HOPE and HARPS – The Promise

HOPE – Tikvah

THE PROMISE OF HOPE

The greatest miracle of history in our times, in all likelihood, is the restoration of God’s Promised Land to His people, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The implications of that miracle, while rousing considerable and violent animosity in the enemies of the God of Israel, should stir great faith and hope in those who believe in the Bible and the promises of God. Faith in His Word and hope for the future are inextricably linked, as we see illustrated in the powerful “faith chapter” in the book of Hebrews:

“By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar…” (v. 11:11-14).

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his burial” (11:22). Joseph had received the revelation and promise that his people would return and he trusted the hope that eventually he would be buried in his homeland.

The chapter continues to enumerate great exploits performed in faith by the people of God. Many were victorious and overcame great odds but some endured suffering and trial and did not see earthly success. All, however, persisted because they had hope in the One who promised and they all were secure in the knowledge that the true and lasting reward awaited in the eternal Kingdom of God.

In his very relevant book Future Tense, Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of England, quotes economist Alan Greenspan’s observation that we are entering an age of turbulence, which can engender fear. However, as Rabbi Sacks describes, “The antidote to fear is faith, a faith that knows the dangers but never loses hope.”* He connects this hope to the Jewish people and says: “The Jewish people are ancient but still young; a suffering people still suffused with moral energy; a people who have known the worst fate can throw at them, and can still rejoice. They remain a living symbol of hope.” Significantly, the stirring and beautiful national anthem of Israel is simply entitled HaTikvah, “The Hope.”

 

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In Jewish literature, the nation and people of Israel are compared to the moon, which continually wanes then waxes full. Forces of hate throughout history have conspired to obliterate Israel and she seems to fade from sight, but then, according to the Almighty’s will and design, she proceeds to grow strong and bright once more until the Day that she will remain forever radiant in all her fullness. This truth can be applied on a personal level in the life of each child of God. The greatest aim of the enemy of God and His people, the enemy of our souls, is to rob one of hope. To be rendered ‘hopeless’ can be likened to being ‘lifeless’. There is indeed truth in the axiom, “Where there is life there is hope” and vice versa.

Central aims of the perpetrators of terror and violence in the world today are to instill fear and to extinguish hope. We know, however, that the One who promised is faithful; He who said, “I know the plans I have for you… plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God’s love and truth cast out all fear.

It is through our trials and challenges that we are strengthened and grow in character. In turn, this growth strengthens our resolve and our hope. As Paul writes:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh – the Holy Spirit of Messiah – which has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Yes, our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in his holy Name.
Let Thy steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in Thee.
(Psalm 33:22-23)

Dear brothers and sisters, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

HARPS OF GOD

King David is described as “the sweet singer of Israel.” [3] No doubt, when he was a boy guarding his father’s sheep, he would play the shepherd’s harp and also a simple, melodious flute. When David was a young man in the court of Saul, the first king of Israel, the Scriptures relate that he would be summoned to play his harp and sing to Saul whenever the king was troubled by an evil spirit. The music would soothe and bring healing to Saul’s troubled soul.

Irish author and poet, John O’Donohue (obm), gives testimony to the healing qualities of music:

I have a friend who is a music therapist. I have seen her work with a man who had had a stroke; he could no longer speak. I saw her in her last session with him where she sang and played in an attentive and accompanying improvised style. …He began to hum the music with her and ended up actually speaking. It was such a touching experience to see this person unexpectedly freed. Music is often the only language which can find those banished to the nameless interior of illness. [4]

 

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When the prophet Samuel anointed David as God’s chosen king, we are told that “the Spirit of God came upon David from that day onwards” (1 Samuel 16:13). We may conclude, therefore, that the songs, the psalms of David, were written with Divine inspiration and can understand how they have the power to inspire and to heal to this very day. In a unique way the Psalms are, as it were, “harps of God” – God-given instruments that, if we but grasp them and give them voice, become His tools that have the power to cut through and render powerless the chains of the enemy that tie and bind and control.

Revelation means “to lift the veil” in order that we might see something that is already there. In the apostle John’s record of his revelation on the island of Patmos we again behold a sea and hear a song!

“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire.” On the shores of the sea stood those who had overcome the enemy, “… with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and wonderful are thy deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!’” (Rev. 15:2-4).

The Hebrew letters of the word Mashiachmem-shin-yod-chet, can be rearranged to form the word yismach – to rejoice! The Song of Messiah is a full and glorious crescendo in the Symphony of God – the song that will burst forth at the Final Redemption, when all will be brought into one, whole, free and joyful Psalm of Praise!

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes!
…He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with his truth.
The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
(Psalm 96:11-13; 97:1)

 

HalleluYah!

~Keren Hannah Pryor

 

Footnotes:

1. Johnathan Sacks, Future Tense, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2009, 10.
2. Tamid 3:8
3. 2 Samuel 23:11
4. John O’Donohue, Beauty – The Invisible Embrace, Harper-Collins, NY, 2004, 71.

Interview: The House on Mt Zion

A NEW LIGHT WILL SHINE ON MOUNT ZION!

INTERVIEW with Adelheid Perlick at the Roses’ house on Mt Zion!

Pauline and Albert Rose, despite the fears and warnings of others and the physical challenges, succeeded in building a home and a beautiful garden in war-torn Jerusalem of the late 50’s and early 60’s, leading up to the Six Day War.

The Meier/Perlick family from Germany had become close personal friends and determined to come alongside the Roses and assist in whatever manner they could.
Today we enjoyed the fruits of their faith and labors as we sat in the garden and deeply sensed the peace and chessed – loving-kindness – of His Presence; that which the Roses had envisioned and for which they trusted HaShem to establish in their home – HaOhel, the Tent.
“For when the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.” (Psalm 102:16)

He still is building!
~ Keren Hannah

You can follow the remarkable story of ‘The Window on Mount Zion’ on Books/Audio on the His-israel website.

The newly published book is available on the www.FFOZ.org website

WAS PAUL A CHRISTIAN? ~ Keren Hannah

 

*

In answer to my question, Pamela Eisenbaum, of the Hebrew University and now a professor of biblical studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, boldly states on the cover of her book (excerpted above): Paul was not a Christian. 

