Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings from Jerusalem. Blessing and honor and glory to The Lord God Almighty! And may you, His body, be blessed and edified.
I am still trying to gain my balance following the war and what do you know, but before I can breath in and out, there they are again: The shofarim are sounding every morning.
Yep, it happened suddenly − it is that time.
Most of you remember, that the shofar is the ram’s horn (translated as trumpet in the English scriptures). How I love the powerful, plaintive sound that unfolds with its call. My skin tingles, my heart quickens, and my spirit rises when I hear it. And there it was, for the first time this year, sounding as I was on the way to work, early morning Monday.
Rosh h’shana already? How did THAT sneak up on us so suddenly? I thought.
Yesterday was summer-vacation-war and today the hagim (high holidays – the fall feasts of Rosh h’shana – feast of trumpets – Yom kippur – atonement – and Sukkot – feast of tabernacles) are all running toward us. Yikes! Forget about catching my breath! What in the world will we do? LOTS of preparation.
My boss walked in to the office with his shofar. He goes to morning prayers every morning at the synagogue, and every morning following the reading and prayers, there is the blowing of the shofar throughout the month.
It is a call to prayer, to repentance, to search your heart. It is the call to the Mountain of God and for the people hear it.
At the bus stop I see: “Prepare yourself for slichot (forgiveness) prayers” on one sign. Another announces: “There IS GPS to the Kingdom of Heaven,” referring to the Torah, or Bible as being similar to the popular navigational device.
On the train and bus there is much seriousness in the faces of the people as they read Psalms or the Tenach. Many are young wearing IDF uniforms and others are old. All are deep in contemplation of the Word and wrestling privately in their hearts. God is surely GOOD to Israel. He calls her constantly to Himself.
As I was riding the bus and train this past week, I made some notes while I listened to the very beautiful, plaintive music calling the nation to Him. Both morning and night people gather in the synagogues, pray and stand before God, asking Him to reveal their sins and His mercy to them. They actively seek repentance, and because of the war, they are taking it very seriously.
After the morning prayers, which most are sung, the shofar is blown. You might remember that the shofar is blown for several reasons: for the calling together of the country in a time of danger or to war, in gathering the people to God, in celebration of something that God has done, and at rosh h’shana − the feast of the blowing of the trumpets (Num 29, Levit 23;23, Deut 16, Levit 16 for some references). These are also the “Days of Awe”. Traditionally, the books in heaven are open between rosh h’shana and Yom kippur (the day of deep repentance with full fasting) when the books are again sealed for the year.
The greeting during this time is: “May your name be sealed in the book of life.” But I am getting ahead of myself.
We are still in the soul searching time leading up to the days of awe, but the fruits of repentance are already seen, sadly, in some cases, temporarily. And if we are honest, isn’t it that way with some of us as well? But the battle is The Lord’s and we do not battle alone, but with His Holy Spirit.
What I get to see on the bus, the train and at work is the sweet fruit of kindness. There is unusual thoughtfulness all around. It is so sweet.
The traditional foods of the holiday: apples and honey, fresh dates and almonds appear at the shuk just as the kindness appears in the people. Fish heads are discussed as they are a traditional food at rosh h’shana (from the scripture − “may you be the head and not the tail”), but many are not sure how to serve it.
Here is where my experience kicks in and I am able to come to the rescue with my Alaskan fish head soup recipe. Women gather around me at the shuk, asking details of my recipe and writing notes.
And speaking of the shuk, I have a prayer request concerning yet another lady from the shuk, much like the story of Legion. I have watched this woman for nearly 20 years and for most of that time, at a distance. She is younger then me by about 10 years, a mess, smells bad, and covered with sores. She would often ride the bus with a broom and get off at the shuk and sweep the garbage areas and collect garbage. While doing this, she would curse and scream and yell. People would laugh, or pull away, afraid of this poor woman tormented by demons. Over the years I prayed, but never thought I would become this involved.
This is what happened. One morning I saw her talking to some ‘shuk men’ (the people who run their stalls and sell their wares). They gave her a cup of coffee and some money. One young man said to her, “We love you Dalia.”
