Earlier this year I sat down for lunch in Miami with Adam Weinberg, a full time music producer and musician, and musical advisor for Jewlicious. He told me he had a song on his phone that I had to listen to which he had recorded with our friend Matisyahu.
Within moments of listening to the song, I was crying, eyes full of tears, streams of tears running down my face, reaching for handfuls of tissues. And every time I put on this beautiful song - the tears keep rolling down.
The history of the song is both inspiring and sad.
Matishyahu befriended a young boy with cancer named Elijah. There was something very special about this young man. He never complained and was always in good spirits. They quickly became friend and Elijah and Matisyahu would keep in constant contact. Matisyahu even surprised Elijah by showing up and performing at his bar mitzvah. For some time, Elijah had wanted them to record a song together, but Matisyahu’s schedule was very busy and they had not found an opportunity.
Late last year, Matisyahu came to Florida for a concert. Elijah came to the concert, and again asked Matisyahu about recording a song. The next morning Matisyahu got a call that Elijah was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in serious condition.
Matisyahu showed up that evening at the ICU with Adam and some recording equipment. They knew that his condition was grave, and decided that they would write and record a song then and there.
Elijah and Matisyahu started writing the song. The ideas for the music and majority of the words came from Elijah himself. The whole time they were recording, Adam worked hard to keep the noise of the machines in the ICU unit out of the recording. Adam, Matisyahu’s longtime acoustic accompanist, played along on guitar and the song took shape. They finished around midnight.
One might imagine that a song written by a dying boy would be sad and full of regret — but the song is inspiring, courageous, and shows his profound belief in God.
Never know what tomorrow brings,
don’t have the answers to tell you.
Take it one step at a time,
see where God will lead you.
I don’t have the words to say,
But a miracle happens every day.
Are you just too blind to see it?
Open your eyes I’m sure you’ll find,
That God is always behind it.
Never give up, never quit just keep moving on
Your a survivor just keep on living strong.
When you fall down just keep on moving along,
Elijah it’s the time of your song.
In the morning, Matisyahu and Adam received news that Elijah passed away a few hours after recording the song.
“I wrote and recorded this song with my friend Elijah just hours before he passed away last December,” said Matisyahu, “I’m proud to be able to share his voice and story while helping his family on their road to recovery.”
The track can be downloaded with a minimum donation of $1 and all of the proceeds go to the Elijah Memorial Fund. The download includes two versions of “Elijah’s Song”, including a special version with Elijah and Matisyahu singing together the night before Elijah passed.
Our bookstores are full of books on faith - but nothing I have read so far can match the profound faith of Elijah’s last song.
Yonah Bookstein, a leading voice of the next generation of American Jewry, is an internationally recognized expert in Jewish innovation, founder of the Jewlicious Festival, and executive rabbi at JConnectLA. Rabbi Yonah is a frequent contributor to JewishJournal.com, Jewlicious.com and HuffingtonPost.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiYonah