The Blood Moon Tetrad of the Century!

PASSOVER 2014 – SUKKOT 2015

The Blood Moon Tetrad of the Century!

~Keren Hannah Pryor

As many of you no doubt are aware, there is  great interest and excitement, even consternation, regarding the NASA-based facts of the appearance of a sequence of ‘blood ‘or red moons that are scheduled to appear at key Biblical Feast times during 2014 and 2015. With these “signs in the heavens” along with significant other fulfillments of Matthew chapter 23, the question being asked is, “Are we indeed in the End Days?”  If so, and even if not, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I prepared for Messiah’s arrival as the King of kings?”

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The fact that a “blood” moon is appearing at the season of the sacrifice of the lambs in Egypt, the lambs at the Temple, and the Paschal Lamb certainly should give us pause for thought. As my late husband Dwight (z”l, obm) expressed in his teaching on the theme of Redemption:

“From the time of the Church Fathers to today’s televangelists a ‘Scarlet Thread of Redemption’ has been touted as the main storyline of biblical revelation, weaving itself through the tapestry of Scripture in diverse images and incidents: from the blood shed to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden, to the blood applied to the doorposts of Israelite homes in Egypt, to Rahab’s scarlet thread in Jericho signalling Joshua’s men, to the blood shed at Temple sacrifices for the sins of Israel. “

All these, it is said [in Christian tradition], are precursors to the real story of the Bible, namely, Jesus and his blood shed at Calvary for the redemption not alone of Israel but of the whole world.

As marvellous and indisputably central to God’s purposes in the earth as is the story of redemption, I would suggest nonetheless that another theme surpasses the ‘Scarlet Thread of Redemption’ as the overarching meta-narrative and unifying motif of the biblical story. We might call it the ‘Golden Thread of the Kingdom.’”
~Dwight A Pryor

 

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Gold, generally, is the color and metal associated with kingship; with royalty. We see one example of this in the wondrous 60th chapter of the prophet Isaiah, prophesying the Redemption of Israel, where he says, in regard to Jerusalem, “… they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” He continues, ”…and for brass I will give you gold.”  We are seeing the awesome beginnings of the fulfilment of Isaiah’s words in our own days, and await with great anticipation the further fulfilment when,

“Your people shall all be righteous;  they shall possess the Land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.” “I am the Lord;  in its time I will hasten it.”

The ‘Golden Thread’ referred to is thus the Kingdom or the Kingship of the One God of Israel. Going back again to the beginning in the Garden; God, the Creator of all, shared rulership over the earth with Adam and Eve. They forfeited that honor when they disobeyed the rules of the Master Gardener and chose to decide for themselves what was right or wrong. Self and independence triumphed over the will of their Father, God. Ever since, through all the centuries of man’s history, and in each individual journey of life, the goal has been to overcome this selfish lust for power and drive for dominion-on my-own-terms and to yoke it to the will of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to humble ourselves in service to His gracious Sovereignty.

In another mighty in-breaking of history, God sent His beloved Son as His anointed Messiah to restore His Kingdom to its rightful place in the world and to free those enslaved to sin and bound in the kingdom of darkness and idolatry. In his preaching, teaching, parables and deeds, Yeshua continually and insistently emphasized the reality of the Kingdom of God and the life-giving power of repentance and obedience to the will of our Father. After his submission to suffering and crucifixion, followed by God’s raising him from death to new resurrection life, he now is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne in heaven and has been given all authority and power to reign over His Kingdom. As Paul so eloquently wrote, we can pray:

“May the God of our Lord and Messiah Jesus, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you,

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Messiah when He raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
(Ephesians 1:17-20)

 

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His Kingdom is here and now and also will be established in its fullness on this earth. As Dwight reminded,

“The Kingdom of God will occur in Zion, not in heaven. Yes, there will be a ‘new heaven and earth,’ but a renewed Jerusalem will still be at its center and the Jewish nation still central to the purposes of the Creator.”

We need not be surprised, then, at the vicious opposition to the establishment and prospering of the Jewish State of Israel. All the selfish drive of fallen and idolatrous human nature rises up against it. But, at this occurrence of the Blood Moons, let us remember that, yes, the blood of sacrifice is found at the heart of God’s plan for Redemption; however, the Golden cord encircling it all with its emet and kedusha – its powerful light of truth and radiant glow of holiness – is the reign of the Kingdom of God.

That is where our focus should be, where our hearts should be centered, as we await the arrival of Messiah as King, and anticipate His glorious reign over all the earth. Eventually, we understand that “…at the Last Day when death is no more, then the Son will hand the Kingdom back to the Father, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28). Until then we can be working with Him zealously in the redemptive process of tikkun olam – the restoration and redemption of Israel and the nations of the world.

Le’ma’an Shemo b’ahavah! For His Name’s sake, in love.

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WAR – SHMOR! The Gaza War and death of Robin Williams

19 August 2014

Amid all the horrors being perpetrated by the Islamic State & Co in Iraq, Syria, Africa and who knows where, and the demonstrations of Anti-Israel/Jewish hatred in major cities worldwide,  the sudden death of star comedian and actor Robin Williams (obm) focussed the mourning of thousands worldwide on this one tragic death.

Robin Williams was born an Episcopalian in Chicago, but his humor often had a definite Jewish flair and was sprinkled with Yiddish terms. He occasionally referred to himself as “an honorary Jew.”

 

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Comment by Rabbi Stewart Weiss – Aish.com

“What strikes me today is the lesson to be learned from Williams’ life – and death – here in Israel. In a sense, we, too, live a “bi-polar” existence. We as a nation, as a People, are constantly pulled between the extreme poles of ecstasy and tragedy. We are either celebrating wonders and miracles, or grieving over the loss of our loved ones. We create a great country, from the ashes of the Holocaust, and then we are immediately filled with anxiety and worry over the existential threats emanating from our hostile neighbors.

We win wars, thank God, against all the odds, but then we must agonize over the aftermath of every conflict. Each cause for celebration is tempered by a warning against over-confidence, while every dark cloud contains its own silver lining. Even our calendar echoes this duality, as our many joyous holidays are interspersed with no less than six fast days, reminding us that we are never too far from some ominous note – or some reason to rejoice.

Our latest, ongoing war has injected some measure of depression into our populace, as we worry where all this is going, and wonder aloud what the solution is to a seemingly insoluble predicament. Suicide is not an option. We have weathered every storm throughout our history and, with God’s help, we will successfully navigate this latest crisis as well and emerge to even greater glory.

Robin, fly upon your way, find shelter in some Heavenly nest. As the Talmud says, one who makes others smile and laugh is secured a place in the World to Come. And we, too, will seek our own shelter, nestled in the wings of the Almighty and in the strength and security of His people and His Land of Israel, whose greatest moments are yet to come.

Ethics of the Fathers (2:4) quotes Hillel who said:

“Do not judge another until  you have stood in his place.”

Since it is impossible to stand in another person’s place, to be them, to have their baggage or to live their struggles, we can never judge another. Instead, we should be kind, sensitive, supportive and understanding of everyone around us.

Ian Maclaren, a 19th century Scottish author and Theologian said it well: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

 

Memorable quote by Past Prime Minister Golda Meir (obm)

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WAR – SHMOR!   A little humor helps!

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Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer: [in control room] Good Morning, Vietnam!
In Saigon today, according to official sources, nothing actually happened. One thing that didn’t officially happen was a bomb didn’t officially explode at 1430 hours, unofficially destroying Jimmy Wah’s cafe. Three men were unofficially wounded, the fire department responded, which we believe to be unofficial at this present moment…

 

* A young Israeli was drafted into the IDF – Israel Defense Force. His father gave him advice: “Don’t rely on miracles my son. Recite a few verses of Tehillim (Psalms) before going into battle and you will be safe.”

 

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Looking back… The Six-Day War in 1967

  • In New York, a Jewish paper the Forverts, disgusted with the UN’s dallying at the height of the crisis, did a little transposing… Reading from right to left, as in Hebrew, the UN was changed to “NU?”

