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Inside Israel

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 —

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”  Joshua 3:3-4

Greetings, dear sisters and brothers,

May The Lord be seen, glorified  and blessed, and may you be blessed and edified toward Him alone.

I have been much impressed over the years by the fact that the prophets, the fiery prophets, prophesied NOT during times of great darkness but generally during times of spiritual prosperity.  Isaiah prophesied during the days that, among others, Hezekiah was king.   Jeremiah prophesied during the days of Josiah.

I could go on, but what struck me about this is that it is HARD to hear the message “repent or else” while we think that we are okay, especially  while we are seeking The Lord, praying, reading, obeying.  When it feels to us as if The Lord is blessing, hearing us and answering and we are walking in fellowship. Then all of a sudden, we hear rumblings of “Seek The Lord now or else!”

Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable, condemned and even get angry. “Who do you think you are?”

What a time we live in, and we CERTAINLY have not passed this way before!

I’m sure that it has been with horror that we have all read the reports of the California fires in Paradise. The descriptions remind me of nuclear war, people overtaken by flames and incinerated instantly.  It is difficult to grasp. Everywhere we turn there are reports of great human suffering and we don’t really know if it has always been this way. Or has social media accessmagnified it through bombarding us moment by moment. But no matter what, it is indeed snowballing before our eyes.

Here in Israel we are also experiencing nonstop fiery dilemmas.   I have described the fires in the South set by incendiary balloons and kites.  It looked as if it was going to burst forth into a full-fledged conflagration last week when some 450 rockets and missiles were fired at us from Gaza. One person was killed (ironically, a Palestinian man) when a rocket collapsed a building in our southern city of Ashkelon. There were quite a number of injured during the 1.5 or so days of fighting, which then suddenly stopped.

Yes, it was very intense.

The media and the politics appear to be in a free-fall at the moment.  Our Minister of Defense’ Avigdor Lieberman, resigned in the face of our government accepting a cease fire (again) with Hamas.  It appears most likely that we will have to go to early elections as the government is collapsing in the light of the pull out of Avigdor Lieberman’s party from the coalition form of government that we have.  Our word belegan (total mish mash of confusion and mess) seems to apply to the situation before us as Hamas laughs and states that “this has been nothing compared with what we have planned for Tel Aviv.”

And yet I believe that our leaders are not stupid. The rumblings in the north (Syria, Lebanon, Iran…) are serious.  There are plans going on of which we know nothing…

But I have always been arrested by the verse above in Joshua 3:3-4… Step back! Leave a space! You have never passed THIS WAY BEFORE!

Many people feel as if they know what will happen.  I do not.  One thing I do know:  This is much bigger than I am, and I can/MUST bring it all before The God Who IS bigger than ALL.  To do that effectively I need to heed the cry of the prophets to repent fully before our Holy God.

I am telling you nothing new, and nothing that you don’t know until this point, but I will lighten up. I DO have some local stories to share.

So here is a story:

Last night was Friday night, erevn Shabbat (the evening of Shabbat, when Shabbat enters.  Saturday night is motze Shabbat- when Shabbat leaves).  We have been blessed to have our younger daughter and family back in the land for the past more than 2 years already, and as they only live two blocks away, they join us for most erev Shabbat meals: the festive meal.

I have shared before a bit about our son in law who was born here, the oldest of 14 in a Haradi (ultra orthodox ) family from French Algerian background.  He is a sweetheart and I have learned a lot of traditions from him that are different from those that I was raised with in New York City, America.

Last night our 4.5 year old Granddaughter Maya said, “In the shuk today a man gave me a yummy birthday present.”  She smiled broadly.  

“But Maya,”  I said, “It isn’t your birthday.”

Yitzhak (our son in law) said, “No.  But it was HIS birthday.  That is how you are SUPPOSED to do it.  You have to bless OTHERS when it is your birthday because you have gotten the BIG blessing of your life on the day when you are born.  You are already blessed with the biggest gift so you need to bless others on your birthday.”

Maya added, “Abba and I went to the shuk and this man gave me a bag full of sweet things and nice things and blessed me.”

I asked, “How old was this man?”

Yitzhak answered, “He said that it was his 85th birthday and he was handing out bags of goodies to everyone at the shuk”’

I smiled and thought of Meir Slama who was the first one that I knew of at my work who came to me with a beautiful box of expensive handmade chocolates and flowers and told me that it was his birthday. I was taken aback.

