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 —
Greetings with grace and mercy in The Blessed Name of our Lord, Yeshua h’meshiach.
May HE be glorified and blessed and may HE anoint my small offering that you may be encouraged and blessed.
Rosh h’shana is here, beginning on Wednesday at sundown. How in the world did the beginning of the Fall feasts creep up on us so quickly?
Tourists are already flocking into Jerusalem from all over the world. Among them, many are Christians who come to attend one of any number of prayer conferences and convocations held during the hagim (holidays). Rosh h’shana is the first.
The Scriptural commands concerning Rosh h’shana are as follows:
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.” (LEVITICUS 23:24-25)
“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets. You shall offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the Lord: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year, without blemish.” (NUMBERS 29:1-2)
Also, I personally believe that PSALM 81 is a deep revelation of this feast day. Perhaps, it was written as a worship and meditation for this holiday, which in the Hebrew is called Yom Teruah יום תרועה ” or literally “the blowing of the shofar.
“Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, A law of the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 81-3-4)
So, why in the world is Rosh h’shana (or the “head of the year”) celebrated as the Jewish New year when the Scriptures clearly tell us that the first day of PASSOVER is to be the “head of the year” for us??
I have no idea!
I have mentioned this many times in the past and have asked many rabbis. I have read a number of commentaries (thank you google) and find no reasonable or convincing answer. TRADITION in this context seems to me to have overruled God’s command, but I will leave that one to others as far as this letter is concerned.
The signs of the fall feasts are in the air.
Since the first day of this month of Elul, which will change to the month of Tishrai at Rosh h’shane, the wonderful blasts of the shofar (ram’s horns) have resonated early in the morning in the synagogues. The horns can be heard throughout the neighborhoods, calling the people to prayer and repentance in preparation for these 3 fall feasts: Rosh h’shana, Yom kippur (the day of atonement) and finally Sukkot (Feast of tabernacles).
I love the shofar blast. It sends chills down my spine, Somehow, it is not quite earthly, or perhaps it calls to mind the call from heaven, a sound bridge between heaven and earth. I LOVE IT!
As I ride the bus and train early in the morning, there is a new crowd. Those on their way to the Western Wall of the Temple in the Old City for early morning prayers while those heading to work are reading and praying through the Psalms or other prayer book portions, seeking to prepare their hearts. In many cases, they do it in sincerity.
When I get off of the train at the shuk to continue my way to work. This is now my exercise walk, which takes about a half hour. It adds extra prayer and worship time for me. Many local tourists are crowding the coffee stands and bakeries for an early morning snack.
It is a long standing tradition for the secular, or the inquiring, to visit the old synagogues in the area of the shuk during this season of repentance, to learn and to taste what they normally distain. Perhaps it’s not unlike the crowds that often attend church at Christmas and Easter only.
And now the seasons have indeed changed and the fall feasts are feasts of the ingathering and harvest, the abundance that God has provided is evident. Grapes the size of plums, all colors and sizes, pomegranates, apples, the new tangerines (Clementine) – green skinned and tart – boughs of new still-yellow dates – dried figs and nuts. What abundance to thank God for! And, the apples and honey, the symbol of Rosh h’shana.
“Shana tova omevorach omitokah.” (May you have a blessed and sweet new year) This is the greeting. Honey cakes are baked (I bake mine with apples and almonds, sort of putting it all together) and shared. Small gifts are given in thanksgiving.
Today I had an appointment at the hospital (Hadassah Ein Kerem) and some young religious girls handed me a lovely little box on which was written “shana ova” with a small honey cake inside. What a nice way to lighten hospital visits.
And looking around the hospital made me think of you all again, wondering how I could describe this phenomenon that seriously defies words, wondering how I could fit it into a letter about Rosh h’shane, but the little gift cake bridged it for me, because Hadassah Ein Kerem IS a wonder indeed and not like any hospital you have ever seen.
It stands a fortress on a small mountain of its own, built into the rock. I have heard that it is built to withstand nuclear attack, which would not surprise me. It’s history is worth reading, if any of you would take the time to google it.
It boasts Chagall windows (the famous artist Marc Chagall) and a piano in the main new entry way that someone is always playing. Sometimes an entire orchestra sits there to soothe the patients and doctors alike. Yes, the patients and Doctors — Arab, Jewish, Druzim, Bedouin, Religious, Secular, foreign, Iraqi, African, and South American. Both doctors AND patients represent all of these groups and more.
The hospital is so huge that no one can find their way around it anymore. I’ve heard that even the doctors get lost if they have to venture into an area they are unfamiliar with, but a kind and friendly hand will always help you find your way. It has a full service shopping mall, hotel, post office, bank, and heliport. It is a major research center and a leading medical university.
It is built above ground and below ground. In my opinion, the workers there are kind. If you are ever here, I ENCOURAGE you to avail yourself of a tour of this unique place. As I was weaving my way through it today, I was thinking how this place was a world within a world, a full service city. But you know what? The people milling around in a leisurely manner are DIFFERENT. Some are wearing pajamas, some have I.V.s in their arms and no hair (chemo), some are wearing face masks (transplants), some are pushing tiny Baby buckets loaded with newborn Babies, and others are pushing strollers where small ones are also receiving chemo.
AND MANY BELIEVING NURSES AND DOCTORS WORK HERE. WHAT A PLACE! And no one seems to take notice who is wearing a Jewish head covering or a Moslem one or bandages, or no head covering at all…hair or not.
But I’m digressing. I DO get carried away because in my eyes I want to shout: Come and see what GOD HAS DONE!
And that brings me again to Tamima Ben Tsvi.
I have spoken of her much over the years. I love Tamima. Her name means “the simple purity of God.” She was in the Doctor’s office where I worked several days ago, and we were speaking about our roots.
The newest secretary, Mirav had never heard Tamima’s story. I was honored to hear yet another portion that I hadn’t heard before. We had spoken often about her experience when Jerusalem was liberated. She was very poor and her family lived in a small room built against the Old City walls.
So in 1967, when the fighting was fierce, it was often happening right over their heads. She had told me that when she heard our soldiers entering the Old City, she ran out of her hiding place and followed them in. With amazement I listen to her. But this time I learned that her family was from Iraq and that they left forcibly and with nothing, although they had been wealthy there. They traveled by foot. She was just a tiny child.
The winter that they arrived Israel was still destitute and they lived in tents, but it turned out to be the coldest and snowiest winters on record — that and the following one. It was decided by the government that the children could not survive these winters in tents in such poor conditions. So all small children were taken to kibbutzim to be cared for. Tamima did not yet know Hebrew but she learned by hearing and was warm and cared for during those 2 winters. She spoke of the loving care given to the children by those who weren’t really much older than they were. And then we spoke of the wonder of the country growing out of such beginnings.
The wonder of the abundance!
The wonder of the blessings!
The wonder of Israel just BEING again…after 2,000 years!
And so, as the shofar sounds loud and clear on Wednesday night and throughout Thursday. My prayer is that we will HEAR and HEED and LISTEN TO and OBEY the call from heaven;
TO BE THANKFUL TO THE LORD WHO KEEPS HIS WORD.
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
God bless you and thank you SO MUCH for your prayers,
your sister J in Jerusalem