Prayer for THE ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCES – IDF

May He who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bless the members of Israel’s Defense Forces and its security services who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the Lebanese border to the Egyptian desert, from the Mediterranean Sea to the approace of the Aravah, and wherever else they are, on land, in air and at sea.

May the Lord make the enemies who rise up  against Israel be struck down before them. 

May the Holy One, blessed be He, protect and deliver them from all trouble and distress, affliction and illness, and send blessing and success to all the work of their hands.

May He subdue our enemies under them and crown them with deliverance and victory. And may there be fulfilled in them the verse:

“It is the Lord your God who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies,
to deliver you.”

And let us say, Amen.

 

Prayer taken from The Koren Siddur – with translation and commentary by Rabbi Johnathan Sacks.

The Liminal Space of Engagement ~ Sarah Sanders

 

There are few things in life that can both cover and expose like finding love.

In the last year, since meeting my fiancé, I have gone through several cycles of death and rebirth. I have tussled with all the questions a precocious, conscientious, and spiritually-minded young woman would: “How do I know he’s ‘the one’?” ” Do I even believe there is one ‘the one?” “What does the Word say about this?” “When the Word seems to have gaps, what do the ‘experts’ say?” “Should I trust their interpretations and opinions?” “When I pray, what does the Father tell me?” “What questions am I not asking that I should?”

When I was a teenager, I was told to make a list of characteristics I wanted in a husband and pray for Yah [HaShem] to bring me the man of that list. I decided later that, while well intended, this was a misguided activity. Do I really know what I need in a man? At 15, can I know what I want and need at 30? I think not. I gave up on that and started praying that Yah would direct my path to the right man and that we each would be shaped into the person the other needs. As I matured and mused on finding a mate, one thing became clear.

At the end of the day, there is one prerequisite that matters most – he needs to love the Father more than he loves me. If he has that priority straight, the rest will take care of itself.

Like many young ladies, I wondered and dreamed at how my future mate and I would meet. Being highly involved in church leadership, I figured I would meet him at church. There were a few attempts at relationships with guys I served alongside, but they were short-lived and, frankly, frustrating. I discovered that while the church seems to preach an ideal image of what a Biblical or Christian relationship should look like, that image is vague in application and usually not lived out. In fact, the church, in general, sadly conforms to the same habits as the world: aimless dating based on physical attraction, relationships  rife with interpersonal issues caused by selfishness and miscommunication, immaturity, and lack of mentorship. Add to that the hazards of temptations and missteps being a condemnable sin.

I was supposed to be the most prepared person to find a suitable mate. I read numerous books, attended women-only Bible studies on the topic, promised to save myself for marriage, and committed to date only for the purpose of marriage. Still, I felt sorely underprepared. I knew what not to do (with big blaring sirens and lights!), but not what to do. In addition, my parents divorced when I was 17, contributing to a feeling of isolation and ambiguousness. I lacked not only their (healthy) model, but also their leadership. I would love to say that this sticky wicket resolved itself with time and experience, but it did not. When I met my fiancé at 29, I felt not much more prepared than my 17-, 24-, or 27-year-old selves.

When my fiancé and I met (at work!) in April of last year, the air was electric. I was disarmed. Our connection was undeniable. I soon began a recurring cycle of questions, time, prayers, exhilarations, terrors, deaths of assumptions and expectations, resurrections of dreams and hopes, doubts, confirmations, more questions, and more prayers. That was a journey in and of itself, a tedious and delicate act of Divine trust. The interplay of spiritual and physical decision-making was more complicated than I had anticipated. But, when I emerged on the other side of that true and genuine battle, I finally understood what a few key couples in my life have told me, When you know, you know.”

My fiancé and were engaged in December of last year. The last several months have been marked with a contentment I have never experienced before. My heart is happy. Happy happy. I cannot help but be bright and full of life. It is effusing from every pore in my body; my heart, my chest, my face. It is exhausting and energizing.

