Heroes in the Snow

Most of the year, snowfall is something that children adore and the elderly fear. Purim, when so many have extremely hectic schedules involving a considerable amount of getting around, is perhaps the only day of the calendar when even children cringe at the idea of a snowstorm.

After a bitter cold winter that saw its share of snow, members of Jewish communities on the East Coast — from the greater New York area to Baltimore — were disconcerted to discover last week that yet another snowstorm was being predicted for Purim day. Many hoped that the forecast would be proven wrong, or at the very least the snow would be too minimal to affect their carefully made plans for this lofty day.

Hashem desired it otherwise, and early Purim morning the snow began to fall and the precipitation continued for much of the day. By midday, many of the side streets were barely passable; the combination of snowdrifts and extra-heavy traffic made traveling a momentous challenge.

Yet the brave residents of these areas refused to allow the weather to dampen their simchas Purim, or the cold winds to cool their enthusiasm to perform the unique mitzvos of the day. Observers noted that there was no shortage of heroes or heroines on the streets last Thursday:

The elderly man who for weeks has not ventured out of his home because of the hazardous ice, was so determined to hear the ­Megillah that he swallowed his pride, overcame his fear, and asked a total stranger to help him walk to the shul down the block. …

The young man who was himself running late for Shacharis, yet showed not a trace of impatience as he helped his new acquaintance pick his way through the snow. …

The volunteers who spent far more time than in past years as they struggled to make their way to hospitals and homes to read the ­Megillah for the bedridden and homebound, and the volunteers of matanos la’evyonim organizations who braved the elements to deliver envelopes to the needy. …

The mothers who bundled up their toddlers and pushed strollers through the snow and ice to bring mishloach manos to their children’s rebbeim and teachers. …

The fathers who put the needs of the poor before their own and spent hours plodding through the streets collecting money for total strangers. …

The families who packed into minivans for what they thought would be a short drive, only to be stuck in traffic for hours, and the many who were unable to reach their destination in time for the Purim seudah, yet kept a smile plastered on their faces and a song on their lips.

Then there were incredible exhibitions of ahavas Yisrael and love for the mitzvos that we have already grown accustomed to every year.

One reader wrote to Hamodia to express his feelings:

“Before Purim, I put up a small sign in the shul where I daven, advising that I was collecting money for matanos la’evyonim that would be distributed on Purim day. There were so many similar signs already hanging on the bulletin board from well-known organizations and other individuals, that I barely found room to hang mine.

“On Purim morning, it took me only about 20 minutes to walk around the shul and approach each of the mispallelim. Cognizant of the fact that many of them are struggling for parnassah themselves, I was astounded by the incredible generosity and unbridled enthusiasm they exhibited as they handed me their donations, though they hadn’t the vaguest idea who I was collecting for and some of them didn’t know who I was, either. As I walked through the aisles, I somehow missed one yungerman, who then came running after me to hand me the money. When I counted it all up, I was brought to tears at the amount that was raised.

“Late in the afternoon, I met someone who had seen the sign and rushed over to me to offer me money. He was sorely disappointed to discover that I had already distributed all the money to the needy and couldn’t accept his kind donation. …”

We can’t possibly imagine the incredible merits aroused by the ­mesirus nefesh exhibited by members of Klal Yisrael this Purim. As they overcame many obstacles to achieve the requisite happiness on this lofty day, they created countless desperately needed zechuyos for Jews throughout the world.