Simchat Torah has lost its simcha (happiness) for me.
When I was growing up, Simchat Torah (the holiday celebrating the culmination of the annual Torah reading cycle) was always my favorite holiday. I loved riding up on my dad’s shoulders while he danced around the synagogue, getting a chance to see the Torah up close, and of course, eating mountains of candy in the coat closet with my friends.
Now, thirty-something years later, Simchat Torah is no longer filled with joy. I no longer look down at the myriad of happy people dancing from atop the high perch of my father’s shoulders. Rather, I lift my gaze from my two feet planted on the ground, to the shoulders of my peers, and see a myriad of little children. I used to look up with a tinge of nostalgia, still wishing I could experience that glee. Recently, however, I began noticing the people underneath the elevated children, the parents. These parents are glowing, not just from the sweat of carrying their children and dancing, but from a joy that I long so deeply to know.
It is simply too painful to see these glowing parents, to hold hands with them in the circle, and to dance as though as I am happy. It is too hard to bear the intense jealousy, anger, resentment, guilt, and sorrow that wells up inside of me during this celebration. I can no longer dance on Simchat Torah, not like this, not at this moment in my fertility struggle.
Then the dancing is done, and a feeling of relief washes over me. But, that relief is fleeting as the congregation then gathers together to read the very end of the Torah. During this reading they invite up all of the children to approach the Torah and hold up prayer shawls above their head and sing with them. I have long since stopped watching the children during this moment, since I know better than to subject myself to that pain. But now, again, I notice the parents. They are looking at their children with that same glow – that happiness that I crave, that love that I long for, that fullness that evades me, that child that I am still waiting for.
Simchat Torah has lost all of its simcha (happiness) for me.