I feel so full, so saturated and, somehow, at the same time, emptied, flung wide open. This exhilaration carries both a deep sense of satisfaction and anchorage while also being so obviously vulnerable and fragile. It is covering and exposing. I am soothed and raw.

As our wedding day nears, I find myself alternating between a sense of being somewhere and nowhere. I am spoken for, but not yet taken, and cannot live like either. I have moved into a holding pattern that, from what I have been taught, is somehow supposed to maintain a certain status quo (purity, separateness, guardedness) while also moving forward (intimacy, unity, vulnerability). The tension exists not just in the physical sense, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Mentally and emotionally, this anticipated relational change is more than just having someone else to spend time with, consider, coordinate with, and look after. It feels more like becoming a citizen of a new country. My new country has its own learned language, non-verbal gestures, customs, expectations, and rhythm. My core identity is being acted upon and shaped, touched and accessed in a unique way, more deeply in this transition than in any other I have experienced. However, at the same time, miraculously, this new citizenship is not just happening to me, I also have a hand in defining it. In any situation, I can choose to act on, stop, or advance its creation.

As I merge with this oscillating dance, acting on and being acted upon, my familiar and usual frame of reference of “me” and “you” is morphing into “us”. Emerging out of this give and take of influence, a distinct, third entity is taking form. We.

This process is wondrous and uncomfortable. At times, I see a side of myself that I do not like, a side I did not know existed. What is this sudden burst of emotion or selfishness or immaturity? I do not like that. Is that really in me? Other times, I get a fleeting taste of what true unity must be like. It is a closeness hard to describe. And just when I think we are close, we get closer.

Close.

I cannot write about the liminal space of engagement without discussing physical intimacy. In fact, this is the part I am most excited to write about. Why? Because it is the part that has, so far, taught me the most. I have received many mixed messages about physical intimacy in my years growing up; it is shameful, beautiful, uncontrollable, painful, to be avoided, to be celebrated, embarrassing, sacred, something we do not talk about, something I should know about, something Yah created, for procreation, for recreation, carnal, a necessary evil, on and on. It is no secret that our society has a myriad of views on intimacy – even the church varies in its sentiment.

As a woman who has saved herself for marriage, finding and falling in love with my future husband has brought these mixed messages front and center. What is the difference between lust and desire? Is it as simple as a day and some vows? What does it mean that I so deeply desire something that is regarded as both a gift and a plague? What does the Bible say about it? How should I feel about it? In the face of increasing closeness and the necessity for unity, how do we protect our boundaries? How do we care for each other, embracing the real, physical part of our relationship, without overstepping our limits and hurting ourselves and our future? And how tedious is it to talk about and prepare for something you will be sanctioned to do in the future, but cannot at present?! (That is a thought in and of itself: what else in life does the Bible say we cannot do until we make a certain covenant, undergo a certain passage?)

Ultimately, what is this new intimacy and, in this liminal space, how do we learn to be intimacy-minded while not being intimate? At least, not in that way.

What I am discovering is that physical intimacy is far more than a kiss or a touch. Those elements are essential, but are accents to a greater motivation. Intimacy is an orientation. It is a posture. It is something that, through our tangible, concrete decisions, we either move towards or move away from, intentionally or unintentionally. Intimacy is in how we include our spouse, regard our spouse, and protect our spouse. It is in how we guard our relationship; how we allow somethings in and keep other things out. Intimacy is – as appropriately described in my premarital class textbook – about stewardship. We are making the choice to care for each other in the way that Yah has told us is the best, whether we want that in that moment or not. Before marriage, it is minding our physical boundaries. After marriage, it is tearing those boundaries down and not allowing them to build back up. Before marriage, it is possessing our bodies and conducting them appropriately, together, but still separate. After marriage, it is surrendering our bodies to the “we”, making them a shared space, without boundaries, without ownership.

