Shopping in the mall today, I discovered the true meaning of simchas Torah.
My sister was in a fitting room, trying on a skirt. She stepped out, asked if I thought it was four inches below her knee. We had a discussion on the length of the skirt, and then my sister went back into the fitting room to take it off.
I stood outside the fitting room, when the saleslady asked if she can ask a question. I replied with a friendly "Sure!" The girl turned and said "what is the deal with four inches? Is that a rule?" I explained that it's a religious thing, and as orthodox Jews we wear long skirts. But she already knew that.
"I know, I've heard people discussing it before, but I don't understand what it's all about." And so I launched into an explanation of the requirements for skirt lengths, as well as some insights into the various customs followed by various factions of Jews. As I finished, she gave me a rather sad smile and thanked me. "I am jewish too, but I don't know about this stuff. Thanks for explaining."
I walked out of that store feeling a mixture of happiness and sadness. This girl is jewish, just like I am. She deserves to see the beauty of Torah and avodas Hashem, just as I deserve to see it.
Today is sukkos and I am off from work, spending the day with my family, cooking for shemini atzeres and simchas Torah. And her? She is folding sweaters, helping customers and monitoring the fitting room. She probably isn't even aware that there is a holiday, a holiday that she can and should participate in. She is like the princess, kidnapped as a baby from her father's palace, and brought up by peasants. She might be happy and content, but there is much more she could have, if only she would know where she truly belongs.
And so, as I think back to previous years, to the joyous nights spent in shul, gazing from behind the table-mechitza at the men dancing enthusiastically around the sifrei Torah. And then I realize the truth and beauty of their words. "Lernen toirah is de beste zach...." It really is our treasure, our best thing.
Just as a side note, I did not forget about this week's top ten Tuesday. I wanted to post top ten ways you know it's sukkos, but one way had already seen it's own blog post (the bedding in the dining room). The only other one that really struck me was when I was baking a cake. I took the beaters out of the mixer dripping with cake batter. My father was standing in the kitchen, and under normal circumstances he would have stuck his finger in and tasted it before I put the beaters in the sink. Being sukkos, he instead grabbed the whole assembly from my hands and took off (in a run) to the sukkah. My brother followed close behind. The funniest part was, that the beaters came back clean.... ;-)
Have a good yom tov!