By Rabbi Yosef C. Golding, Executive Director, Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society
It was the morning after The Hurricane hit. Sunrise was not for another hour and a half and it was pitch black outside. The feeling was eerie and unsettling. The winds were still quite gusty and there were no lights anywhere to be seen. No moon, no stars; too cloudy.
My headlights lit up the way as I slowly headed towards Route 306, on my way to our regularly scheduled 5:55am Daf Yomi shiur at Rabbi Wachsman’s shul in the Concord area of Monsey. All of my flashlights had given up within the past 36 hours but I hoped there would be lights in shul…somehow. Hmm…no working traffic lights; have to slow down at every intersection…every so often the darkness broken by a rare pair of headlights heading in the opposite direction.
As I turned the final corner, I saw the lights in the shul were still out. No generator, nothing but dark. But then another car drove up…then another…and still another. And one by one, my “chavrusas” exited with a gemara in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Our maggid shiur drove up and we made our way into the dark beis medrash. But the dark did not last for long; not physically, and not spiritually. Flashlight by flashlight…candle by candle, the gemaras truly became illuminated. Mine was lit through the courtesy of a local Hatzalah member who had a massive Maglite, which he held for 45 minutes straight (another chessed within a chessed). Others used candles, still another used an LED flashlight attached to his clothing.
I couldn’t help but think of how the Tannaim and Amoraim we were quoting that very morning studied this way every weeknight of their lives (OK, no flashlights, but…) and I felt spiritually illuminated, knowing that nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of our daily Daf.
When I got to work later in the day, a colleague came over to show me a photo of his 5:25 shiur that morning (photo attached) in Rabbi Rudinsky’s shul, a half mile away. Same story, just a half hour earlier. And now, I guess, we two were not the only ones…