Dreaming of Moshiach

Monday, August 06, 2007

I Put HaShem Before Me Always

Rabbi Moshe Galanti, zs'l, lived in Damascus and was fluent in all of the "seven wisdom's." There was no one as wise as he, except for one Arab sheik, who also knew the "seven wisdom's." In fact the sheik knew one area of wisdom which Rabbi Moshe Galanti did not. Whenever he was asked to pray for the recovery of someone who was ill, the sheik would isolate himself for half an hour and would then return and accurately predict whether the person would live or die.

When Rabbi Galanti heard of this, he was greatly astonished at how a gentile could be holier and purer than he. How could he possibly know who would live and who would die? Didn't he, Rabbi Galanti, serve G-d day and night, learn Torah and keep all the mitzvos constantly? Yet he was unable to do what this sheik could do. This troubled Rabbi Galanti greatly, and he decided to go to the house of the sheik and try to convince him to reveal the secret of how he had obtained this special power.

Rabbi Galanti summoned the president of the Jewish community and told him to go to the house of the sheik and say to him, "Rabbi Moshe Galanti has heard of your good name, and wishes to meet with you. Will you allow him to come?" This was the only way to approach the sheik, who was very important among the ministers. Anyone who desired an audience with him had to bring many gifts before being allowed to see him and receive his blessing. The sheik did not leave his house and was never seen in public.

When the president brought the request before the sheik, he replied, "I also have heard of Rabbi Moshe Galanti and his great wisdom, and I wish to see him. Therefore go and tell him that he should come here without delay."

Upon hearing the sheik's reply, Rabbi Galanti went immediately to see him. As soon as the sheik saw him, Rabbi Galanti found favor in his eyes and was received graciously and with great honor. He was given a place to sit beside the sheik and they began to converse.

As they were speaking, the sheik said to Rabbi Galanti, "I have heard that you are very wise. Do you know the wisdom called . . .?" When Rabbi Galanti replied that G-d had granted him some knowledge in that area, the sheik began testing him. He very quickly discovered that the rabbi was fluent in that wisdom. Previously, the sheik had believed that he was the only one acquainted with this area of wisdom. Upon seeing his great wisdom, he became very fond of Rabbi Galanti and they became good friends. The sheik said to him, "My dear brother, I must tell you that you have gladdened me with your wisdom. Therefore I request that you come to visit me at least once a week, so that I can enjoy your wisdom." Then the sheik sent Rabbi Galanti away with great honor.

After only two days had passed, the sheik could not wait any longer and felt a strong desire to see Rabbi Galanti. And so he sent a special messenger to bring him. When the rabbi arrived, he was received with great honor and the sheik said to him, "I must tell you that I could not wait for your next visit, since I have become so fond of you, and so I have called for you to come today. Now, tell me, do you have knowledge in the wisdom of . . .?"

Once again, as soon as the rabbi began to answer the sheik's questions, he could see clearly that Rabbi Galanti was full of wisdom in that area too. The sheik was delighted, and he decided that from then on Rabbi Galanti should come to visit him twice a week. At each visit, he would test Rabbi Galanti, until he saw that the rabbi was completely versed in all the seven wisdoms.

Although the sheik was also versed in the seven wisdom's, he nevertheless lacked the preface to the seventh wisdom. Since without the preface it is impossible to fully understand this wisdom, the sheik asked Rabbi Galanti if he knew the preface. When Rabbi Galanti responded that indeed he did, the sheik fell to his feet and begged him to teach him the preface.

"Since I paid a high price to learn the preface," answered Rabbi Galanti "I cannot teach it for free."

The sheik said, "I shall gladly pay you any price you name. I will give you as much gold or silver as you want."

Rabbi Galanti replied, "G-d forbid that I should sell this wisdom for money. The price I ask is some of your wisdom in return."

"But what can I teach you?" asked the sheik. "Is there any wisdom that you do not know? You are well-versed in all of them."

"Yes, there is one that I do not know," replied Rabbi Moshe Galanti, "and it is far from my conception. You know whether an ill person you pray for shall live or die. If you teach me this wisdom then I shall teach you the wisdom you lack."

"You have made a very difficult request," said the sheik. "I cannot reveal this wisdom to anyone in the world."