When we first made Aliyah, it was common to be on the bus and a girl or boy would pass around goodies and tell everyone it is their 16th or 18th birthday. I was so touched as they shared but I didn’t understand the depth of the tradition.

I thought back a few years and remembered again, older people at the shuk, passing around goodies and flowers on the occasion of their birthday. It began to fall into place.  “You need to bless people because you have been blessed with life.  They have it backwards in the west where people get gifts on their birthdays.  You have to GIVE.”

I remembered visiting Maya’s gan (pre-school) for her birthday party and remembered how our daughter had to bring 30 little gifts and packages to give to all of the other children.

Huh!  I think that I like this tradition.  At my husband’s birthday dinner, Yitzhak had told him that he should go around and give each one a blessing. It was a special time as he did just that and we were all edified.

It is a good tradition with its roots in truth, but it is still a tradition.

I  feel challenged today to cut away the nice things of my life and get to the raw part. Let God deal as deeply as He did the day that I met Him because the time is short. Even so, I have not passed this way before.

In my last letter I described the march of the young people from the south saying that they had had enough of “red alerts” and fires.  That was just a few short days before the whole south blew up into a full-fledged battlefield.  It was also just before our Mayoral runoff elections about which the word that was in my heart was either the sons of Greece or the sons of Zion (Zechariah 9:13).

The religious candidate won over the secular candidate.  How strange that that was all just one week ago.  It really feels as if it has been years!

May we be found in HIS Peace gazing at Him, abiding in Him, as time and this world continue to run.    And as it runs, may we sit at His feet.  And as we are at His feet may we sing blessing and honor and glory and praise unto HIM WHO ALONE IS WORTHY, Whose Name is The Word of God (Rev. 19:13).

Lovingly,

your sister J

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Inside Israel

 

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 —

Give ear…And hear…For I proclaim The Name of The Lord.  Ascribe greatness to our God.  He is the Rock.  His work is Perfect;  For all His ways are justice, A God of Truth and without injustice: Righteous and upright is He.”Deuteronomy 32:1-4

“NOW I SAW…AND HE WHO SAT ON HIM WAS CALLED FAITHFUL  AND TRUE…”…” AND HIS NAME IS CALLED THE WORD OF GOD…”Revelation 19:11+13

Greetings dear friends, brothers and sisters in Yeshua h’meshiach,

May HE ALONE be glorified and may He be blessed in His body, and may you be blessed and edified.

I hope that the above pieces of verses aren’t too cryptic but this morning it was speaking to me: “GIVE EAR…HEAR…NOW I saw’…NOT what I saw or heard before, but NOW.  And is there any doubt in any of our minds that we really need to hear for NOW, minute by minute and day by day? How QUICKLY the changes are coming.

My husband had just come in for lunch because he works directly across the street from our apartment. We suddenly heard a great deal of noise from the street below us.  We rushed to the merepesset (balcony) and there were thousands of young people walking with signs, flags and firm determination.  “What is this about?” my husband asked.

“Wow! We get to watch them arrive in Jerusalem!” I answered.  “These are the young people’s march from the south of the country for normalcy in their lives.

They were the youth from the Gaza periphery communities who have been living under the daily tension of the fires from incendiary balloons and kites, the daily riots at the Gaza fence and the from-time-to-time rocket attacks throughout the summer. They have had enough.

Amidst the many flags, some of the signs that they carried read in Hebrew: “We need a normal life” or “Peace now” or “The south is burning.” They have been walking all week, these young people, dressed in the national colors of blue and white, and also black for the land burnt throughout the south.  They have grit. They are determined to stay but they are all suffering from posttraumatic stress, living under the constant threat of attack, most of them since they were born. They are NOT living in disputed territory (areas taken during the ’67 and ’73 wars).  They are living in Israel proper.  Territory NOT up for negotiation.  

Along the street we all cheer them on, encourage them and look at their faces, bright, young, hopeful.  “Lord, reveal Yourself to them,”I pray, staving back my own doubt that there is any power in these prayers of mine.  ‘Lord, put YOUR passion into these prayers. YOUR power alone is what saves people.

‘Sherooteem?  Yesh lechem sherooteem?’ (Do you have a bathroom?) the girls call to those standing along the street.  The kids are packing sleeping bags and camping paraphernalia, but they are in the city right now, the Capital of their nation.  People at ground level kindly shuffle them off to bathrooms in apartments along the way.

They are part of the same dilemma that you face in your countries: division, abundance of real problems with no solutions in sight, deep and weighty problems and then there is the anger, polarization, signs of judgment and not of blessing.

