Why did I feel that I had to be there when that little voice of logic begged me to say extra Tehillim at home and use the traveling and painstakingly slow weaving-our-way-through- the-crowd time in a more practical way? I’m not really sure, but I am sure that I’m glad I ignored that voice.
The experience of waiting in line for at least 10 minutes in the jam-packed Ditmas Avenue train station for a Metrocard and joining throngs getting on to the crowded trains in an excited yet calm manner was the prelude to the real deal. The Event was unfolding with each chug of the train that travels this very same route hour after hour, day after day, week after week, but not with these passengers, not to this destination.
My heart beat a little faster as we ascended from the depths of the train station, and joined the crowds who didn’t even need to pause for directions. The streets of Manhattan, the capital of materialism and immorality, bore witness to a different reality on this historic Sunday, 7 Adar, the birthday and yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu, chosen by Hashem to give us His Torah.
It was a surreal experience of Jewish unity and somber pride, of purity and purpose, of proclaiming fealty to the unchanging and uncompromising Torah values that ensure our continued existence in a world that seems bent on change faster than the speed of light, change in a downward spiral.
All around me, as far as the eye could see, were seas of people, women of all ages standing quietly in cordoned-off sections; the weather was relatively warm, but the togetherness of the crowd was even warmer. Men of distinctly different affiliations were standing shoulder to shoulder and pouring out their hearts in unison.
No cellphones, no pushing, no loud words, no jostling, just the sound of tens of thousands of hearts beating together, listening to the resounding and emotional voices of Gedolim lead us in prayer, with passion and conviction, with hope and bitachon that the Torah whose honor we came out to protect will continue to sustain and preserve us.
I was humbled to be part of this kiddush Hashem, nurturing the dream that very soon we will all merit to experience such gatherings in the courtyard of the Third Beis Hamikdash.