She never saw me watching her.
She was an older woman in her 50s, who didnt' have that many friends in our shul. Her family had switched from a different shul nearby and i recalled heearing her husband and son's comment that they never felt fully welcomed. But she was sitting in shul with her chumash and listening the sounds of the leining coming over the partition from the mens' side. It was simchas torah night and while the dancing had finished, the shul was still noisy and bustling with women still chatting, and little kids running around, full of candy and the excitement of staying up way past their bedtimes. Half the chairs were still pushed back against the wall but she sat calmly amidst all the bustle with her finger moving along and she mouthed the words that were read out loud. I had been davening in the shul practically all my life but there was something on her face that i didn't see on the faces of the other women who sat around me. It was practically glowing. As the last words of Sefer Devarim were finished i saw her look up with a smile on her face and tears of joy in her eyes and for the first time in my life, i saw a woman who truly understood the simcha in simchas torah.