Here in the Washington D.C. suburbs, we're hopelessly snowbound, having just survived the blizzard of the century, which dumped 2½ feet of snow on us. And now that we're just beginning to recover our roads, we're about to be socked again with 5-10 more inches tonight.

It's not all bad though. The snow has kept us all home, giving us more family time and the kids more play time than usual. Neighbors helped each other dig out and picked up groceries for each other when going out. In many ways, by just giving us some free time we don't usually have, the snowstorm brought out the best in us. Perhaps the innate goodness of humanity can be more manifest in a blizzard?

The great Blizzard of 2010 occurred on the Shabbat when we read the Torah reading of Yitro, where we read about the Giving of the Torah, the event when the Jewish people received the 10 Commandments. The Midrash tells us that when G‑d gave the 10 Commandments to the Jewish people, He caused the whole world to become quiet. There were absolutely no sounds in the world, except the voice of G‑d Himself, as the Jewish people received the revelation of Torah.

Amazingly, last Shabbat was almost an exact replica of that event.

I live on a high traffic road in the heart of a Jewish neighborhood in Silver Spring. It's never quiet here. On this block, there are constant cars, busses, ambulances and trucks, along with their associated road noise. That goes on at all hours of the day and night.

But, in fact, on the Shabbat we read about receiving the 10 Commandments, the whole world (here in my neighborhood) was quiet.

In fact, the only people we saw outside our window that morning were other Jewish men and women, walking through high snow, to the synagogue one block away from our house. Why were they going to synagogue on this quiet, snowy Shabbat morning? To hear the 10 Commandments. Of course!

Life imitating Torah.

Upside Down Blizzard

Recently in our community, a 13-month-old baby suddenly fell terribly ill. One morning her mother noticed that "Rachel" wasn't walking well and took her to the doctor to get checked out. By the afternoon it was discovered Rachel had a brain tumor, she was hospitalized, and scheduled for emergency brain surgery.

Just like that, the "Stein" family had their world turned upside down.

On that very dark day, the Steins had to make serious, life-and-death medical decisions for their precious baby, watch her endure test after test, and feared terribly for her future.

I must say, our community immediately burst into action. Besides the meals prepared for the family and child care arrangements made for the Steins' other daughter, a web site and daily emails kept the community posted on Rachel's health status. Each email, school newsletter, and any other community newsletter reminded us all to pray for Rachel's recovery.

I remember praying for baby Rachel to have a complete and speedy recovery, but wondering if my prayers could actually accomplish anything. She was SO sick. And I am just one person.

Since at the time I was new to the neighborhood, I didn't even know the Steins. But, as a mother, I could imagine the pain and fear they were feeling. I often murmured a mother's prayer for the well being of the Steins' innocent, beloved baby.

Watching the snowy blizzard outside my window, I can imagine now the upside down blizzard that emanated from this neighborhood when baby Rachel was diagnosed.

I can visualize my prayers on behalf of baby Rachel much like individual snowflakes. Unique in design. Beautiful to behold. Pure white. Floating, in reverse of a snowflake, upward to G‑d.

But my daily murmurings, flurrying up the heavens on Rachel's behalf, were just a small part of the effort. There were the prayers of my neighbors, the families across the street, from the synagogue down the block, from families throughout the neighborhood, and from all the children in the schools who prayed for baby Rachel each day. But there were even more prayers: as all the synagogues and Jewish families all over Silver Spring and even more widespread in the Washington D.C. area prayed over and over for her recovery.

Each prayer was like mine, personal and heartfelt, so beautiful and unique like individual snowflakes.

But together our prayers became a blizzard. Thousands upon thousands of prayer snowflakes ascended to Heaven; beseeching G‑d for an immediate and complete recovery for baby Rachel, and to send comfort for the Steins.

In heaven, those snowflakes piled up. At first they were just a few inches deep, but then the prayers of the Silver Spring community became more intense. Inches became foot upon foot of prayers. Like the mountains of snow outside my home right now, in the heavens, those prayers piled up to become an immovable force. A wall of prayers too high to ignore. And G‑d heard our prayers.

The Steins had a roller coaster ride of surgeries and recoveries, coming home and then racing back to the hospital due to complications. But then one day, baby Rachel was declared well. She is home, she is recovering. The Steins can get back to the blessing of normal life.

And so, as with every storm, our blizzard of prayers has tapered off.