While my husband of blessed memory, Dwight A. Pryor,  had a strong affinity with Paul, I wrestled with the apparent contradictions I found in the apostle’s letters. In particular, those that carried a strong Anti-Jewish and Anti-law, or Torah, slant. I simply decided to disregard any such problematic verses and appreciate the positive life and Torah affirming statements made by Paul. Then came the challenge!  I recently attended a four-part lecture series by Ryan Lambert,** entitled Paul Within Judaism – Rethinking the Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles. Ryan made a passionate appeal for the need to clarify our understanding of Paul in his Jewish identity and context and to gain greater clarity on the verses I was happy to dismiss. He also emphasized that we need to grasp WHY this was necessary, indeed vital in the continuing restoration and the unfolding of God’s redemptive purposes.

From Ryan’s introduction:

“WHY take the time to examine Paul in the context of Judaism? Because it is a critical component of the restoration of the Hebraic heritage. It’s the important paradigm shift for the multidirectional hermeneutic needed to gain a clearer perspective of the basis of Paul’s important mission and message. Christianity needs to be restored to its Jewish Roots and the Torah. This is not to say that the Church is ‘bad.’ It has done, and is doing, great good in the world, and it preserved the teachings of Yeshua. [However, at this point in history] the Church needs to be lovingly and respectfully challenged in regard to the Jewish identity of Paul.”

I believe, by now, that a good portion of the Church has woken up to the Jewish identity of Jesus and the Hebraic roots of the faith. Christians can embrace the Jewish Rabbi Jesus. However, the anti-Judaism roots run deep.  

In the 2nd Century, Church father Ignatius said, among other Anti-Semitic diatribe: 
“If we go on observing Judaism we admit we never received grace. It is monstrous to think of Jesus living as a Jew!”  Christian scholar and author, John Gager, comments: “In the rhetoric of Christian triumphalism there was no space for Judaism. Jews no longer had anything to offer.”
Martin Luther accused the Jewish people of being enemies of God – and he therefore made them his own enemies. In fact, Anti-Judaism can be traced throughout Church history…from Marcion, to Luther, to modern Christian scholars such as F.C. Bauer and Bultmann. Even the renowned and respected Bible teacher John MacArthur proclaims: “Judaism, in God’s eyes, is a dead issue, but the burial took a long time. It was a very difficult thing for the Jews (Paul, Peter, etc.) to sever their relations with Judaism.”
Pamela Eisenbaum comments: “The misreading of Paul was inexorably linked to the degraded conception of Judaism that so often led to the worst manifestations of Anti-Semitism.”

In the 1960’s a new interpretation arose, coined the ‘New Perspective’ on Jesus, Paul, and Judaism, through scholars such as J.D.G. Dunn, E.P. Saunders, Krister Stendahl, etc.. Their big contribution was to offer a different perspective on Judaism in Jesus’ time.

E.P.Saunders described a pattern of Jewish thinking he termed “covenantal nomism,” and pointed out that Jews did not keep the Torah and do mitzvoth in order to earn salvation and to see themselves as ‘righteous’, but rather because it was the way [given by God] to live in affirmation of their covenantal relationship with God. 

SO, how do we relocate Paul within Judaism? Here are salient points made by Ryan Lambert, with my comments at times interjected [in square brackets]:

  1. Re-examine the Damascus Road event, seen as Paul’s “Conversion” experience.

Stendahl points out that rather than being converted to a new religion, Paul was called to apostleship to the Gentiles. 
Galatians 1:15-16  “But when He [God] who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…”.

It was a Calling not a Conversion! Paul remained faithful to the God of Israel and to Judaism, and assumed other Jews would too. Objectors can point to Galatians 1:13, which references Paul’s “former manner of life” as a Jew,and see it as indicating he no longer lived that life. Scholar Dr. Mark Nanos responds: “Paul here refers to a certain way of living in Judaism that no longer characterises the way he lives Judaism now.” Previously, he persecuted Jews who followed Yeshua as being traitors to the faith. Now, with the revealing of Messiah, and the inclusion of gentiles into the Kingdom, he realized a great change had occurred – one that ushered in the ‘end of Days.’

2.   Paul’s so-called negative comments on Torah issues should not be universalized. They are highly situational in nature. E.g., Why did he seem to oppose circumcision?

Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

[He expresses his concern regarding a situation that had arisen. Strict Jews had approached the new gentile believers and were forcing them to undergo circumcision as a sign of inclusion into the Jewish community. Paul, understandably, was angry and said: “…you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4b). And added: “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12).

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul says: “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19). He points out how strict, self-righteous Jews (the ‘circumcision party’) can make a show of keeping the commandments but their hearts are far from God. On the other hand the new gentile believers (the ‘uncircumcised party’) who have come into knowledge of their loving Father God through Yeshua, and now are learning and keeping the commandments in love, are those in true “new creation” covenant relationship with God. See also Romans 2:26-29). ]

Paula Fredrikson: “[Paul’s audience] were ex-pagan pagans – ex-pagan Gentiles. Like God-Fearers they would worship the God of Israel but preserve their own ethnicities and would not assume the bulk of the Jewish ancestral customs such as circumcision.”

Circumcision was not the end goal!  [New believers could not be coerced into the multi-faceted stream of Jewish life. Learning and understanding would come slowly.] Paul’s universal view of circumcision is expressed in Romans 3:1-2: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?Much in every way.”

3.   We can ask the question: Was Paul a Liar for the Gospel?

We need to examine Paul’s “missionary strategy” on the basis of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, which impacts how one understands Paul.

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak.I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”

The standard Christian understanding is that “chameleon-like” activity is justifiable in missionizing. [Ryan related a story of how a Christian disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew and infiltrated a local Jewish community. He eventually ‘witnessed’ to some; then was hosted by a large Christian Church where he boasted about his hypocritical accomplishments and bad-mouthed the Jewish community. As awful as the behavior of the individual was, Ryan felt the justification, even applauding of his actions by the Christian congregation was worse.]

A Christian view is that Paul defines himself as Christ’s slave and is set free from the bonds of Judaism and can be a Jew to the Jews and a gentile to the gentiles. His inconsistent behaviour is justifiable. According to the traditional Jewish viewpoint, there is no way a Torah-observant, Judaism following person could do such things. He would be considered a “shmuck”!

