I found myself counting the days left of the holidays on one hand... "One, two, three, four, five.." gaining some type of calm, consistent,assurance from this mechanical, simple gesture.Some type of far fetched hope that things would someday soon return to "normal". Some type of control. Control- haha. Not a Tishrei word. I gotta be up front about this, if you haven't guessed already. I kinda got Yomtov-ed out.
I think it was the lack of structure.Kinda reminds me of when my baby was born, this vague type of floating, with general errands and commands: Eat, drink, sleep, play, eat,sleep, drink, play... Sounds like fun, righ? And yet, as any newborn parent will gladly tell you, eating and sleeping ad nauseum is the most exhausting thing in the world.
I found myself yearning in the back of my mind this Tishrei for those days of yore when Monday meant the running group, Tuesday meant the Mama's Group, and there was order and structure. And within that structure, I found space. Space for me. Places to go, people to see. Direction. Boundaries And Tishrei, Tishrei seems overcrowded with foreigners (and I don't mean just the thousands of Israelis adding to the simcha of Crown Heights). We're all just one big lump of people crowding in Sukkahs, sharing our stories, our thoughts, eating, praying. Together.
Let me out!!!!
But of course, I felt terribly guilty about this. Because, first off, Tishrei and Sukkos especially is supposed to be a happy time. The time of our rejoicing. And what, I can't let go enough to just eat, pray, sing, sleep, and play for one month out of the year in honor of Gd? So I told myself today during Chol Hamoed, determined to juice more happiness out of the last few days, that I would set aside a time today, one hour, in which I would do something that would give me and my family simcha. Something I chose. Watching videos of our lives in Israel last year. Going to the park, etc. And the rest of the day, between the cooking and the cleaning and the shopping, I would give myself permission to be miserable. But for that one hour, that one hour of happiness, I would dedicate to Gd. And somehow, in that decision, I found more space and calm within me.
This whole experience also recollects the experience of simcha wedding dancing. There are fewer difficult mitzvahs for me than dancing for the bride. It's not that I don't feel confident dancing. I love dancing. But I love when it's me and the music, grooving together, getting lost in it, in my own world. At a wedding, you have to coordinate with someone else . And not just someone else, but someone in the middle of a circle with hundreds of people surrounding and watching you. Not exactly a "lose yourself" moment. Nevertheless, I try, I try to push myself to do it. To break into the middle of the circle.To grab her hands. To dance with all heart and soul and might. Not for me. But for her. To bring her happiness.
Maybe that's what Tishrei, Sukkos, and Simchas Torah are all about. At the time when you're ready to hang up your dancing shoes and just get back into the natural order of things, when you've eating enough festive meals to buy skirts three sizes larger, that's when Gd asks. Asks you to keep on dancing. Not because it feels good, and not because you're hungry and not because of any of that. But just to bring Him joy. And while you might be rolling your eyes, you might be eying the hundreds of people surrounding you, watching you- get me outta here!!- but you just take that hour, that minute, and you start dancing. For Him.
And somehow, you find that space within you, with more to give.
That's what He was waiting for.
The simcha at the deepest of your core, With a special reservation sign on it: For the Holy One, to be used after all else is spent and gone.
That's when He smiles grandest of all. That's when you're ready to truly begin anew.
Have a beautiful and joyous end of the Holidays.