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Wednesday
Nov022016

FROM TAV TILL ALEF

By Yechiel Sofer

The weather matched Simcha’s mood. That morning the weather required gloves, a scarf, boots and a warm coat. The clouds were thick and gray and large drops of rain began to fall on the empty street.

Simcha turned over once again under his blanket and looked at the large clock eagerly. Maybe, maybe the little hand would move back a little and give him another hour of sleep. But to his dismay, the little hand insisted on remaining where it was. Blue on yellow it showed that the time was 7:15. That meant he had to get up.

Simcha did not even have the strength to get dressed, certainly not for all the other tasks that needed to be done on a typical morning. He had no desire whatsoever to go to school. After a vacation full of holidays and interesting experiences, going back to school seemed like the most disappointing thing in the world.

Simcha gave a final sigh, got out from under his blanket, washed negel vasser, and got out of bed with a sour face. “Cheshvan,” he mumbled to himself in annoyance. “Why did Tishrei have to end? Why?”

Simcha was unable to hear his own answer since his train of thought was interrupted by a happy tune. Yael, his big sister, was playing a Geula song from the Oro shel Moshiach choir. He tried to ignore the bouncy tune and get back to his gloomy thoughts. After a few attempts he gave up. The dance tune penetrated his thoughts mercilessly. The last thing he wanted now was to hear music and certainly not something so upbeat.

He plodded heavily in the direction of the sound system and pulled the plug out of the socket. It was suddenly silent. Simcha did not wait for Yael’s reaction. He went back to his room, took his briefcase, and walked out the door without greeting anyone. Behind the door that closed behind him he heard Yael say something he couldn’t make out, something in connection with his normalcy that morning.

The rain got stronger on his way to school. At the crossroads, before Klein’s grocery, a wet cat toppled a tower of empty boxes. Simcha thought that perhaps the cat’s screech was better background “music” for his mood.

The entrance to the school was already almost empty of students and Simcha, who ran breathlessly to class, entered one minute before the teacher. While the class started singing Yechi before davening, Simcha slid into his seat at the side of the classroom and mumbled the words.

For some reason, maybe because the new semester was starting, the davening was more festive than usual. Gloomy Simcha counted at least six, if not seven, different songs during the davening. He felt put upon. He was not at all in the mood for this.

During the first lesson, Simcha’s mind was elsewhere. He began thinking about the t’fillos of Yom Kippur in shul. He went on to think about Sukkos, Chol HaMoed, Simchas Torah, and all of Tishrei which had been so interesting.

“Simcha, are you with us?” the teacher interrupted his pleasant thoughts with his question. Simcha opened his eyes and discovered that he was in class, in a Gemara shiur.

The teacher had apparently noticed Simcha’s state of mind the moment he entered the classroom. He saw Simcha grumpily singing the songs during the davening. He understood Simcha, for Simcha was not the first one to return to school dejectedly and he wouldn’t be the last one either.

“I will ask you a question, boys,” said the teacher suddenly, interrupting the lesson. “And no, this is not a surprise quiz, so there is nothing to complain or be worried about. The question is simple. Which of you sang a happy song recently?”

All hands went up in the air.

“Right. We all sang before davening and also during the davening. Who gave permission?”

“What do you mean?” stammered Zalmy. “Why not? What’s the problem?”

The teacher said, “It says in the Gemara, a person cannot fill his mouth with laughter in this world. After the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, we are not allowed to rejoice overly much because of the sorrow over the terrible galus.”

“But we never heard of this before,” said Sruli. “And we always saw the Rebbe encouraging the Chassidim while they sang.”

By now, Simcha had already forgotten his grumpy thoughts. He was completely involved in this fascinating discussion. He also knew why the teacher had introduced this topic.

“That is correct,” said the teacher. “The Rebbe emphasizes that today it is already permissible to rejoice since we are close to the time of the Geula about which it says, ‘Then our mouths will be filled with song.’

“Furthermore, in one sicha, the Rebbe says that there is a special reason to sing during davening as a preparation for the ‘new song’ that will be revealed in the future. This is the reason that we sang a lot during davening today, and we will, G-d willing, continue this way when we daven.”

Avremi, who was good at wordplay, said, “We can call it tav till alef.” He immediately explained. “Preparing for the Geula, which is the alef within the gola, happens through the tav of t’filla, with happy tunes.”

Simcha still found it difficult to concentrate on the lesson, but this time it was because he was thinking about what his teacher had said, that there is an obligation to rejoice as a preparation for the Geula and about the importance of singing in general, and especially during davening. By the end of the lesson he allowed himself to smile.

Simcha made his way home from school as he hummed a happy tune and, amazingly, the sun come out.

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