Have also heard…UNnecessary, UNreliable, UNdesirable…

  • Needless to point out, the lightning speed with which the Israeli army and air force clobbered the several opposing armies surprised the Egyptians. But they are a practical people. After the first day of the war the Cairo-Hilton reportedly began taking reservations for Bar-Mitzvahs.

 

* Even Frank Sinatra got into the act, a few days into the war he quipped at a banquet in Hollywood , “Soon I’ll be going to Israel to see the pyramids.”

 

  • Even the Soviet Union was taken aback by the swift advance. Russia airlifted 200 tanks to Syria, each equipped with back-up lights and white surrender flags.
  • True story… an Israeli soldier came upon a battered, burned-out Egyptian tank somewhere in the Gaza Strip. He left a sign on it… “OIL AND CHICKEN SOUP DON’T MIX!”

 

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Historically, Jews have reserved their adulation and respect for the intellectual, the scholar, the teacher, the scientist, the humanitarian, but in the 1967 war the bravery and military genius of Ariel Sharon won him the acclaim of “Lion”  Ariyeh.

Moshe Dayan, the brilliant and charismatic Israeli Minister of Defense, was much in the news and an object of admiring humor. “Mighty Moe” once quipped, “The only revenge I will take on the captured Egyptian soldiers will be to make them eat the same food our boys have to eat.”

 

~ Keren Hannah

There is a God in Israel! 1 Sam 17:46

Kuma Adonai!

Arise, oh Lord! Save me, oh my God!
Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessings are upon Your people.
(Psalm 3:7-8)

Kuma Adonai! “Arise, O Lord that the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!” (1 Samuel 17:46)

 I would like to share a few thoughts, largely inspired by a letter from a friend, Ils Posselt.

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David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, summed up life in our country pretty accurately. Smart man that he was.  Because it is on those miracles, those interventions from God, that the very existence of Israel hinges. Always has. The parting of the Red Sea, the victories of Joshua, Gideon, David and Goliath; the list goes on.  The nation of Israel existed because the Lord of the Armies of Heaven – Adonai Tzevaot –  made their fight His.  Our very existence depended, and still depends, on His intervention, His miracles.

If Israel had been able to, strong enough, capable in ourselves to fix, accomplish or achieve, the glory would be ours.  However, our God is not in the habit of sharing His glory or His praise (Isaiah 48:2).  From personal experience we know:  God’s miracles are usually reserved for the no-hope situations, the back-against-the-wall areas in our lives, when it’s only God standing between us and the end of the line.

During times of war, the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) learn this lesson first-hand.  Fifteen armed conflicts in the last 60 plus years have resulted in thousands of stories of how God showed up; how He arose to turn a battle, to confuse the enemy, save a life and literally keep Israel from annihilation.  In light of the odds, compared to the multitude of those who would wipe her off the map, Israel is simply too small, too weak, too human, to go it alone.  Which is why we depend on God’s supernatural intervention – for Him to arise and His enemies be scattered. At the end of the day, that is what the battle is about – the factor that stirs up the enmity and opposition of the enemy: the reality and the sovereignty of the One God of Israel.

How wondrous are the accounts of His intervention! There are stories of a sudden windstorm, blowing away inches of topsoil on a battlefield on the Golan to expose a minefield hidden below.  …Of a single Israeli tank blocking the Syrian army’s advance through the Golan Heights because they saw the lone remaining manned tank as an enormous platoon of tanks and white-uniformed soldiers along the ridge, so they turned in their tracks and fled. … Of enemy battalions surrendering to one Israeli soldier, because they saw thousands where a single man stood … Of a virtually unarmed army grossly outnumbered, pushing back 6 invading armies in the War of Independence in 1948. There are stories of God making tanks invisible, of ambushes that simply disintegrated, of men and women who knew they should have died but survived. Miracles. For many, it was a personal encounter with the God of our forefathers – a realization that He is living and faithful and that the Lord of the Armies of Heaven still makes Israel’s fight His.

As the battle continues, let us pray for God’s mighty intervention and protection over the precious Israeli soldiers – and all who stand in the gap putting their own lives at risk for the protection of Israel.

Also, let us pray for His people worldwide, who increasingly are becoming targets of the enemy’s hatred; that in the hearts of the many who are criticising Israel so vocally and virulently, even calling for her destruction, God would arise and make His heart known.

In faith and trust, we may declare the words that Israel’s shepherd king used when he stood facing the giant, “… that the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel”. May they come to know the God who is a God of love and not war and who urges all whom He created to: “Choose life!”

~ Keren Hannah

 

Gaza / Hamas and Israel at War – Operation Protective Edge – July/August 2014

DAY 23   – Tuesday, 5th August

A BREATHER  – hopefully! Ceasefire declared – beginning 8:00 a.m. today (Tuesday, 5 August) Hamas fired heavy barrages of rockets at Jerusalem and the coastal region minutes before the start of the 72 hour truce. Iron Dome intercepted several incoming projectiles. IDF has withdrawn from Gaza but is keeping troops at the border on stand by. Previous ceasefires have been abused by Hamas and the IDF will be prepared to act in response to further attack on Israel.

Regarding the objective of destroying the vast tunnel network in Gaza, journalist, Ya’akov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post, reports: The IDF has destroyed Hamas’s flagship terrorism project: its network of tunnels that snuck into Israel.

Hamas spent five years preparing this strategic threat; the IDF wrecked 31 tunnels in two weeks.

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Many of the underground passages were designed to send heavily armed murder squads into Israeli communities and to attack army positions from the rear. They were filled with weapons, explosives and other equipment, enabling terrorists to enter a shaft in Gaza dressed in civilian clothing and emerge in Israel, disguised as IDF soldiers and equipped to inflict mass casualties.

In some of the larger tunnels, the army discovered motorcycles that Hamas had earmarked for speedy raids into Israel and subsequent retreats back into Gaza.

Despite very difficult fighting on the ground, which included Hamas cells using heavy rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missile and automatic rifle fire, and despite the painful price Israel has paid in lives lost, the army is very close to achieving this key goal of its offensive.

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We mourn together with the families of the 64 soldiers who have been killed during the ground incursion and, in extreme gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice they made in defence of the country they loved as we all do, take comfort that their memories are a blessing.

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We pray too for refuah shlemah – swift and total healing – for the hundreds of wounded soldiers as well as for the innocents wounded in the fighting in Gaza.

We continue to pray for Divine guidance, wisdom and strength for Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, Commander of the IDF, and Defence Minister Ayalon. And for G-d’s continued protection over all Israel. For His ultimate glory in all the earth. Amen.

 

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DAY 13  –  Sunday, 20th July

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HEARTBREAKING NEWS: The IDF announced this evening that 13 Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade, (brown berets) an elite unit that always fights in the front lines of the battle, were killed overnight in Gaza between Saturday and Sunday (20th July).

The Golani, whose motto is Golani Sheli – My Golani – has the insignia of the olive tree, indicating that the ultimate goal of any defensive battle is the desire for peace.

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FURTHER O.P.E (Operation Protective Edge) NEWS: This afternoon it was reported that the IDF struck 566 terrorist targets throughout Gaza since the start of the ground offensive on Thursday night. Over 50 targets have been hit on Sunday. They included 23 homes used as command and control centers, seven underground rocket launchers, six rocket launchers that contained medium range projectiles, and a Hamas tunnel. The IDF detained 22 terrorists prisoners, and they are being questioned.

Wounded IDF soldiers were brought from the fighting in Gaza to a number of hospitals across Israel on Sunday morning. The IDF is setting up a field hospital which will begin functioning at 8 p.m. tonight and is intended to serve injured Palestinians. The IDF said that will serve mainly women and children and will include a delivery room.

Please note that Hamas uses hospitals as shields for their terror bases – and no provision is made for attending to their own wounded.

And still the barrage of rockets continues over towns and homes in Israel.

See ‘The Jerusalem Post’ link on the right for ongoing up to the minute reporting.

You can also download the Red Alert App, which gives regular information of the rockets fired into Israel and the cities, towns and areas targeted. You can leave an encouraging message for Israel and the soldiers there if you would like to.

This passage quoted from an address given by Rabbi Porush in 1968 still rings true!

