I believe I might have mentioned last week, that I was reunited with a very dear and long-lost friend David Draiman, who chose a different and unusual path.
His journey was to fulfill a wish that was buried deep inside of him since he was very young. His dream was to develop his voice and become a world-renowned songwriter and singer.
Thirty years had passed since I last saw David and suddenly I found myself waiting to greet him along with many of his fans. David, who was now the lead singer of a very popular heavy metal band called Disturbed, was scheduled to arrive at any moment. He had sent out a press release that he was coming to light a candle in the place where Eli Kay was killed just one week earlier.
Suddenly, I heard the loud murmuring of his excited fans getting even louder and more excited as David was slowly approaching. I looked up to see my good old friend holding his mother’s hand, surrounded by reporters and other close family members.
As soon as we saw each other, it was as if there was no one else present and it was just two old friends hugging. David’s father lit a candle and said Tehilim. Soon thereafter, David led the crowd in singing “Am Yisrael Chai.”
We then all followed David to the Kotel (Western Wall) to pray. What normally should have been a five-minute walk, turned into an hour. The Israeli reporters were interviewing him, and David was adamant about allowing each fan to take a picture with him.
I patiently stood on the side, admiring the way my friend was handling the press and taking care of his mom by making sure she was not getting tired or overly anxious by the excitement of the crowd.
An English-speaking Israeli then walked over to me and introduced himself as Yuval. He told me that he traveled from far away to see David today. He asked me if I would do him a favor.
I replied, “Sure.” And then I asked, “What can I do for you?”
Yuval said, “I see that you have a close relationship with David. Could you please relay my story to him, the one I’m about to tell you? I would do it myself, however, there is too much noise and too many people here to tell him privately.”
He then proceeded to tell me his story.
“I was in the Israeli army many years ago and I was seriously wounded in a terror attack. My body was ripped apart and I would need many surgeries and rehabilitation to live.
I felt that I just did not have enough physical and emotional strength to go on. The future was not very promising, and my daily pain was unbearable. All kinds of dark thoughts ran through my mind.
One morning, during physical therapy, I heard David’s song “The Light,” and suddenly, I became mesmerized by the lyrics. This song was about my personal story, yet the focus was on the optimistic side.
The words, “…sometimes darkness can show you the light,” lit up a fire of hope inside of me. I held on to this song like a child holds on to his teddy bear in the middle of the night, and it carried me through the darkest part of my life.”
I thanked Yuval for sharing his story with me and I promised that I would tell it to David privately.
Over dinner the following night, I relayed Yuval’s story to David. David told me that it is of major significance to him to hear these stories about how much of a positive impact his music has on their lives.
This week’s Parsha, Parsha`s ויגש is probably the most emotional Parsha in the entire Torah. It has been getting more and more difficult for Yosef to keep his secret and hide his true identity from his brothers. Twenty-one years have gone by since his older brothers betrayed him and sold him into slavery.
And now they wanted food and supplies. Yosef continues to treat the brothers with a hostile attitude. They all do not recognize Yosef, now that he has become like an Egyptian, even his beloved youngest brother Binyamin.
The Lubavitch Rebbe points out that what broke Yosef was a pure love that Binyamin had for him. When Binyamin confesses to Yosef (not knowing who he really is) that he named all of his ten children after his long-lost brother Yosef, it brought Yosef to tears. Hearing from Binyamin that it was impossible for him to experience complete happiness in his life without his brother Yosef, those words were the ones that pierced right through his heart.
When Yosef truly understood that the feelings of profound melancholic longing were mutual, only then would he allow himself to reveal his identity.
Many of our brothers and sisters have taken journeys into dark places. Their mission was to bring their unique light into a very dark place. Some of these journeys are very frightening and lonely. When we turn to them in a nonjudgmental way and show them the unconditional love of a brother or a sister, we reawaken the feelings of love and belonging, uniting us in the solidarity of our nation.
In essence, we are more than one nation, and we are more than one family. We are one soul, fragmented into six hundred thousand pieces. By opening our hearts and accepting one another, we can convert the fragmented light into a bonfire that fills the entire world with the Divine’s glory.
On a personal level as well, the time has come to make a paradigm shift in the way we look at ourselves. We must develop the habit of going past the judgmental voice and reach further inwards and draw energy from our compassionate side. This way loving others and loving oneself will become second nature.
Have a good Shabbos.