The Shuk in Jerusalem
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 —
Blessed greetings dear sisters and brothers, in The Name of Yeshua – Jesus – King of kings, Lord of lords, may He alone be glorified and lifted up and may you be blessed and edified.
Passover may well be the central theme song of Judaism. Although still three weeks off, here in Jerusalem it feels as if it is fast approaching.
As a child there was a sense of holiness and a sense of weightiness mixed with the excitement of the preparations:
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part…” (1 Corinthians 13:11, 12)
When I was a child, I watched my Mother prepare our apartment, particularly the kitchen, meticulously hiding away the everyday dishes, cutlery, pots, and pans in a box way in the back of the uppermost cabinet shelf. Carefully, lovingly, unwrapping the Passover item, the special dishes saved only for this most special holy time. The dishes had been my Grandmother’s dishes. My sister and I would look at them with wonder.
Since immigrating to Israel I have learned of the traditions of some of our other ancestors who had been dispersed to different ends of the earth when God’s Hand of righteous Judgment came upon our people. We became the wandering Jews, ( having been well warned by the Prophets and written Word and The Spirit of God). I learned that the Jews from Ethiopia, for example, would break all of their dishes and have the potters make new ones for Passover each year. Others would bring (still a custom here in Israel) their dishes, pots, and pans to huge boiling caldrons set up on various street corners where they’re submerged into boiling water for a specified amount of time before being pronounced “kosher for Passover.”
The shuk is also filled with ‘ahat pa’ami’ or disposable tins and dishes that many use during Pesach (Passover). I remember pulling out the haggadot – special soft covered books that contain the story of Passover, songs, directions for the order of the service, and an awful lot of cryptic teachings this and that Rabbi said.
My favorite part were the illustrations, often woodcuts, dramatic depictions of the Biblical events. Even when we couldn’t understand the words, we would gaze at the pictures in hushed tones of reverence.
There was the great challenge for the youngest children: the four questions. We had to memorize them, sing them in Hebrew (or English if we couldn’t yet master the Hebrew sounds). The questions: “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
But the part that always frightened me was the parable of the four sons. The wise son who asks, “What are these commanded by The Eternal God?” The wicked son who asks, “What do you mean by this service?” The simple son who asks, “What is this?”
Which one was I? I did not know.
My sister and I would polish the special silverware used only for Passover, and clean the Passover candlesticks and matzo holder.
Yes, there was in my young mind a sense of something holy, but what it was, I didn’t know.
Now, as I read and re-read again and again, The Books. I come to Exodus, a thrill runs through me. What is Passover?
Well, there is redemption. Slaves, sold under bondage, redeemed through the blood of the lamb and the death of the firstborn. Through works? No, through mercy by grace in mystery. Because we deserved it? No, but HE Who created us all, chose us for this part.
Forty two years ago, when I was Redeemed by The Blood of THE Lamb, I wept with shock of recognition. What a work! Redemption promised 5,000 years ago and The Blood still prevails. A lamb for each house, applied on the doorposts. The remarkable book of Exodus where we read such clear examples of obedience AND disobedience, of rebellion AND submission, of provision AND complaining, and we are commanded to REMEMBER.
Is THAT the central theme of Passover?
To REMEMBER? REMEMBER our slavery, REMEMBER our deliverance through The Blood, REMEMBER our trek, our teachings, our rebellion, our stiff necks, OUR GOD, and His overcoming mercy.
That’s the conclusion that I came to quite a while back. REMEMBER. THANKFULLY we are told that The Holy Spirit would bring ALL THINGS TO REMEMBERANCE THAT HE HAS TOLD US. OH HOW WE NEED HIM!
As my train passed by the shuk, there they were: THE GARLIC.
I DID laugh. Huge piles of freshly dug up garlic, earth still hanging from their big bulbs, were stacked high on palates at the shuk entrance. Well? What have we got to complain about NOW that so many of the people leave the land that we have been promised for vacations abroad during this wondrous season? That was one of our FIRST complaints and reasons for wanting to turn back. We REMEMBERED, but it was the wrong thing.