“In our immediate context we could in our imagination envisage a Middle East in which good will, mutual respect and harmony would prevail between the Jews and the Arab nations, initiating an era of peace and prosperity that would be a blessing to all.
We know that this is the constant aspiration and the constant yearning of Eretz Yisrael, and that Israel’s search for peace comes not only from practical considerations, but also from deep-seated convictions — the emblem of the Israeli army is characteristically a sword wreathed in an olive branch — and from the unshaken trust in the teachings of our prophets and the ideals of our tradition.”

~ Rabbi Israel Porush, in a talk delivered at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, one year after the Six-Day War in June 1967.

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Please continue to pray, in accord with the Word of God,
for the peace of Jerusalem and all Israel.

 

~ Keren Hannah

 

 

A Mysterious Factory in Israel

First time I have found cement interesting!

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Article in TABLET – www.tabletmag.com – 2 June, 2014 – by Matthew Schultz

The NESHER CEMENT factory in Ramle (note: NOT Ramallah) is visible from Israel’s Highway 1. Riding the bus between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, one sees it perched on the horizon, an eruption of industry in an expanse of green. It appears almost whimsical: two narrow twin mountains of vaulted domes and cascading pipelines in whites, pinks, and blues. At night, the factory glitters. People have compared it to Emerald City, a spaceship, an amusement park.

One sees it on the highway when passing the exit sign for the city of Modi’in. I first assumed that the sparkling apparition was Modi’in, which I came to imagine as a technologically advanced settlement from the future—a miniature Tokyo lost in a stretch of Israeli farmland. I recently drove by the factory during the day and asked my traveling companion what it was. “Some kind of factory,” he said. “Luscious, isn’t it?” We stared at it in awed silence.

After doing a little research, I discovered that it was the Nesher Cement Factory. Seeing it became my favorite part of traveling through Israel. During Passover, when it’s open for tours, I went and paid it a visit.

The tour taught me that the Nesher is Israel’s lone cement producer. Founded in the pre-state era, the company has been producing cement for over 80 years. It does so by quarrying limestone and clay and superheating them until they form what are known as “clinkers,” small stone-like chunks that are pulverized into powder. The end result is bagged and sold at the price of 28 shekels, or about eight dollars, a bag.

The tour group was large enough to fill a small auditorium. We saw footage of Yitzhak Rabin giving a speech about Nesher Cement. He talked about the value of cement to Zionism, about the people who made the cement, and the cement that built the State of Israel.

We then piled into two buses and drove through the facility. The factory was marvelous. Long conveyor belts carried material from the quarry to the central compound. Our tour highlighted the factory’s green ethos. The quarry was ringed with trees planted to catch dust. The old quarry was filled with water and had become the site of a water treatment plant. The factory’s furnaces were heated by burning selected waste from other industries and recycled materials were utilized throughout the facility. Once, our guide told us, during digging in the quarry an underground cave was found in which 18 species of invertebrate were discovered, many of which had evolved in the darkness to have no eyes. The area was left protected and delicately re-covered, only to be bothered occasionally and delicately by visits from biologists and environmental researchers.

I was able to pocket a “clinker” before we left. At home, I put it in the shoebox where I keep treasured keepsakes. Cement is strong and simple. It provides a lot and asks relatively little. It is capable of building wonders like the Nesher Cement Factory, and, given enough time, it simply crumbles and returns to dust.

Matthew Schultz is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where he studied creative writing and literature. He is currently living and writing in Tel Aviv. His work has appeared in Ecotone Journal and Zeek Magazine.

The Tragedy of Esau, as it plays out in our day – Rabbi Dr. G. Rothstein

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Referenced:
Torah Portion: VAYISHLACH – And He Sent     B’reishit / Genesis 32:4 – 36:43
Haftarah: OBADIAH 1:1-21

By Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein

A reality too painful to be faced leaves two main choices, being overwhelmed by the accumulation of sadness or learning to distance oneself from events. Ideally, people find a middle road, where the tragedy penetrates their consciousness, but is taken with enough serenity to allow them to continue functioning. Doctors such as oncologists know this challenge well, as they cannot take every lost patient to heart without burning out or worse, but must also avoid become cold or inured to the sufferings with which their noble occupation confronts them.

This week’s haftarah [corresponding reading from the prophets – linked with the Torah portion] leads me to wonder whether the Jewish people have lost sight of that middle road in our attitude towards those who refuse to share our view of the world. Granted that we have always seen ourselves as Chosen to carry the message of God’s rule to the world, our abject failure to convince the rest of the world of our status – those who accepted our message of monotheism tend to arrogate that to themselves, while others simply ignore us – carries with it ramifications we tend to either ignore or celebrate; our haftarah shows us that neither reaction is appropriate.

Casual readers of the haftarah might classify it in the triumphalist camp of prophecy, where the prophet tells us how we’ll slam our enemies in future times, presumably thus lifting the spirits of an apparently bloodthirsty audience. That view ignores two important facts, first that the prophecy is addressed to Edom/Esau, and, second, that tradition saw Obadiah as a convert from Edom to the Jewish people.

Prophecies to Other Nations: Exercises in Futility?

The whole question of prophecies to other nations is one that has, as far as I have seen, been insufficiently addressed. Once we note that many, if not most, of the prophets [Jonah being the first] recorded words spoken to non-Jewish nations, the next step is to realize that the prophets apparently attached enough value to those nations’ reactions to spend their time and effort on addressing them. It would seem logical that they hoped they also would heed the prophecies and improve their ways. Otherwise, why speak to them – why not just speak to the Jews?

This is all the more the case when we see the Sages assuming that Obadiah was an Edomite convert. While there is some debate in Jewish thought about how much a prophet’s personal circumstances impact his or her prophecy, the fact of God choosing a convert to convey a message to his original people is striking and indicates that this was a prophecy to Edom, not about them.

Reading the haftarah with that in mind begins to peel away the layers of sadness that underlie it. The selection tells Edom of their future sufferings, how they will become the lowest of nations, lose their power, language, continuity of kingship. In many ways, Edom will lose its status as a nation.

Betraying Family: The Fault of Esau

We are not told right away why Esau is doomed to that fate, but his reaction gives us a hint. Instead of confronting his problems, the prophet envisions Esau as putting on a show, trying to portray himself as stronger than he really is. Then, we are told of Esau’s choosing to support nations in the process of destroying the Jewish people. Instead of feeling brotherly love, Esau celebrated in our destruction, an act that rebounds on him.

First, it is precisely those nations whom he supported who will turn on him. Second, Obadiah informs Esau that he will lose his leadership, so there will be no one with the wisdom to show him the way out of all his troubles.

We in the twenty-first century have not seen the nation of Esau in many years, so this can seem distant, but Obadiah’s message applies in many ways to the non-Jews of our times. The prophets assume as a simple truth of history that the Jews have a particular role in the world, that of announcing God’s rule. Esau’s refusal to accept Jacob’s exceptionalism, his insistence that he was as great or as special, his celebration of every time the Jews suffered, leads directly to his eventual destruction, an outcome no one wants.

Esau loses nationhood, leadership, and wisdom because of his denial of Jacob’s importance [in the Redemption plan of God]; those losses in turn lead to complete destruction. The one possible way he might have rectified all that, by agreeing that Jacob and his descendants deserved their position in the world, was closed off by his refusal to entertain it as a possibility.

What Is Old Is New

We face similar situations today. Our feeling of shared humanity with those around us should not blind us to the worry of how the future will play itself out for those who consistently refuse to admit to basic truths about the world. If God directs history, and the Jews have a special role to play in that history, those who deny it are setting themselves up for the kind of end Obadiah predicts for Esau here.

It is that dilemma that leads Obadiah to include the closing verse, the most famous one in the haftarah and one that was included numerous times in the traditional liturgy. “And redeemers will ascend Mount Zion to judge Mount Esau, and God will have true Kingship.” Those who align themselves against the Jewish people become a barrier to achieving what we should all hope for, a world in which God’s rule is recognized by all. In doing so, they make their punishment a necessary part of achieving that final goal.

All of which, let me stress, was and is avoidable, if only the nations involved – in this case Esau – would change their attitude. Accepting only our special role and place, all who currently follow this path could instead become positive contributors towards bringing about God’s desired future.

