Last year, I didn’t want to celebrate Simchos Torah.
I remember it well; sitting on a dark leather couch and wondering how G-d could expect me to be happy when I had lost a beloved relative, mere hours before the festival began. ‘Her soul was rejoicing,’ someone told me later, and although it brought me a relative kind of joy to think of her spending her final days in comfort and happiness, nothing could mend the wound in my heart.
Time, great healer of all wounds. I was certain that I could never enjoy the festivals again, not without someone for whom I cared so deeply, but as months passed, I found it easier. I could rejoice without thinking back to that terrible erev Yom Tov; I could smile without wishing she were smiling next to me. But how could I face Simchos Torah ever again?
Today, I’m sitting here, knowing that it is her Yahrzeis tomorrow, and also knowing that as soon as the Yahrzeis ends, I am supposed to be rejoicing. I wondered how I could do it, and then I realised that the answer lay in the one I lost. Throughout the hardships of life, she had overcome sorrow with a relentless joy; with acts of kindness and charity. No matter whom she lost, no matter how she suffered, she was always there for me, always smiling.
This year, I’ve resolved to do the same. This Simchos Torah, I won’t let anything dampen my joy. Because I know that’s what she would have wanted.