“I prayed from here to the Brooklyn Bridge,” she tells me and we sit back in our chairs in collective awe, looking over God’s work. “You’re the only one I can tell about these miracles,” she confides and I wonder when I became a keeper for all that holiness, when I became worthy of all that joy. I arrive home to music blaring from the tops of trailers, to ספרים lining bookcases scattered on the sidewalks outside age old synagogues, landmarks in their own right.
My people are celebrating the return of some of our rabbis greatest works, the end of a messy lawsuit, the spreading of the Torah, and our eternal status as the people of the book. Manuscripts are a dollar each, works of the Hassidic masters 40% off. My sister and I buy as many as we can carry and our fingers freeze, cold and stiff all the way home. Shining faces peek out from behind every bookcase, the lines to pay snake their way through the stores, and everyone looks shocked, beaming at their good fortune. Look at what they get to learn, how many books they can afford to buy, all of the secrets of the world hidden in between the pages and covers held in their hands. How lucky are we to be the people of the book, the receivers of all of this Torah, the Hassidim who take to the streets to spread the wisdom and the music, the joy and the good fortune.
I feel a sort of sadness as I skim the shelves for titles to take home. I’m overwhelmed by all the unrecognizable texts in front of me - all the Torah I’ve yet to learn. And it doesn’t feel like even a lifetime would be long enough to catch up.