We can do it the easy way or the hard way; many read the prophets as if God and the Jews would celebrate doing it the hard way, but they are wrong. Obadiah, I believe, gave this prediction hoping against hope that his words would spur change. He knew, as we do, the odds against it; he knew that most likely his dire predictions would be forced to come to pass, that he and we will have to suffer a future in which those who might have been partners will instead be removed as adversaries. But I suspect he hoped otherwise, as should we.

In summary, then, the metaphor of family returns, this time in Obadiah’s complaints about Esau’s national neglect of that [familial] bond by rejoicing in our downfall. More broadly, the haftarah uses Esau as an example of the retribution awaiting those who reject the chosenness of the Jewish people; they are a particularly good example, since they should have accepted it as the truth of their [own] family.

– article posted on OU website under Torah/Parsha/Shnayim Mikra

JERUSALEM – YERUSHALAYIM – Throne of the King

 

O Jerusalem, Yerushalayim… 

“Thou art the house of royalty, thou art the throne of the Lord.”

~ Yehudah HaLevi

To encourage us to remember to pray constantly, expectantly and hopefully for the Peace and protection of the royal City of G-d, two articles are posted below. May they encourage and inspire you to hold Jerusalem of Gold securely in your heart.

1) FROM JERUSALEM TO SYDNEY AND BACK…  

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ISRAELI JOURNALIST, ISI LIEBLER , in an article in “Israel HaYom” / Israel Today on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, 28 May, 2014, shares a very stirring sermon that was delivered by his late father-in-law, Rabbi Israel Porush, at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, one year after the Six-Day War in June 1967. The main message is as relevant today as it was then. It is fairly lengthy but worth the read!

Rabbi Israel Porush (1907-1991) was a fifth-generation Jerusalemite. His father was the first administrator of Shaarei Zedek hospital. He received his rabbinical ordination at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, and also obtained a doctorate in mathematics. He was minister at Finchley Synagogue in London before taking up his post as rabbi of Sydney’s Great Synagogue (1948-1975).

Excerpted from his sermon:

At the outbreak of the Six Day War, “Israel stood alone in that hour of crisis, surrounded by a ring of modern armor of terrible deadliness, and beleaguered by the armies of seven nations who were united in the hate of Israel and in their sinister plot to destroy it. The rest of the world cynically played a waiting game. Is it surprising that we view with a measure of cynicism the advice given us by our friends now?” he said.

“And what of churches? Not a word of comfort in the hour of danger, not a sound of condemnation of the threats to our existence. The so-called ecumenical spirit, or the so-called dialogue between church and synagogue, which was promoted in some quarters, especially in the United States, has suffered a setback from which it will not so easily recover.

“Did I say Israel stood alone? Israel never stands alone. ‘The Guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps.’ And the people of Israel in all their dispersion were roused as never before in prayer and in action and stood united by the side of Medinat [the State of] Israel. …

“The Jewish citizen-soldier knew what the stakes were, and he was ready for every sacrifice. And many hundreds of the cream of Israeli youth paid the supreme sacrifice upon the altar of Jewish survival. …

“[We] offer thanksgiving to the Almighty for the wonderful delivery of Israel from danger and fear, for the retreat of the enemy beyond wider and safer frontiers, and for the transformation that has taken place in the whole security situation of Medinat Israel. …

“But who can be unaware that our deepest emotions and our profoundest sensitivity revolve around the liberation of Jerusalem, which has been restored to its rightful owners after nineteen centuries of dispossession? …

“Yerushalayim is a magic word for the Jew. It is pronounced in awe. It conjures up associations and feelings in our ears that no other word does, and that no other nation or religion can remotely experience. To us, Yerushalayim personifies the presence of God in our midst, the Shekhinah. It is the soul of our people. It is the national and religious center of all Israel, whether in its glory or in its ruin. Jerusalem is eternal; it can never die or be destroyed. Wherever the Jew settles in the four corners of the earth, Jerusalem is alive in his heart and near to his life.

“Jerusalem is mentioned 630 times in the Bible, as the city of God, the capital of the nation, the seat of the Temple, the center of piety and learning, and also as the emblem of the kingdom of God that will ultimately rule on earth.

“When the captives of Judea sat by the rivers of Babylon weeping over their humiliation, and their captors invited them to sing one of the songs of Zion, they replied: ‘How can we sing the song of the Lord in a profane land?’ and they swore, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning; let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.’

“Throughout the 1,900 years of exile, there was never a time, with the possible exception of two brief periods, when Jews did not live in Jerusalem, at times facing great peril, at times massacred by fanatics.

“Our prayers were always directed toward Jerusalem. The prophet Daniel, we are told, recited his three daily services with his face toward Jerusalem, and so have done all Jews in the synagogue to this day. There is not a service, there is not a simcha [celebration], there is not a meal, when we do not remember Jerusalem and pray for its restoration. And when we sit in mourning over its destruction, we mingle sorrow with hope, and grief with glorification, and lament with pledges of eternal loyalty to Zion, as is reflected in the moving ode of Judah Halevi:

“‘Thou art the house of royalty, thou art the throne of the Lord. … O, who will make me wings, that I may fly afar and lay the ruins of my cleft heart among thy broken cliffs. … Happy is he that waiteth, that cometh nigh and seeth the rising of the light, when on him thy dawn shall break — that he may see the welfare of thy chosen, and rejoice in the rejoicing when thou turnest back unto thine golden youth.’ …

“Jerusalem is the physical capital of the nation and at the same time the spiritual centre of all Israel wherever they live. …

“Jerusalem must return to its old destiny as ‘Ir Shalem,’ which means on the one hand ‘the City of Peace,’ but also on the other ‘the City of Completion, or Unity.’ It is unthinkable that the unity between the people of Israel and its spiritual cradle will ever be allowed to be severed again.

“The attachment of a people for 3,000 years as intense as that of the Jews to Yerushalayim cannot be set aside by international decree. None need be afraid that the Jews would deal ungenerously or restrictively with the Holy places and legitimate interests of other religions and communities. We have proved that already. …

“Our rabbis also speak of Yerushalayim as the ‘metropolis of the world.’ There is undoubtedly also a universal facet in the image of Jerusalem, embracing the whole of humanity, and that goes back 2,500 years, to the days of our prophets who prophesied in the name of God that the Messianic order on earth would begin with the restoration of Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem would become then the fountainhead of a new mode of living which would lead the world out of the morass of strife, hate and division towards brotherhood, righteousness and peace:

“And many people shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the Law from Jerusalem. And he shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’

“Jerusalem is more relevant to the ultimate salvation of humanity than Athens and Rome because it taught the world the supremacy of righteousness, brotherhood, and charity. And even if the complete fulfillment of this ideal state of affairs would have to wait for the fullness of time, the inspiration of this vision could stimulate now the troubled peoples of the earth towards a more just and peaceful order of life.

“In our immediate context we could in our imagination envisage a Middle East in which good will, mutual respect and harmony would prevail between the Jews and the Arab nations, initiating an era of peace and prosperity that would be a blessing to all. We know that this is the constant aspiration and the constant yearning of the Yishuv/Eretz Yisrael, and that Israel’s search for peace comes not only from practical considerations, but also from deep-seated convictions — the emblem of the Israeli army is characteristically a sword wreathed in an olive branch — and from the unshaken trust in the teachings of our prophets and the ideals of our tradition.”

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2)  THE SIX DAY WAR REUNIFICATION OF JERUSALEM

The reunification of Jerusalem the 3,000-year-old capital of Israel, occurred as a result of the Six-Day War, which was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, with Israel defending herself against Egypt, Jordan and Syria who were supported and fortified by the armies of by 10 other Arab countries

JERUSALEM DAY celebrates the day the war ended, when the paratroopers liberated Jerusalem and restored it to Jewish sovereignty for the first time since the Roman general Pompei invaded Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E.

