Yesterday was a most incredible day.
Yesterday began the night before, with the Simhat Torah evening service. Although the dancing part takes up much more time than the formal prayer part, it is definitely "service"--gratitude in motion, unencumbered by language. We throw a good party at my synagogue, and the evening installment always threatens to become more social scene than spiritual event. But this time the room practically burst with kavannah. I spent the first two hours flying around in long chains of people, weaving through big waves and slower streams but always moving forward together. At one point someone handed me a sefer Torah, and I couldn't help myself: I started jumping up and down just as I had seen the rabbis do (but always felt too self-conscious to try myself). Lo and behold, one of those rabbis was suddenly in the circle with me, holding my shoulder and jumping, as well. I remembered the first time I ever held a scroll, in a crowd just like this one. I had been afraid to move; aside from another human being, it was the most precious object I had ever grasped to my heart. Now I wanted to wave it back and forth as high up as possible so everyone could see--look at this marvelous thing!
By 10PM it was packed with barely enough room to walk, let alone jump with joy. So I downed some etrog schnapps instead, and stood on a chair with friends to watch the crowd. I stayed for the Torah reading, and got back home just before midnight. I lay awake for hours in anticipation of the day to come.