T here are so many reasons I don’t go to tish Friday night.

The kids, laziness, the cold, laziness, the distance, laziness. But I definitely want to go, certainly would go, if not for, well, the kids, the cold, the distance, and, what, me? Lazy? Oh, please.

But one Friday night, with the temperature dipping into the teens, opportunity knocks. I’m hurrying home from a cousin’s sheva brachos, toes and fingertips numb with frostbite, when I pass Fifty-Fourth Street.

Fifty-Fourth Street. Skulen. Tish. How many years since I’ve been to tish? But, but… the cold. And the kids. I must get home to the kids. And I’m so, so tired.

I go, probably because I know I’ll never forgive myself for missing the chance, and possibly also because just three weeks ago, the Skulener Rebbe was sandek at my son’s bris, and I want to hold on to that connection.

It takes two wrong tries before I find the door leading to the ezras nashim. But here I stand, facing a crowd of tiptoeing, neck-craning women and girls. Not a seasoned tish-goer, I’ve never mastered the science of weaving through tight packs of people to find a good spot. But I’m here, and I desperately want to see the Rebbe.

I hover around until I spy a gap, in a far corner. It’s not a good spot. Instead of the backs of women, I now face the backs of men. Still, I’m determined. I tilt my head at all angles, and when several men sway in specific directions at once, there’s a crack between the beketshes and I get my treasured glimpse: a snow-white beard and peyos framing a diamond of a face.

For several minutes, I drink in the experience. The kedushah, the song, the tzaddik nibbling on pieces of challah crust his son prepares for him. He can’t eat, the Rebbe. For years now, he’s supposed to be on a feeding tube, but he refuses. He forces maachalei Shabbos down his throat despite the serious discomfort.

I’m still in my spot, groping the mechitzah fencing, when someone taps my shoulder.

“Excuse me?”

I turn. It’s a young girl, 15 years old, I judge.

“Can you see from there?” she asks.

My brows arch. Seriously? Does she think there’s room for a mouse next to me? “Uh, just a bit, when those guys shuffle around.”

“You can come up here,” she says, pointing to the bleacher rail she’s standing on. “You’ll have a much better view.”

Oh. She was offering me a spot. I stammer a thank-you.

Kimpeturins don’t stand on bleacher rails. Politely, I decline her offer and remain rooted on the bench, catching my occasional glimpse of the Rebbe. In the mystical halo that surrounds him, the spirit of Shabbos is a tangible thing. His warmth swathes the crowd in holiness. It stretches like the sun’s rays, all the way to the ezras nashim, over my head to where the high school girl balances on the shaky rail. In this environment, a little bit of the warmth permeates every heart, infusing a streak of the Rebbe’s kedushah, and this is why I’m here, this is why I’ve come. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 543)