They come to a city without a mayor.

My last letter spoke of our regional elections and here in Jerusalem, the city set upon a hill, the city where The Lord CHOSE to put His Name, we have no mayor as yet.  There are to be runoff-elections on the 13th. The two candidates are a classic example of what is happening around the world because they are as different from one another as night and day. So WHAT IS THE LORD SAYING?  For me, there is no choice. And yet as I listen to my sisters and brothers in The Lord here they feel that they have no choice in the OPPOSITE direction.  HUH? LORD, HELP!  YOUR MIND!  YOUR HEART!  YOUR CHOICE, NOT OURS!

Moshe Lion is generally considered “the religious candidate” and Ofer Berkovitz the “secular one.”  We have pre-set ideas.  Yeshua overturned the moneychangers’ tables, and hated the religious system.  That means to many: “DO NOT VOTE RELIGIOUS NO MATTER WHAT”.  Berkovitz, 35 years old, is for doing away with Sabbath restrictions: allowing stores – closed on the Sabbath to be open, allowing  public transportation on the Sabbath, etc.) and is very pro other liberal rights.

I often wondered after I got saved about the Sabbath.  And certain kosher restrictions as well.  OH MY, WE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, that is for sure!  We are free.  HE has set us free for HIS glory, but for more than 40 years I wondered why people who would NEVER consider murder, or theft, or lying, or taking The Lord’s Name in vain, WHY when it came to keeping the Sabbath, the Commandment spoken of more than any other throughout scripture except for loving The Lord our God, WHY that was considered an expression of legalism.

Surely there are legalistic ways that it can be enforced, but the Shabbat itself?  Commanded by God?  Given as a gift?  To be cherished?  I never understood why it was so controversial.

To me, if God said something was an abomination to Him, I figured that He meant it and that it was an expression of my love and fear of Him to AGREE with Him.  So, yes, it troubles me to see a potential mayor of Jerusalem speaking of doing away with the quiet of Shabbat in JERUSALEM.

We are divided.  You are divided.  The world is divided.

But the body must not be. I’m NOT saying that we all must vote one way, but we all MUST be of One Spirit. HIS SPIRIT ALONE WITHOUT MIXTURE. SEEKING HIM FOR HIS GLORY.

He IS our Shabbat rest.

So…our local elections are continuing and not only in Jerusalem but there are run-offs in other municipalities as well.

Did I mention to you a bit ago about a large stone falling out of the Western Wall?  Thankfully, none of those praying below were injured, but I don’t know of anyone who did not take that as a definite pause.

Well this week a large, nonpoisonous SNAKE proceeded to slither out of the wall!  Uh, is God speaking?  Is it a coincidence?  These are NOT common occurrences.

We all have our theologies. We have learned, we have heard, we have read, and by His Mercy we have heard from Him and hidden His promises in our hearts. But my heart does quiver when I see these things, signs, warnings and reminders that HE IS HOLY and that HE sees EVERYTHING and that His great mercy is not without judgment. For He is Righteous.

AND it is DRY! The rains are not yet here…

AND we have measles.  LOTS of it!  Working at the doctor’s office we get the daily Health Department updates and on Wednesday the cases were nearly 1,300.  An 18-month old baby died from complications of measles at the hospital down the road from us on Friday.  I was told that signs are posted at the airport for those arriving that Israel is experiencing a measles epidemic.  It is cause for concern, not a superstitious concern but “Give ear…and hear…” concern.

And thankfully, we don’t need to rely on signs to tell us if we are walking in His blessing or needing correction. We have His Holy Spirit Who WILL lead us into all Truth and bring to remembrance those things that He has told us, as we fear and reverence Him.

The countries around us continue to be looking for ways to destroy us.  We seem generally as blind as ever, BUT THE LORD IS THAT ROCK AND HIS WORD WILL NOT FAIL.

In that I have no doubt!

I must run and make dinner now, but I pray that you will be found worthy and faithful.  GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU AND MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU AND GIVE YOU HIS PEACE AND LEAD YOU IN HIS PEACE!

Lovingly,

your sister J

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Inside Israel

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, The risen Lord who IS ALIVE and has given us life in Himself.  May He be blessed and glorified and may you be blessed and encouraged.

Today is regional election day across all of Israel.  My husband and I joined the throngs of voters who, for the first time, were given a day off from work in order to increase voter turnout.  As we made our way to the local school, we reviewed the procedure, which is so different than the ones that we grew up with in America.