“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;” (NUMBERS 11:5)
We have them ALL here now, right HERE, growing wondrously out of this land promised to us. The desert that He makes to bloom and blossom and produce, but the grumbling and complaining continues because only HE can change our very NATURE, just as He is changing the NATURE of the desert into a fruitful field producing all that I have just seen at the shuk.
Yes, in the midst of writing this, I had to stop, since my bread man has begun slicing my husband’s favorite onion bread by 9:30. My husband likes it NOT sliced. My pita people have a spicy flat bread that he likes only AFTER 9:30, on Tuesday, my day off, I stop everything and run down to the shuk, determined to just do what needs to be done and head RIGHT home.
But, oh the richness of what I learn at the shuk and on the train at that hour. I thank The Lord that HE Who told me, and allows me to “what you see, write”… also shows me such jewels in the midst of each day!
Pesach – full blast. Two very old men were engaged in a loudly animated discussion of the Torah readings leading up to rosh hodish (the first day of the month) in this most special of months while a third, enjoying the sheer thought of it all, was singing the synagogue liturgy at the top of his lungs. Although my apartment is just two stops from where the train line begins, the train was already jammed with religious school girls, university students, shopping wagons, baby carriages, and disabled with walkers. Pesach preparations requires EVERYONE to be on the move.
I remembered a day last week that I had planned to share with you when there was a hefetz ha’shood – an unidentified package (thankfully USUALLY someone’s forgotten lunch or shopping) was left at the tracks and the bomb squad had to be called to take care of it. Everyone groaned as our train stopped for an unspecified length of time and people weighed the length of the prospective walk to their destination against their strength. I stayed seated as I was still a good 40- minute walk away and had much to carry. A young Haradi (ultra orthodox – black and white clothing with long side curls) man stood by the door and decided to step outside for a smoke. He kept tapping the door open to make sure that he could get back on, but, in an unusual move, the train driver SUDDENLY just locked the doors and took off, leaving several outside the train. When we stopped at the next stop, this young man boarded the train again, red faced, huffing and puffing, having RUN the entire way and to my amazement, grabbed THE BABY CARRIAGE he had left on the train.
Everyone applauded but I pointed up ward, “Toda L’El!” Thank You Lord. I said and he nodded grinning widely and meekly.
The things one gets to witness on the train and bus. What wonders!
Today, the shuk was LOADED with new and wonderful looking produce, crowned, of course, with the fresh GARLIC. These garlic aren’t dried, but are still moist. The early ones have yet to divide into what we know as the cloves. They are still one large, highly fragrant, moist bulb with very tall leaves. I resisted and bought just 3 to roast with our chicken this Friday. By next week the wonderful braids and wreaths of garlic – such a lovely gift to receive or give at Pesach – will begin to be seen. Although breads and baked products are still available, very soon they won’t be and bakers will receive their well earned vacations. Many of them still work in old style hot kiln ovens, Middle Eastern style, baking through the night or from early morning. I am impressed by them, working so hard. Macaroons and other kosher for Pesach food have already appeared in assigned places for the incredibly diligent who have already cleansed their homes of leaven.
According to my daughter, who married into a Haradi family, what we have translated into the English word leaven isn’t accurate. According to the interpretation that she has learned, the word means fermented of a sort applying to wheat products. Since The Lord looks upon THE HEART, my heart is free about the possibilities of the definition.
When a tender soul searching to please a Holy God tries to sift through the multitude of traditions and translations that have come to us over 5,000 years. MAY HE LEAD US TO THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THEN US TO SEEK AND FIND HIS FACE AND WALK IN HIS LIGHT. May we REMEMBER HIM and truly GLORIFY HIM in the midst of all of the preparations that He offered to us as a tool to bring us to REMEMBERING. HE IS ONLY WONDERFUL.
God BLESS you and keep you and make His Face to shine upon you and give you His Peace. Lovingly,
your sister J