From the Christian viewpoint one can understand that Paul is identified as not Jewish, not Gentile, but part of a third Christian race that is neither Jew nor Gentile. This seems delineated in: “Give no offense to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the church of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:32). Author Christian Soulen: “The Church sees itself as a special fellowship outside of the carnal categories of Jew or Gentile.” D.A. Carson, considered one of the leading Christian scholars at present, proclaims: “Paul occupied a third group and so, as far as law is concerned, he is prepared to move from that ground to be either a Jew or a Gentile, because his relationship to Torah is neither one nor the other.” 

The prevailing viewpoint, therefore, is that a Jewish believer’s relationship to God is not based on the Torah covenant or Mosaic Law. We may ask, then, what about the texts, for example, in Acts 21 and 28 and in his letters, that point to Paul as Torah-observant? 

[We may also recall the fact that Yeshua  himself remained Torah observant and lived according to the will of the Father.]

Paul’s adaptability was only in relation to his rhetoric, not his lifestyle. He emphasises in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 – “Nor are we trying to trick you!” Porphery, in the 3rd Century, said that if Paul was justified to ‘trick’ people then it was useless for him to proclaim: “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie!” (Romans 9:1).

Dr. David Rudolph, of King’s University, points out that to back the Christian claim that Paul did not remain Jewish, 1 Corinthians 19 is used as a hermeneutical starting point; “problem” texts are expected to come into line with it. If Paul only kept ‘the law’ as a means to an end, then it was fine to be a “cunning deceiver” for the sake of the gospel. Rudolph suggests that, rather, Paul’s flexibility in addressing his audience reflects Yeshua’s accommodation of different strata of people. He would dine with regular Jews, strict Jews, and tax collectors and sinners. So Paul exercised flexibility in relation to the strictness of Pharasaical halacha.

4. ‘Time’ played an important part in the urgency of Paul’s mission.

Another important consideration is what scholar and author Mark Nanos describes as a “chronometric” view of Paul. Paul believed that the End of the Age had broken in and that time was short! Paul believed that the entry of gentiles into God’s Kingdom proved that the God of Israel was the God of all people, not only those ethnically Jewish. It was therefore better for them to stay, culturally, where they were because Messiah would soon return and establish the Kingdom of God over all the earth. [This eschatological view was an essential element in Paul’s thinking.]

5. The problematic Romans 14 passage. Who is “weak” and who is “strong”?

Romans 14:1-2  “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.”

[In reference to this passage a friend and Christian pastor once remarked to Ryan, who also pastors a Messianic Jewish congregation, “This proves that Jewish and Torah ways were a less mature expression of spirituality and I hope all you Jewish believers will move to a New Testament Church.”] According to this Christian view, Jewish life, which is motivated by covenant responsibility and divine commandment, is portrayed as a sign of spiritual immaturity.

Dr. Mark Kinzer, in his book Post Mission Messianic Judaism holds that the Jewish believers were “weak” because they believed certain foods were ontologically (intrinsically) impure and therefore were impure for all. If non-kosher food is impure ontologically, then it’s impure for non-Jews too. Mark Nanos counters, however, that purity is not intrinsic, it’s imputed. God has spoken and it is so. Counter to the common assumption that both groups [the weak and the strong] are Christians, in his book The Mystery of Romans, Nanos understands the “weak” to be the non-Messianic Jews. The weak are ‘weak in faith’ because they do not yet realize that the promises of God have been fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah. 

Romans, chapters  9 – 11, talks much about the dynamics between the non-Messianic Jews and the ‘new in faith’ Messianic Gentiles. Paul’s use of the word “brothers” does not require the Jews to be believers in Yeshua; they are “kinsmen in the flesh.” Nanos underscores the fact that Jews remained the historical community of the One God, whether they recognized Jesus Christ as the Messiah or not. The relationship between them, therefore, should be strong – as “brothers” [in worship of the One God]. Paul is pursuing the establishing of the Kingdom of God spoken of by the prophets. The inclusion of Gentiles was an indication of this coming to pass. Paul, therefore urges the Gentiles to have humility and selflessness in relation to the Jewish people in general.

Conclusion: What are the Practical Implications of this Rethinking of Paul?

The implications touch the heart of God’s Redemptive agenda. Rethinking Paul is the ‘tip of the spear’ to its advancement. Some apply to Jews and some to non-Jews.

1. Traditional Judaism.

  1. The real Paul belongs to Judaism. Jews, in general, if they think about Paul at all, usually consider him as the “real bad guy” who started Christianity and took Jews away from Judaism. Today, Jesus, at least, is considered a devout Jew who upheld Torah but Paul is seen as Anti-Torah. The real Paul , however, was on a mission to spread the heart and principles of Judaism to the nations. 
  2. Paul, within Judaism, is a Paul a Jew could have a family discussion with. He was monotheistic and looked to the Shemah as the basis of the One God for both Jews and Gentiles believers. They were now equals and could practice Judaism under the Messianic King.

2.  Christianity

  1. Christians should not try to convert Jews to Christianity. 
  2. The Church should encourage Jews, and Messianic Jews, to more deeply be Jews and follow Torah as our God-given constitution.
  3. The Church needs to acknowledge that Judaism has not been replaced by Christianity. The Torah-based structure of life is essential for the ongoing movement of the Redemption process.

3. Messianic Judaism

1. Messianic Judaism should not see itself as a ‘missionary’ enterprise. Historically, until now, Jews were “saved” and “Christianized” rather than remaining Jewish and Messianic – [“Father focussed, Yeshua centered, and Spirit inspired,” as Dwight used to say!]
2. Torah and Judaism still represent God’s “marching orders” for the Jewish people.

Note of interest: Pamela Eisenbaum points out that,”…it is virtually a historical certainty that people produced and promulgated texts using Paul’s name pseudonymously. …some of the letters attributed to Paul are ‘disputed’ and of dubious origin.”
The seven undisputed letters are: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. (Paul was not a Christian, p. 22)

  • Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul was not a Christian – The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, Harper Collins, 2009
  • Ryan Lambert is a Messianic Jew based in Atlanta who is associated with the ministry of FFOZ. He is busy working on a book to be published on this topic.

Courage, Loving-kindness, and Truth – America?