In many ways, the Six Day War – like each of Israel’s wars of defense –  is considered one of miracles. Most of the individual battles which Israel won can be explained as, although the Arabs outnumbered and outgunned Israel on four borders, Israel enjoyed specific tactical advantages – shorter supply-lines, superior communications, a fortuitous wind in the Sinai Desert which raised a dust-storm at just the right moment, the rising sun dazzling the Egyptians in the morning of the first day of the war, the setting sun dazzling the Jordanians that evening, Egyptian soldiers who were unable to read the instructions for their missiles and were therefore unable to fire them…the list goes on.

The statistical likelihood of all these events occurring by pure happenstance is minuscule. In the Six Day War, Israel had zero margin for error. Hostile Jordanian forces, stationed in the centre of Jerusalem (half of which was under illegal Jordanian occupation), were poised to sweep across Israel from east to west, to link up with the Egyptian army preparing to invade from the south-west. Meanwhile the Syrian Army was preparing to attack from the north and then sweep through the country to link up with the other Arab forces in the Tel Aviv region. Had any Arab army won even one single land battle, then Israel would have been destroyed. Israel had no strategic depth, no opportunity to recover from a single lost battle.

Under those circumstances, the perfect functioning of all Israel’s military systems without even a single mishap over the course of the war was statistically impossible.

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Key: Light yellow area demarcates land held by Israel pre 1967 war and light brown the areas regained by Israel thereafter. Note that the 1967 lines of demarcation were never officially recognized borders under international law but simply indicated the disputed territories.

What may, in retrospect, be seen as another miracle… on the 11th of Sivan 5727 (19th June 1967), just nine days after the war finished, Israel declared that she was willing to withdraw from vast areas of the land recovered in return for peace treaties, normalization of relations with the Arab states, and guarantee of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. The Arab response was expressed in the Khartoum Conference two months later: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

The Six Day War was indisputably a series of miracles. And the aftermath – by now close on half a century – has been a series of miracles no less.

Baruch HaShem! Praise G-d!

(Based on information from Arutz 7 & Wikipedia)

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The now famous photographs of three of the paratroopers who were in the group that liberated the Western Wall in 1967 – all were overwhelmed at their first sight of it.            On the right – the same three men in 2007.

Praise God, we also saw them together again to celebrate the 50th Jubilee of Jerusalem in 2017!

~ Keren Hannah

The Wonder of the Restoration of Israel

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
…They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our G-D.

~ Isaiah 35:1-2

Riders traverse the southern desert area in modern Israel, which is reprentative of the barren landscape that comprised much of the Land until its rebirth during the past century.856562_10151417548345053_1776331928_o

No Flowers!

There is a record of the first ambassadorial visit to Israel of foreign dignitaries, who happened to be the President of Thailand and his wife. Golda Meir was Foreign Minister at the time and shortly before their scheduled arrival she asked her personal assistant to order a large bouquet of flowers to present to the First Lady. The problem arose that there were no flowers to be had!

The nation’s first preoccupation, besides the challenges of defense against constant attacks, was building housing for thousands of immigrants and refugees who were arriving from the four corners of the earth! Any further time and resources were devoted first to planting trees on the denuded hills and to clearing stoney ground and draining swamps in order to plant crops for food. There certainly was no opportunity to establish gardens or greenhouses to raise flowers. That was a luxury. Fortunately, they were able to arrange for some to be flown in overnight from Europe and the presentation could be made.

One aspect of the miracle and fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy is that today, only 50 or so years later, Israel is one of the largest exporters of flowers in the world. The desert truly has blossomed!

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 “And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel,
and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them…”
~ Amos 9:14a

 TEL AVIV – Hill of Spring – nothing but sand dunes!

Digging the first foundation in 1908.

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 TEL AVIV beach – 100 years later

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TEL AVIV –  Rothschild Blvd – the “old” and the new!

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TEL AVIV at night.

The southern-most tip of Israel. A marina in the rebuilt city of  EILAT on the shores of the Red Sea.

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The beautiful port city of HAIFA on the Mediteranean coast north of Tel Aviv.

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Haifa at night! 

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THE ONE AND ONLY CAPITAL OF ISRAEL ~ REBUILT JERUSALEM.

The Golden Gate and Old City from the Mount of Olives.

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A city compacted together… new neghborhoods spreading out over the Judean hills.

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 Pic. Elchanan ben Avraham

Sparkling like a jewel at night.

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YEHUDAH and SHOMRON  ~  JUDEA and SAMARIA

“But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt.”

~ Ezekiel 36: 8-10

Brave planting and building on the desert mountains.

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I will give this Land to Abraham's seed

 

“…and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof…”  

~Amos 9:14b

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…they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
~ Amos 9:14c

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Photo: Geneva Seeds    Artwork: Betty Rubenstein, Lavender Garden, U-Boutique, Israel

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The photographer describes it well: “This is not Tuscany! It is Bitronot Ruchama in Israel” – a beautiful nature reserve one hour south of Tel Aviv.

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With full hearts we  praise and thank the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ~ the God of Israel ~  for being faithful and true, in His great compassion and love, and for the miracle of the Restoration of His Land, to His people in accord with His Scriptures.

“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them,” says YHWH your God. 

~ Amos 19 :15

 So we proclaim. Amen and Amen.

~ Keren Hannah

Cycles & Recycling – 2

Not sure why these are catching my eye… but hope you also enjoy them.

1. An exhibition in Jerusalem’s Safra Square in the Municipal Buildings.  When one rides the bicycle it operates whatever feature is above it – the fan spins, the phonograph plays, the drum beats, flowers bloom, spotlight shines, etc. Great fun! Kids love them…
and I think the Orthodox fellow was tempted until he saw my camera!

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2. Very enterprising!

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3. Bob Dylan’s portrayal of a bicycle…

 

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4.  Must be Florida!

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[Thanks to Taryn Daley for pic.]

 5. Rustic charm…

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[Thanks to Barbara Whiting for pic.]

 6. Happy days in Israel … good kibbutz transport!

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PURIM in JERUSALEM

PARTY IN THE PARK

Every Purim the City of Jerusalem hosts a celebration in the Safra Square Park at the municipal building complex on Jaffa Road. At the time of Mordechai and Esther, “walled cities,” such as Susa the capital of Persia, had an extra day of celebration (see Esther 9:18), so Jerusalem is one big party on the second day of Purim.  Kids, families, costumes, music, parties everywhere!

I took these pictures during the party of March, 2014 – Adar B 5774. At the time folks were voting for their favorite pics. Enjoy!

 

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PLEASE JOIN IN THE FUN

Make your choices from the Purim pictures and place your 5 votes in the Comments box below.
Type the letter of the category with the number of the picture of your choice
For example:  A – 3 ;  B – 12 ;  C – 18   etc.      
Enjoy! 

CATEGORIES:

A. BEST FAMILY PIC

B. BEST QUEEN ESTHER

C. BEST GIRL PIC

D. BEST BOY PIC

E. YOUR FAVORITE PIC OVERALL

2. Sweet Queen!

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5.   Where’s Ima?! He took my crayon!

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6. Beautiful Queen Esthers!

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7. Zebra and Ninja ~ brothers!

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9.  Little Queen Esthers and Abba

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10. Keren and Penguins or PingGwins in Hebrew – Happily no ice in sight!

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11. Time out for coloring in.     Mmm… I’ll just enjoy my ice-lolly.

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15.  A sad little Brave…

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19. Mordechai and Esther

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20. That’s all folks…I’m exhausted!  Shalom and Lehit’ra’ot – till next time!

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13 Facts About Israel & the Middle East – by Dr Shmuel Katz

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Keeping these facts in mind will help prevent people from falling for Arab propaganda. Anti-Semitism is alive and well, it’s just cloaked in its new garb: Anti-Zionism or Anti-Israeli occupation.

1. The Jews have a connection to the land of Israel for more than 3000 years, with continuous Jewish presence in the land of Israel in the majority of this time.

2. Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. And recently, since 1850 the Jews were the ethnic majority of the city, except from 1948 till 1967 when the Jordanians destroyed the Jewish quarter, killed many Jews and expelled the rest. So how can the Jews be accused for occupying your own kitchens and back yards?

