We are winding up z’man simchateinu, the season of our joy. For me as a BT, being joyous at this time of the year can be a special challenge.
We’ve just gotten through with Yom Kippur and repenting for our sins – including bad character traits. My particular challenge is envy – not of material things, but of other people’s having observant close relatives of their own age (mainly spouses, but also brothers and sisters). Other people’s families come to visit them for the holidays, while I am essentially alone. My husband is not observant, and my only brother has not spoken to me in years though I have tried and tried to make up with him. I have no parents or parents-in-law – so I’m sort of an island. In this community, my friends are like family; but then, when their real families come to visit, I’m on the outside looking in. Well, it isn’t even fair to say that, because I’m invited for Shemini Atzeret to someone whose family is visiting, and I had plenty of other invitations. I guess it’s just a feeling of being on the outside looking in.
And as a woman, it’s not like I’m going to get to dance with the Torah. I can watch the guys doing that (everyone is there but my husband) but I have to say, I feel left out that way, too. It isn’t that I myself want to dance with the Torah; it’s that I want to see someone who belongs to me doing that.
My own children are all observant (thank G-d!) and all have their own households, but all of them live far away. I hesitate to go to them for the holidays; they are dutiful kids, but I feel like a fifth wheel, and there’s no place like home.
So am I right to say that I’ll be glad when the holidays are over and things get back to normal? Am I even allowed to say that? It’s hard not to think it.
I’ve heard many times that a Jew is obligated to serve G-d with joy. But I don’t know how to really get into that frame of mind at this time.