Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
Shalom, mercy and grace to each of you in The Name of our Lord and may He alone be glorified and blessed. May you be blessed and edified.
Well, you can say many things about the religious, and point out many errors and traditions, but one thing is for certain; they sure know how to rejoice.
The greeting for the “in between” days of Sukkot is moedeem l’simkha or “appointment to rejoice.” I love that because that is the scriptural command for Sukkot: you shall REJOICE BEFORE HIM!
So it was, that at just about 6:30 on Wed. night there was a LOUD crackle and bang, then a drum, and then the music started. Talk about LOUD! Across the street from our apartment, a group of Haradi men had set up with musical instruments (actually, the loud speaker equipment was most prominent) in front of the sukka, which stands in front of the market for anyone who wishes to use it. There were maybe 4 bearded middle aged to elderly men with a drum, a guitar, a clarinet and a singer, as is the habit of Haradim, dressed in black and white. I found Maya’s shoes and sox and down we went to join in the fun. For this isn’t my first experience and knowing what to expect, I was not disappointed.
By looking at these serious, elderly, bearded men, you might not expect them to be leading such an event, but this is a big part of who they are. The dancing had begun by the time 2 year old Maya and I arrived and her little feet joined right in. A large circle had formed of Haradi men who were jumping and kicking in a fast moving circle with ever increasing speed to the traditional songs of praise so old and so familiar to our people. With huge glowing smiles and voices lifted, their energy was contagious.
A very old man entered into the center of the circle with a much younger man and they danced almost in a joyous frenzy. Meanwhile, several young fathers coaxed the small children into a circle and Maya was joyfully in the midst. This was neither staged nor learned. It is a command to rejoice before The Lord and this is one of the ways on how they do it. It went on, by the way, unabated, until 10:30 p.m.
It has been a full week indeed. Even with me being somewhat on the outside of the celebration this year due to the current necessities of our family, nonetheless, we are part of the busyness swirling all around the country.
I left from work a bit early yesterday as it was the day of the Jerusalem March and the main streets were to be closed off for a good part of the afternoon. As soon as my bus arrived in the center of town it was evident that the troops had gathered: this year the largest representation of Christians coming up to Jerusalem to join in the feast appeared to be Asian from my vantage point. Large groups of brightly dressed Christians from China, Korea, Viet Nam, Philippines, Islanders from Samoa, Fiji and so on joined believers from Africa, South and North America and yes, other Middle Eastern nations, Europe and the continental Islands – people from 80 nations in all, filling our streets and greeting us locals.
A lady approached me. “Hag Sameach. God Bless you,” she said.
A refreshing wind covered me and I reached out. “Yes, and you too. I’m a local Jewish Israeli believer,” she said.
She hugged me and fumbled in her bag, handing me a lovely blue and white hanky. We shared names. Her name is Leslie and she is from Georgia and I loved her for coming and blessing so freely. “I’ll pray for you,” she told me.
How precious. And I have begun praying for her as well. A very brief encounter but so edifying for me.
On the train again a large group of Mongolian Christians entered. The women were wearing bright tee shirts with eagles on them, and the men’s shirts had lions. Two of the women carried handmade drums and large tree branches. The people on the train watched, amused, and interested. The train stopped and the door in front of me opened to see a group of perhaps Samoans. A rather large man was surrounded by a group as he put the biggest shofar I have ever seen up to his lips. “This should be interesting,” I thought.
But as he blew my skin tingled and the most powerful, beautiful cry split the air. The people on the train around me gasped and looked. We had just a moment before the doors closed on this passing scene. How do you adequately describe such scenes?
I knew that I would not have the strength this year to be at the parade itself, but I have seen in years past how at first many of the old time Israelis are a bit jaded at seeing these rather naïve, often slogan slinging Christians, joining in with our own nationals from around the country. They watch at first impatiently, but soon they are totally melted by the sincere love of the brethren. Israelis are so used to being hated and misunderstood or romanticized, but this overt display of vocal exuberant love never fails to melt the hardest of hearts. It isn’t long before the crowd begins to shout and dance along with the marchers. They begin to receive the flags and candy and souvenirs handed to them and then the embraces and the blessings Lord BLESS and strengthen you. “We are praying for you.” It does something…the streets seem lighter and, well, it is a unique gift.
The parade and the many different Christian meetings and tours are going on alongside all of the Jewish Sukkot events. The families on their day trips exploring God’s gift of the land, the gatherings at the Western Wall, the rejoicing in sukkas all over the land, gathering of friends and families and fellowships to bless and be blessed and to rejoice.
It CAN be a bit overwhelming because in the midst of this, life goes on.
Rima is one of our patients at the Doctor’s office where I work. The second doctor took the week for vacation, so we worked at double pace and it was EXHAUSTING. Rima is a relative of Natan Sharansky, a name that many of you are familiar with. He was perhaps the most famous and beloved of the “refuseniks” who were jailed in the Russian gulag in solitary confinement for many years, tortured for his Judaism and determination to leave Russia and to come to Israel. He survived by reciting the whole book of Psalms, which he had memorized and by playing chess with himself in his head. He survived not only to come to Israel but has held many key governmental positions. He is truly an amazing man whom I love deeply and who I’m honored to know through my work. His whole family are patients of our.
Rima is pretty old, very short and VERY hard of hearing. I love her! She came in and I said, “Rima, you amaze me. You never change, you are beautiful.”
She laughed and I looked down at her age in her chart. “What?” I said. “You are NINETY SIX?”
She looked incredulous. “No no,” she laughed. “I am still only 95. They made a mistake. I am happy that I can still live alone and cook and clean for myself and thanks to these pills I can go to the concerts every night and not worry about where the bathroom is.”
Oh my! What a bouquet of people I am privileged to meet.
Last night, we were finally able to join friends for a meal in their sukka and it was such a joy. I had to laugh as the new neighbors next door to them are religious and were having their joyful shabat meal while we had ours. Their singing and prayers arose and here we were next to them (don’t forget, the sukkas have cloth walls) singing and praising God for having sent His Lamb, His Messiah, His fullness. There is no doubt that they heard and felt the songs mingled together. Praise raising up with prayer that one day the whole people, (yes, it is NOT too big for Him Who can do ANYTHING that He promised) will be praising The Lord, SPEAKING HIS NAME, ELOHIM, GOD, YESHUA, JESUS, names which are forbidden to say out loud by so many, but when we see Him how can we BUT worship Him by Name. And it will happen and we will taste the moisture in the air before the rains begin.
Tomorrow is the last night for eating in the sukka. Sunday night Simchat Torah begins – the “last great day of the feast”…the day of REJOICING IN AROUND AND FOR THE WORD OF GOD. There will be the taking of the Torah scrolls into the streets and dancing and singing around them, thanking God for His Word. I am thankful that “… the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
I send you love with joy, because of Yeshua!