By Rabbi Shmuel Lipszyc, Town of Oyster Bay Chabad
Sometimes it takes a little bit of faith, sometimes it takes a call to action!
No two people see things the same way, but I think it’s safe to assume that the dancing of Simchas Torah that year was one of the most joyous and lively dancing we’ve ever had. There was just something in the air, something special. The kids were running around, the energetic singing to the chabad house classic tunes (think “Oseh Shalom” and “David Melech”) sent vibrations through the building. I can’t put my finger on it, (a few Lechaims were had after all) but that special night seemed like it would be a night to go down in the the annals of Town of Oyster Bay Chabad’s history.
It actually did become part of our history, but not for the reasons we could have ever have imagined. You see, while the oh so joyous Hakofos are going on inside, the kids were being happy in their own way… like Alexa who was having fun doing the monkey bars, when suddenly, she slipped, fell and was screaming in agony!
As one could only imagine, the atmosphere changed from one of joy to chaos in minutes. “Call an ambulance.” people were yelling “She broke her arm” “She’s screaming in pain.” “Did you call an ambulance?” My brother tried to calm the frantic yelling ”Not to worry, the ambulance is on its way, with Hashem’s help the girl will be fine.”
But he couldn’t calm the crowd, because there was still a lot of screaming – though it seemed to be coming from the other end of the room. “No, no, we need another ambulance!”, some were shouting. A boy just smashed his hand through a glass door, there’s blood all over the place”. Everyone was screaming and yelling, running here and there, trying to be of help but mostly getting in the way. Some were probably thinking – who’s next?
After the children were safely taken to the Hospital, we tried to continue Hakofos that night but it just wasn’t the same. We tried to fake happiness, but deep in hearts we were all emotionally tired and hurt.
We don’t always see the whole picture, but there are times when you just have to ask “how can this be?”
I remember the boy’s father Richard* throwing off his Yarlmuka in front of my father, yelling, “how can this happen ???…where’s the Rabbi when I need him…(was helping the first kid….didn’t know there was a second one who was injured… ). Why does G-d hate me?”
After the Simchas Torah tragedy, the Shul Mezuzos were checked and two outdoor ones were found to be water damaged and were promptly replaced.
And we all moved on. Not because we didn’t care, but because like Shlomo Hamelech wrote “Sheva Yipol Tzaddik Vekam” – “A tzaddik falls seven times, and rises” (Mishlei 24:16).
Not just that he rises despite the falls, but uses the fall to rise above. And that’s what happened. The activities were strengthened at Town of Oyster Bay Chabad, the Torah Shiurim were increased, and extra effort was put into growing the Hebrew school and making yiddishkeit exciting for all.
Three months later, time does what it does best. Richard* forgave G-d and the Rabbi. Both children recovered and the community moved on to the usual hustle and bustle.
But then yet again, the girls family was struck, when the father, Jack, slipped while walking down the stairs, and broke his rib. For a while, Jack stopped coming to shul.
We don’t always see the whole picture, but there are times when the Holy one lets us in on the secret. He’s always looking out for us.
Fast forward to purim. There’s a huge turnout, Jack Fried, who had since calmed down, was there, and my brother was Farbrenging with Jack.
“Jack, you have to take on more things Jewish!”
“Mezuzos and Tefilin”
“I just bought new Mezuzos last year, and I also have teffilin!”
So my brother insisted,“Jack, I know you’ve been through a lot this year, so we’re getting your Mezusos and Tefilin checked!
“Jack agreed, the teffilin and mezusos were checked – and lo and behold – from the phrase “Al Yedchem” the entire word “Al” is missing. Ask any sofer and they’ll tell you “we find Pasul Mezuzos a dime a dozen, but rare it it to find an entire word missing!”
This was just a few years back. Jack Fried has since sent all his girls through our Hebrew school, he has brought his (religiously apathetic) father to Sunday Minyan to put on Tefillin and is continuing to grow. Oh yes, he convinced Richard to check his mezuzos too, and he too had to replace a few.
As for us? Town of Oyster Bay Chabad is getting stronger, working harder, still making a difference in peoples lives, touching Jews one at a time. And Simchas Torah? We are dancing away like never before!
You can become a partner in our work!
From now until Motzei Shushan Purim, every Dollar you share with us will be quadrupled, thanks to three amazing families who have seen first hand the great work that we’ve done! These three families will match your Tzedakah three fold, to help us continue forward. This means your $50 is going help us get $200 closer to our $72,000 goal!
This Purim, let’s stand united with a real Simcha! In the merit of just one more Mitzva may Hashem send Moshiach. In the words of our Rebbe:
.. ומיסמך גאולה לגאולה פורים לגאולת פסח – ועד וכולל יציאה אמתית ממצרי והגבלות הגוף- וכימי צאתך מארץ מצרים אראנו נפלאות, בגאולה האמיתית והשלימה על ידי משיח צדקנו, במהרה בימינו ממש.
לקוטי שיחות לא פורים שיחה א
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Happy Purim from your friends at Town of Oyster Bay Chabad!
*the names have been changed to respect the privacy of the individuals involved.
** this campaign was months in the planning. The connection to most recent events could not have been foreseen.