A Bochur’s Thoughts on the 30th Chof Zayin Adar

From the Anash.org Inbox: We find ourselves in a world of confusion and disarray, searching for 30 years. And yet out of this darkness, I leap into a spontaneous dance.

By Arik Shemtov – Michigan

I once met an old man in our neighborhood. I asked him to relate something from his old home back in Poland before the war.

He tells me about his shtetel. Their highlight of the year was Simchat Torah, the whole town would gather in the big shul, all the sifrei Torah were brought out, every father would take his son on his shoulders, and dance through the night.

The war began, the nazis were getting closer and our family was forced to break up.

The night before we ran, my father woke me up, dressed me, put me on his lap, and stared into me…

Yankele,” he said, holding back tears, “we must run now, but I promise you, very soon this will all be over, and Simchat Torah we will be back home together, and you will dance on my shoulders just like every Simchat Torah

That was the last night I saw him… 

One night, in the camp, I could not sleep. My mind was traveling back to my shtetl in Poland to my young innocent years before the war. I remember the last meeting, the fateful goodbye, the promise of reunion.

That’s when it struck me. Tonight is Simchat Torah.

Like a man waking from a nightmare, I jumped out of bed, and with tears streaming down my face, I leaped into a spontaneous dance.

A few inmates joined me, we danced for hours, dressed in rags, the barbed wire casting a backdrop beside us. we danced to a wordless tune, to something we barely understood.

Some looked on with anger, “how callous?” they thought. 

Others watched with pity “has he lost it?” they whispered.

Patiently, I told them about my father’s promise, i explained:

“though I do not see him, he is dancing with me now, it’s just that last year I danced on his shoulders, and this year he is dancing on mine


As I write these words, I awake from a dream, a nightmare. 

A world of confusion and disarray, tapping in the dark for an opening, unaware of it being a door or pit. 

For 30 years we are searching, trying to hold on, to get to the essence.

And yet out of this darkness, I leap into a spontaneous dance. I dance for hours. Dressed in the rags of galus, the barbed wire of fear and limitations cast a backdrop beside me. I dance to a nameless tune, to something I barely understand. 

Some look on with anger, “how crazy?” they think.

Others watch me with pity “has he lost it?” they whisper.

Who cares? I know the Rebbe’s promise…

Although I do not see him, he is dancing with me now, just that before I was dancing on his shoulders, and now he is dancing on mine…”

Please join me!

Author’s note: the idea of dancing brought here, can also be more broadly explained as the Avodah of shtus d’kdusha (against the norms and conformity of galus) which is brought out through dancing. (see b’asi le’gani 5715)

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  1. Wow! I’ve never read an article with such a meaningful and explicit message. Thank you so much!!

  2. Very good comment. And now the mission is clear for me. Thank you Arik.
    I hope you continue to write and share inspiration.

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