This week I will not be sending another chapter in the sequel of chapters that you have received in the past 3 weeks. There are some pressing matters at hand which I felt led to address.
By now most of you have heard about the terrorist attack that took place yesterday in a Jerusalem Yeshiva (school for Jewish religious studies). There are thousands of Yeshivas in this city, but this was not just an ordinary school. This particular Yeshiva is known for its right wing Zionist stance. Rabbi Kook, the founder of the Yeshiva (84 years ago), also laid the ideology of the religious Zionist movement (as in Jewish Orthodoxy there was, and still is in some circles, a tremendous opposition to Zionism, especially when the movement was birthed). The settlement movement in Judea and Samaria is therefore largely the outcome and fruit of the ideology which this Yeshiva stands for. By targeting this institution, the terrorists are sending a much more calculated message to the world than by blowing up a bus. They struck the very heart of Biblical fulfillment of prophecy, and its participants. The choice of this particular day, the eve of the New Moon of the (second) month of Adar, which stands for joy, turned the celebrations so sinisterly into mourning.
The Israeli security forces foil hundreds of terrorist attempts weekly, making this particular one no small 'success' on the part of the terrorist organizations. Yet, because the terrorist came from within Jerusalem and was the owner of an Israeli I.D. and did not have to tackle a guard at the entrance of the Yeshiva, his task was made very simple. Gaza's residents were jubilant and broke out into wild celebrations. Will this be a setback to the peace process and to President Bush's aspiration to form a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza by the end of the year? One of Israel's intellectuals, a University professor, came out with the declaration that the only solution is through diplomatic means, bringing Hamas and the PA to the negotiating table. That same individual said that Hamas is the legitimate democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people, and must be a part of the peace process. This professor agreed that in spite of Hamas' open declaration of their intent to destroy the Jewish State we must negotiate with them at any cost. In other words, we are to commit national suicide. This same message was subtly echoed by our government, in that there was not one government representative at the funerals today.
Incidentally, this Shabbat's Parasha (Torah reading), which concludes the book of Exodus is called Pkudey (ref Ex. 38:21 to the end). In it are itemized the Mishkan's sacred articles, but also the "pkudey" of the congregation. The root p.k.d means to number, visit, enlist, make inventory of etc. But in another conjugation p.k.d lends itself to a verb which means to "be absent" or "missing" (e.g. Numbers 31:49). As this Shabbat is coming in, eight of our choicest youth are no longer with us.
Prophecy informs us that a war between Israel and the surrounding nations is unavoidable. This war is not Israel's war; it is the battle of the Elohim of Israel. Will the Jewish Biblical Zionists be able to stand alone in their fight for the Land, the People, and the Torah?
The question is what is our role as Ephraimites in YHVH's plan? In what way are we going to be "pkudey ha'eda", the "numbered ones of the Congregation" of Israel? In many ways this movement is still very young, as the restoration of the second stick/nation has just begun. We are much like Joseph in his youth. Joseph was reared in the tent of an idol worshiping mother – Rachel (ref. Gen 31:34), who may be compared to the "Church". Joseph was her firstborn son, as are the sons of Ephraim – "B'ney Ephraim" in Hebrew. Joseph was given a princely garment which was a sign of his status in the family. He had dreams of his brothers bowing down to him, not unlike some in this restoration movement who are aspiring (each in his respective field of biblical expertise) to 'show our brothers a thing or two'.
Paul warns the Believers that "when we think we are something when we are nothing we deceive ourselves" (Gal. 6:3). He also reminds the wild olive branches (B'ney Ephraim) not to be arrogant in their attitude toward the natural branches (Yeudah), because the former only stand by faith (ref. Rom 11: 20-21). But on the other hand, are we to stand by idly, doing nothing? Joseph, for example, when he didn't find his brothers in his father's field around Shechem (ref. Gen. 37:1-17), did not just return home and tattle on his brothers again. No. He kept on looking for them with great care. Today, although the House of Judah is not exactly where the Father would want them, Joseph/Ephraim is not to just abandon his responsibility in seeking them out and in lending them a hand. There are millions of Jews yet to return to the land from the American continent, from Russia and other places. Out of those who have returned, many are poor and needy. Within this group there are widows and orphans, elderly Holocaust survivors and handicapped people.
In Jeremiah 31:9 and 1Chronicles 5:1 YHVH states: "Ephraim is my firstborn". As a first-born we must recognize that we do not belong to ourselves (ref Num. 3:13) and should not espouse attitudes of self-interest, pride, and self-righteousness. These were some of Joseph's traits that led YHVH to take him through years of suffering, in order to prepare him for his future role as a leader and redeemer of the family. May the Ephraimite nation walk alongside our brother Judah in humbleness and servitude! We are YHVH's mercy vessels. Pray that we all might know what to do in order to render help and exercise our mandate with humility. Let's take to heart what Yeshua said to Simon Peter: "I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned [made "teshuva"] to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:32 emphasis added).