age (oldest to youngest), and when they get to the really young ‘uns, they bundle them all onto the Bima, hold a few tallitot over their heads, and include them together in the bracha. This aliyah is usually auctioned off, and is called Kol HaNeorim – the voice of the young. I was expecting my oldest three to each have an aliyah. They called me to come to the hall where they were reading the Torah (sometimes they read multiple torahs in order that they have opportunity to call everyone up for an aliyah). I pulled up a chair, the only woman around, as the other women stayed in the main sanctuary. I was later joined by another lady, as intent on shepping nachas from her boys as I was.

 

So first Pigeon had his turn – he knows the brachot inside out, having done them a gazillion times, but knowing I was watching, he gave me a shy little smile, and sang his bracha loud and clear. Once he was done, he shook hands with the men around him, and came over to me with a huge grin on his face. So proud of himself. Then came a few kids, then it was Duckie’s turn. He wrapped himself in the tallit and tossed off the bracha like he had been doing it all his life. Didn’t look at me, nor acknowledge me – so not cool to do that. But I think he was glad that I watched and heard him. His barmitzvah is in 11 months, so it was good practice. Soon it was Woodie’s turn, and he looked tiny wrapped in a man size tallit. But I have to say, he did me proud too – sang the brachot without a problem. He glanced back once or twice to check that I was there. Once he was done, he shook my hand. (Kissing your mom is so passé when you are 10).

 

So I figured my little Puffin would go on the Bima with all the other little kids. But he was asked if he wanted to have his own aliyah. Being six years old, with 3 older brothers, he always wants to do what they do; basically, he wants to just be them. So when offered the chance to have an aliyah he said yes. His brothers wrapped him in the tallit, and my heart swelled to see the look on his face. He was nervous because he hadn’t ever done it before, but here was his chance to prove he is one of the big boys. I asked the father of one of his friends to help him with the bracha, but it turned out to be unnecessary as all the men were so encouraging as they all helped him say his bracha. He stood there, as tall as he could stand, tallit floating around him, an aura of joy and wonder around him. Once he had finished his aliyah he came running to me “did you see, did you see? I had an aliyah just like a man!!” I hadn’t realized I was crying, but my face was wet. I had been blessed to watch all my boys participate in the same mitzvah in their own particular way. I watched as my youngest child entered into some kind of inner sanctum with his brothers, into a place that I would never be part of. And in that moment, it is no wonder that I cried, for my little guy is no longer a baby, but a little man who made a bracha on the Torah. I know the years will fly by and soon enough it will be his barmitzvah. But I want to always remember this moment, the joyous rapture on his face when he was asked if he wanted to be part of this mitzvah. It had not even occurred to him that he could be part of it.

 

While sometimes I get upset and sad that as a woman there are parts of my sons’ lives that I cannot partake in, sometimes just getting to watch them do their thing is enough. The pride I feel that they are continuing tradition, that I have been able to imbue in them the love and respect for their religion – that is reward enough.

 

May we all continue to derive nachas and joy from our children, from our families and from all of Israel. Amen!

Days of Awe

 

Awe – “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime <stood in awe of the king> <regard nature’s wonders with awe> “, from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary.

 

Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are around the corner. These have been called the Days of Awe forever. On these days we stand in front of God and pray to be forgiven our transgressions, and to be blessed with being written in the Book of Life.

 

Nowadays, the kids come home with lovely songs about dipping apples in honey, and the sounds the shofar makes etc, which gets them involved in the holiday, but as grown ups, do we often stop to think about the AWE of these days? These are some of my thoughts:

 

My recent trip to Israel, combined with my experiences over the last few years have fused together this year to fill my soul with what I feel is awe. I am so excited and nervous to face the Almighty on Rosh Hashannah. I cannot wait to pray to Him with a full heart, with an open soul. I feel that for perhaps the first time in my life I come to Him ready to receive His decree and to accept it in the spirit in which it is given. My telepathic pathways are open and buzzing with impatience. I have so much I want to say, but more than that, I have so much that I want to understand, that I want to feel, that I want to BE.

 

I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face as I contemplate the holiness of the days before us. I am thinking about how to improve myself as a person, as a mom, as a daughter, sister, friend. I am wondering what it is that God wants from me, from Hadassah, His child. I want to be the best Hadassah I can be, but I am not sure I even know how. We all know that we have a destiny created for us, and it’s up to us to do our bit to fulfill it, but how? How can we fulfill that when we are not told what it is?

 

At 120 when I am called before God after my time on this earth He is not going to ask why I wasn’t more like Sarah or Rebecca, Rachel or Leah, our foremothers, nor like Ruth, or Esther or Naomi. No, He will want to know why I wasn’t everything Hadassah should have been. I want, I want so much to be that person that knows who she is and where she is meant to be in her life spiritually. I want to feel that I am accomplishing what I need to as a Bat Yisrael. I want to be everything that’s good and right in this world, so that in my zechut my children, my blessed sons, will be healthy and happy and will have all they need to be God fearing Jews, to observe Hashem’s commandments and to live their life as was pre-ordained for them.

 

How can I, a simple person, ever hope to achieve the spiritual level that I wish for myself? I am human. I am flawed. I know I have my strengths and my gifts, and I thank God daily for those, but we are told to strive for perfection in our Avodat Hashem – how? How is that even possible in this day and age?

 

I should be trembling as the shofar blows – I know what teshuvah I need to do, and I am trying to do it. But teshuvah only goes so far – it’s not worth anything unless we continue to work on ourselves and improve.  If I tell God that I am sorry that I behaved in a certain way – how can I continue to behave in that way after Yom Kippur? It makes a mockery of the whole thing.

 

I pray that God gives me strength to do a pure and honest teshuvah, that He blesses me with the internal ability to grow spiritually every day that is given to me.

 

I wish you all a Ketivah VeChatimah Tovah – may you all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.