June 2016, from the clergy


“A person should always run to do a mitzvah.” 

-Berachot 6b

I’ve always thought it would be amazing to pull together a simcha flash-mob team.  Here’s how it would work: We’d gather a team of at least 15 if not 50 individuals who love to dance.  We’d come together and dance and rehearse our moves weekly for some time.  We’d have the time of our lives.  Then, a simcha would show up on the communal radar screen, say a bar mitzvah or a wedding.  The team would ink it on its calendar.  We’d show at the bar mitzvah in the morning.  Or if there’s space at the chuppah, we’d show up to take in the holiness.  If not, no worries.  We would most assuredly show up on the dance floor at the party.  The band or the dj would lean into a fierce Hava Nagila, and our team would get the crowd moving.  We’d yank non-dancers out of the periphery and into the mayhem.  We’d shout and scream with wild abandon.  And at the right time, say after 5 or 15 minutes of some serious circling, we’d zero in on the bat mitzvah girl or the wedding couple, we’d plop their tushies in a chair, and we would hoist them toward the heavens.  Bopping up and down, they would feel like royalty, having left terra firma for some other-worldly place.  Smiles would be glued to their face.  It would be a moment that would remind them, and the rest of us gathered, how very good it is to be alive.  And what can happen when a holy community gathers to launch a couple or a family to the stratosphere.

Bluma just had her bat mitzvah.  The ritual did what it was supposed to do:  coalesce friends and family and community and launch her and us.  Mission accomplished.  In the days after the simcha, friends and family texted us photos and videos from the day.  Of course, they took us back to that festive night.  One video in particular caught my eye.  It is of Bluma rising above the fray in the chair.  It gifted us a glimpse of Olam Ha’ba / The World-to-Come.  She didn’t hold on.  She waved like a queen up there in the stratosphere.  And she pointed confidently down at her most beloved friends.  It’s an image that will never leave me.

I hope she took notice of what happened right before she went up in the chair.  A decision was made, on someone’s part, that the time had come to sit the bat mitzvah down and hoist her above the crowd.  I don’t know how that decision got made.  Whether it was a verbal, “let’s do this” or a primal sense that a mitzvah is awaiting.  But literally all at once, a group of adults literally swarmed her chair, shoulders down, paused, then bam, shot her toward the heavens.  I love that she was in the chair.  Basking in all her confident glory.  My next prayer for the bat mitzvah is that she develops that instinct to rush into the circle, to hoist celebrating brides or bat mitzvah parents heavenwards.  Because God knows that we couldn’t have soared as high as we did without that mighty simcha team.

~Rabbi Michael Lezak

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