S heikh Sayid’s servants hurried to prepare his palace for King Richard the Lionheart. The Christian ruler was going to spend the night at the wealthy Arab’s house, before traveling at daybreak to wage war on a nearby city.

“Our master has gone mad!” a servant whispered under his breath as washed the stone floor of a bedroom together with Rav Shimshon. “One day he’s raving about Allah, the next day he’s converted to the Christian faith! It simply makes no sense!”

“Sheikh Sayid is still a Muslim at heart,” Rav Shimshon said darkly. “Don’t be fooled by the gimmicks he’s been displaying. He has a plan...”

“A plan?” the other servant scoffed. “He’s instructed us to place Christian religious symbols throughout the entire mansion! No truly faithful Muslim would allow such a thing in his home!”

Rav Shimshon shook his head and walked over to the window. The sun was setting. In the distance he could see dust rising as King Richard’s entourage approached. He had chosen to travel to Sheikh Sayid’s home at night, with darkness as his cover.

“Welcome!” Sheikh Sayid cried with open arms, rushing outside to greet the King.

Several tall, well-armed crusaders surrounded the king as he swung down from his horse. He looked around cautiously and then followed the sheikh into the palace.

Rav Shimshon raced downstairs and watched closely as the Muslim ordered the other servants to wash the king’s feet and bring food and wine. Soon King Richard and his men were drunk on strong wine and full from fatty meats and fresh bread.

“And now my king, allow me to present a musical dessert!” Sheikh Sayid declared as he waved his hands to the musicians standing in the shadows of the room. Mournful melodies filled the room as the musicians circled the king’s entourage and played their melancholy tunes.

“Your people may be dark skinned and ugly,” one of King Richard’s soldiers laughed. “But their music truly haunts the soul in a beautiful way...”

“Instruct them to play something joyous,” King Richard said, frowning with displeasure. “The night before I wage a victorious battle should be a happy one!”

“Begin!” Sheikh Sayid snapped at his musicians. “Play something upbeat to lift the spirits of this great lion of a warrior!”

The musicians swiftly switched their music and began to clap and twirl as fast-paced notes emerged from their instruments. One of the servants pulled at Rav Shimshon’s sleeve.

“I know those mournful melodies they were playing before,” he whispered into Rav Shimshon’s ears. “The Muslims play that tune at their funerals...”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 701)