T zadok would always remember that day when he and Miriam had moved to Jerusalem, to a fourth-floor apartment in a shabby building in an alley off Rechov Shivtei Yisrael. From the window, Jerusalem lay before them, sparkling with a thousand lights: the Old City, the New City, the light rail that passed between the two with its gentle ding-dong. From their window they could see the palm trees and the walls of the Old City, the lights and the shadows.

“Wow, what a view!” cried Miriam.

“The Holy City,” said Tzadok. Something strange was thrashing about inside him, gaining power. It was making his hands shake. Miriam didn’t notice a thing.

“The Holy City,” shouted a chorus of voices in his head. “The city of the Holy Temple!” This was the metropolis where Dovid and Shlomo walked, where Yeshayahu and Yirmiyahu prophesied, the city where two Temples were built, and both destroyed.

In the middle of the night, Tzadok woke with a start from a frightening dream. But the dream didn’t dissipate.

“This is the word of Hashem to Avitzedek ben Shalom,” a voice thundered. Tzadok stumbled out of bed. A tremor went down his spine. Then another. The voices hadn’t faded, even though he was awake.

“Are you… speaking to me?” he stammered. “I am Tzadok.”

“Not Tzadok shall your name be called, but Avitzedek,” said the terrible voice. “I have seen you as a prophet before Me in this generation. Go out, son of Adam, and prophesy concerning Jerusalem!”

“Wh-what should I say?” The tremors were stronger now. Tzadok couldn’t stop them.

“The words I shall put in your mouth, those shall you speak,” said a different voice. This one resounded from deep inside him. There was no refusing its authority.

Still in his pajamas and slippers, Tzadok ran down the four flights of stairs and kept going until he reached the Old City. “Davar Avitzedek ben Shalom, asher hayah al Yerushalayim! The word of Avitzedek son of Shalom!” he cried passionately. “Hitoreri, hitoreri, kumi Yerushalayim. Awaken, awaken; arise, Jerusalem,” he shouted toward the walls. “Hitnaari, mei’afar kumi!”

“Uskut! Quiet!” came the inevitable protests from the windows of nearby homes. “Uskut, ya majnun! Quiet, you crackpot!”

His blood seemed to be in ferment, bubbling wildly through his veins. He — the child who’d always been a bit behind, a bit slow; the reject, the anxiety-ridden young man who was never good enough — he was a prophet now. He’d been chosen by G-d to tell the whole nation that their redemption was near. Flooded with purpose, he rushed from the Old City to Meah Shearim, his slippers slapping loudly on the empty pavement. “Prophesy, son of man, prophesy about Jerusalem!” the voices echoed within him again and again. Their force was too strong to resist. He rambled among the courtyards of Meah Shearim, the stream of words flowing of their own accord from his throat. It was 3 a.m., but what did that matter? Could the flow of Divine prophecy be stoppered by a mere clock?

“Zei shtil!” people hissed from the windows of Meah Shearim. “Zei shtil, meshugener!”

For an hour or more he roamed the streets, saying whatever the voices bid him to say. He promised the sons of Zion that he would bring their hearts close to their Father in Heaven, adding promises, warnings, and predictions. Finally, with half-shut eyes, he tottered to Rechov HaAyin Chet. With some difficulty, he found his new home and fell into a deep sleep.

Miriam didn’t know a thing. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 670)