To Sleep Or Not To Sleep…That Is Not A Question


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.

That’s right.

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.

And me?

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.

So there!

9 thoughts on “To Sleep Or Not To Sleep…That Is Not A Question

  1. CS. No theories, true or untrue, could ever invalidate who you are, how you feel, or what you experienced. That is the lesson of sefirah today.


    1. the beauty of writing for me is that i get it out…and then let it go. i’m not letting it get me down, but i do need to say it, see it in writing and allow myself to feel it in order to fully appreciate where i stand in relation to it…and now my comment is in italics too 🙂


  2. I’m not Jewish . . . I do respect your faith very much. Amen to why you felt angry and frustrated — I would have too.


  3. We’re frum and my husband and I have slept for years. I think maybe last year was the first time in ages that my husband stayed up. It’s a minhag and one that ruins the chag for a lot of others. (makes it very hard to do that actual seudat mitzva you’re supposed to have the next day). Do what works for you. Shluf gezundt.


  4. Hello. Your anger and frustration are legitimate. It’s just no way to live life. It’s important that you find fulfillment for yourself. Don’t live and just accept that you will keep Shabbat. Why not research a little bit about it? I’m not talking Halachot- I’m talking about the inspiration behind it. Learn about Judaism, see what it’s got.
    Open up a gemara. There’s no shame in using artscroll. You’ll find a different world out there, one that brings with it a breath of fresh air. Even if your community doesn’t support your learning, there are many true chachamim who do. Do not feel alone.
    To be a Torah Jew is to first and foremost be a moral person. You should never feel like a second class citizen. That’s not the Torah way. I suggest you branch out and find other people who understand what it really means to live as a religious, thinking Jew. All the best-good luck.


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