When I see the drama unfolding around the election results in the USA my reaction is a mixture of disbelief, disgust and concern. Who would have thought that in a cultured, educated society, in a country that has become one of the greatest in history given its relatively short existence, one would witness the kind of behavior that is being exhibited by some of whose party lost the election?

Concern is understandable. ThIngs around us are changing at an unprecedented and rapid pace and there are many real issues that threaten to affect the norm and balance that we are accustomed to. Upheaval, terror, financial uncertainty, and more, are realities that suddenly are looming like dark clouds in our once clear, blue sky. People generally deeply dislike change; anything that rocks one’s comfortable boat. Rethinking, reevaluating, doing what in Hebrew is called cheshbon nefesh – an accounting of the soul, doesn’t come naturally, nor is it easy.

A story is told about William James, who was a Professor of Psychology at Harvard almost a century ago. At the end of one of James’s public lectures, a man from the audience approached him.

“Professor James,” the man began. “I was a student of yours ten years ago, and I heard you lecture on the exact same subject. But what you said tonight totally contradicted what you said then.”

“My good man,” James replied. “Do you think I’ve been standing still?”

Growing requires the courage to re-examine our assumptions and values, to admit that who we are today is not the best that we can be, and sometimes to expose ourselves to the challenge of reassessing and maybe even contradicting our own positions and tenets. As George Bernard Shaw said, “False consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Perhaps a large portion of the American population has woken up to the fact that some radical change is needed in what has become the status quo and are ready to face the nitty-gritty of what is real, honest, and true, no matter the challenge that entails.

We always must continue to grow, change, and push ourselves to become a better person and to reflect a better image of God. In these difficult times, we can afford to be only one kind of person – the kind who is moving forward in courage, hope, and trust in the Creator of all whose character is chesed ve’emet – Lovingkindness and Truth. 

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~ Keren Hannah

Re-visiting Pauline Rose – “The Lady of Mount Zion”

They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on My holy mountain…
Isaiah 11:9a

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It has been just over two years since the work of HIS-ISRAEL first began. It seems a fitting time to re-visit the woman whose words the Lord used to inspire the heart of HIS-ISRAELPauline Rose.

Known to many as “The Lady of Mount Zion” Pauline Rose was South African by birth. She and her husband were ostrich farmers during a time when ostrich plumage was in demand. Her husband Albert and his brothers were known as the ‘ostrich feather kings’ of South Africa. Once the industry collapsed, Albert and Pauline made their way to London. In London, Albert became a builder and Pauline a designer for a fashion house in Paris. Albert owned a tract of land and when WWI started the government wanted the land for agriculture. The Roses took over the duties of the farming and their farm became the origin of the famous Heston Farm outside of London. No stranger to tragedy, Pauline and Albert lost their son in his youth.[1]

Agaist all odds, while much of Jerusalem was still occupied by Jordan, Pauline Rose and Albert created a home on Mount Zion.  In the spirit of the Lord, it was a safe and warm place welcoming people from all walks of life into a circle of fellowship. Pauline shares in her book Window on Mount Zion:

My husband and I moved in and gave it the name Ha-Ohel (The Tent). We chose this name with the prayer that the spirit of Abraham’s tent would abide in it, making it a place where all people who came could find a loving welcome – a meal – a bed, rest, or renewal of the spirt, according to their needs.

But long before the house and garden on Mount Zion, Pauline had a heart for Jews and Christians working together in love to prepare the way of the Lord in the land of Israel.

In Jewish Christian Brotherhood and The Mission of the Jewish Christian Community, Pauline shares the vision of the early Jewish Christian community.

Pauline Rose was one of a very small group who felt the call to bring the understanding and the Light of Messiah to Israel. On June 22, 1946, Pauline was able to kindle His light in Jerusalem in preparation for what she – and the then small and newly formed Jewish Christian Community – hoped would be the beginning of a Messianic Congregation in the Land.

You can read her words in The Light Of The Messiah.

During the perils of Israel’s new statehood (1948) Pauline refused to be evacuated. Instead she stayed and at risk to her own life chose to serve others. Her experience of these tension-fraught days is recorded in her book, The Siege of Jerusalem. Abram Poljak, who spearheaded Messianic Judaism in Israel, speaks of this time and Pauline’s arrest (and the arrest of four other members) by the Irgun (the Stern group, followers of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, led by Menachem Begin):

Our Community stood firm. Several times each day Pauline Rose went through the rain of bullets from her flat in Rehaviah, a suburb, to our meeting place in the centre of the New City of Jerusalem – often the only person to be seen in the streets. She also fetched food and water for other people who dared not go into the street; she assisted sick women in their housework and nursed patients in a hospital. Her faith and quiet heroism made her a shining example, keeping the Community together. The fact that, as a woman, she thus despised death carried the others along with her and during all these months not one of the appointed services was cancelled.

Information by hostile circles led to the detention and questioning of several of our members in the course of the war months. They were well treated by the Jewish police and military authorities; and having proved that they did their duty as citizens and had no contact with the enemies of Israel, they were set free again, the authorities expressly declaring that they did not take exception to our members’ beliefs. (The Jewish government had, at the proclamation of the State of Israel, guaranteed freedom of religion.)

However, the arrest of five members of the Community by radicals in the middle of August took a different turn. The Stern Gang aimed at Pauline Rose in the first place, who holds a British passport, speaks English and looks like a Gentile. The Stern Gang members maintained that she was a British agent, and the Jewish Christian Community a spy organization under a religious cloak.

The Sternists had succeeded in laying hold of a number of British spies and Jewish traitors. The first, they handed over to the authorities for trial; the second, they shot themselves. And now three women and two men of our Community were in their hands and recommended to say their last prayers.

The group pleaded their innocence but emphasized their faith in Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. Only one woman, on hearing the death threats, denied her faith, telling the Sternists’ court that she would have nothing more to do with the Community, whereupon she was set free. The trial of the other four was postponed to the following day.

Meanwhile the “arrest of the Jewish Christian Community” had become known in Jerusalem (a Hebrew daily paper reported about it), well-known Jews who knew Pauline Rose took up the case, convincing the Sternists that their accusations were untenable, and achieving the discharge of all.