There were heated discussions vibrating in the air as we approached our voting station so we knew that we were in the right place.  We have the privilege of voting for the Mayor of Jerusalem.  Selah! Talk about a man with a responsibility and burden. We asked for God’s wisdom as we voted and to give our new mayor HIS vision and His wisdom.  We had 3 candidates to choose from on the ballot. However FIVE names appeared in the voting booth.  I do not understand that, but hey, this is Israel.  Why not?

We went up to a guard at the door who checked the typed list of voters for our station, checked our names, ID numbers, ID cards, addresses, and told us which room to go to.  We passed a wonderful exhibit of perhaps 4th graders (‘kita dalet’) dioramas of their studies on the book of Jonah.  The little 3-D shoe box scenes were hysterical!  But this is a local public school, and the kids were learning about Jonah. Selah…this is Israel.

Once in our room, we approached a long table with a man and a woman.  There is a sensitivity here to the practice of women dealing with women and men dealing with men.  Not all do this, but the religious definitely do. They allow us to go into the room together seeing that we were “married old people.” Usually, only one is allowed into the room at a time.  Again the book of names was searched and two people verified our names and numbers, again checking us against our ID photos.

I was curious about three men sitting in chairs next to a wall.  Our numbers were called out to them and each of them checked us off with a pen and ruler.  It wasn’t until I left that I realized that these three were independent observes, one from each party of the candidates up for election. (Hmm! Not five, but three.  This IS Israel.)

To my husband’s chagrin, we had to part. I went alone behind the short curtain to confront the process.  It really ISN’T that difficult, nonetheless I break out into a cold sweat each time.  Before entering the booth,  I was handed 2 envelopes: a yellow one and a white one (in National elections they are blue and white).

Now, in front of me on a table was a box of slots, each holding a series of slips of papers.  I was to pick a name, written only in Hebrew, on the yellow papers and then a letter or a series of letters representing a party or group of parties on the white papers.  (again, all in Hebrew).

My husband and I had gone over our choices at home and what they looked like.  I had suggested that he take a picture on his phone of his choice but he said that he had it down.

I sealed my yellow slip into my yellow envelope and my white slip into my white envelope and exited the curtain to place them in the slit in the top of an officially sealed cardboard box.  I was done.

I watched my husband enter.  I waited.  The people next in line waited.  People looked at their watches.  He poked his head around the curtain and motioned to me and whispered, “Pssst!  Which envelope do I put what in?”

The workers smiled and nodded to me. We sorted it out.  We came out and claimed our ID cards (teudot zehut) and left feeling really happy. Duty accomplished!

On the way back to our apartment a couple approached us and in hesitant Hebrew, with thick Russian accents, the woman asked, “Excuse me, but do you know where Yafe Nof School is? And is that where we are supposed to vote?”

Her husband watched us all nervously.  This was new to them and I remembered the feeling and was thrilled to help them.  New immigrants have come home and all are able to see that the days of the fishers are closing and the days of the hunters are here.  JEREMIAH 16:14-21 put back into perspective things that we are witnessing with our very eyes:

“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers. “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the Lord, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes. And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols.” Lord, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The Gentiles shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.” Will a man make gods for himself,Which are not gods?  “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My might; And they shall know that My name is the Lord.”

On the day that the Jewish community in Pennsylvania USA were burying the dead that had been murdered during a Shabbat worship, we joined the throngs of those born here and the immigrants coming home to vote. Restored Jerusalem! And the call continues to go out to all Jews around the world, “It is time to come home.  The time is NOW.  The time is LATE.  There is no time left to tarry. DON’T LOOK BACK! The hunters are here.”

But the land of milk and honey, the land of promise is a land of giants, dry and parched and it is scary! It is hard to make ends meet. It is hard to learn the language and the culture. Don’t you realize that there are 800 MILLION Arabs, most of whom hate us, surrounding us and plotting to destroy us?

BUT GOD HAS TOLD US (and HE CAN NOT LIE) that this IS a land of milk and honey, streams and brooks, the land that HE waters, the land of promise given to us by He Who owns the cattle on 1,000 hills Who will provide for us and that we are to live by faith not fear, where God Himself has planted us, watered us, given us every nutrient with which to grow and bear fruit and that He has ALREADY conquered our enemies. “They are bread for us,” said Joshua and Caleb.