Falling in love with my fiancé has given me a new appreciation for the spiritual intimacy that Yeshua wants to have with us, but not without its discomforting epiphanies.

The closer I come to being a bride, the more awkward it seems to seek to relate to Yeshua as my bridegroom, my husband. My brother? My friend? My shepherd? Those make sense. What do you mean Yeshua desires me and that I should desire Him? Desire Him like my fiancé? For a brief moment, I squirm at the thought, but finding the spiritual equivalent is actually not that hard. We have to remember that intimacy is an orientation. How am I including Yeshua, regarding Yeshua, and protecting my relationship with Yeshua? Thinking about the closeness I feel when I am in my fiance’s arms or when we are acting in unity on a project or issue, what am I doing to create those moments with Yeshua? Do I rely on my alone time with Him like I do my time with my fiance?

On one hand, my fiance and my relationship has caused me to feel pulled “away” from the spiritual; my time, focus, and energy are being applied more to the concrete things around me (buying a house, planning a wedding, working an extra job) that need to be done. But, on the other hand, I feel more tightly connected to my relationships with the Father and His Son. I am beginning to sense a level of intimacy that is available and possible with them that I have never known before – and I am encouraged and excited to move forward.

We need to savor and value these strategic, liminal spaces in our life journey. Truly, He has embedded lessons in every transition, in every liminal space, to awaken us to new capacities and to draw us closer to Himself.

 

 

Sarah Sanders is an educator, worship leader, and soon-to-be bride.

Born and bred in the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys being a health nut and a foodie (and wants to be more outdoorsy), but gets excited learning and experiencing just about anything. She dearly looks forward to being a wife and mother, and building, together with her fiance, a home of hospitality and worship.

 

Sarah and her fiance Shane.

 

 

  • Artwork: Israeli artist Martina Shapiro

JERUSALEM’S JUBILEE – 50 Years of Restoration – 1967-2017

JUBILEE in Hebrew is YOVEL (יובל).

In biblical times, the special shofar used by shepherds to call the sheep together before they returned home to their sheep-pen also was called a yovel. It was made from a gazelle horn and, unlike the curved shofars used for ritual purposes, it is straighter and dark in color.

 A Dorcas gazelle, Israel – Wikipedia

The concept of ‘return’ blends well with a central commandment of God concerning a jubilee year. We see in the book of Leviticus:  “It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan” (25:10) “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.” (25:13)
The reason God gives as to why no one could make a permanent claim to the land of Israel is: “The Land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the Land is Mine.” (25:23) In a Jubilee year things are restored to their original, God-intended place!

This is what we celebrate this year on Jerusalem Day 5777 / 2017. It is the Jubilee of the restoration of the reunified City of God to its rightful place. In 1967, during the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked by the armies of the surrounding Arab nations, a brigade of the Israel Defense Forces broke through the Lion’s Gate of the Old City, which had been held by Jordan since the War of Independence in 1948.  Against impossible odds they were victorious and the city – including the holiest place for the Jewish people, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall – was restored to Israel’s sovereignty. 

Jerusalem is a place to which one returns – a place of connection and meeting. Here, in this city, heaven meets earth; the past and the present meet with the future. This Holy City of God is where we will meet our soon-coming Messiah; a day when this fleeting life will meet eternity. Then God’s purpose for the city, the one envisioned from before the very Beginning, will be fulfilled in radiance —the establishing forever of the eternal Dwelling Place of the Holy One of Israel.

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo I come and will dwell in the midst of you,” says the Lord.

(Zechariah 2:10)

The Lord’s Sanctuary will be established with powerful praise and unshakable strength in His city, which is the heart of the universe—the City of the Great King. Therein, His throne will be set and the light of Zion will shine forth to the nations, bearing the vision of eternity in the spirit of kindness and truth.