3. There was never an independent Arab State in the land of Israel.

4. 80% of the promised Jewish Homeland, as it was delineated in the Balfour declaration and rectified by the League of Nations, was given illegally, by the British Mandate, to the Hashemite Family from Saudi Arabia, to establish a totally New Kingdom of Trans Jordan. Practically, this was the first imposed “two state solution” in the Middle East.

5. In 1929, Arabs massacred 67 Jews in Hebron and expelled the rest, many years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel and before any disputed or occupied land became an issue.

6. In 1947, a new “two state solution,” which was proposed by the UN on the remaining 20% of the promised land, was accepted by the Jews, [for the sake of so-called ‘Peace’] but was rejected by the neighboring Arab countries. Once Israel was established in 1948 the Arabs started a war to destroy Israel.

7. In 1967 the Arabs initiated another war to destroy the state of Israel, only to be defeated again.

8. On Yom Kippur of 1973 there was another failed attempt to destroy Israel, by force, by Egypt and Syria.

9. Despite the hostilities, generous offers to create a new Arab Palestinian State next to Israel were presented by several Israeli prime ministers, only to be rejected by the Arab leadership who continued their vicious anti-Israeli aggression.

10. They campaigned to destroy Israel by using indiscriminate terror attacks against innocent civilians.

11. They tried to destroy Israel using a rain of rockets on innocent civilians.

12. The Palestinian Authority is still allowing their children to be taught in school, from kindergarten, a curriculm of violent hate and encouraging martyrdom.

13. As their attempts to destroy Israel by force fail, they are pushing a major international effort to delegitimize Israel, using the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement as their model.

What can we do for the sake of justice and truth? Stay informed and share your knowledge with as many people as you can. Together, we will make the world a better place for all of us and for future generations.

Unknown 21.26.25

This article can also be read at: http://www.aish.com/jw/me/13-Facts-about-Israel–the-Middle-East.html

Cycling and Recycling in Israel

Cycling is a growing sport and industry in Israel, despite the country’s many hills and sometimes extreme weather. I have seen evidence in the growing number of cycle shops, such as this one on the busy Agrippas Street near the Shuk in Jerusalem.

 

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How to keep cool while cycling? Creative cycles in Jerusalem…

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Recycling in the fascinating and colorful Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot …

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Another creative recycling effort in the Negev town of Arad:

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As everywhere, children love to cycle. On a wander with friends in a town situated in the beautiful hills of Samaria, I spotted this little girl’s bike. Preparing for a ride – or just got back?

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Just for good measure and a smile – a Balloon Bike I saw at the modern new Mamilla Mall, situated just outside Jerusalem’s Old City at Jaffa Gate entrance. You can maybe float on this one!

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Yummy vegetable bike. Maybe this would encourage children to eat their veges!

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Hebrew lesson:  bicycle – ofanayim [off’a’nai‘yim]

vegetables – yerakot [ye’ra’kot]

OK, I’m off for a ride… Le’hit’ra’ot!  Bye for now!

~ Keren

 

 

JERUSALEM – A Place of Meeting and Peace

JERUSALEM – A Place of Meeting  

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

One of the earliest world maps, charted by German cartographer Heinrich Bunting circa 1580, depicts Jerusalem in a small circle at the center of the world. From the circle, three large petal shaped areas extend outwards. One to the south represents Africa, one to the north-east, Asia, and one to the north-west, Europe. America [as seen in a mosaic on a wall at the entrance to the Jerusalem Municipality building on Jaffa Road] is a green blob in the lower left corner and is subtitled Terra Nova, the New Land. Geographical dimensions have altered radically through the subsequent four hundred plus years. In place of the charts of the early, intrepid explorers on their wooden sailing ships, we now have telescopic images of our earth captured from computerized spaceships! When viewed from a biblical perspective, however, Jerusalem has been and always will remain the center of the earth.

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Together with the growth and spread of civilization, the sacred writings of the People of the Book, viz. the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tanach, and the New Testament carrying the good news of the God of Israel and of His Messiah, have gone forth from Jerusalem to the four corners of the world. There are now adherents to faith in the God of the Bible in every country on all the continents and on virtually every island of the earth.

It is an interesting fact that of all the sacred writings pertaining to every religion, the Bible is the only one that is inextricably linked with a particular geographical entity and the connection of a people with that piece of land. The very soil and rocks, the flora and fauna, and even the weather patterns all have a bearing and add meaning to the Bible itself. The God of the Bible specifically draws His chosen people to this Land.

Jerusalem day 1 In Genesis, God guides Abram and establishes a covenant with him that permanently ‘ties the knot,’ as it were, between Himself, Abraham and his descendents and the land He shows him. It is a covenant that has vital implications for all the “families of the earth”.

Now YHWH said to Abram,
“Go from your country and your kindred
and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you,
and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you
I will curse;
and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (12:1-3).

“And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you,
the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan,
for an everlasting possession;
and I will be their God” (17:8).

Throughout history many have risen in opposition, with all the hatred and violence they could muster, and have tried to destroy this cord of the land, the people and their God. But God Himself has declared it to be “everlasting” – a covenant established forever.

Holy City and Holy Land

Jerusalem is the heart of this Land of Israel and without her the land loses its meaning and identity. Throughout the past century, the restored Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, has demanded of all people a radical paradigm shift in worldview. In particular, traditional Christianity can no longer, with any depth of integrity, think in spiritual generalizations and find a convenient label to attach to things.

The rebirth and re-establishment of Israel is a proclamation of the extraordinary; one which continues to shake modern conventional thinking. It confronts the world with the reality of the Word of God. The words of the prophets become current – the resurrection of the dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision, the returns of Jeremiah and Isaiah, the renewal of Zechariah. To quote Abraham Joshua Heschel:

“Israel is a miracle in disguise. Things look natural and conceal what is a radical surprise. Zion rebuilt becomes a harbinger of a new understanding, of how history is intertwined with mystery.” [1]

Jerusalem is called the “Holy City” and Israel is called the “Holy Land”. What causes this particular piece of ground to receive such an appellation? When God sets anything apart from the ordinary it is termed holy. At Creation, God set apart the seventh day; time, this special day, was the first thing to be called “holy”. The people of Israel, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, were set apart by God to be His “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The Temple in Jerusalem was declared holy because it was the place where God’s Holy Presence dwelt. So too, the land He set apart for His people is called holy, and His city of Jerusalem is holy because He chose it (2 Chronicles 6:38) and placed His Name there (Nehemiah 1:9).

Although Israel may be the size of a postage stamp on the face of the world map, it is that “stamp” – the Name of the Creator of the heavens and the earth – that makes it unique and has enabled the connection of earth with Heaven.

Jerusalem day 2The Gate of Heaven – Jerusalem

            Psalms inhabit the hills, the air is HalleluYah! **

The real essence of Jerusalem is a stillness; an anticipation, a contained eagerness enfolded in longing, that reflects the yearning of centuries and the imminence of Redemption. This essence becomes almost tangible as the busy and bustling-with-life city slowly quietens every Friday evening as the Shabbat settles like a soft mantle upon her hills and her homes. One does not simply live in Jerusalem, one lives with her. Like a queen, her presence is felt. How does one explain this phenomenon?

The secret at the heart of Jerusalem is that it is a place of meeting – a bringing together of ancient and modern, the divine and the human, sacred and secular. The natural and the supernatural are bound together in a mysterious union that is at the same time invisible and yet corporeal. Also a mystery: it is the place where the past and future meet with the present. Time itself somehow colludes and is concentrated in a vibrant sense of immediacy. All history, and life itself, find their meaning in the “now” of this place – this Holy City of God, Jerusalem. As Heschel describes:

“…in Jerusalem past is present and heaven is almost here.” ***

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The city of Jerusalem, with ancient and modern compacted side by side, sparkles like a jewel nestled in the hills of Judea.

The city’s Hebrew name is Yerushalaim. It is first mentioned in Genesis when Abraham meets there with Melchizedek (Malki’tzedek – my King of Righteousness) a true forerunner of the King of Righteousness whose throne will be established in Yerushalaim in the last days.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.”

