Monday, October 12, 2009

A Simple Guarantee

There is a Midrash that says that at Har Sinai, God held the mountain over our heads until we found some sort of Guarantee or Guarantor that we would accept and keep the Torah. The answer that God finally accepted was that our children would be our Guarantors.

Now that this holiday season is over, I’m looking back at it and realizing the truth of that story.

As an adult, I wonder how much we really appreciate the holidays as something more than some time off from work (and for some it is actually an inconvenience), or how often do we go to shul and say enough with all the Hakafot already, or the Hoshanas, or whatever part is taking too long?

But these holidays aren’t for us. Are they?

It seems to me that these holidays are for the children.

My kids loved dipping their apples in honey, in shopping for and waving the Arba Minnim, in building the Sukkah, in sitting on my shoulders as we danced around the shul with flags and Torahs, in running around scooping up candies periodically thrown at the crowd.

These holiday are for our children, our guarantors.

Yet the funniest part is that on Simchat Torah, the adults get to act like kids; singing and dancing in shul, standing on people’s shoulders, and simply having a good time.

It takes us back to when we were children and enjoyed the holidays for what they were meant to be – a simple rejoicing.

In a sense, for a short time we become our own guarantors.

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annie said...

Beautifully put Joe and how true. You expressed just what I was feeling on the chag.

Olah Chadasha said...

You know, you actually brought tears to my eyes. When I was a kid, and my dad would leave shul early and not let us participate in the Hakafot, I told myself that when I had kids they would get the full treatment. You've reinforced why I've always felt so strongly about it. Thanks!

Gee a Moron said...

I had a related thought. It isn't connected to the seasonal holidays but it is a similar type of celebration, dancing, etc. In modern terms the closest celebration would be a Hachnasat Sefer Torah (the celebration whenbringing a Torah scroll to a synagogue).

In 2 Samuel Chapter 6 the story is told of King David bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after it had been rescused from the Phillistines. Verses 12-15:

And it was told king David, saying: 'The HaShem hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of G-d.' And David went and brought up the ark of G-d from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with joy.
And it was so, that when they that bore the ark of HaShem had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.
And David danced before HaShem with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of HaShem with shouting, and with the sound of the horn.

Not everyone was "into" the celebration. Verses 16 and 20 show the reaction of one of David's wives, Michal the daughter of King Saul:
And it was so, as the ark of HaShem came into the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out at the window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before HaShem; and she despised him in her heart.
Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said: 'How did the king of Israel get him honour to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!'

Michal's punishment for this is given in the last verse of the chapter:
And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

What is connection between distaste at the celebration and childlessness. I postulate that it is the essence of this discussion. Such a person is unworthy of having guarantors.

Shlomo said...

Michal was a second generation member of the royal family, thus more "uptight" than David who was first generation.

Michal's not having kids is probably just a polite way of saying that David chose not to sleep with her after this.

P.S. The verification word I have to fill in now is "bible"!

Lurker said...

I think you're absolutely right, and I plan on quoting it.

Thanks for posting that.

Rivka Matitya said...

Nice post!

I must say that I LOVE the chagim, but that might be because I am still a kid! (I don't plan on becoming a 'grup' anytime soon...)

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