What the Rebbe Taught Me this Simchat Torah

What the Rebbe Taught Me this Simchat Torah

For the last 10 Simchat Torahs or so I’ve attended the hakafot of the Belzer Rebbe.

Simchat Torah at Belz is, without fail, one of the most intense spiritual experiences of my year. The hints of doubt and irony that color my view of Judaism year-round are replaced by absolute, unwavering certainty.

From the moment the Chassidim start singing and then, more so, when I see the Rebbe, I know with every limb, every organ, every cell in my body that I want to dedicate my life to Hashem and His Torah, and that there is nothing else I desire more for my children, for their future spouses (IY”H), and for my husband.

But this year, my takeaway from Simchat Torah at Belz was quite different.

Every year, during the hakafot, the great Belzer hall bursts at the seams, as thousands of Chassidim crowd onto bleachers and squeeze into the women’s section. Before the Rebbe enters to hall, the crowd simmers with anticipation, and when he walks in, the air is electric with excitement.

When the hakafot start, the women take turns, rotating after each hakafa so all the women have a chance to stand on the benches by the mechitza to get a peek at the Rebbe holding the Torah.

Most years, even when it’s my turn to stand on the bench, I manage to see the Rebbe through the thick crowds for a few seconds, a minute tops. Seeing his absolute dedication to Torah is enough to infuse me with clarity for weeks, even months.

But this year, by mistake, I got the timing all wrong and I got to the hakafot over an hour early. But my goof-up meant that I got a seat right by the mechitza. For the first time ever, I got to watch the Rebbe holding the Torah for an entire hakafa–around 10 minutes.

In past years, I’ve seen the Rebbe circling the bimah with the Torah in his arms.

But this year, as I watched, entranced, the Rebbe just stood there. For part of the time he held the Torah, and for part of the time, he didn’t.

I don’t know why the Rebbe just stood there, not even holding the Torah for part of the time I was watching him this year. Maybe because he only circles the bimah later on? Maybe because, like Israel, the Rebbe turned 70 this year, and his health has been better?

Whatever the reason behind it, as I watched the Rebbe standing there, and as I watched the Chassidim’s fervor as they watched their Rebbe standing there…An image popped into my mind.

In my minds eye, I saw all those times in life when I’m disappointed with myself.

When I don’t live up to my expectations of myself as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a Jew, a human being, a JewishMOM chizuk giver.

C-minus days when I’m grouchy. Tired. Uninspired. Numb even. Just going through the motions.

This Simchat Torah, the Rebbe and his Chassidim enabled me to imagine the possibility that on those C minus days, Hashem and his entourage of angels are watching me…

And they are amazed by that C-minus me!

Cause sometimes just showing up is enough. In fact, sometimes, on a challenging day, just showing up can be downright awe-inspiring.


  1. Shulamis Silverman

    Wow! Thank you for this beautiful timely insight!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Some days I feel like I am just putting in an appearance. It’s good to know that HaShem is pleased with our efforts, even if the enthusiasm isn’t quite what it could be.

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