I was late.
Ten minutes late.
There was an interesting speaker, a professor from Haverford College, and the Chazan asked, as he always does, for everyone to stay for kaddish d'rabanan before heading off to something else. So I was late for my 10 am madrich learning.
I walked in to find 15 teens sitting in a circle around a big table.... Waiting for class to begin, and donuts.
We talked about joy, last week, and your assignment was to find it.
They did the assignment.
The young woman who had been in a car accident said she had a tough week and hadn't found any joy.
And we said Shabbat opens a door to joy. Gives you the door to open to pause, and reflect and find joy.
The others said,
"Was with my best friend who hadn't seen since August. People think we are sisters."
"Had opening night of a show, I play the trumpet. We stayed every night till 9 practicing. But moms brought us home cooked meals. It was worth it."
"I planted a tree."
"I was with my two brothers. They live far away and we were all together."
Shelly, a rabbinical student and congregant, joined the class. She said "she didn't have time for joy in the week studying so much but being with the class and seeing people at synagogue was a joy for her."
The lesson went great. Why, because they were engaged. Because they smiled. Because they shared. You just feel it. The connections. This is the tree of life.
We read the Rabbi Nachman words and as we read them
I said, "I don't know what this means, but "stir your heart." And we all made a motion over our heart. And at each phrase I said I don't know what this means but let's try it." And everyone tried it. And we clapped, and we stamped our feet. And we sang.
Shelly taught us the song
for It is a great mitzvah to always be happy. I had bought the tapestry in israel and we sang it.
Then the students broke out in song and we sang the beatles, and lady gaga and who knows what else. They smiled and said it felt good to move and to clap and to sing.
I got a few of those 'Oh look how cute the middle age lady moving to Lady Gaga." Its good enough for me.
We had the treasure maps and we all went out looking for simcha
And they smiled. The sun was out and it felt more like September than November. The trees are rich reds and golden yellows. Wonderous before it falls.
Three came back and said they held hands sang row row your boat (we joined them). They collected leaves. One of the seniors in the class was about to show her colorful leaves when her mother looked through the door. "I"m presenting Mom. I'm not done," she said.
Two said they looked up at the sky
and appreciated how much the sky brings to them.
Three boys said they brought leaves over to a tree that had none.
"I saw someone who told me her daughter had gotten into college. She gave me a big hug," I said,"and my joy was sharing in someone else's joy."
So joy is in appreciation, in gratitude, in nature, in the heavens, between us. There is joy, we just have to pay attention. God was in this place and we knew it
Judaism names for us
This week your assignment, like a double shot of espresso, go out and find a double joy and bring it back.
It was a good Shabbas.
The Students are seen, known, and are not alone.
Torah is a tree of life. Today we felt it!