The time has not yet come to speak of the experiences of our friends in prison. I only want to say that however hard the test was, they all thought of it as a privilege, a divine favour and considered it their happy lot. Like the Apostles of old, these Jewish Christians were able to sing songs of praise in prison and witness to the light of Christ before the powers of darkness.

In summing up we must say that the conduct of the Community during the siege of Jerusalem, and that of its leading circle in prison were worthy of our great calling, and form a chapter of praise in the history of the Jewish Christian movement.[2]

In 1959 Pauline and her husband Albert made aliyah to Israel. Fighting for years for permission to move into a particular tumble-down house on Mount Zion, in 1964 Pauline and Albert leased and began the full renovation of the house and garden. At this time Pauline was in her 70’s, Albert in his 80’s. Situated on the Jordanian-Israeli border, in 1967 Pauline found herself in the middle of the Six Day War.

Alicia Armstrong [3] shares:

The old woman was all alone when the guns commenced to thunder and bullets ripped the soft summer breeze.

What was she to do? Try to find some sort of shelter where she could cower in darkness until the shooting ended?

Certainly not! Instead, she whipped out her tape recorder to make a permanent record of the battle sounds.

For this was no ordinary fight. It was the battle for Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and three Arab states. And this was no ordinary woman. It was Pauline Rose, who went to live on Mt. Zion because she had a vision that God wanted her to reside there.

Join Keren as she reads Pauline’s remarkable story of the transformation of the little house and garden on Mt. Zion and the 1967 Six Day War – Window On Mount Zion.

Read also Pauline’s article Our Protection – where Pauline speaks of our greatest protection in any battle.

Many of Pauline’s relatives were among Hitler’s first victims. You can read The Power Of The Spirit where Pauline shares  of her visit to Germany in1936 and her return after the war.

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This summer, Keren and I aim to share with you Pauline Rose’s book The Siege of Jerusalem, Pauline’s eyewitness account of the events in Jerusalem, 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence.

The enemy surrounds us — is on our doorstep! Terrible battles are in progress. All sections of the Jewish city are being shelled… Jerusalem is like a city under sentence of death, bearing within it the certainty of life.[4]

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~ Cindy

 

A special thanks to Paul Meier – Abram Poljack Archieve – for his permission to share Pauline Rose’s articles.

Photo credit – David Rubinger, Pauline and Albert Rose at their home on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem

[1] Information drawn from – Who’s Who in Jewish History, Joan Comay, and Faith Made It Possible, an article in the El Paso Herald Post – April 3, 1974, Paul Raboff – Jerusalem
[2] Abram Poljak, Letters From Mount Carmel, 1948
[3] Alicia Armstrong, Roses of Mt. Zion Recall War, The Milwaukee Journal, May 8 – 1973
[4] Pauline Rose, The Siege of Jerusalem

PESACH and TIKKUN OLAM – Healing of the World Begins with Healing of Ourselves

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~ Keren Hannah Pryor

The goal of all efforts is to bring about the restitution
of the unity of God and the world.
The restoration of unity is a constant process and its accomplishment will be the
essence of Messianic Redemption. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel

When we are redeemed by the grace of God from slavery to the Pharaohs of the world, and choose to worship God and to walk in His ways, our individual journey through life becomes a constant effort to align our wills with our Creator’s. The challenge we face is to subdue our natural urges and often negative inclinations in order to meld our character in harmony with His and to better reflect the beauty of His image in which we were created. 

The four basic negative traits that played a key role in the Fall of the first Adam, as described by Israeli Rabbi, Ezra Jacobs, are:

1. ta’avah, passion (the desire for pleasure)
2. kavod, honor-seeking (the desire for power and control)
3. kinah, jealousy (covetousness, or resentment of another; the basis for murder)
4. sinat chinam, baseless hatred (that results in lashon ha’ra – evil speech)

When the first Adam sinned by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, both the physical and spiritual worlds were affected and underwent fundamental damage and changes. For Adam and Eve, their wondrous relationship with God, as well as the wholeness of body, soul and spirit they had enjoyed, was tragically shattered and broken. Ever since, the desire of both our Father in Heaven and of mankind has been to restore the relationship and to heal what was broken. In Jewish thought and expression, the aim and effort to do this is termed tikkun olam – the healing, or rectification, of the world (including man himself).

The face (panim in Hebrew) reflects man’s internal world, and the head [ rosh – meaning ‘first’] is considered to be the king [the ruling factor] over his entire personality.*

The four primary senses are expressed in a person’s face. The eyes – sight, the ears – hearing, the nose – smell, the mouth – taste and speech. These important faculties play a role in the healing of the four negative traits of brokenness listed above. How so?

  1. Ta’avah pertains to raw, unregulated passion that results in immorality. In the Garden of Eden the snake lured Eve with the promise that if she ate of the fruit, “Then your eyes will be opened” (Genesis 3:5-6). She was tempted by the desire to see and know more. The fire of passion is not a bad thing in and of itself and it can be healed by its transformation into something spiritual and beautiful. To accomplish this, the eyes need to be directed to the truth and beauty of the Torah – the teachings of the Word of God – whereby the mind will gain wisdom (chochma). This is connected to the right brain and the intellect, which is associated with the masculine personality. In general, men tend to find greater temptation by way of their eyes.
    As the saying goes, “The eyes are the window of the soul.” When the soul is filled with the truth and wisdom of God the eyes will shine His warm and welcoming light.

2.  Kavod pertains to one’s ego and results in idolatry. The  pride and honor-seeking of the ego needs to be broken down and rectified by the trait of humility (anavah), which is a component of love (ahavah). The ears play a role in this because their function is to hear. To truly listen and to hear the ‘heart’ of the other, whether it be a fellow human being, one’s spouse, or God Himself, needs the care and sensitivity afforded by humility. This quality is connected to the left-brain, which is the seat, as it were, of the heart and emotions and is associated with the feminine personality. The true hearing of the ears results in the gaining of binah, deeper heartfelt understanding. 

3. Kinah pertains to the negative trait of jealousy that breeds anger and ultimately leads to murder. The first example of this was Cain and Abel. The structure  of the nose, with two nostrils encased in one organ reflects the balance and unity there should be between the right and left brain, the mind and the heart, the masculine and feminine, man and God. Physiologically, it is compared to the head and the spinal column. When the wisdom of the mind and the understanding of the heart are in harmony, one gains da’at – intimate knowledge and perception – that results in the true performance of God’s will. One is able to do the commandments/mitzvot in loving obedience and to consistently hurry to carry out physical deeds of kindness. 