Our enemies. It is odd how they most often seem to shoot themselves in the foot. Take elections for example.  ISRAELI Arabs as opposed to Palestinian NON-Israeli Arabs who are either under by  their own choice PA rule or Hamas rule having full and equal rights with all other Israelis, of course have the right to vote.  Here’s an example of ‘shooting oneself in the foot.  Ffrom today’s Jerusalem Post):

“The fatwa (Muslim religious ruling) issued by the Council of Jerusalem Sheikhs, led by al-Aqsa Mosque sheikh Akram Sabri, forbidding Arabs from voting appeared to have impacted a sizeable portion of the 180,000 eligible voters in the Arab sector.”    

 

I know that even those of you who get very little news  from my region of the world are, nonetheless aware that it is an ever changing cinder box here.  Still, we KNOW that NOTHING takes The Lord by surprise and that nothing touches the apple of HIS Eye is a mistake.  What an HONOR that He calls us to pray, to seek Him face to Face for what is on His Heart.

Lately many internal alarms have been stirring within me, actually they have been rumbling for weeks now.

An unusual amount of friends from overseas who have written lately, and who do keep up with news here, have been unaware of the amount of damage that has been ongoing through the more sophisticated use of incendiary balloons and weekly and the daily massive rioting along the Gaza border.  I find myself wondering where all of these tires that are being burned and all of those gas canisters filling all of these balloons are coming from.

There has been also a big increase in rocket fire from Gaza, more sophisticated rockets supplied by Iran.  Please understand; the fires and massive riots are DAILY events now and I do not know how long this can continue before we really have to respond.  Many things have been keeping us from that response.  We ARE facing a war on a number of fronts.  Iran is pressing down on us through Hezbollah to the North, Hamas from the West, massive amounts of advanced weapons have entered both Syria and Lebanon. Nothing is as simple as it looks.  Prayer for our leaders is a matter of survival because they MUST have wisdom from Above as the wisdom of man fails.

My eyes are also failing and closing on me before I finish this letter, so I would like to close with the fragment of a verse from  Revelation 19:7 that so touched me this week:

Let us be glad and rejoice and give the glory unto Him”… 

Such simple words, but when you look at them IN CONTEXT, coming after the events revealed in chapter 18, they are truly extraordinary. Looking unto Jesus, (Yeshua) The Author and Finisher of our faith…”  Looking AWAY from all of it unto Him! `

May The God of all grace and mercy keep you and us for His glory.

Blessings with love,

your sis J

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Inside Israel

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 —

“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.  And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.  You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month.  You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ ” So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.(Leviticus 23:39-44)

Greetings AGAIN, dear brothers and sisters.

May The Lord be glorified and blessed, and may you be blessed and encouraged, even though you did not expect to hear from me YET AGAIN during this cycle of fall feasts.

But today is ‘Simchat Torah’ and  the singing and dancing around the Torah scrolls that we watched from our merepesset (balcony) this morning  (because the singing and dancing was in the square across the street, outside) brought joy to my heart. Perhaps I can speak words of joy and we can provoke one another to seek more of Him.  The songs calling for Messiah to come still ring in my ears.  HE IS coming AGAIN!

Reasons that I’m writing again:

Last night I spoke with a friend in New York, the one friend that I am still in contact with since high school.  What a story, but no I won’t tell it.  Suffice it to say that after I met Him and after she was in the Moonie cult for many years, she gave her heart to Him.  When we spoke last night, she reminded me that they had been with us during the fall feasts a number of years ago, while I was finishing up radiation treatments.

I had forgotten, but she had not, and she told me how it had changed her forever, sitting in our sukkah with various people, both His and those not yet His. And also watching the march of the nations, the believers from all over the world singing and dancing through the streets blessing the people. And then, Simchat Torah where men and women dressed in white lifted the Torah scrolls in the air and danced through the streets singing.

She, like me, being raised Jewish in New York City, had not witnessed this type of joy growing up, and it branded her forever.

That came on top of another sister telling me that she had gone to the parade and witnessed it first hand and experienced the wonder that I had described in the past. The hearts of the locals lining the road being lifted higher and higher on the blessings of the believers from around the world, marching in colorful costumes of their countries through the streets.

Interestingly, this takes place at the same time the UN General Assembly is meets yearly, bearing “civilized witness” to the curses of the nations against Israel.  One is cursing by throwing accusing lies and here are the believers, standing on the Eternal Word of God and casting blessings before them.  It IS truly a wonder, an exchange that happens which only He could initiate.

So, even though I participated in far less ‘activity’ this year, even though I was neither at the parade, nor did we have our own sukkah. But here it is again, Simchat Torah, and I could only write one more time!