A new song will flow forth, a pure haunting melody carrying luminous words of redemption and hope; and this Holy Place will finally become a House of Prayer for all nations.  King Solomon knew God’s purpose for His Dwelling Place on earth and the vision of promise it contained. When he dedicated the first beautiful Temple in Jerusalem – built as designed by his father King David in accord with God’s specific instructions and plan, Solomon proclaimed:

“… that all the peoples of the earth may know Your Name and fear Thee,  as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this House which I have built is called by Thy Name”  (I Kings 8:41– 43).

Also, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, the Great Shepherd’s yovel is sounding and he is gathering his flock from the nations and leading them home where they belong, to be one flock with the family of God.

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast My covenant—
these I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer;
…for My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (56:6-9)

May we soon all rejoice together in grateful praise, thanksgiving and joy in the City of the Great King – the eternal, filled-with-His-glory, Jerusalem ~ YERUSHALAIM SHEL ZAHAV.

Artwork:

  1. Baruch Nachshon, Israel – www.nachshonart.com 
  2. Alex Levin, Jerusalem – https://artlevin.com

Open Heart – Part 3 – TOWARDS THE END

Everything exhausts me. To breathe, to open my eyes, to think – everyting brings renewed agony. Am I out of danger? Not yet. …The doctors try to convince me that from now on, for a few days, a few weeks, I must be patient, that the feeling of being cut into pieces will disappear. But when? …The oppression lasts thirty-six hours, perhaps two days. An eternity during which I can do nothing without help. …On the third day, I am at last able to leave my bed. Then my room, to walk a few steps in the hallway.

One day at the begining of my convalescence, little Elijah, five years old, comes to pay me a visit. I hug him and tell him, “Every time I see you, my life becomes a gift.” He observes me closely as I speak and then, with a serious mien, responds: “Grandpa, you know that I love you, and I see you are in pain. Tell me: If I loved you more, would you be in less pain?” I am convinced that God at that moment is smiling as He contemplates His creation.

 

Open Heart – Part 3 – TOWARDS THE END – 9.14 mins

Biblical Month 1 – NISSAN

NISSAN – ניסן

“This month shall mark for you the begining of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2)

TRIBE: JUDAH – YEHUDAH

WOMAN – MIRIAM

BLESSINGS

Praised are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who created the skies with His Word, and all heaven’s hosts with the breath of His mouth. He gave them appointed times and roles, and they never miss their cues doing their Creator’s bidding with gladness and joy. He is a true creator who acts faithfully, and He has told the moon to renew itself.
It is a beautiful crown for the people carried by God from birth [Israel], who will likewise be renewed in the future in order to proclaim the beauty of their Creatorfor His glorious majesty.
Praised are you, O Lord, who renews new moons.

May it be Your will, O Lord, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that You inaugurate this month of Nissan  upon us for goodness and for blessing. 

Abba, Father, may You give us long life, a life of peace  –  Shalom 
a life of goodness – Tovah
a life of blessing – Bracha
a life of sustenance – Parnassa
a life of physical health – Hilutz Atzamot  
a life in which there is a fear of heaven and fear of sin – Yirat Shamayim ve’ Yirat Chet  
a life in which there is no humiliation – Ein Busha u’Chlimah 
a life of wealth and honor – Osher ve’Kavod 
a life in which we will have love of Torah and awe and reverence of G-d  – Ahavat Torah ve’Yirat HaShem 
a life walked more fully for Your glory in Adoneinu Yeshua, our Messiah and Lord.

Amen. Selah.

NISSAN LIVE – NOTES

 “From New Moon to New Moon, from Sabbat to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:23)

MEDITATIONS FOR NISSAN

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Prayer for the RESTORATION of ZION

 A beautiful prayer by Rabbi Yechiel Tzvi Lichtenstein (a Messianic Jew), published in 1887 with the preface: “We set our hearts day and night to Jerusalem and its exalted place. Whoever has eyes to see let him see, and whoever has ears, let him hear!”

