Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: End Times (02/27/14)
TITLE: The Rabbi
By Karen Pourbabaee
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They have called me Rabbi for many years. Master of the Law. My soul should possess great contentment. But I must admit, there is something unsettling deep within, even in my eighty-ninth year. In the flickering candlelight, I pen the most important prayer of my life. Yahweh shall answer, I’m sure.
Jerusalem, my home, explodes with the sights and sounds of faith. Five times a day the mournful “adnan” call to Islamic prayer resonates amidst the holy air. Christian church bells joyfully announce calls to worship. And hundreds of times I have witnessed Christian pilgrims solemnly traverse the Via Dolorosa reliving the agony of Christ. It is always cause to wonder. At the Western Wall, the prayer-shawled faithful pray daily toward the ancient Holy of Holies and slip the secret prayers of their hearts into crevices of antiquated stone.
There is great need for prayer by all faiths these days. A recent major earthquake in northern Israel brought catastrophic effects. Other strange and devastating weather events are happening every day around the world. Neighboring countries are incessantly fighting. Terrorism is rising. Nuclear threats bathe societies in fear. Even water has become scarce while millions starve. It’s bewildering.
This morning, darkness still gripped Jerusalem and the pre-dawn adnan call had not yet sounded. With my tallit secured about my shoulders, I slipped the prayer into my robe pocket and set my kippah firmly in place. By lantern light, I traced labyrinthine paths through the Old City, marking time with the echoes of my wooden cane. Clearing the Damascus Gate, I arrived at the Western Wall. My hands embraced its strangely smooth stone, polished by human hands that have touched it in prayer through the centuries. As millions before me, I released my prayer in faith, now secure within the rock.
I quickly settled onto a nearby bench, allowing lantern light to flood the pages of my open Torah.
“Excuse me, but are you a Rabbi?” A young voice pierced the night air.
“Yes, son, you have correctly guessed,” I said with a smile. “And what might you be doing here alone in the night?”
“Oh, my father is close by, praying at the wall,” he said pointing to a tall lingering figure. “I was always curious about those little caps… why do you wear them?”
“Ah, son… out of respect for Yahweh…it reminds me that He is always watching over me.”
“Jesus was called Rabbi too… in the Bible,” he said matter-of-factly. “My dad says He is coming again soon so we best be getting ready.”
“Tell me, son, do you know why your dad believes so?”
“Yea, it’s in Mathew 24, and that talks about more wars and fighting all over the world. Plus all kinds of weird weather, more earthquakes and other disasters. A lot more crime and people breaking the laws. Folks will just be more hateful, not loving. My dad says there’s even bigger trouble coming; he used a fancier word for that. But it’s really all about the end times…you know, just before Jesus comes back.”
The wailing of a shofar filled the plaza mingling with the adnan call, creating a cacophonous melody.
“Whoa, that was pretty cool!”
“Pretty cool indeed, young man.”
“It was nice to meet you… never met a real Rabbi before.”
“Come closer, son.” I stood and placed my kippah firmly on his head. “Now remember Yahweh is always watching over you.”
“Thanks. I’ll remember, Rabbi,” he promised with a parting embrace.
My eyes became misty as he sauntered away. I watched as he hugged his father, and they walked hand in hand, disappearing into the night.
I pulled my tallit over my head and commenced with morning prayers. Soon an immense light came flooding over the Western Wall. I stood in attention. There appeared a man in a flowing white robe and upon it and upon his thigh was written “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
“Rabbi…” I bowed in His presence.
He only said, “I am called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, as Isaiah spoke. Behold, I am coming quickly.” Then he was gone.
I turned to retrace the labyrinthine paths through the Old City toward home. My path seemed different. Contentment flooded my soul. The tap-tap-tapping of my cane was marking a different time. Looking heavenward, my smile broke into a chuckle . This old Rabbi was living in the end times…you know, just before Jesus comes back.
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