Friday, October 9, 2009

The Beste Zach

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!

12 comments:

frumcollegegirl said...

ha the same thing happened to me! my cousin was in the kitchen with me when i was baking, and when i told him he could lick the bowl, he kept dipping his finger in and running out to the sukkah to lick it and coming back for more...

chag sameach!

Anonymous said...

No offense, but are you being serious? Your idea of Simchas Torah is explaining the minutiae of societal rules about exact skirt lengths to someone who is blissfully unaware of them?

itsagift said...

I thought you don't need to be in the succah to eat shehakol foods...

tesyaa said...

Four inches is A LOT more than people think. And four inches BELOW the knee, depending on where you start "below", is a LONG skirt. Following this chumra means giving up a lot of cute skirts.

Something Different said...

FCG- LOL, I guess my father took the lazy way out...

Anon- My idea of simchas torah is realizing that I am lucky to know about and understand the ways that the torah beautifies my life.
I am not a qualified rebbetzin, but take tnius for example. You can look at it as minutiae of societal rules about exact skirt lengths or you can look at is as a way of preserving your self dignity. I'm sorry if you disagree...

IAG- Is cake batter shehakol? I wouldn't know. I don't lick it. (Ew.)
Anyhow, my father is ultra machmir about not eating out of the sukkah, especailly when the sukkah is so close (right off the kitchen).

Tesyaa- This wasn't meant to be a halachic discourse. You gotta ask your LOR, not me. I was just telling the story over as it happened.

Freeda said...

As per the bracha-
I was taught my a number of rabbis and have seen in a few places that batter is shehakol, cuz it's not a natural way to eat that food (the same way taking a bite of a raw onion would be shehakol)

Dude with hat (aka BTS) said...

A bit late, but... May be you should've invited her? To get her closer to something she is related to as much as you are. Show her the real beauty of Torah instead of leaving her with mixed thoughts of interesting and crazy people at the same time?
I am not trying to say you did anything wrong but just reminding you that you have a great capability of bringing people back, closer to Torah.

itsagift said...

I agree with Freeda - cake batter is shehakol and yes, I have licked the batter many a time, especially when I was little and helped my mother bake - that was our special treat, to lick the batter while the cake is in the oven!

itsagift said...

And I agree with BTS...
Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Z'tl, made it a point to have simple, uneducated guests in his Sukkah, and not only great Rabbonim with whom he could have advanced discussions. When asked why he would especially have these kinds of guests in his Sukkah, he responded as follows: “In the future, when the Tzaddikim will be sitting in the Livyasan's Sukkah, I will want to enter, as well. They will not let me enter, and say “Who are you to enter-- a simpleton wishing to enter the Livyasan's Sukkah--a chamber for Tzaddikim?!” I will be able to answer that in my Sukkah I also let simple people like me enter...please let me in!
And when I meet people who aren't religious, I usually try to tell them about some great websites like aish.com...this way, they can read more about the beauty of Judaism!

Dude with hat (aka BTS) said...

Why would one lick batter??

@itsagift - thanks!

itsagift said...

It was a treat for us to lick the batter after the cake's all done - and it tastes sweet, that's why as we liked to lick it!! Have you ever tasted the batter of a vanilla or chocolate cake? YUM!!!

Dude with hat (aka BTS) said...

Well may be if I tried that as a kid I had different feelings towards it, but now - no way would I ever try it!