*

O Lord, in accordance with all of your acts of righteousness, let your anger and wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain.

Our Father, our King, lift a banner to the peoples to return Israel to its pasture. Gather us from the four corners of the earth to our Land, and plant us within its borders on the mountain of our inheritance.

Bring us to Zion, your city, with singing and to Jerusalem, your holy city, with eternal joy. Build it in your compassion and let it remain perched and inhabited in its place. Establish your Holy Temple in it and gladden us in your House of Prayer.

Return your Dwelling Place to Zion, your city, and send us Yeshua our Messiah a second time. Let him reign upon the Throne of David in Jeruslaem, your Holy City.

Lift up the horn of the salvations of your people Israel in the house of David your servant – salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, just as you have spoken through your prophets.

O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for your Name is called upon your city and upon your people. Hurry HaShem, to help us! Ransom your people Israel from its iniquities and from all its troubles, for the time to be gracious has come. The appointed time has come.

Amen.

**

Scripture references:

Daniel 9:16; Jeremiah 50:19; Isaiah 11:12; Exodus 15:17; Zechariah 14:10; Isaiah 56:7; Luke 1:69-71; Daniel (:19; Psalm 38: 23 [22]; Psalm 130:8; Psalm 25;22; Psalm 102:14 [13].

** From brochure printed by Vine of David, www.vineofdavid.org

  • Artwork: Alex Levine, Jerusalem

VIP PRAYER POINTERS

Photo credit: KHP 

  • Keep a Prayer Notebook or Journal. Especially note specific prayer requests and record answers with grateful praise!
  •  
  • Copy or print out prayers from His-Israel or from other sources that inspire you. 
  • Write out meaningful Scripture verses that relate, and proclaim them. 
  • Start to pray through the Psalms, daily if possible. Invest in the “15 Psalms of Ascent” CD by Keren Hannah – soon to be released. Keep a look out on His-Israel FB page. Play it as a prayer. 
  • Invest in a Hebrew-English Siddur (Daily Prayer Book). The Koren Siddur is recommended. Start brushing up on your Hebrew. Hebrew prayers are powerful! 
  • Sign up on the His-Israel Home page to receive the monthly Newsletter, which will include VIP Prayer Points particularly connected with Israel. The Shalom of the nations depends upon the Shalom of Jerusalem.

It is time to take a united stand against the enemy of our souls and raise up valuable, important and powerful prayers in fervent, believing faith, with the authority invested in us by our High Priest Yeshua.

Let us also fervently proclaim the timeless truth of the Word of God, trusting that the schemes and curses of evil will be be made null and void and that our God will arise and His enemies be scattered.

For His Name’s sake in Love.

Open Heart – Part 2 – POST-SURGERY REFLECTIONS

“Elisha,” I say very quietly. My son hears me: “What can I do for you?” … I motion him to approach. Now he is very close to my bed. He takes my hand in his and caresses it gently. I try to squeeze his hand but I don’t succeed. I know that he wishes to transmit to me his strength, his faith in my recovery.

Is one ever ready? Some of the ancient Greek philosophers, as well as some Hassidic masters, claimed to have spent their lifetimes preparing for death. Well. the Jewish tradition counsels another way: We sanctify life, not death. ‘Ubakharta bakhaim,’ says Scripture: “You shall choose life” and the living. With the promise to live a better, more moral, more humane life. This is what man’s efforts should be directed to.

 

Open Heart – Part 2 – POST-SURGERY REFLECTIONS – 9.21 mins

Open Heart – Part 1 – “IT’S YOUR HEART!”

 

My wife, Marion, and I have just returned from Jerusalem, where, every year, we spend the holiday of Shavuot with close friends. …This time, in Jerusalem, it had all gone well. No terrorist attacks. No border incidents. …But now, back in New York, suddenly my body revolts.”It’s certainly the heart.” Ominous words, inducing fear and the promise of more pain. Or worse.

