The young Hasid's extreme inwardness and intensity and his soulful music stopped me in my tracks.
It was Friday and I should have been hurrying, like everyone else, to buy food in the market and get home before Shabbat.
But I was drawn in, mesmerized by his playing; I could not move away.
Suddenly all the hustle and bustle of the shuk disappeared for me; there was only him.
For some reason a municipal inspector appeared and told him he could not play here.
He kept playing, didn't miss a note.
The official said, "Too bad then, I have to write you a ticket."
I went closer and dropped some shekels in his violin case, maybe to help cover the fine.
Without a word to the evil inspector, the boy moved back a dozen steps--and resumed his music.
Still he played with eyes down, almost closed; only when he sensed children watching did he look up at them momentarily with a twinkle in his eye and a shy smile.
I remembered seeing a strange and powerful movie decades ago about the Seer of Lublin.
This young Jew and his violin had the same kind of mystical magic, as if . . . if he played just a little longer it would bring the redemption, the messiah.
Suddenly he looked up, straight at me.
I hope he couldn't see the tears.
What is it with Jews and the violin?