4. Sinat chinam pertains to baseless hatred that leads to lashon ha’ra – the evil speech of slander, lies, gossip, and mockery and belittling of others. The snake in the Garden, in effect, slandered God by intimating, “Did God really say…?” and planted doubt as to God’s character in Eve’s mind. The harmony of will between man and God was torn apart as a result. The healing of this disconnect lies in the mouth with its faculty of speech – the physical gift that sets man apart from the animals and enables relationship with others and with God.
The mouth is connected with keter (crown) – the head of a person, which represents his or her all-encompassing will and being, and which enables a person to make decisions and to express thoughts in speech. Using this gift for evil is considered one of the greatest sins and the healing of it requires the mercy, grace and redemption of God. Which fact links together with the celebration of Pesach, Passover, and needs a separate paragraph in order to explore the concept! 

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Pesach and the Exodus

PESACH – the very name connects it with the mouth. Peh, in Hebrew is ‘mouth’ and sach is ‘speaks’. The mouth speaks! Before the redemption from Egypt the people of Israel suffered slavery and the complete annihilation of their individuality,  the subjugation of their will and they lost the freedom to speak. Egypt was the national embodiment of the Snake in Eden, even displayed in Pharaoh’s head dress, and it literally robbed, crushed and destroyed the lives and will of the Israelites. Only then were they rebuilt into a new and united nation set apart unto God. Paradoxically, Egypt was the volatile womb that gave birth to the nation of Israel. Through their common experience of suffering, they could build on a foundation of genuine love and empathy with one another. To this day we are exhorted, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.” Never dishonor or dehumanize another human being by forgetting to honor the image of God in which they are created.

In Egypt, the Hebrews witnessed the Ten Plagues, which, as they would realize at Mount Sinai, corresponded with the Ten Words He spoke and to the Ten Sayings He used at Creation to create the world. These, together with His miracles of redemption and provision, demonstrated without a doubt His existence, power and sovereignty over all creation. Now, the people of Israel were ready to be His witnesses, a light to the nations, and to express the reality of His Presence in the physical world by simply fulfilling His will, now delineated for them in His Torah given to Moses.

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The Final Redemption

Hatred and lashon ha’ra, we may understand, are healed by the full acceptance and expression of God’s will in the world. Sadly, we know from history that the lesson was not fully learned by Israel and the Second Temple was destroyed due to sinat chinam, baseless hatred. Rome literally plowed under the City of God, Jerusalem, and the majority of the Jewish People were scattered to the four corners of the earth. The Sages believe that the full healing of the mouth will occur at the Final Redemption. Pesach relives the Exodus from Egypt and the first redemption and Sukkot will celebrate the final redemption, which will be permanent and eternal. 

In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul refers to those who “do not know God” (4:8) and are slaves under the law of sin and death, “enslaved to the elementary principles of the world” (4:3). “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law [Torah of life], to redeem those who were under the law [of sin and death], so that they might receive adoption as sons…and be no longer a slave but a son and heir of God, our Father in Heaven.

For the whole Torah is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (5:14-15)

No matter how one interprets the rest of chapter 4, the basic issue rests on love and the healing of the mouth and not “devouring” one another through baseless hatred and evil speech. That’s why God sent forth His uniquely begotten Son, and Yeshua came to demonstrate the full acceptance and perfect expression of God’s will to the world, that all may come and drink of the water of the Word and Life that he embodied. His unconditional loving-kindness, sacrificial death, and resurrection into new life can reverse the curse and bring healing to the hatred and evil speech that damage the relationships between man and man and man and God. The restoration of the mouth as a wellspring, speaking only words of goodness, praise, encouragement and goodwill, can happen with those who are surrendered to the love and will of God.

Yeshua, Mashiach ben Yosef, came as the Paschal Lamb to set slaves free from the domination of “Pharaoh” and He will return to Jerusalem as Mashiach ben David and King of kings, to usher in the Final Redemption and to reign over His Father’s Kingdom on earth. Then all God’s people will be fully restored and Jerusalem will be established on a solid foundation of Peace.  This blessing will come about, as the Psalmist proclaims, when the Lord sits enthroned as king,

“May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!”**

 The exhortation, ” Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem” is, at heart, a prayer for the restoration of the unity and wholeness of the nation of Israel and for all the people of God to be healed and restored and established on the bedrock of His chesed, lovingkindness, and His perfect justice.

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May it be soon and in our time!

 

Footnotes:

* Rabbi Ezra Jacobs, Coming Full Circle, 251

** Psalm 29:11

THE QUEST FOR REDEMPTION – The Biblical Journey, Stage 1

THE QUEST FOR REDEMPTION

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

The First Stage of the Biblical Journey: Passover – Shavuot

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God spread out the heavens and sprinkled the night with sparkling stars. He placed in it the large, glowing orb of sun to set the rhythm of the day. He placed the small, gentle luminary of moon to set the rhythm of the month, and He placed Earth in perfect position to set the rhythm of the year with its color-filled adventures of the seasons.

When all was done, He formed a being in His likeness called Adam, man, from a lump of clay, adamah, and breathed life into it. From the side of this being, He created a living, perfect counterpart called Chava, Eve, woman. The two halves were designed to live in harmony and balance and to reflect His own Being – the Source of Life and Love. They were placed in the center of His beautiful Garden of Creation and given the joyful task of overseeing it together with Him. With the abilities and talents God had given them, the two were free to choose, to make decisions. All was very good. Then came a deception, a temptation, a fall and an expulsion from the Garden; a separation from the Presence of God. And all changed.

Ever since, man has been searching for the way back to the Garden; back to the wonder and fullness of the Presence of God. Just as we do, He longs for the reunion and the restitution of the glory and beauty of Creation as it was intended to be. The good news is that we humans are not alone on our search; we are not abandoned in this Continuing Quest. God has been guiding us along the path of this Redemption, century after century. Generation after generation, He calls and encourages and places signposts along the way to guide us in our search for what was lost; for that for which our spirits yearn. When we search for Him, we slowly realize that we already are found. He has faithfully been waiting while He gently wooed us out of the darkness of our understanding.