 

Open Heart – Part 1 – IT’S YOUR HEART! – 10.30 mins

 

And the Sea is Never Full – Part 3 – PEACE AND HATE

Was it Oscar Wilde who was wise enough to say that he who lives more than one life ends up dying more than one death? I have lived a few lives. How does one relate to the other? I look for the life of the boy from Sighet in that of the orphan abandoned at Buchenwald.

With a Nobel Prize come quite a few lessons. For one, you learn who is a friend and who is not. Contrary to popular wisdom, a friend is not one who shares your suffering, but one who knows how to share your joy.

Nothing good, nothing great, nothing that is alive, can be born of hate. Hate begets only hate.

 

Part 3 – The Nobel Peace Prize – 13.37 minutes

THE CALL TO VIP PRAYER

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand,  I shall not be shaken” (Psalms 16:8).

CONSIDER THIS A CALL TO VIP PRAYER!

What is that exactly? I coined the acronym to carry the meaning of  Valuable, Important and Powerful Prayer. Indeed, every genuine prayer from the heart is of great value and importance, and is extremely powerful in our battle against the forces of the enemy. 

This week I was forwarded a Facebook post by a friend with dual American-Israeli citizenship, which informed that a program, organized by an occult group of witches and others, was being launched to hold a “massive, worldwide, ceremony” to cast a curse of “binding” on Donald Trump, his administration, and his supporters. This is planned to occur monthly at midnight, under the emerging “crescent moon.” The first formal “cursing,” the format of which is being published via various media outlets, probably to encourage more people to participate, is planned for February 25, 2017. While they don’t term it as such, and the fact may not be understood by this occult movement, the emergence of the “new moon” is Rosh Chodesh – the eve of the new Hebrew month. This particular month is the start of the month of ADAR, during which we celebrate the festival of PURIM – instituted by Queen Esther and Mordechai, as described in the biblical book of Esther. This is a great encouragement, as Purim commemorates the great victory over the enemies of God, who had devised a plan to kill and get rid of His people! 

As well as the courage of Esther, who approached the king at risk to her life, the key element of procuring the victory was the united effort of the Jewish people to fast and pray together with her for three days. God’s face is hidden throughout the book of Esther, although one is very aware of his hand at work behind the scenes. A reason for his ‘hiddeness’ could well be that he desires to impress upon us the value, importance, and power of the prayer of his people. When we turn to him in faith, and call to him in prayer, then he responds supernaturally. We need to enter into VIP Prayer! But what does this look and sound like? There are many different forms of prayer – all of which become VIP Prayer when issuing from a pure and sincere heart.

I believe that when we have no words, every thought, sigh, tear, and cry directed to our Father in Heaven, is a form of prayer. More usually, as He has given us the gift of words and communication, our personal from-the-heart prayers can be raised verbally anywhere, and at any time; and all are precious. Also, as they are today, we know that even in Yeshua’s time and that of the Early Church, prescribed prayers were already in place and recited, either individually or communally in the synagogues. The daily morning and evening prayers, as well as those for Shabbat and the Festivals, are collected in the Siddur – the Jewish Daily Prayer Book.*  Siddur is from the root word  seder – order.

When these prayers are read and prayed with kavanah – concentrated focus and sincere devotion – they are powerful indeed. This is true also of the Psalms – another form of prayer. Just as Esther knew the importance of having all the people pray with her, wherever they were physically, we know that strength, unity, and reassurance ensue when many hearts are lifting the same prayers before the Throne of Grace. The occult group know this too, as they strive to unite before their demonic god. Particularly at the time we find ourselves in now, this prayer from the Siddur, which was  composed centuries before and would have been familiar to Yeshua and his disciples, is valuable to pray with a resounding Amen! 

May the time not be distant O God, when Thy Name shall be worshipped in all the earth; when unbelief shall disappear and error shall be no more. Fervently we pray that the day may come when all men may invoke Thy Name, when corruption and evil shall give way to purity and goodness, and when superstition shall no longer enslave the mind and idolatry blind the eye – when all who dwell on earth shall know that to Thee alone every knee must bend and every tongue give homage. 