On Friday night (Erev Shabbat – the festive evening dinner of Shabbat), we were invited to the sukkah of dear friends where we were blessed with the richest of fellowship. One of the many edifying things that happened was that we spoke briefly about dates. The setting of dates and debate about dates and our brother said simply, “I always felt that if a date was really important for us to know that The Lord would have put it into the Bible.” 

My thoughts jumped back more than 40 years to a “hippie” Bible Study that I was attending.  Everyone there was a new believer from the streets we were studying the book of Job.  One fellow, not yet a believer, kept interrupting and asking about dinosaurs.  The man leading the Bible Study wisely (and with authority) turned to him suddenly and said, “If The Lord had thought that they were important …He would have put them in The Bible!”

That silenced the young man who was seeking to sow discord and unbelief into the group of very young sprouts, but instead,  the wisdom of the statement sent deep roots into my heart which I have never forgotten.

And The Lord HAS set dates in His Word.

Not always the ones that we have focused on, but dates were given: “you SHALL do this and you SHALL do that.” It is really a wonder to know the dates that He has set – the holidays and the Shabbat – they are still observed.

That brings us to Simchat Torah.

As you can see in the scripture above, the Lord (through Moses) told us that Sukkot would last for SEVEN days. ThenHe adds:  AND ON THE EIGHTH DAY (you shall have) a SABBATH REST!”

EVERY year there is a bit of a belegan (confusion) among the entire population of Jerusalem as to WHAT day is the last day we eat in the sukkah? Is it Sunday or is it Monday?  Even some of our calendars have it wrong.

So, WHERE DID SIMCHAT TORAH COME FROM?

I decided to do some research.

I found out that the body of information is huge and extremely varied.

SOMETIMES, we are “The people of The Book” but SOMETIMES we are “the people of TRADITIONS.”

We are ALL familiar with Matthew 15:2-6 –

“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?For God commanded, saying,‘Honor your father and your mother’; and,‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother,“Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his fatheror mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

Thankfully, I really don’t think that this tradition transgresses the commandment of God.  Sometimes our traditions enhance or illustrate The Truth of His Word and Who He Is.  GENERALLY I think that is the original purpose and source of most traditions. But when they go wrong and make the commandment of no effect, it can be hard to let go.  But this is another subject.

AS IT STANDS TODAY: You know that Jews read the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) according to a yearly cycle set out with weekly portions. Many, but not all, also read a portion of the Prophets at the same time (h’ftorah).

It is in prescribed sections and was established during the dispersion to keep the Jewish body unified although we were scattered around the world.  The rabbinic council in Babylon wielded the most authority and much of Orthodox modern Rabbinical Judaism is derived from the interpretations of the leaders from Babylon.  Indeed, the Babylonian Talmud, the Mishna and Kabala all claim origins from the sages in Babylon (don’t forget, Daniel was there, Ezekiel and many of the other prophets and wise men were looking for a way to keep the Jews in the dispersion from scattering and embracing paganism).

Back to Simchat Torah.

Last night, the yearly cycle of reading ended with the last chapter of Deuteronomy.  People stayed up through the night reading and welcoming the morning with Genesis 1:1, as the cycle has begun again. We have been given The Torah and in it we will rejoice!

According to the sources that I perused, Simchat Torah began to look something like it does now somewhere between the 7th century and the 16th century. That’s a LOT of years.  Here in Jerusalem, I have found that the holidays change color year after year, perhaps just a tiny shade, but the traditions expand and contract.  That should not take me by surprise because The Word IS Alive and Living and HE IS THE WORD and ONE DAY HE SHALL BE RECOGNIZED AS THE WORD MADE FLESH.  We shall TRULY rejoice and worship The One Who IS and WAS and ALWAYS WILL BE THE WORD!

TOTALLY ASIDE BUT CAN’T BE IGNORED:  One last thought and NOT about Simchat Torah.  I saw (and perhaps you did too) a video taken on a cell phone of the approaching tsunami in Indonesia and the vain cries of the man taking the video to the people on the street below to take cover in the building.  He could see the tsunami and they could not.  His cries were mostly unheard or unheeded and he broke into pathetic tears as the people below were swept away as he watched. I wept with him and could only think: “This is exactly how I feel as a believer here! I see the approaching tsunami but who will hear?”

THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR THIS PEOPLE…THIS LAND…MY RELATIVES AFTER THE FLESH AND FOR HIS OWN REASONS…IN THE HEART OF GOD.  THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR HIS PURPOSES…FOR HIS GLORY ALONE.

