I'm driving along the Garden State Parkway, trying to get to my sister's house for yom tov. As I drive, I'm trying to think of something to write about shavuos.
And suddenly, a beautiful idea lands in my lap in the form of a strange driver in a red pickup truck motioning violently in my direction. Eventually I get the hint and pull over, not a moment to soon. The front driver's side tire is flat.
And when I say flat, I don't mean a little low on air. My tire is shredded. My first thought is "it's a good thing I don't leave just enough time to get there before yom tov!" My second thought is "ohmygosh I'm alone on the garden state parkway with a flat tire. What the heck do I do now."
I wasn't even finished dialing my father in a panic when a car suddenly pulled over to the shoulder. A frum couple got out to help. Just as my father picked up the phone, another car pulled up. A frum man got out and offered help.
Thankfully, flat tires aren't exactly my area of expertise, so they helped me through it. The man found a service to come within the half an hour and change my tire. The woman from the other car smiled and encouraged me that it would be ok.
Eventually, the roadside assistance was scheduled to come, and the couple got ready to leave, after ensuring that the other man would stay with me.
Before they left, they asked me if I had any cash to pay the tow truck. With a sinking heart, I dug through my wallet to confirm what I already knew: I had five dollars to my name.
With a big smile and no hesitation, he pulled out his wallet and handed me a fifty dollar bill. I'd never met them before, and suddenly they're lending me a wad of cash.
I settled in to wait, a nice frum, albeit strange man with me. He encouraged me, called the towing company for updates, and waited to make sure I'd be ok.
About twenty minutes into my wait, a New Jersey state trooper pulls over to see if we need help. "It's a tendency within your community," he noted, "to stop and help each other out."
I was blown away. The cop, not feeling like the big strong hero he wanted to be, said it with resentment. But inside, I feel nothing but pride. "Mi Ka'amcha Yisroel," I think to myself. How many times has this cop seen a scene such as this one unfold on the side of the highway? How clearly he knows that people won't drive by and assume things are ok! He wasn't there the whole time, but I'm sure he wouldn't be surprised that (so far) four different cars have stopped to offer help.
On erev shavuos, I find it particularly touching. "Vayichan sham yisroel neged Hahar...k'ish echad b'lev echad." Like one man, with one heart, the Jews accepted the Torah. And like one man, with one heart, the Jewish people continue to fulfill the commandments, doing Chesed, making a kidush Hashem...the list goes on.
No longer are we standing at the foot of har sinai. No, today we sit at the edge of the highway. But the message, thousands of years later, is the same. We are indeed, K'ish echad b'lev echad.
Good yom tov!