At the stadium last night, I saw the vast number of people gathered for Chavivus haTorah, but to me it seemed to be only a quantitative experience. In other words, that there was no essential difference between one person and ten and ten thousand and ninety thousand. It's all just more of the same. A quantitative difference is not necessarily a qualitative difference, a difference in כמות does not mean that there is any difference in איכות. It was nice, I was thrilled and proud that so many people braved the weather- it had poured the whole day, there was thunder and lightening, and everyone that came knew they might spend four hours sitting fully clothed in a steam-room shower. (In fact, though, the rain stopped as if someone flipped a switch at seven o'clock, the sky cleared, and cool breezes came through the stadium. To say the least, we did not have the experience (Sukka 28b) of an עבד שבא למזוג כוס לרבו ושפך לו קיתון על פניו, thank G-d.)
But there was a moment when that changed.
I can identify precisely when I finally did sense the crowd becoming an organic whole, when the amazing כמות created a fantastic new איכות. That was when after the siyum everyone began singing and dancing. I am not skilled enough to describe the spiritual transcendence I experienced at that moment, the sense of expansion and coalescence of myself into the crowd and the crowd into myself. All the talk of כאיש אחד בלב אחד was, until that moment, just a demagogic trope. At that moment, it became a reality.
Mr. Rechnitz noted the striking coincidence of the two dates- August 1, 1936, and August 1, 2012. I would like to point out that the two Hebrew calendar dates are also the same-
Ponovezher Rov was once in Rome, seeking support for his yeshiva, and it was raining and he had a flight to catch, but he told his driver that he wanted to see the Arch of Titus. His driver, a frum person, was surprised. Yes, the arch is historically interesting, it has a carving of the Menora, it's a great tourist attraction but it was really late, it was cold, they had no time. The Rov insisted; I need to go see it. (I have verification of this story from Mrs. Rashi Shnell, who was working in the New York office of the Ponovezher Yeshiva when it happened, and she heard it from the driver.)