Toll Booth Attendants


“Last year I drove Shlomo Carlebach  to a concert engagement in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania . After several minutes of conversation he asked if I would mind if he studied the Talmud for a while in silence. It was clear from his apologetic manner that he was fearful of offending me and appearing discourteous.  Knowing how hectic his life was and how rare the opportunity for private study must be, I assured him that I didn’t mind at all, and he should please go ahead. He opened the Gemara with an enraptured look and was quickly immersed in its study, intent on the words and oblivious of our surroundings. He seemed to be transported to a different world, a different dimension. However, each time we pulled up to one of the dozens of toll booths we passed that day, he would snap out of his reverie, close the Gemara, look up at the toll booth attendant, smile broadly, wave a greeting, and exchange a few warm words of friendship. No matter how ill-tempered or brusque the toll booth attendants appeared at the start, by the time Reb Shlomo had finished waving, smiling, and joking, they were transformed. After we passed each toll booth, Reb Shlomo would return to his Gemara, closing it again as we approached the next toll booth station. Despite his complete immersion in the text, he didn’t miss a single station or attendant. Reb Shlomo’s light touched and blessed them all.” ~ Holy Brother

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