Tuesday night, was the shiva minyan (service) for a friend of mine you had lost her father. After the funeral of a mother, father, brother, sister, child or spouse the mourner and their family return to their home and begin the period of shiva, the most intense period of mourning in Judaism. Shiva means seven, and this ritual is observed for seven days. Mourners are to remain in their homes and community members come to them, sitting with them and quietly lending an ear to let the mourner share, laugh, or cry. It is a mitzvah to visit a mourner during this time, and is one of the most important acts a community member can do. This is known as a shiva call. During the shiva period, the daily services are often moved to the house of the mourner so the community can come to the mourner and allow them to say the kaddish or mourner’s prayer. Since my friend’s father had lived out of town, which changes some of the shiva procedures, there was only going to me one night with a shiva minyan.
After school Tuesday, I asked my daughter if she could bake some cookies so that we could bring them to the minyan that night. It is customary to bring some food with you to the shiva house. My daughter was happy to do it, since she loves to bake. She was baking the cookies for the next hour and the recipe yielded more than enough to bring to the shiva house and keep a few for ourselves. I thanked my daughter for the mitzvah she had performed and she looked at me funny, she said, “I didn’t do a mitzvah, because it was fun and I got to eat some of the batter while I was baking.” I laughed and asked her if she thought mitzvahs weren’t fun. She said they weren’t.
I guess in time she will learn that sometimes, even while participating in doing a mitzvah you might still derive pleasure from what you are doing. Perhaps that is a lesson that takes time and maturity to realize.