O may all created in Thine image recognize that they are brothers, so that, one in spirit and one in fellowship, they may be forever united before Thee. Then shall Thy kingdom be established on earth, and the words of Thine ancient prophets be fulfilled. Adonai yimloch le’olam va’ed. The Lord will reign forever and ever!

May we daily be encouraged to focus our hearts on VIP Prayer – “for such a time as this!” 

With every blessing and encouragement in Messiah,

Keren Hannah

[Taken from the His-Israel March 2017 Newsletter.]

* An inspirational Hebrew-English Siddur we recommend is The Koren Siddur, (Ashkenaz),  with commentary by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. 

And the Sea is Never Full – Part 2 – SCARS

October 5, 1973. The Yom Kippur War, terrible and shattering. We learn the news during services. Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, dressed in white as was the High Priest of long ago, asks the congregation to pray with increased fervor.

Ani Ma’amin – I Believe…a Song of Lost and Found Again. …For me it was a call to faith and an affirmation that even though he was late, the Redeemer would make his appearance one day.

Later I heard that the Jews on their way to Treblinka and Birkenau had sung that song, as if to defy death. And I failed to understand: How could they believe in the coming of the Messiah over there? From where did they draw their faith in Divine kindness and grace?

 

Part 2 – Scars – 15.58 minutes

 

And the Sea is Never Full – Part 1 – CROSSROADS

Inside me happiness and distress seem to spark a fire that is both somber and luminous. Could it be that I fear happiness?

I cling to the notion that in the beginning there was the Word, and that the Word is the story of man, and that man is the story of God. If praying is an act of faith in God, then writing is a token of trust in man.

Part 1 – Crossroads – 15.25 minutes

NEW CD – SPARKS OF HANNUKAH

We are facing deepening darkness and rampant chaos in many areas of the world today. To restore order and harmony, we need to shine the light of God’s love and truth wherever possible. How can we do that?

The Sages of Israel say that the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where Yeshua walked during the Feast of Dedication – Hanukkah – was destroyed by “baseless hatred.” To rectify this, the healing light of God’s “baseless love” is needed. When the “temples” of our lives are dedicated to Him, we are enabled to share and to shine His love through the fruits of God’s Spirit of holiness as they grow and are strengthened in our lives.

This CD offers lessons on the lights of Hanukkah that are worthwhile to reflect upon time and again. May they help us to carry the light of truth with loving dedication throughout the year and may our lives constantly shine for His glory!

Please preview and have a listen to Sparks of Hanukkah at this link:
Sparks of Hanukkah

Also available for purchase here on iTunes.

Eight Reflections on the 8 nights of Hanukkah, the lights of which reflect the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22.

 

A Winter with ELIE WIESEL – Introduction

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We would like to bless the memory of ELIE WIESEL (z”l)  by sharing excerpts of his writings during the coming winter months (or summer in the Southern Hemisphere!). He was the prolific author of more than fifty books. We have chosen three that mark the beginning, middle, and the end of his writing odyssey.

  1. The classicNight”   2.The Sea is Never Full”   and   3.Open Heart

[ Please note: When you enter the discussion and share comments on these posts, your name will be entered in a draw for a free copy of your choice of one of these books.]

 

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Survivor and Witness

Elie Wiesel is most commonly recognized as a survivor of and a witness to one of the greatest atrocities of human history – the Holocaust.  He was born in Sighet, Hungary, into a pious, Hasidic-Jewish family. His father was a beloved leader in the community and Elie was a deeply religious youth, fervently committed to prayer and study of the Torah and Talmud. Most Jews in Hungary hoped and believed that that they were far enough removed from Nazi Germany to be spared and would safely survive the war. However, in 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary and all the Jews of Sighet were deported to Auschwitz.