Lovingly,

your sister J

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Inside Israel

SHUK

The Shuk in Jerusalem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,

I greet you AGAIN in His Precious Name and for His glory Alone.  May you be blessed and encouraged and may HE be glorified, magnified and BLESSED.

So quickly, again, running together, the quiet overtakes the noise. Runningis the word that comes to mind for me because in less than an hour begins the last of the three Fall Feasts, and, yes, they RUN on the heels of one another.  Sukkot, known to most of the Church as the Feast of Tabernacles, is here in 45 more minutes.

The commands for Sukkot, to me, are quite beautiful.

” ‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a Sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a Sabbath-rest.  And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.’ ”So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:39-44)

 and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.  Not a hard command to keep…what a GIFT!

I have enjoyed the many lessons that He has taught me sitting in the booth, the little sukka built outside our rented apartment, with a rug on the earth and pieces of gaily decorated material for the walls. Palm branches form the roof, through which we can see the stars.  I enjoyed decorating ours with mostly live fruit from the shuk, nearby trees, and a huge assortment of flowers and branches cut around the neighborhood. Scriptures pinned to the curtained walls in Hebrew and English.

We put a table inside and chairs and pillows and have invited many guests over the years. Both those who know Him and those who don’t yet. I have prayed that it would be a testimony to Him and a place where He would be spoken of and glorified, and it has been.

Alas, this is the first year that I have nothing even resembling a sukkah set up.  Since we moved to this apartment up two flights I have struggled to decorate our inappropriate merepesset (sort of balcony), but this year even that little bit didn’t happen. I find transitions sad.

The sun is setting so I am off to my daughter’s family sukkah 2 blocks away and I will continue this letter soon. Well, it IS a seven-day holiday.

 

Good morning to you all or ‘chag semaech!’ (joyful holyday).  I love waking early on these silent mornings and spending the richest of times with Him as the sun begins to rise and the early birds begin their songs.

At our feast that we shared last night in the sukkah of our daughter’s family, we spoke to our little granddaughters of the things of God that their young hearts could understand. How HE made the stars and HE made us and HE is big enough to take care of all. The stars, the birds, the cat trying to get the chicken on the barbeque and us.  Maya, age 4, sang a Sukkot song for us in Hebrew that she learned at her gan (pre-school) and I prayed that He Who reveals Himself in such perfect ways will reveal Himself to them.

I believe that these HOLYDAYS that HE has given us are for reasons far deeper than we begin to understand. So, I like to ask The Holy Spirit to help me remember the Sukkots since we have been here, over the past 24 years. He has taught me so many layers of lessons, each a bursting revelation on my mind.  I think of the night during the last intifada, when so much blood was being spilled in the streets, such a traumatic, unsettled time. And yet, there we were.  STOP!  BUILD LITTLE BOOTHS!  SIT IN THEM! Flimsy, little temporary dwellings and we did.

I remember looking up at the sky through the branches of my palm-roof and seeing the stars through the trees above me, hearing the quiet wind and KNOWING that HE had it all in control. The understanding burrowed deep into the very roots of my being.  I knew that I was indeed nothing but a flimsy little sukkah of a body containing a vulnerable soul. Yet when that soul was given over to THE KING OF kings AND THE LORD OF lords, The Holy Spirit would inhabit this weak sukkah and NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!

That knowing burst into my very being. Perhaps the sukkah is intended to be one of HIS places of revelation knowledge.  NOT on our terms, only on His.  He gives to us (or not) Light according to HIS choice.  Have you ever waited for a Word or a Revelation and it HASN’T come?  I have!

God KEEP me from running anyway even when I have NOT heard that Word from Him.  God FORBID that I should ever run with a counterfeit.

Sukkot was commanded to bring in the harvest…to remember His goodness and abundance and to give back to Him and to others.  It was ALSO commanded to REMEMBER WHERE WE CAME FROM, the promises, the journey, our failures in the light of His perfect faithfulness. We were ALL slaves in Egypt at one time.  REJOICE IN HIS GOODNESS.

The symbols of these three fall feasts still sit together on the tables: the shofar (ram’s horn) The Word, honey, apples, the good fruits of the land, grapes and almonds, pomegranates and dates, figs and citrus. And the people rejoice.

It is such a unique season because the streets are also filled with believers from the nations around the world who have come  to participate in one way or another in the fall feasts.  Many come to take part in the conferences and convocations – Christian gatherings for times of prayer and teaching.