All of History is the story of His wooing. The cycles of His Word are the rhythm of His unfolding redemptive courtship of us, the blueprint of His plan of reconciliation. All we need do is to take hold of it with all our hearts and minds and strength, in love for Him, and to walk in its pleasant paths (Proverbs 3: 17,18).

At the set time, He sent His uniquely begotten Son to show us how to do this, and, in suffering the pain himself, to break the lies and bonds of sin and death. Then, the knowledge of God, the Father of all, spread to the four corners of the earth and the way was opened for all to return to the Source of His Life and Love.

This is the central story of the season we enter with  Pesach/Passover – the 49 days of the Omer – Shavuot/ Pentecost.

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The eight day holiday of Passover / Pesach, celebrates the deliverance of the people of God, the Israelites, who were enslaved under the dominion of the rich and powerful Empire of Egypt. In a mighty display of God’s power, Pharaoh and his kingdom were crushed and God drew back to Himself the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and those who had joined them. He founded a treasured people for Himself, an Am Segullah, who were to be a “light to the nations.”

We relive this Exodus and deliverance, and the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb slain on our behalf, at the Seder meal on the first night of Passover. We then walk through the following 49 days, or seven weeks, shavuot, with intentionality in preparation for the Jubilee feast that crowns the redemption of the Exodus – the revelation at the time of Shavuot / Pentecost.

At Shavuot, God poured out the gifts of the revelation of His Presence, the sound of His voice, the speaking of His commandments – the Ten Words; words to live by in the illumination of His Torah. Into the world of suffering, idolatry and the treading down of the weak and helpless, came the teaching of love and morality, of kindness to the poor, the orphan, the widow and the stranger. God again offered us, in the establishing of His Kingdom and by the power and grace of His Spirit of Holiness, the means to become who He created us to be and to partner with Him in His world and to participate in His plan of Restoration. The gift of His Word, of new life and the opportunity to once again “walk and talk” in His  Presence are celebrated at Shavuot.

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Each year we walk through this biblical Festival cycle and, if we have had eyes to see and hearts of awareness, we have made another spiral upwards and have gained deeper knowledge of and , as a result, are closer in relationship with, our awesome Father and wondrous Creator, the One God of the Universe. Through His Word of truth and commandments of love; through His forming of “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and in the light of His Messiah and King – our High Priest, “— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom.8:34), He has laid out a clear path upon which to walk in order to enter and draw closer to His loving Presence once again.

~Keren Hannah Pryor

 

 

In Conversation with…Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on God and Science

THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP

God, Science and the Search for Meaning

This is an imaginary conversation cum interview conducted between myself, Keren Hannah, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, past Chief Rabbi of Britain and well-known author and teacher. The subject of Science and Religion is one addressed in his book, The Great Partnership, which Andrew Marr, British broadcaster, author and political journalist, describes as, “The most persuasive argument for religious belief I have ever read.” 

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KH:  There have been historic battles waged over the issues of Science and Religion. Do you see any balance between the two?

RJS: Yes. Science and Religion are two essential perspectives that allow us to see the Universe in its three dimensonal depth. Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean. Science is good at sorting and analyzing things [characteristic of the left-brained masculine mind] and Religion is good at focussing on relationships with people [ more characteristic of the feminine right-brain].
Whole civilizations have made, and are making, mistakes because they could not distinguish and integrate the two and applied the logic of one to the logic of the other.

KH: Can we say, then, that Science is more detached and impersonal, dealing with matter and cold, hard facts, while Religion is more people orientated and can include wonder and mystery?

RJS:  Not necessarily.  When you treat things as if they were people the result is myth. Light is the sun-god, rain is from the sky-god; the Creation itself is worshipped rather than the Creator. Science was born when people instead started to observe, measure and record Nature and thereby have increasingly discovered the limitless wonder of the Intelligent Design that sets and holds all of Creation in place with immeasurable power, as well as with breathtaking beauty, from the widest vistas to the microscopic molecule.

A greater tragedy occurs, however, when the left-brain totally dominates and people are treated as things. The result is dehumanization. People are categorized by color, class or creed and treated differently as a result. A major shift in mankind’s understanding occurred when the Creator of all was sought by and revealed to the man Abraham. As a result of this covenantal relationship, people stopped seeing each other as objects and began to see each individual as unique, sacrosanct, in the image of God.

KH: Obviously, then, it’s important to clearly distinguish that things are things and people are people.

RJS: Realizing the difference is sometimes harder than we think. The challenge facing every society, civilization, even each family, couple and individual, is to see the two spheres as separate but needing to be integrated to form a healthy and balanced whole. That is harder than it sounds. It is, in fact, the first presented to mankind at Creation.

KH: What can we understand from the accounts in Genesis?

RJS: That God created the first man, Adam, whole and complete, with both hemispheres of his brain intact. The heart and purpose of Creation, however, was relationship – between God and people but also a person with others, and so God separated the right side of Adam and formed woman. Eve was born. God did not simply create another carbon copy of Adam. He made two from the one being and presented the challenge, “Now become one. You each have someting that the needs. Learn how to respect and value the differences in the other and by co-operating and partnering together you will learn how to live in harmony and wholeness with one another; and also with your Creator – God. Because this is Love.

KH: What happens when God is removed from the equation of people and relationships?

RJS: In a world [or relationship] without God, the primary reality is “I” – the atomic, physical self. Other people are not as real to me as I am to myself. “Why should ‘I’ be moral? Why should ‘I’ be concerned about the welfare of others to whom ‘I’ am not directly related? ‘I’ pass my genes on to the next generation. ‘I’ engage in altruism.” That attitude may seem selfless but actually serves self-centered ends.

KH: So, without God, without the ‘Thou’ in , as Martin Buber describes, the ‘I and Thou’ relationship with God, only the ‘I’ is left. In effect, then, ‘I’ – the person – becomes god? The will of the person is exalted above the will of God.

RJS: Yes. This is reflected in every sphere of human endeavor. Consumerism is about the ‘Choosing I’. Liberal democracy about the ‘Voting I’. Family is about the ‘Physical I’…and so on.

