The Rabbi and the Sheikh

Zvi Zohar

“An Awesome Tale that Took Place in the City of Damascus in the Time of Rabbi Moshe Galante of Blessed Memory”

Rabbi Galante was a righteous and completely pious man, wise in all the Seven Wisdoms, and there was in his generation no one comparable to him —except for one Muslim gentile who was perfect in all of the Seven Wisdoms. This gentile also had one advantage over Rabbi Moshe, of blessed memory: namely, that whoever had a sick relative would go to that gentile Sheikh, and plead with him to pray for the sick person. And the sheikh would pray in solitude for half an hour, and would then say: this one shall live, or, this one shall die…

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And a great dread fell upon him. And the sheikh said to him: “Draw near to the sanctuary and open it, and there you will find your wish”; and he said this to him in a whisper and with humble heart. Immediately the rabbi drew near and opened the doors of the sanctuary, and they were of pure gold inlaid with gems. And he saw in the sanctuary a most beautiful tablet engraved with a most fine design of the Menorah, above which were written the words “I envision YHWH before me always.”

Hebrew calligraphy

Originally published in Jewish Studies Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 2, Special Issue: Jews in Ottoman Lands II (2010), pp. 114-145.