Why I Don’t Hate Shavuot Anymore

Why I Don’t Hate Shavuot Anymore

This morning I went to check out a nursery school for next year.

The ganenet told me I could stop by whenever I wanted, so I stopped by at 10:45, which, it turned out, was lunch time.

When I walked in the ganenet was serving special Shavuot sandwiches she’d carefully prepared for the children: slices of bread spread with white cheese and decorated with three flowers made out of corn and olives.

Problem was there were kids who didn’t like olives. And there were kids who didn’t like corn. And there were kids who didn’t like either.

So for the first ten minutes I spent in the gan, the teacher was trying to figure out how to satisfy each child.

“Who here doesn’t like corn? No problem! You can pick off the corn kernels, and put them on the side of your plate,” she explained.

“Yaeli, you don’t like olives either? Then pick off the olives. Fantastic!”

“Are there children who don’t like olives or corn? No problem! All you need to do is turn over the bread, like this,” and she turned over a piece of bread and shook off the olives and corn. “And then all you have is the cheese, which is so healthy!”

Years ago I asked my dear friend Hagit z”l whether she would recommend a gan her daughter attended. Hagit was overflowing with enthusiasm: “This is the best gan! In this gan, with this ganenet, the girls experience the lightening and thunder of Mt. Sinai!”

But in this cheese-sandwich gan? No Mt. Sinai here. I was looking at my watch. Would it be rude to leave after just 10 minutes?

But then I thought of my own family at an average lunch time.

If somebody was judging me and my mothering abilities based on a random sample of humdrum, run-of-the-mill mothering moments, would any discerning person want to choose me as a mother?

Not so sure.
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My husband works in Jewish education, which means that for as long as I can remember he has spent the night of Shavuot teaching at the women’s yeshiva where he works. He takes the older kids with him, so most of my Shavuot is spent caring for the 7 and under crowd.

Aside from eating lots of lasagna and cheesecake and doing some inspirational reading on a park bench or on the sofa after the kids go to sleep, Shavuot, at least in the way it’s generally celebrated, doesn’t really happen for this JewishMOM.

This is something that I used to find really depressing.

But as the years pass, I’ve come to feel quite the opposite about my low-key Shavuot.

On Shavuot, Hashem gave His Torah to his people, so they would know exactly what He wanted from them. To perform which mitzvah at which time and in what way.

And as a mother of small children, I also have that same kind of exact clarity about what Hashem wants from me.

Not so much thunder. Or lightening. A lot of humdrum. And run-of-the-mill.

But Hashem? Yes.

On the park bench.
And in the kitchen passing out pieces of cheesecake.
And sweeping up the crumbs afterwards and throwing them into the trash.

Hashem’s right there with me and with every JewishMOM.
Just like He was on that wondrous first Shavuot 3300 years ago.

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This Week's Mommy Peptalk: Remembering Rabbi Dan Merzbach zt"l
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6 comments

  1. I’ve always felt the same way about my role as a Jewish Mom. We live in a neighborhood with no Eiruv and therefore Shabbos and Yom Kippur is spent at home – with the young kids who are too young to get back and forth to Shul. I always thought, as I was davening on Yom Kippur at home (when possible!) that this is my Tafkid at this point. After years of going to Shul and staying there for the whole day, it was a mind adjustment of sorts, but I realized that home with the kids is exactly where I belong B”H. Not leaving the kids at home on the holiest day of the year with a non – Jewish babysitter like so many other mothers do. On Shavuos as well, I always took pride that my husband was free to go and learn all night because I was capable of taking care of everything else. I never felt that I was missing anything. Have a terrific Yom Tov.

  2. So pleased for you that you’ve moved on from the “lame” Shavuos! Have a wonderful yomtov!

  3. Yehudis

    Thank you. This really resonated with me. I was wondering how I would connect to being at home “yet another year” this Shavuos.

  4. I really enjoy your website. Your articles are always uplifting, entertaining and a pleasure to read. I have never left a comment before and feel bad that the first time I am doing so, I am being critical. I was just very bothered by the title of this article that I felt I had to respond. I completely understand the content of the article and agree fully. However, using the term “hate” to describe your former feelings toward Shavuos is very upsetting. Hate is a very strong term. We hate sonei yisroel, we hate immorality, we hate abuse. We do not hate a yom tov given to us by Hashem, no matter how difficult it is for us to appreciate it. A more fitting title might have been, “How I have come to appreciate Shavuos” Not as catchy, but far more appropriate.

  5. Interesting, that is kind of the way I have felt in recent years about Purim and Simchat Torah. They always seem to me like “the men get all the fun.” While I embrace that my role in life now is to be raising a family, and that the community I have chosen comes along with certain standards and accepted norms, I haven’t quite gotten the feeling of shleimus you describe here yet. IY”H… it’s all a journey!

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