Friday, February 24, 2006


Posted by Picasa


February 24, 2006

We want to thank all who have responded with prayers and condolences in the last couple of weeks in the aftermath of my mother's death. It was also at this time of year, back in 2000, that two very close friends (believers) and former residents of our town, a mother and her pregnant daughter, were killed in a car accident in Ireland and then buried here in Alfe Menashe. Now with the passing over of my mother, I was reminded of an article that I had written back then. The following is a modification of that letter.

Thus, again, our sorrow and grief have been mingled with joy and excitement, a state so typical of the “mixed” human condition here on earth. All the same, we must return to the work that each of us has been given while we remain on this side of YHVH's eternal plan, and that is to be a part of the manifestation and restoration of His kingdom to one nation - Israel. It was for this task that Messiah came, as was foretold by the angel Gabriel: "He [Yeshua] will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and YHVH Elohim will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Ya’acov forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:32-33). We, being a part of that remnant, must pay close attention to the word of YHVH through His holy prophets from of old, as it is written that “the heavens must retain Him [Messiah] until the restoration of all things spoken through the mouth of [these] holy prophets” (Acts 3:21).

Those of you who have visited Israel during this season of the year, are most likely familiar with the beautiful blossoms of the almond tree. On the hills of Samaria especially there are thousands of olive trees, among which are scattered these lovely almond trees. The white and pink blossoms of the almond trees' slender branches, juxtaposed with the somber silvery green of the olive trees and their gnarled trunks, form a delightful and memorable sight. The delicate and graceful “shkey’diya” standing among the olive trees is much like a young bride surrounded by a crowd of stately sages.

The word for almond in Hebrew is “sha’ked”, the root verb of which is “to watch diligently”. This is well illustrated in Jeremiah 1:11-12 which reads: “Moreover the word of YHVH came to me, saying, ‘Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree’. Then YHVH said to me, ‘you have seen well, for I am watching [persistently and with diligence] over My word to perform it.’" The olive tree, on the other hand, is the known symbol of the House of Jacob (ref. Jer. 11:16).

This relationship of olive and almond can also be seen in the Menorah, as the cups that hold the olive oil are shaped in the form of the flower of the almond tree. Thus, when lit, the pressed oil in the basin of the “flower” lights up the Holy Place. The olive oil for the Menorah came from the first fruit of the tree, and some claim that only the first drop of oil from each of those olives could be used for that lamp.

The almond tree is the first to demonstrate the budding of life at the end of winter, even before springtime. At the same time, its blossoms are the sign for the husbandman to prune the olive trees, and so, at this time of year the branches are seen lying on the ground around the olive tree ready to be gathered and burned. It is worth noting that the branches that get pruned are the ones in the interior of the tree, those hidden from sunlight; those that are sapping the tree of its life-giving energy, and while producing little fruit they also prevent the tree from breathing. The branches that are left will then bear larger and juicier olives. Added to the beautiful sight of the olive trees and the flowering almond trees are the carpets of violet and yellow flowers, interspersed with the red (poppy-like) anemones.

Our hearts are grieved over the many things that are taking place in the land of our inheritance, but yet YHVH will remain faithful to watch (almond = sha’ked - to be diligent) over His Word and promises to Israel, the olive tree. We find that our hearts are experiencing the same sort of feelings that Yeshua had as He wept over Jerusalem, or like those of Paul recorded in Romans 9:2-4: “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Messiah for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh… who are Israelites.”

King David erected a tent, as a temporary covering until the time of the construction of the Temple, and brought into it the Ark of the Covenant. On that day he composed a prayer, excerpts of which I would like to quote, with the remnant of the seed of Israel in mind: “O, give thanks to YHVH, Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! O seed of Yisrael His servant, you children of Ya’acov, His chosen ones! He is YHVH our Elohim; His judgments are in all the earth… Remember His covenant forever, the word that He commanded, for a thousand generations; The covenant which He made with Avraham, and His oath to Yitzchak, and confirmed it to Ya’acov for a statute, to Yisrael for an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance'" (1 Chronicles 16:8-9; 13-18).