On arrival at the death camp and facing the infamous ‘selection,’ his mother and beloved seven-year-old sister, Tziporah, were immediately led to the gas chambers along with other women and children. Elie and his father were spared as laborers and together they clung desperately to life in the camps of Auschwitz, Buma, and Buchenwald. Tragically, his father was viciously beaten to death by a guard not long before the liberation by the Allies.

After liberation, with no family or home to return to, Elie was sent to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. From Paris, he travelled to Israel and then to America, where he settled in 1956. In 1968 he was married in Jerusalem to his basherte* Marion. Although New York was their official home, Elie was in great demand as a lecturer and they travelled frequently and also spent time in Israel whenever possible.

The Message and the Burden

Elie called himself a witness and a messenger. 

I will bear witness. I will reveal and try to mitigate the victims’ solitude.

Six million Jews perished and he somehow survived. He saw his mission as bringing their message to the world. He carried the dual responsibilities of being a witness to their death and of retelling their story. He could not forget them and worked to ensure that we do not either; not in order to punish the living nor to heap more blame on the perpetrators, but for deeper spiritual reasons. His works address the central theological question that looms from the horror: “How can one speak of God after the Holocaust?” All other theological questions pale until this one is validly addressed.

Our human tendency is to try to forget the unpleasant, and many Jews try to blot out the atrocities of the death camps from memory. We can erect monuments, say some prayers, and move on to embrace the hope of a happier future. On the other hand, others are crushed spiritually by the Holocaust and their faith in God is snuffed out entirely. Elie faced both these choices and his work ultimately advises against any hasty surrender to atheism, however attractive and justified it may seem. He rejects both the head-in-the-sand optimism and atheism. Neither Christians nor Jews can overlook the theological challenges of the Holocaust by ignoring them or by being crushed by them.

Fragments of Self

We will be exploring his autobiographical books, but even Wiesel’s novels reflect his own honest struggle with these questions. They take the literary form of fiction but in reality they, too, are thinly veiled autobiography. They are personal reflections, intimate musings, and narrative memoirs. He commented: “The Jew in my books is myself – or fragments of myself.” The intensity of his presence on the pages elevates his novels beyond mere literature into a unique genre.

He has looked deep into the heart of man and seen the face of the beast that hides there. Many of his novels employ the image of a dark pit, the confined prison that is life. A pivotal point in his own struggle is described in his book “The Gates of the Forest.” It, too, ends in a darkened, confined space but, this time, it is not a torture room or prison cell but a synagogue in Brooklyn. This time, the character is not alone and isolated but wedged amongst a group of fellow Hasidim. There is no silence in this pit but flowing rivers of chanting and singing and the rhythmic power of worshipful dance. In the center is not a void but the holy presence of the Rebbe. As Dr. Bradley Dewey describes**

The dark pit is transformed, it is blessed, it becomes the Ark of Salvation, the dwelling place of God.

Wiesel describes the scene as the Rebbe, sometimes pounding on the table, urges the Hasidim to greater enthusiasm and abandonment of ‘self’, as if he were saying:

Don’t caress your soul as if it were a body, feeding on kisses. Beat it, without humiliating it; whip it, without diminishing it; drive it on in order that it may rejoin its Source and become one with it in the Heichal HaNegina – the Sanctuary of melody. It’s there that God awaits you in secret praise. 

The crowd obeyed, dancing with a vigor that may have seemed desperate. …We are alone, yes, but inside this solitude we are brothers, helping one another to go forward without stumbling. …So forcibly will we invoke God that the shell of time will be shattered, its laws abolished, and God Himself will cease to exist as a stranger.

 

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~Keren Hannah Pryor 

  • *basherte – soul mate, marriage partner made in Heaven
  • **Dr. Bradley Dewey, article Elie Wiesel, A Witness to the Holocaust, Jewish Affairs, South Africa, April 1973