~ Genesis 14:18-19

After his supreme test, to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham named the place Yireh – to see. This indicates more than a physical seeing; it is a seeing with the eye of faith; a recognition of the Presence of God. “So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord sees’ [YHWH Yireh]; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord there is vision (ye’raeh)’” (Genesis 22:14). Abraham prophetically saw ahead through the centuries to come. He envisioned the arrival of his grandson Jacob at this place, where he would dream and on awaking proclaim, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17).

He saw the reign of David the first king of Israel, who would proclaim the place as the City of God and the capital of his kingdom. He saw the glory of the Holy Temple, the House of God built by King Solomon; the destruction, the exile. Then he saw the Second Temple standing resplendent on the Mount and the arrival of the Messiah through its gates. He may well have seen further – Messiah’s crucifixion and resurrection, again the destruction of the Temple, the long exile, the spread of the knowledge of God’s Kingdom in all the earth, and then the restoration and final Redemption of all Israel and the nations with the arrival on the Mount of Olives of Messiah as King of kings! Yeshua declared: “…Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).

Yireh and Shalom are combined to form the name Yerushalaim – the City of Vision and Peace. It provides the world with a vision of God and the promise of His Peace. It is of interest to note that the name is a plural noun. This is indicated in Hebrew by the suffix yod-mem, pronounced im, such as the word eyes – aynaim, and hands – yadaim. This tells us that there indeed are two Jerusalems – the Jerusalem below on the earth and the Jerusalem above in the heavens, Yerushalaim shel matah and Yerushalaim shel malah.

To celebrate the restoration of this city to its rightful place, as center, heart, capital of the land of Israel, is ultimately a celebration of the God of Israel Himself. He chose Jerusalem to be His dwelling place forever. To be there, to build, to worship, pray and sing His praise, is to participate in its establishment on earth and also, in faith, to prepare the Throne of the soon coming King who will reign from that place over all the earth.

“[He] showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel,
like a jasper, clear as crystal. …
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.”

~ Revelation 21:10-11; 23-24

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Yerushalaim Shel Zahav ~ Jerusalem of Gold

Today, the Holy Temple no longer stands in its rightful place on the Mount, yet the remnant of it, the Kotel or Western Wall, has remained the central physical point of connection with the Presence of God and also the spiritual focus of our thoughts and prayers wherever in the world the worshippers of the God of Israel may be. It always continues to be the “Gate of Heaven” – the place where the ladder in Jacob’s dream connected heaven and earth, the place where the Living Word, the Messiah of God, Yeshua, by his atoning death and glorious resurrection into new life, opened the gate for whosoever would come into the Presence of the Almighty God and Father of all.

Although the most beleaguered, fought over, destroyed and rebuilt city in the history of man, for thousands of years Jerusalem has remained the subject of poets, songwriters, artists and psalmists who have cherished the city of God in their hearts.

King David sang his Psalm that has been echoed by the Jewish people and lovers of Jerusalem for centuries:

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”

~Psalm 137:5-6

How can a city be above one’s “highest joy”? The reason is one that gives no credit to man, it is only because it is the City of God, the place that He chose as His dwelling place in the earth. It is the place where the supreme sacrifice was paid, and where Messiah’s blood was spilled. Where God raised him from the grave and where he will return to reign over all the earth. In that day there will be great rejoicing, as Isaiah foretold:

“Hark, your watchmen lift up their voice, together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.”


 ~Isaiah 52:8-9

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Yerushalaim Ir Shalom – Jerusalem City of Peace – Artist: Baruch Nachshon, Israel

“May YHWH bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth!”

Psalm 134:3

 

Footnotes:
Abraham Joshua Heschel, Israel: An Echo of Eternity, Jewish Lights Publishing, Vermont, 1995, 51.
** Ibid., 9.
*** Ibid., 7.

JERUSALEM- A Metropolitan Mosaic

Yerushalaim    –  JERUSALEM  –    Al Kuds

A METROPOLITAN MOSAIC

~ Keren Hannah Pryor

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Today, Jerusalem can be compared with a multi-faceted jewel—each facet reflecting the amazing variety of different communities that comprise her population. There are the Jewish groups such as the Askenazi, Sephardi, Bukharan, Ultra Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Traditional, secular, and immigrants from countries worldwide; also the minority Muslim, Bedouin, Christian and Armenian groups; and, the rich, middle class and the poor of each of these!

Teddy Kollek, world-renowned former mayor of Jerusalem for twenty-seven years, wrote in his greetings at the start of the beautifully presented book, “To Live in Jerusalem”:

“The threads that bind Jerusalemites to their city are firmly woven into an urban tapestry unique to Jerusalem. Some homes, where one family has lived for generations, embody a whole chapter in the history of the city. [Jerusalem] is a tapestry of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian houses; of seventh-generation residents, and of newcomers building homes to replace those they left in Kiev, Adis Ababa, or Chicago. “

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The myriad ethnic and religious groups inhabiting Jerusalem through the centuries have built their own religious and secular buildings, which indeed create a unique and enchanting mosaic. To fully explore the many elements of this mosaic would take a lifetime.

The texture of the neighborhoods is varied and fascinating, from the dense, random weave of the clustered buildings of the Old City which create a picturesque maze of narrow, winding alleys, to the first neighborhoods that sprang up outside the Old City walls in the late 1800s. Each community is characterized by its religious and ethnic traditions and lifestyles. The New City’s well-planned “garden” neighborhoods of the British Mandate period, such as Rehavia and Baka, continue expanding into the modern neighborhoods of today with their Western style, spacious high-rise apartment blocks, and clusters of duplex townhouses (called “cottages”).

However one views the vital, energetic metropolis that Jerusalem has become, the sanctity of Jerusalem is the component that is still the focus and impetus of the dynamic mosaic.
It is this aspect that has engendered the claims and contentions over her. The very fact that she was chosen by the Creator of the universe and designated as the “Holy of Holies” of the earth, HaMakom —“the Place” He has chosen to set His Name forever (I Kings 9:3)—ensures that she will always be the seat of the struggle for warring religious spirits; each seeking to establish dominance in God’s place. However, there is only One true God, the Holy One of Israel, and although He may allow an “abomination of desolation” to set itself up on His Holy Mount, it will only be for a season and according to His purposes. For, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, in His perfect timing His Anointed—the King of kings and Lord of lords—will rule and reign from His Temple, which will be standing on its designated Mount—Zion, at the heart of Jerusalem.

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“In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many people will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.”
(Isaiah 2:2, 3)

 

Trampled by Gentiles

“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24)

Situated as she was at the crossroads of major ancient trade routes, Jerusalem was historically traversed, and many times throughout history “trampled” by gentile nations. King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in 1004 BCE. Forty years later, his son and heir, Solomon built the first Temple as the spiritual center of the people of Israel. The first destruction of the city, including its Temple, occurred in 586 BCE when the Western the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem and forced the Jews into exile in Babylon. By the middle of the 5th Century, the Jews had returned to their Land, the Second Temple was completed and, under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, the city was again physically and spiritually strengthened.

In 332 BCE Alexander the Great conquered Jerusalem, but he was so impressed by her beauty and the Temple worship that he left the city intact, although under Greek control and influence. The Seleucids of Syria then attacked and conquered the city in 199 BCE. About 30 years later the Maccabian Revolt against Hellenistic domination occurred. As related in the resulting celebration of Hanukkah, Judah Maccabi and his brave band, against overwhelming odds, restored Jerusalem to Jewish autonomy and cleansed and rededicated the Temple. The Hasmonean (Maccabi) Dynasty only lasted about 100 years, until the Roman invasion lead by Pompei in 63 BCE. Rome clamped down on Israel with an iron fist, forcing the people into submission under her authority. However, the Jews were given freedom of worship, and when Herod was appointed ruler of Judah by the Romans in 37 BCE, he restored and enlarged the Temple to something of its former beauty.

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

During Herod’s reign, the Messiah Mashiach ben Yosef was born. Much of Yeshua’s ministry was centred in Jerusalem around the Temple, until His crucifixion and resurrection in 33CE. He was given a kingly procession on what He knew would be His final Passover. As He entered the city riding a young donkey, the throngs of worshippers waved palm branches and hailed Him, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai, the King of Israel!” (John 12:13) He knew what lay before Him, and what tragedy would befall this beloved city, and as He looked at her from the Mount of Olives that very day, He wept.