We, in this generation, are still far from the thousandth generation of our forefathers’ seed. It therefore behooves us to pay heed to David’s word, exhorting us to remember the land. The greater Son of David (Yeshua) is not interested in uniting Church and Synagogue; this is not what He is diligent in performing. Ezekiel tells us that He is interested in uniting two trees, two houses, two kingdoms, two nations and a people, to their Elohim, to each other, and to their land (Ezekiel 37). The Messiah came to restore the government of His Father to Israel, His firstborn nation. He will perform it and bring it to pass, but He will also prune the olive tree of Israel. “You will say then, ‘branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' Well said, because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear, for if YHVH did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of YHVH” (Romans 11:19-22).

Please pray and ask what you might do to help in restoring the relationship between the two houses, as you can be like those almond trees blossoming in early spring amongst the olive trees on the hills of Samaria.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity (Psa. 133)

Friday, February 17, 2006


February 17, 2006

YHVH - Ribon Olam (Sovereign of the Universe), You have created the heavens and stretched them out, You spread out the earth and all that comes out of it; You, Bor’eynu (our Creator), give breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it” (Isa 42:5). You are YHVH, that is Your name! You said that You will not give Your glory to another or Your praise to idols.

We see, Avinu Ba’sha’ma’yim (our Father in Heaven), that the former things have taken place, and now new things You are declaring; before they even spring into being You have announced them to us (Isa 42:8-9). You have told us about them and declared these things long ago; before they even happened You announced them to us; we have heard these things and looked at them all, so that we would not say that our idols did them, our wooden images, and metal gods ordained them.

You, Elohey Emet (G-d of Truth), will tell us of new things, of hidden things unknown to us. They are created now, and not long ago; we have not heard of them before today. So we cannot say, `Yes, we knew of them.' We have neither heard nor understood from of old, for our ears have not been open. Well do You, Elohey Tzedek (G-d of Righteousness), know how treacherous we are; we were called rebels from birth. For Your own name's sake You delayed Your wrath; for the sake of Your praise You have held it back from us, so as not to cut us off. You have refined us, though not as silver; but You - Shofet Tzedek (Righteous Judge), have tested us in the furnace of affliction. For Your own sake, Elohey Chesed (G-d of Mercy), for Your own sake, You do this. For how can You let Yourself be defamed? You will not yield Your glory to another” (Isa 48:5-11).

Therefore we must tell our people, what You, YHVH - Elohey Yisrael (G-d of Israel), are saying to us. You are bidding us to return to You, so that You will also return to us. We are not to be like our forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets spoke. For You, YHVH - Elohey Yisrael (G-d of Israel), asked them to turn from their evil ways and their evil practices, but they would not listen or pay attention to You. You have therefore asked us to learn from our forefathers, and their prophets. You, Elohey Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’acov (G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), have made us to understand that Your words and Your decrees, which You commanded Your servants the prophets to speak to our forefathers, finally overtook our forefathers and as a result they repented and said, `YHVH Shof’teynu (our Judge) has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as He determined to do'" (Zech 1:3-6).

We, of the house of Ya'acov and all of us who remain of the house of Yisrael, need to listen to You, for You have upheld us since we were conceived, and You have carried us since our birth. Even to our old age and gray hairs You are YHVH - Ro’yenu (our Shepherd). You are the One that will sustain us. You have made us and You will carry us; You, M’gee’neynu (our Protector/Shield) will sustain us; for You are YHVH - Mephal’teynu (our Rescuer) (Isa. 46:3-4). You have only asked us to acknowledge our guilt, for we have rebelled against You, YHVH - Mal’keynu (our King). We have scattered Your favors to the foreign gods under every spreading tree and have not obeyed You.

Therefore we, Your faithless people, must repent and return. For You, YHVH are Ba’layenu (our Master). You have chosen us, even one from a town and two from a clan and are bringing us to Tzyion. There You will give us shepherds after Your own heart, who will lead us with knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:13-15).

You have promised and have declared to us, El Ne’eman (Faithful G-d), that we should not to be afraid, for You Go’aleynu (our Redeemer), are with us; You will bring our children from the east and gather us from the west. You will say to the north, ”Give them up”, and to the south, “Do not hold them back”. You will bring your sons, from afar and Your daughters from the ends of the earth-- everyone who is called by Your name, YHVH – Yeshua’teynu (our salvation), whom You have created for Your own glory, whom You have formed and made" (Isa 43:5-7). For You – Elohey Tziyon (G-d of Zion) will take us out of the nations; You will gather us from all the countries and will bring us back into our own land (Eze. 36:24).



