I was really nervous going into Yom Kippur this year. The last time I had tried to fast was 17th of Tammuz. That fast ended mid-morning when I almost went down. The meds I take require me to have balanced food intake throughout the day to avoid side effects. On top of that the panic attacks had returned. The day before Yom Kippur, I had a panic attack that was so severe I collapsed on the ice before allowing myself to bounce back. At one point I had been scared that if that ever happened they would never allow me to play hockey again. Fortunately, that is not the case.
I couldn't get a heter to eat from either my doctor or my Rabbi. I just focused on doing what I could. In the end it was one of the most enjoyable and meaningful Yom Kippurs I have ever had. Unfortunately sometimes when you take a huge leap forward you quickly take a small step backwards intsead of being able to carry on the momentum. That is the best way to describe the week of Sukkot.
Then on Sunday night, Simchat Torah had come around. Our family had our eyes set on enjoying this particular Simchat Torah for a long time.
The auction had wrapped up and the tables and chairs were being moved to set up for a night of dancing. A friend brought Shlomo over to me. I immediately took him and sang quietly in his ear the same words I sang to Channah on her very first Simchat Torah and every year afterwards until she was too old to dance with me.
We danced round and round in circles as if the world had done no wrong
From evening until morning, filling up the shul with song
Though we had no sifrei Torah to gather in our arms
In their place we held those children, the Jewish people would live on
Am yisrael chai
I have written and told the story many times of why this song and Simchat Torah is so important to me including here and here. Shlomo and I danced together. I finally had that moment with my long awaited Sefer Torah.
Last Simchat Torah, Peri promised me that this year I would have Kol Nearim while holding my son in my arms. She made sure that she won the auction and that I would be able to have that special moment.
For the 3rd time in 5 years, I was under the tallit surrounded by children for that special Aliyah. Shlomo was in my arms and Channah was standing beside. With Channah's Bat Mitzvah coming up it was a moment that can never be replicated. This Aliyah has transformed for me from one of sadness and hope to one of joy and happiness. All 3 of my children were there, to mark the occasion that even in the darkest hours we find a way to rebuild and find the happiness again. Just as the month of Elul, Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur we work on personal growth, we follow it up with the Simcha of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
It happen to work out that over all of the Simchat Torah dancing I held two of our shuls 3 Sifrei Torah. I also held two of my three children. The day is about the death of Moshe and finishing the Torah and immediately transitioning to the very beginning with the creation of the world.
This year is one that is going to be filled with a lot of new beginnings. So far my family is off to a great start.