That little holiday no one ever focuses on. The one where we celebrate receiving the Torah. The one where we eat cheesecake because someone thought it would be a nice cultural addition to a Jewish holiday. The one where I’m supposed to keep the kids quiet all morning so my husband can sleep after an entire night learning. The one I’m not supposed to resent because, as a woman, I should be happy accepting that I don’t NEED to learn or that I can get my portion of Torah through my husband’s learning or that I can learn plenty of things other than Gemorah…
Well, guess what?
Not working…non of that…
Want to know why?
Because my husband won’t be staying up all night. Not this year. Not after years and years of frustration and anger every Shavuot night.
Want to know why?
Because when he was a little boy and was supposed to be learning the Aleph-Bet in order to read all those big books he was eventually going to be learning all Shavuot night, he was getting hit.
Smacked around by the teacher because he got the word wrong…or got distracted…or made a joke…or because the teacher was mad at his wife or kids…
So now he can’t make much sense of the letters that were beaten into him and doesn’t want to stay up all night getting depressed.
I’m a woman…a second-class citizen according to the Torah and don’t you dare try to pacify me with your theories. And yeah, when I was a kid my father was upset that his sons didn’t want to learn with him, even as I begged to be taught because learning with me was a favor to me while learning with the boys was a commandment. It’s ok…I don’t want to learn now anyway…I just don’t want you to make me feel like I’m supposed to dance with joy that there’s a holiday to celebrate receiving something that sits on my shoulders like the yoke that it is…something that is not always wonderful and beautiful…something that sometimes makes me feel dirty…small…insignificant and sometimes very lonely.
I’m Jewish because I was born Jewish.
I’m religious because I can’t not be – and believe me, I tried…
I’ve been taught that when the Jews said “we will do, and we will hear” all our souls joined in, regardless of whether or not they were in bodily form. Well, I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t think I was there. I don’t feel like I was there. I’m pretty sure no one measured someone’s worth in pages then…or thought that it didn’t matter if you were a nice person or a total shmuck as long as you knew how to learn…or said that someone who learned a lot knew about science and math and philosophy…I’m pretty sure people just accepted something with a willingness to explore it and see how it would work for them.
So if I was there most of the people I hear talking were at a different event…not my Matan Torah…
I’m about to end my sarcastic, painful and resentful rant.
Just know this.
My husband is a good person, a learned person, a highly intelligent human being with a great grasp on reason.
I am his wife – his equal, his partner…
And we’re going to be sleeping this Shavuot night, probably full of cheesecake because a little culture doesn’t kill anyone, and we are not going to let all of this get us down.