Friday, February 03, 2006


February 3, 2006

The world, waiting with abated breath for the salvation of mankind in the form of a forthcoming Palestinian state, has now to face Hamas' overwhelming victory. The god of democracy has given his verdict, and has helped the Palestinian people make the leaders of Hamas their (future) governing body. This new situation leaves, of course, room for much speculation as to the future of Israel, the Middle East, and even the entire world. Thus scenarios of Biblical proportions may come to mind. But one thing is sure; the Elohim of Israel is not oblivious of these events and will make use of them in a way that will fulfill His plans and purposes, albeit with most of the participants' ignorance as to who is the prime Mover, Cause, and Originator of their circumstances. This latter statement can be equally applied not only to the episode at hand, but also to the many earth changing and world shattering events that have taken place in this part of the world for the past 120 years, or so and to the individuals who have been involved in them. In the Christian and Bible believing world there was and is expectancy that the Jews, during the early Zionist endeavors and later, when the State was being formed, and now, would have had some awareness of fulfilling Biblical prophecy. This supposition, however, calls for an explanation so that those who communicate with members of the household of Judah may be aware of how the Tanach ("Old Testament") is perceived among the Jews, religious and secular respectively, both now and in the earlier and formative years of Zionism, and in the beginning days of the State of Israel.

Up until sometime in the 19th century, Jews by and large, in all of their places of dispersion, had been practicing (orthodox) Judaism. One fact which may be stated about Judaism's attitude toward the Tanach, is that it is only secondary to the "Oral Law", which is a compilation of commentaries on the Tanach with added rulings, laws, parables and stories that, in turn, are interpreted some more and supplemented by further rabbinical writings. Thus, this massive literary body is revered and taught in religious circles more than the Tanach, this being especially so since the explicit instructions contained therein are also useful visa vie daily conduct, as well as religious practices. At the same time, these complex directives can exempt one from having to seek YHVH and His Spirit for guidance, and what's more they also demand expertise that only rabbinical authorities can render. This makes the orthodox person dependent on rabbis and teachers more than on the Holy One Blessed Be He. For many centuries this was basically what the Jewish nation relied on, as do religious Jews all over today. The Tanach gets their attention mostly by way of the weekly reading of the Torah portions ("parasha" singular – "parashot" or "parshiot" - plural), and the short passages from the Prophets ("haftara" – singular, "haftarot" – plural), that are read in the synagogue.

Political Zionism came into being in Europe of the 19th century. At the time, educational "enlightenment" had been sweeping the continent, influencing also its Jewry and the Zionist movement. Thus, many of the early settlers to the Holy Land were secular, and quite a few socialists. Here they developed the ideal of the "new Jew", who had to renounce his Disapora ways by rejecting his religion and traditions. Search for a "model" for this "healthy", "strong", and "emancipated" individual, who had become a farmer attached to his land, turned the spotlight on some Biblical characters and scenes, but was devoid of spirituality and of the Author of that source of inspiration. Thus in the era of the pioneers, the Tanach and some of its characters were romanticized and served the emerging national ethos, much like national mythology. But further into the twentieth century, with materialism fast making its way into Israeli society, disfranchising it from its ideologies, this secular view point of the Tanach faded, and with it interest in what is called here the Book of Books, while in the religious circles the Tanach continued to maintain its secondary position, trailing behind the "Oral Law". The mandatory teaching of Tanach in the Israeli school system doesn't help either. As with all mandatory subjects, especially if not taught with conviction, as soon as the test is over the material sinks into the realms of oblivion. In the Jewish world, outside of Israel, the same attitudes prevail. Hence it should not surprise you that those who approach the Bible differently, believing and applying it literally, are looked upon as religious (sometime pathetic) fanatics, who fall into the category of Protestant Christian Fundamentalists/Evangelicals, whose main center is "religious Bible Belt" United States. And although some in the Zionist-religious circles in Israel are willing now to dialog with "Bible believers" and to receive their support, mainly for the settlement movement, others (the ultra orthodox and secular) view the Bible believers as dangerous because of their evangelistic aspirations and their supposedly conditional love (for the Jews and Israelis) aimed at hurrying up world events with predictions of horrific circumstances for the Jews, so as to pave the way for their own (Christian) Messiah.

And so, ironically, the very faith in the Tanach, which should have bonded you to your brother Judah, is actually what marks you as being so different from him, much more so than if you were practicing pagan customs and ceremonies.

Note: To the several sweeping generalizations made here, there are, of course, notable exceptions.