"Neither can I reveal my wisdom," retorted Rabbi Galanti. "But to learn another wisdom one is allowed to reveal one's own wisdom since one must pay for wisdom with wisdom. You too may do the same."

The sheik said, "Very well. But I am afraid that you will not be able to fulfill the conditions necessary for me to reveal this great secret to you."

"I am ready to accept any condition, no matter how difficult, and all that you shall ask of me I will do," answered Rabbi Galanti.

The sheik then gave him the following orders: "Go to your house and prepare yourself. In the evening begin a fast, which will last for two consecutive days. After the fast, do not eat meat or drink wine. After the meal immerse yourself in water, and wear white clothing. For the next two days, immerse yourself morning and evening, and remain in a state of repentance, since 'there is no righteous man who does only good and does not sin.'

When Rabbi Galanti heard what the sheik had to say he was enthusiastic, and immediately consented to all the terms. The sheik continued, "Go home, and on the third day I shall reveal the great secret to you."

Rabbi Moshe Galanti went home and did everything the sheik had demanded, and even took upon himself an added condition, that he would not eat even after the two-day fast. On the third day, when Rabbi Galanti returned to the sheik, he was told by him, "Come in. Blessed are you by G-d. On your face it is visible that you have done all that I have commanded you."

"I am still fasting," said Rabbi Galanti.

"Excellent," replied the sheik. "Now come with me and I shall show you the great secret."

The sheik led Rabbi Galanti to a room to which no one but himself had access. He took the key out of his pocket and opened the door, allowing them both to enter. Then he locked the door behind them so that no one else could enter. They walked through the room and entered a beautiful orchard with a pool in its midst, with a spring that flowed from the rivers of Amana and Parpar.

Beside the pool was a bench with two white garments lying upon it, one for the sheik and one for Rabbi Moshe Galanti. The sheik said to Rabbi Galanti, "Let us immerse ourselves before we enter the holy place." They both immersed themselves in the pool, changed into the white garments and walked to the edge of the orchard.

Rabbi Galanti was waiting to see what would now happen. He saw a house of fantastic beauty. The doors were pure silver, with engravings so beautiful that they could not be found even in the houses of kings. When the sheik went to open the door he said to Rabbi Galanti, "Be careful to enter this place with awe and trembling, and do exactly as I do."

When the sheik opened the silver door, there was another beautiful house, and opposite its door was a small cabinet of unparalleled beauty, which had upon it a curtain [paroches] with precious stones embroidered onto it. The sheik entered the house with great awe and bowed down seven times. Rabbi Galanti feared that there was an idol in the cabinet, and knew that he would not be able to bow down to such a thing.

Rabbi Galanti closed his eyes and said, "I put G-d before me always." Then he bowed down as the sheik had done, and a great sense of fear fell upon him.

The sheik said to him, "Go to the cabinet and open its door, and there you will find that which you have been awaiting." He uttered these words in a low voice and with a broken heart.

Rabbi Galanti approached the cabinet and opened its doors, which were made of pure gold encrusted with precious stones. What did he see inside? A beautiful plate that had a gorgeous portrait of a menorah. Above it was the caption, "I put G-d before me always." The letters of G-d's name were very large. When Rabbi Moshe Galanti saw this he was overjoyed that there had been no idol in the room when he had bowed, and he retreated with his face forwards, bowed again, and left.

Once they were out of the room, Rabbi Galanti said to the sheik, "You told me that my request would be fulfilled here, but other than what I saw, nothing was revealed to me."

The sheik replied, "My brother, you should know that those large letters you saw are those of 'He Who spoke and the world came into existence' the Creator Himself! Let me reveal the secret to you. When someone comes to ask me to pray for an ill person, I immerse myself and enter this house, and I pray with awe and fear before the cabinet. After my prayer, I open the cabinet. If I see that the letters of G-d's name are shining, I know that the person will live. But if I see a cloudiness around the letters, then I know that he will die. Now you see how fond I am of you, my brother, since I have revealed to you what I would never reveal to any other human being."

Rabbi Galanti returned to his house and burst into tears. He said, "What shall become of me on the Day of Judgement? This gentile who knows G-d's name, how much honor he gave to Him, how much fear he had when he entered the place of His name, and thus he was rewarded by G-d with such great honor. It was more fitting for a Jew to have such a level of holiness, especially since we mention His name daily. How much more careful should we have been with His name."





והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו