HIS SONG, HIS STORY
True story about redemption, and finding your way back home.
Daniel was praying the evening prayers at his synagogue in Israel shortly before the Sabbath was to begin that
On his way out the door, he noticed a young man, possibly a teenager, eighteen or nineteen years old. Someone he had never seen before in the tight-knit Jewish community.
The boy had dark skin like a Sephardi Jew, those whose ancestors came from the Middle East, unlike
Daniel whose people came from Eastern Europe.
"Shalom, are you new here?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, sir. " The boy replied.
Daniel noticed the young man had a full backpack with him so he must be visiting or passing through.
"Do you have somewhere to go for the Sabbath meal tonight?"
"No, sir." Was his reply
"Come with me, you'll meet my family and be our guest."
Daniel returned home with the boy. The sabbath candles were already lit, his young children
were seated at the table, and his wife and eldest daughter were busy in the kitchen getting the food ready for the official start of the Sabbath.
They all sat down together, and Daniel led the family in the dinner prayers. The young man watched silently. They began singing Shalom Alecheim.
Peace upon you, O ministering angels, angels of the Exalted One, from the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.
The young man did not sing with them. Rather, he
Daniel noticed his young guest was not joining in the rituals.
"Is there a favorite Sabbath song you would like us to sing?"
The young man answered with a shrug. "I really like the song that was sung in the synagogue tonight. 'Dod-dee'".
Ah! Daniel knew he meant the song that welcomes the Sabbath bride: L'Cha Dodi.
"It's usually a song sung in synagogue right before the sun sets, but we can sing it now around the table if you'd
Daniel, his wife, and the kids began to sing the familiar song. The young man sat in quiet pleasure, absorbing the words and melody with a smile of contentment on his lips.
After the song, Daniel thought to say, "Here we are, finished with our Sabbath mealtime prayers and songs, the food is ready to be served, and in all the rushing to get home, I never made proper introductions. Tell us, what is your name, and where you are from?"
"My name is Muhammad and I am from
Daniel's heart froze. Dark skin. Backpack. He's from the Palestinian city of Ramallah. The young man has an Arab name, Muhammad - founder of the Isalm religion.
With shock and terror, he thought to himself: Who did I bring into my home?
Muhammad noticed the reaction of everyone at the table. He was not their typical Sabbath guest.
"I see you're all worried. Let me tell you about myself and how I grew up. I can set your minds at ease.
I grew up
in a home where my father was always expressing hatred towards Jews. I would challenge him and say, 'But Jews are our cousins, why do we hate them? Doesn't the Quran say we should love our brothers?'
My father would respond with anger. How dare I question him!
Last week, after asking the
same questions, he threw me out of the house and told me not to show my face to him ever again.
Later that night I snuck back into the house to get my things. My mother came into my room as I was packing up, and she started to cry. She kissed me and told me it was a good thing I was leaving Ramallah, leaving my father.
Mother said she made a terrible mistake when she was young. She met my father, and they fell in love. She, a Jewish Israeli, had fallen in love with a Muslim
Palestinian. They got married, and here I am.
My mother has deep regrets for leaving her faith, her family, and her people.
But, then she handed me a packet of papers and said, 'I am Jewish, so you are too. In Judaism, if your mother is Jewish, then you are Jewish, despite your upbringing. Here is your birth certificate and my Israel identification card so you can prove it. Go back to our people and redeem me.'"
Daniel opened the large manilla envelope, and among the legal
documents, there was a photograph of a man and a woman in a cemetery standing in front of a headstone with Hebrew writing. The handwriting on the back said, "Mom and Dad at the grave of our famous forefather."
When Daniel read the script, he got up from the table and came back with a magnifying glass. He examined the photo closely and the Hebrew letters on the headstone. He nodded his head with excitement.
"You should know, not only are you Jewish, you come from the lineage of a
Muhammad's grandparents were standing in front of the grave of a 16th-century Kabbalist called Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz. He was the author of the prayer L'Cha Dodi. The very same song Muhammad was drawn to in the synagogue.
There are no coincidences. There's only God, guiding
us down our intended paths.
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