I missed Torah study today. Not just missed as in, didn’t go. Missed as in, felt the absence of.
This past fall I made a commitment to attend a year of Torah study classes, whenever possible. Today isn’t the first time I wasn’t there. I’ve stayed away when I was feeling tired or under the weather or was out-of-town. At those times I’ve read Torah propped up in bed, sipping coffee, my cat Maude tucked in beside me. At those times, I haven’t felt “that missing.”
Today I left the house at 5:45 a.m. to lead three Weight Watchers meetings. I drove away at noon feeling a little sick, a little sad, and a little lonely.
Working for Weight Watchers is my joy and my genius, and members have long been “my congregation.” However, when I moved to Seattle six months ago, I consciously decided not to take on any Saturday commitments — Weight Watchers or otherwise. I wanted the opportunity to experience Torah study and synagogue services on a regular basis.
My bosses and other colleagues have often asked me to consider working on Saturdays. And I’ve continued to say no, until today.
I said yes, just this once — a single Saturday.
The meetings were lively and fun. I connected easily to the members. Several asked me when and where I usually work. I felt flattered. And yet, I felt the pull of my people. My other people.
I have sometimes felt like a farce, like a liar, when I told my Weight Watchers colleagues I don’t work Saturdays because I am in synagogue. A mean voice inside calls out, “Yeah? Since when?”
Since October to be exact. Since my 42nd birthday, when I watched the Torah unfurl around me at Simchat Torah services, and committed myself to a year of Torah study. Since I gave myself the gift of Saturdays– the gift of Shabbat.