Remember when I said I was going to blog about my journey to Bat Mizvah?
Remember when I would blog through all my Elul mediations, highs and lows?
Well, it’s near the end of Elul already so I’m here to tell you that between the Bat Mitzvah journey, a career change, divorce, leadership training, births, deaths, a new dog and the discovery of online dating — the blog took minor precedence on the priority list. Oy vey, have I been busy!!
Although I did not journal the rest of the bat mitzvah journey; I will tell you that the big day was more moving than I could ever have imagined. I knew it was a big deal (obviously) but the way I was overtaken by emotions as a torah was placed in my arms while the rabbi spoke inspiring words of the meaning found within the very moment we were in was uncontrollable. We then engaged in the torah procession through the packed synagogue and within the first few steps, I began BAWLING. The kind where you can barely catch your breath through the weeping but you maintain a huge smile on your face. I was filled with warmth that seeped out of my ears. The temperature inside of me only rose more with every “Mazal Tov” I received and even more so with the “your drash was great” or “loved your d’var torah“. Being a part of Shabbat services is something that feels incredibly holy, for lack of a better word. Stepping up to the bimah to chant the parashah is really moving! I’m sure if you’ve done it a lot, you may be rolling your eyes, but I felt that honor in being able to share with your congregation that which many cannot do but want to be a part of. I imagine the energy in times of gathering in the marketplace (or wherever they gathered) to listen to the torah being read with your people. The look and feel of the actual torah, plus that energy really embraces the antiquity of the tradition.
It’s funny, I always thought that once I learned I would start doing it all the time. I thought being a part of the service is where I belonged. Now I have a feeling it will be a while before I do it again!! Oddly enough, I find peace sitting back on the woman’s side of the Orthodox shul and just listening to the torah. I take it in and am so very grateful for he who is chanting and all that are involved in the movement of the day.
The time leading up to the day will, of course, be cherished as well. I don’t know where I left off in this blog but I was lucky to be a part of a Jewish History course with the Rabbi Emeritus of the shul which was fascinating. I didn’t take many notes as I just wanted to engage and listen to every word. (Besides, in order to keep up with him — I wouldn’t be able to turn away regardless) I don’t know about you, but I can listen to an old, east coast Rabbi with a raspy voice talking Jewish history ALL DAY. We had a course on Tefillin which was also fascinating. I did not join in the minyan and actually wrap it the day the class did, but I learned so much that I didn’t know about the tradition. We had a mitzvah project to be proud of, deep discussions that filled my soul, and celebrated holidays together. We made tallit and tzitzit, clucking and laughing away into the night. We grew as individuals and as a group as well. Truly a remarkable experience. I only wish I was able to have journaled in detail as I had set out to but am happy to reflect back here and share stories as I remember them.
It is not possible to engage in cheshbon hanafesh this year without thinking about the bat mitzvah journey. I’ve learned a lot of actual torah which has enhanced my spirituality and has given more meaning to my practice. At times, my practice is all I have had left to grasp so the timing was perfect. I set out last year determined to put all efforts into my family life only to end the year after breaking it apart and starting over. When your foundations and everything that’s familiar seems to be floating above you in all speeds and directions, it is necessary to hold on to something or else you float up yourself and become completely lost. Thank Gd for my practice and my faith that keeps me grounded and looking ahead. Although I might feel a bit broken spiritually, I still look forward to making teshuvah. Although I may feel that I don’t even know what ask for, what I’m sorry for, what else I want to do, what else I can do, or what I expect; I look ahead. I look ahead at this beautiful time in our tradition to return to Gd, account for ourselves, purify, cleanse and keep moving forward.
In these last few days of Elul, I find myself still accounting every moment I can hastily and quickly, which gives me the feeling that when Rosh Hashanah is upon us, I will just SIT. Sit. Let it hit. And Pray. Pray hard.
We’ll see how it goes.
Wow. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this journey with you through this blog. You have such a gift for words that I felt like I was right there with you as you walked through the shul and right there with you as you end with your questions of what will this new year be. You forge forward, with unwavering faith, that it is really something to aspire to be like. Sending so much love.