As Matzav.com readers might be aware, this past Friday, a number of colonies in Harris, New York, experienced a devastating tornado. Trees were uprooted, power lines were down, cars were dented and some bungalows were damaged. With the kindness of Hashem, no individual was injured.
Upon seeing all the damage that the tornado left, one cannot cease to give thanks to Hashem for this wondrous miracle. Even the local Police Chief commented to one of the residents at Victory Cottages, “Your G-d surely protects you,” to which the resident responded, “He takes care for us all.”
Nearly all the residents of the nearby colonies evacuated. Some were asked to leave by the fire department out of concern that one might get electrocuted from the live wires. Others left due to the primitive living conditions in addition of not having any prepared food for Shabbos.
It was truly amazing how, in some instances, total strangers found room in their already cramped living space and took in large families, fed them and found a bed where they could sleep. All this chesed they did gladly with a mere few hours before Shabbos.
We all know how just dealing with getting our own family ready for Shabbos can sometimes be overbearing. These acts of Chesed truly personify the caring nature of K’lal Yisroel.
A few families from Victory Cottages made the decision to remain in the colony and do without running water, electricity, and an Eiruv for convenience. These families who stayed behind did so for a number of reasons, but one reason should be highlighted, as it is a message which needs review.
This message is that one could have a beautiful and happy Shabbos even in difficult and challenging situations. The message of performing mitzvos in hard times is not one we often get to give over.
Often, when we are thrown a curve ball in life, we tend to throw up our hands in despair. When things aren’t as perfect as we want them to be, we suddenly freeze. We are so spoiled with everything being so perfect, that we forget that our grandparents whether they went through the war or not, didn’t always have the luxuries which we’ve become accustomed to. They were just as happy and somehow managed their lives without the things we take for granted.
For those who chose to stay, Shabbos was just as beautiful with the candle lights. The food was plentiful and delicious despite not having cold soda. So what if the liver was spoiled? There was still a warm cholent and kugel.
I should tell you, at the start of Shabbos the children were a bit concerned, but as Shabbos continued you could see that they were happy with the decision of their parents to remain in the colony.
What I will surely recall for a long time, is how during Shabbos many of our Gentile neighbors who otherwise would ignore us, or at best utter an unfriendly remark, suddenly began to talk and actually had the opportunity to see that Jews are friendly and that we do care for them as well. As you can figure, we had no Minyan on premises. For the Tefilos we walked to Armon Estates, which is approximately 25 minutes away. We walked into their shul dressed in suit and tie, the “Yeshiva Look” you might say. In a few moments we were surrounded by our chasiddishe compatriots who warmly greeted us.
It’s imperative to show recognition and let everyone know, how these beautiful Yidden from Armon Estates were so giving and accommodating to us. Throughout the Shabbos, these Chasiddishe Yidden were so concerned for us. To them, it made no difference in how we were dressed or how we talked. We were their brothers and that’s what mattered, whether showing concern for our safety, or asking if we had food for our families. They offered us coffee before davening began and treated us like kings at the lavish and delicious Kiddush post davening.
Can you imagine? Not one person asked us to get out of their set places for davening. Each of us they gladly honored with an Aliyah and not to receive money for a Mi She-bei-rach.
We are truly blessed and fortunate to be members of K’lal Yisroel. Ashrecha Yisroel! Mi K’amcha Yisroel!
A Fellow Yid in the Castkills