“Sun is god.” The man pointed upward at the blazing red orb in the clear sky. “You will learn to talk and also to worship”
fter a few hours on the island, Mordechai began to realize just how terrible his situation was. The islanders were barbaric men who worshipped the sun. They were large men and more vicious then a pack of hungry lions. They spent most of their day organizing fighting tournaments, and King Mogoto was always the one who decided on the victor.
To make matters even worse, Mordechai didn’t understand their strange language. They yelled at him, clucked their tongues, and waved their arms like crazed roosters, but to him it was complete gibberish.
One of the oldest islanders, a tall but stooped-over man who wore the same tribal outfit as the others, approached Mordechai.
“You can speak?” the man asked.
“Why you not speak, then?”
“You’re the first person to speak my language.”
“I teach you. Come.”
The ancient man led Mordechai away from his captors and onto a hilltop overlooking the entire island.
“Sun is god.” The man pointed upward at the blazing red orb in the clear sky. “You must know dis very good. You will learn to talk and also to worship.”
“Never.” Mordechai squared his shoulders and crossed his arms across his chest. “Forget it.”
“Don’t be fool. Follow our ways or they kill you.”
“I’ll learn the language, but I won’t ever serve a false god. There is only one Hashem.”
“You make mistake. But, first I teach you our language.”
The old man taught Mordechai the primitive language of the island. Between his lessons, he was forced to build huts on the island under the boiling hot sun. Days turned into weeks and before he knew it, a full year had passed.
“I don’t recognize myself,” Mordechai whispered one day when he bent over a puddle and saw his reflection. “I’ve turned into one of them!”
His skin had turned extremely dark and his hair and beard reached almost to his waist. His clothing was also torn and dirty. A wave of despair swept over him. Was this the reward for all of the effort he had made to make this journey to become a talmid chacham?
“Slowly, slowly.” The old man appeared behind him, a peculiar expression on his wrinkled face.
“Slowly what?” Mordechai demanded.
“Slowly you become one of us.”
“I am a Jew!” Mordechai cried out. “However much I change on the outside, it will never affect the soul inside of me!”
“Again with silly words!” the old man shouted back. “How long you stay stubborn? Whole year I teach you! You will worship sun!”
“I’d rather die!”
“Then I tell Mogoto. Time has come. You will fight for island.”
“I don’t fight.”
“Today you will.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 769)
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