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After the Crowds Go Home

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What happened last Sunday night at Citi Field is much bigger than the sum total of its parts. The program on the ground was one story, the implications of the gathering another. Forty-two thousand Yidden, forty-two thousand opinions. Add in tens of thousands more across the globe watching via hook-up and telephone, many of them in time zones where it was the middle of the night, and it seems that a great part of the Torah community was united; the title “Kinus Klal Yisroel” wasn’t presumptuous after all

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

crowdsSome were disappointed by the lack of a concrete solution, a switch or button that would solve all the problems. Others complained about too much English, too much Yiddish, or the seating arrangements.

But there are many who refuse to let go of the high. They focus on the gathering itself, a nation rising, in the words of Rav Ephraim Wachsman, “like a lioness,” turning as one to Heaven and asking for help. In this outpouring of tefillah was an implicit admission that the problems associated with technology concern us. The Internet worries us. Admitting there’s a problem, a wise man said, is half the solution. Could the Asifa itself have been a great part of the yeshuah?

After a family reunion, what’s remembered isn’t the conversation or menu, but the togetherness — and there was plenty of that. So we move forward, focused on the extraordinary moments the gathering provided: the Tefillas HaShlah recited in unison by tens of thousands who, despite external differences, share a common ambition — lichtige, ehrliche kinder.

The rousing, spirited dance at the evening’s close, “Vetaher libenu le’ovdecha be’emes.”

The orderly, dignified march of thousands along subway platforms, earning stares of admiration from a public not used to seeing thousands of Jews at once.

The sight of elderly, weak tzaddikim ascending the podium with determination, announcing that even if technology isn’t their nisayon, it is ours, and thus, it weighs on them.

And the climax of that evening, that moment during Rav Wachsman’s drashah when we truly believed that we are stronger, more resilient, better — capable of triumphing this nisayon.

But still, only half a solution.

Like the day after Yom Kippur, when yesterday’s kabbalos meet the realities of daily life, we search for ways to take those small steps. In these pages, we share the perspectives and thoughts of a wide range of people — not advice as much as a reaction, a glimpse at how other Yidden responded to the great hisorerus and their attempts to sprinkle a bit of that “V'taher libeinu” in their offices, homes and pockets.

Towering over the deepest fence at Citi Field, framing the scoreboard, is a slogan for Long Island University. It reads “Find Out How Good You Really Are.”

Last week, we did.


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