"Simchat Torah for Mother"
"Although I am Torah-observant, my holidays lately have not been filled with synagogue prayers and pretty dresses and festive food."
Connection-Seasonal: SIMCHAT TORAH
Story in PDF format for more convenient printing
SIMCHAT TORAH FOR MOTHER
A nine-year-old boy in San Diego was walking home from shul on Shemini Atzeret eve. "Abba," he asked, with all sincerity, "could we bring the Torah home on Simchat Torah?"
"No, son, the Torah stays in shul, except perhaps for hakafot (circling dance) around the shul," he replied factually. "No one can take the Torah home."
The boy broke into uncontrolled sobs, while Abba tried to understand how he felt. After a few minutes, the son confided that he wanted his Ima (Mom), who was home in bed with cancer, to kiss the Torah on the holiday. Abba (Dad) knew his tears.
Yes, it's a true story. My name is Chana Abrams and I am challenged with a recurrence of breast cancer.
But there's more to the story. Although I am Torah-observant, my holidays lately have not been filled with synagogue prayers and pretty dresses and Yom Tov (holiday) food. Rather my holidays were filled with turning on IV pumps and looking out the window.
On Simchat Torah day I was sitting on my recliner in my living room, trying to distract myself from the effects of chemotherapy and bed sores when I heard the sound of singing coming from the direction of the shul [we live only one block from the Chabad House on Montezuma Avenue]. A smile came to my face as I thought of my six-year-old riding on his Abba's shoulders and my nine-year-old dancing in circles.
The singing became louder and louder and a tear, the first of many, came to my eyes as I witnessed the whole congregation of Chabad House -- men in talleisim [prayer shawls], women in pretty dresses, children with flags, babies in strollers, friends and strangers alike -- march to my front lawn and dance the hakafot.
I treasure the memory as I watched my six-year-old waving a flag while sitting on a yeshiva boy's shoulders. It was priceless to see my husband dance with the Torah and smile with deep joy, transcending our family's troubles.
My nine-year-old son came in with the biggest and proudest smile that said "I love you" in the deepest way I have ever felt.
Then my closest friends came in, representatives of the shul, to wish me a refua shleima [complete recovery], the biggest get-well wish in my life of cards of encouragement and support and a speedy recovery. And yes, I did kiss the Torah! The festivities returned to shul, and I discovered a new-found simcha (joy) that helps carry me through my challenges. The simcha of love. The simcha of compassion. The simcha of mitzvah.
Thank you to Rabbi Yonah Fradkin for his ability to hear the tears of a child, and for his display of Ahavat Yisrael, unconditional love of a fellow Jew, which is what Chabad stands for. Simcha, mitzvah, compassion: this is what Chabad does best. I also thank the entire congregation of the Chabad House for this most untraditional display of bikur cholim (the mitzvah of visiting the sick). Please know that it gives me renewed strength and hope as I face life's challenges and come to a place of complete healing and Mashiach.
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of the Full Moon"