Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He'll remember me forever

My taxi driver, Afzal, says he'll remember me forever. I guess that means I can get a free ride with him, if I manage to find his taxi again on the streets of NYC.
Afzal took me home to Crown Heights from the airport last week, and we made quite the connection. It started when he saved my life.
We were sitting at a light, and a scary man started crossing the lanes of traffic, with what looked like murder in his eyes, heading straight towards the backseat of our taxi. I was sitting in the backseat! I was a deer in the headlights, and could not move, as the man walked in a frightening way, towards us. At the last second, I hear all the locks click, and the man walked behind our car and continued on his way. Was he going to rip open the door and mug us? Possibly. I looked up into the rearview mirror, and locked eyes with my driver, giving him a teary eyed thank you look, one that gave him a glimpse into my soul.
Later, our conversation turned to religion. I told him I was an aspiring Rabbi, and he told me about his Muslim beliefs. We spoke about the hardships to the peace process in the Middle East. He asked me the Torah's opinion on Islam.
Then he asked me for a good word from the Torah, that he could have at the ready. He wanted something good, and he wanted me to write it down so he could memorize it. It also had to be something that would help him in life and business.
I was thinking of giving him the old "Shfoich chamascha" that some bochurim tend to tell goyim to say, when we meet an annoying one on mivtzoim who complains that he wants to do a prayer, also. I realized this wouldn't fly. If he found out that I gave him a verse asking the L-rd to pour out His wrath unto the gentiles, he wouldn't be too pleased with me, nor with my religion.
Instead, I wrote down the words: Uverachacha bchol maasei yadecha, and I translated for him: You should be blessed in all your work. I did not want to give him any of G-d's Holy Names.
Then he had me sign the paper with my name, and told me, "Yosef (although he probably would have spelled it Youssef), I'll always remember you! I'm going to keep this [paper] in my wallet, forever!!"
Then he asked me to pray for him, and that his name was Afzal.