She answered tearfully, “I know that you do and that is what I can’t understand. Why would you care about me? I’m crazy, I’m a mess and I’m not nice.”
He then reached over and planted a kiss on her forehead and said, “We just do. We love you.”
There I stood and learned her name was Dalia. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. So I prayed and I asked The Lord what He wanted me to do for her. The next time I saw her, before I could think twice I walked up to her and pressed some money into her hand and said, “Hi Dalia. How are you doing?”
She looked at me. “Do you know me? How do you know me?”
“Oh I have been around for years. You just never noticed me,” I said.
“Huh,” she said, “thank you. I’m not doing too well. I have trouble where I live.”
And so it started. Little by little she’d look for me. If I had some time, I would sit with her a bit. Her stomach worries her. She is lonely. She’s sad. She is intelligent, but tormented. I got to tell her, “I was that way too a long time ago… and someday I will tell you about it.”
She looks deeply at me and I can see her still wondering: “Where do I know this crazy lady from?”
I need God’s timing and God’s door to open so I can tell her about Yeshua. I need my Hebrew to be flowing and understandable. I need to know when He is PRESENT TO DELIVER. It would make my flesh feel very righteous just to tell her, but this woman needs HIM, not my just my witness and there IS a difference. The difference is to be walking in His Spirit and to know that He is there to speak, to touch, to deliver. Will you pray with me for her? Will you pray that I have the boldness to speak His Words when He says, Now?”
Immediately following the end of the war in the south, the school year began on the 1st of September. Again, no time to breathe in between. There was emotional debate as many in the south initially refused to send their children, still shaken by events that no one was convinced were over.
The reality of the fact that the kidnapping of our 3 teens sparked the discovery of the plotted invasion and massacre scheduled by Hamas in Gaza to take place on Rosh h’shana just really began to sink in. I still step back a bit when I think of what lengths the country was willing to go to in order to find the 3 teens. One thing is clear: Israel loves her children. They said that they would not leave one rock unturned and they meant it.
It has just recently been revealed that one of the Hamas prisoners released in the controversial Gilad Shalit deal plotted the whole event. He had received money from the Palestinian government, which was given to each released prisoner as they are considered heroes. His family members in Hevron purchased 2 vehicles, one to burn after the kidnapping and one to escape in, as well as the plot of land to bury them in.
During our house-to-house searches, rockets began to rain on our south more heavily then usual and finally, after finding the bodies, we went to stop the rocket fire. WHAT WE DID NOT EXPECT AT THE TIME WAS THAT THE UNDERGROUND SATANIC NETWORK OF TUNNELS WAS NOW READY FOR A SCHEDULED HAMAS INVASION OF ISRAEL TO TAKE PLACE ON ROSH H’SHANA!
Plans were found with all of the details: Hamas terrorists popping up into Israel, killing and kidnapping all along the south. It is a nightmare scenario that The Lord of Hosts, Adonoi Tva’ot, revealed in His great mercy. It was a miracle.
People were still recovering from the trauma of this as school began, but the educators had not been lax during the previous 50 days, and experience is a hard but good teacher. They had been preparing new curriculum to deal with trauma on all age levels as well as loss in families and communities. The first week of learning was centered around this topic.
I wept when I heard that. Slowly, the families have been returning to their homes and returning their children to schools as the quiet in the south has held. There remain many badly damaged homes to deal with and much else, too.
But it hit me afresh, that as we sit around the rosh h’shana tables this year, we will have a new miracle to be thankful for …or… perhaps an on-going one as it is just another expression of His longsuffering mercy to his people since the days of Abraham.
And speaking of ongoing and longsuffering, our people continue to seek for that repentance that has been granted already, that sacrifice for sin which was rejected once. The fact that the merciful Hand of The Lord to our people remains pierced with the nails that we hammered, only serves as more reason for me to fall on my face and worship Him.
And isn’t that another example of how one shocking thing − the kidnapping murders − opened into a broader deliverance just like our initial rejection of our Savior became salvation to the rest of the world? Oh I am so glad that His ways and thoughts are so far above mine.
May you and I be filled with His humility and granted the gift of discernment for these days…baring His fruit for a starving, dark world…ALL for HIS glory!
I send you so much love,
Your sis J