In 70 CE, nearly forty years later, the Jewish people again revolted against the oppressive rule of Rome, and Jerusalem and the Second Temple were destroyed after a lengthy Roman siege. In the year 324 CE, Jerusalem came under Byzantine rule when the Roman Empire officially became Christian under Emperor Constantine. The beleaguered city then fell to the Persians (614 CE) was recaptured by the Byzantines (629 CE) and was conquered by Arab Muslims (638 CE)—when the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque were built in the place of the Holy Temple. Jerusalem remained under Moslem domination for more than four hundred and fifty years until she was captured by the Crusaders in 1099. Less than one hundred years later, Saladin recaptured the city and the Mamelukes ruled the city until 1516, when the Ottoman Turks possessed her. The Jewish inhabitants led a fairly peaceful, if extremely impoverished, existence during the reign of the Turkish Ottoman Empire for the next four hundred years, until the establishment of the British Mandate in the region that then was named Palestine.

A New Beginning

Toward the end of the Turkish rule, Sir Moses Montifiore—an English Jew and renowned philanthropist who was knighted by Queen Victoria—made a pilgrimage to the Land. The visit had a profound effect on him, as the book “Jerusalem Journeys” records:

“I still remember the effect the visit had on me. The historical memories were strong and impressive, but the reality was really quite dreadful. I have traveled all over the world, but I don’t recall a more shocking sight than the beggars of Jerusalem. … Not all the beggars were Jewish, of course—only around half the population of the city is Jewish—but enough were. They came swarming round like flies… such neglect, such poverty—and this in a city holy to all mankind and especially to us Jews. I was deeply shocked and there and then I made an oath to myself that I wouldn’t rest until I had done something to alleviate the terrible state of the city. For those Jews who are in Palestine or those who want to go there to live, the situation there must be entirely transformed. And in this transformation, I have sworn I will play a part… With the help of God and the grace of Queen Victoria, I will do whatever I can to bring the aid of western Jewry to bear on the fortunes of our less fortunate brothers.”

Montefiore thereafter worked tirelessly for sixty years until his death when he was more than one hundred years of age. He undertook seven trips to Jerusalem and the Land, during which he made huge contributions and improvements in the conditions, including the establishing of the first neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City. The neighborhood, inaugurated in 1860, consisted of twenty homes, a windmill and water cistern, and was given the optimistic name of Mishkanot Sha’ananim (“Dwellings of Tranquility”). Today it has developed into an elite and picturesque neighborhood called Yemin Moshe—named in honor of the man who had determined to make a difference and who, among his many philanthropic endeavors, in effect pioneered the New City of Jerusalem.

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The Yemin Moshe neighborhood initiated by Montefiore with it’s trademark windmill.

Israel Lives Again!

At the end of 1917, thanks to the efforts of the Zionist movement lead by Theodor Herzl, and championed in England by Chaim Weizmann, Britain had issued the Balfour Declaration, which recognized, “…the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People and [Britain] will use our best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”  Of course, the implementation of the Declaration was no easy thing, and great and vehement opposition was encountered, including the obvious Arab antagonism as well as unexpected antagonism from some British aristocratic Jews. It was therefore only in 1948, after the shocking and tragic perpetration of the Holocaust, that the internationally recognized State of Israel was declared.

The following year, after the newborn State miraculously overcame the onslaught of five Arab armies in the War of Independence, Jerusalem was proclaimed the capital of Israel once more, after two thousand years of waiting and longing. Yet, East Jerusalem and the Old City, including the Jewish quarter and its heart—the Kotel, the Western Wall—remained under Jordanian control. However, after another concerted attack on all fronts by the Arab armies in 1967, Israel scored another miraculous victory in just six days and, as a result, Jerusalem was reunified under Israeli control.

The Jews had finally come home to that which had united their hearts for centuries; to the place toward which, from the ends of the earth, Jewish communities had turned their faces every day in prayer—the Kotel—the last remaining fragment of the Holy Temple in Yerushalayim. The visible promise of the Dwelling Place of God that will fully be restored in its rightful place once again.

180209_395052633874011_432256508_nLiberation of the Kotel in 1967

 

Excerpted and adapted from original article Jerusalem of Gold  by Keren Golan (Pryor) in FFOZ’s Bikkurei Tziyon Magazine, Issue #64, May/June 2000 and republished in Messiah Magazine, Issue #5.

JERUSALEM of Gold

JERUSALEM OF GOLD

~Keren Hannah Pryor

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The wonder and beauty of Jerusalem make a deep impression. The bustle, the noise and the inevitable grime of any modern city, makes things look quite natural. Then suddenly, as if a veil is gently pulled aside for a lingering moment, one sees something of deep and breathtaking splendor. It’s a beauty that is different than that found in any other beautiful city. A quality one not only sees, but experiences with all one’s being. It is the revelation of a miracle concealed in the seemingly mundane. This can be unnerving, as generally people feel comfortable in the essential sameness of things—when things fit neatly into a category.

However, the rebirth of modern Israel and the re-establishment of Jerusalem as its capital are, of themselves, a proclamation of the extraordinary. Her existence shakes the complacently conventional and the established norms, and confronts the world with the reality of the Word of God. Suddenly the long-forgotten words of the ancient prophets—the “resurrection” of Ezekiel, the “returns” of Isaiah and Jeremiah and the “redemption” of Zechariah—are front-page news!

Beitar Elite from Gush Etzion - Elchanan

 

A Meeting Place

Jerusalem is a place of meeting. Here, in this city, heaven meets earth; the past and the present meet with the future. Even in her Hebrew name, Yerushalayim (ירושלים), the ending of the word, ayim, denotes a matching pair. For example raglayim (רגלים) means “feet” and aynayim (ענים) means “eyes.” Yerushalayim denotes that the earthly city has a matching one—a heavenly counterpart. The Holy City is where we will meet our coming Messiah, a day when this fleeting life will meet eternity. In the very meaning of her Hebrew name, the two unique and distinguishable Hebrew words yireh (ירה) “vision” and shalom (שלום) “peace” are combined. What vision is this that is combined with peace? It is one which is central to all of her splendid themes—the one envisioned from before the very Beginning and which will be fulfilled in radiance in this City of Peace chosen by God for this very purpose—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)

His Sanctuary will be established with powerful praise and in 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. The 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, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 56:7)

The walls of Jerusalem's old city

Gold and Light

Jerusalem is a city built with stones; stones that interact with light in a way that causes them to reflect different shades of color depending on the weather and the time of day. The hue of the stones changes from steel gray on a cloudy day to bright white in the glare of the midday sun; and from the soft pastels of early morning light or gentle twilight, to shimmering gold when the light of the sunrise or sunset appears. It is the glory reflected in the last that earned the city its name, “Jerusalem of Gold.” Biblically, gold is the metal representing the kingly glory of God, and the radiance of His Presence. This is, therefore, a fitting name for the city where He has chosen to place His Name forever, and from where His King will rule and reign over all the earth.

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, which he had built as designed by his father King David in accord with God’s specific instructions and plan, he 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).

The structure of Solomon’s Temple would be destroyed, but even at the time of deepest sorrow, as Jerusalem lay desolate with the Temple a smoldering ruin at her heart, the prophet who most lamented the destruction would nevertheless sing the refrain of promise and hope:

“At that time Yerushalayim shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall gather to it—to the Presence of the Lord in Yerushalayim—and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil heart.” (Jeremiah 3:17)

Although Jeremiah was filled with grief as his eyes beheld the charred, shattered stones that once formed the Dwelling Place of the Most High, yet he could see beyond to that future day when the glory of God’s Presence would fill Yerushalayim and its golden radiance would shine forth to the outermost parts of the earth.

To this day, the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations and festivities mark the remembrance of King David’s establishment of Yerushalayim as the capital city of Israel over three thousand years ago.

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Excerpted from  article Jerusalem of Gold first printed in FFOZ’s Bikkurei Tziyon Magazine, Issue #64, May/June 2000 and republished in Messiah Magazine, Issue #5.

* Picture – by Jerusalem artist Alex Levine