Because this IS one of the three feasts where all Jewish men were COMMANDED to come up to Jerusalem and to worship and to bring an offering in the place where The Lord put His Name. There will be the ceremony of the blessing of the Cohenim (or the high priestly blessing) which takes place at the Western Wall, when the blessing of Aaron will be pronounced and many thousands upon thousands will participate.

As I walked through the streets of Jerusalem it seemed to me that there were less sukkas this year, but the ones that we passed last night on the way home from our daughters resounded with the warmth of songs and laughter.  Everyone whom we passed greeted us with “hag sameach.”

“MOEDIM L’SIMCHA!” is the way in which we greet one another now, whether friends or strangers whom we are passing on the street.  These are the days called khol h’moed – or the “in-between days” of the holyday.  The meaning of simcha is joy or rejoice and the meaning of moed (moedim being the plural) is an appointed time of meeting. So these are the appointed times for meeting (with) with joy.  Pretty neat, eh?

But that is my translation.

Although translations are thought of as standard and pretty well perfect by those of us who are not particularly gifted with many languages, I have been shocked to learn just how SUBJECTIVE language translation can be for everyone. I have mentioned before that Hebrew seems to me to be like a sculpture, each word describing an entire object or concept including its history.

In contrast I see English as a line drawing, carefully describing details line upon line. And yet even in English, how we can misinterpret one another.

And so, MOEDIM L’SIMCHA. 

No matter WHAT happens between Russia and us.  Moedim l’simcha. No matter what takes place at the United Nations gathering.  Moedim l’simcha. Despite the fires and floods and the awful battles at the Gaza border and wars and personal griefs that we cannot escape. Moedim l’simcha.

LORD!  Give us ALL eyes to see, and ears to hear and a heart that beats with Yours!

 

But now I WILL leave you with a Jerusalem story:

I was coming home from work last week (between Rosh h’shana and Yom kippur) and I was T-I-R-E-D.  As I approached the crosswalk on the road to my bus stop. Alas! the bus was approaching.  I sighed.  Another 25-minute wait.  Oh well, I have learned the hard way that my days of running for the bus have past, since my last fall and broken rib.  The bus pulled up to the crosswalk and stopped for me to cross.  Huh?  Ok, but still I wasn’t about to run to the bus stop, but he parked the bus a bit further back than usual and WAITED. It is now against the law for bus drivers to do anything special for anyone and even with the BACK door of the bus open.  Ok, I sped up still figuring that he would pull away before I got there but he didn’t.  I got on through the back door and passed my card up by way of other passengers to the front of the bus to be processed.  I couldn’t see the driver, but the bus emptied quite a bit before I got off so I made my way to the front.

“Toda reba reba!” I said (thank you very very much) as he approached my stop.

He turned and smiled.  “I would stop for you ANYWHERE and ANYTIME!” 

I smiled back. ‘Orie,  thank you.”

It was deeply humbling as recognition set in.  He was one of our patients and I really had been quite concerned about him when he fought a grievous illness a number of years ago.  Yes, I did sort of go the extra mile to accommodate his needs at times but I NEVER expected this.  It was a delightful gift because Jerusalem may be the center of the world’s conflicts and The Place where THE LORD OF ALL chose to put His Name.  But it is still a small town, reminding me that we are all so small, flimsy temporary dwelling, chosen to be indwelt by The Living God.

Moedim l’simcha to all of you.

Lovingly,

your Sister J in Jerusalem

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Prayers for Israel (7/17/2018)

The Apostle Paul made a statement about his Jewish brethren that has always given me the shakes:

With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. (Romans 9:1-3 NLT)

The Apostle Paul was willing to give up his eternal salvation and take his Jewish brethren’s place in Hell if that would provide salvation for them. This is the same love Christ had for Israel.

My love for Israel hasn’t reached that level yet, but if I want to be an intercessor for the nation, it’s the level my love needs to attain.

My prayer today:

Lord, give me Your love for Israel, no matter what it may cost me.

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Tuesdays to fast and pray for Israel and Jerusalem.

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Prayers for Israel (7/10/2018)

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
And her salvation as a lamp that burns.
The Gentiles shall see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory.
You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah;
For the Lord delights in you.. (Isaiah 62:1-4)

My prayer today:

Lord, set watchmen on Jerusalem’s walls who will never hold their peace day or night and will continue to speak Your name and give You no rest until Jerusalem is the object of praise in the whole earth. (Based on Isaiah 62:6-7)

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Tuesdays to fast and pray for Israel and Jerusalem.

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