KH: In regard to the ‘Political I’, Abraham Joshua Heschel once commented, “History is the arena in which the will of God is defied.” What effect does a godless stance in a society or nation have on a wider, world-history scale?

RJS: The four terrifying regimes based on a godless society that arose in history were the French Revolution, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist China. The danger today is a radical religiosity combined with an apocalyptic political agenda, able through terror and assymetric warfare to destabilise whole nations and regions, a la the Crusades, in the name of their god and religion. The religious moderates of all faiths would agree that this is as destructive as secular totalitarianism.

KH: How can the moderates stand against the terror-based factions?

RJS: While it is imperative to stand against terror, we need to be aware of another danger. The new atheism has launched an unusually aggresive assault on religion in general, which is not good for intellectual integrity, spiritual awareness, for science, or for the future of the West.  When a society loses its religion it tends not to last very long thereafter. It discovers that having severed the ropes that moor its ethics and morality to something transcendent, all it has left is relativism; and a relativism that is incapable of defending anything including itself.

KH: That is a sober warning. Can you sum it up in a nutshell?

RJS:  When a society loses its soul it is about to lose its future.

———————-

You can order the book on Amazon The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning

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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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In Conversation with Dwight A. Pryor on Loving-kindness and Righteousness

 

In the Sayings of the Fathers (PIrkei Avot) 1:2, Shimon the Righteous, Shimon HaTzaddik, [one of the Sages of the Sanhedrin or Great Assembly established from the time of Ezra] states that the world is built, or stands in balance, on three things: the Word of God (Torah); the service or worship of God (avodah); and acts of kindness (chesed). Also, Psalm 89:1-2 tells us:

“I will sing of the lovingkindness [chesed] of the Lord forever … For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness shall be built up forever.’”

In Scripture the qualities of chesed and tzedakah, along with emet, truth, often are linked. Here I explore these concepts in an ‘imaginary’ conversation (based on many we used to enjoy!) by posing questions and presenting Dwight’s quotes (based on his teachings) in answer. Food for thought!

Keren Hannah Pryor  with  Dr. DWIGHT A. PRYOR  on 

CHESED and TZEDAKAH  – Lovingkindness and Righteousness

 

KH:      How would you describe the quality of chesed?

DAP:   “Chesed is a chief characteristic of the God of Israel and a core covenantal   concept. Its range of meaning is wide and deep: lovingkindness, mercy, steadfast love, covenant loyalty and even grace.”

KH:    What is the difference, and connection, between chesedtzedakah and emet, love and kindness and righteousness and truth?

DAP:    “Tzedakah, better translated as ‘righteousness,’ is a richly hued term in Hebrew. In the broad scope of biblical revelation it is used together and synonymously with ‘truth’ and also with ‘salvation’—in the context of God’s redemptive, saving acts in keeping covenant promises to Israel (e.g., Micah 6:4-5).”

“We see in the life of Jesus the outworking of salvation in the embrace of truth, tzedek, and kindness, chesed. In him, righteousness (the high standards of the Torah) and grace (the mercy of a gracious Father) embrace. Indeed, the Messiah embodies the way of love and truth that leads to life. In the Son we see a Father who abounds in justice, tzedek, and in love, chesed.”

KH:    In Judaism the righteous, the saints, are called tzaddikim. Today, in modern Hebrew usage, tzedakah more generally means charity or giving.

DAP:  Jesus also used it this way in Matthew 6:1: “Beware of practicing your righteousness [charity] before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” On the other hand, Jesus taught that the genuine practice of righteousness toward the needy—i.e., giving generously to the poor—will give us “treasure in heaven.”

 

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Pic: Tzedakah box; a tin in which to save money to give to the poor or a worthy cause.

Reflection:       

This is a powerful and practical principle for us all today. Let us engage in acts of kindness, g’milut chasadim, that will honor His Name and help repair a world presently broken and evidencing much evil and lack of chesed, tzedakah and emet; destined, however, according to His Word and promise, wondrously to declare the Father’s glory.

JESUS AND THE JUBILEE VISION

Jesus and the Jubilee Vision ~ Keren Hannah Pryor

We read In Luke 4:16-22 how, in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus stood, read from the scroll and proclaimed the Jubilee vision of Isaiah: “The Spirit of Adonai, the Lord, has anointed me to announce good news to the meek …to proclaim liberty to the captives …to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” (Isaiah 61:1-2a).

The time of this declaration might well have been on Yom Kippur, when every fiftieth year of Jubilee is announced and the Great Shofar sounded to “proclaim freedom throughout the Land” (Lev.25:10). In Temple times, slaves were set free and each could “return to his family.” Jubilee, Yovel, is a year of returning things to their place;  an intentional restoration of God’s intended freedom, order and harmony for His people and even the Land itself, which, as on every seventh shmittah year, is to be allowed to rest.

Yeshua (Jesus) was, as it were, sounding a clear shofar call at this beginning of his ministry of restoration. He was calling sinners to return to the fold of the Father. His “good tidings,” as Messiah and Lord, the anointed of God, are the foretaste of the final sounding of the Great Shofar at the end of days, which will announce, “…the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2b).

The Lord revealed to the prophet Daniel, while he interceded for the restoration of Israel after her 70 year exile in Babylon, that there would be a future cycle of 70 ‘sevens’ and the time would come “…to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy, to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24). We still await the fullness of that prophecy.

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Yeshua came humbly as a helpless babe into the world, not wth judgment but bearing the chessed, the lovingkindness, of God in person to ailing humanity. His was, and is, the continuing shofar cry of the faithful Shepherd; calling those of the house of Israel who had strayed to return to the Father’s fold and also welcoming those who were far off who did not know His Father. “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd”  (Jn.10:16).

We are presently experiencing an awesome anticipation; the ‘birth pangs’ of the final Jubilee, a climactic physical as well as spiritual restoration that began with the Shofar that sounded the Return of Israel after her exile to the four corners of the earth, “ I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture…” (Micah 2:12). It will conclude with the majestic Great Shofar announcing the arrival of the Shepherd – King Messiah, Melech HaMashiach.

May we keep our eyes focused on Him and lifted to Heaven in order to recognize the signs of His Coming. Let us have our ears tuned intently to His voice as we hear His footsteps approaching ever more closely.

Baruch Ha’Ba b’Shem Adonai!

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

On God and Christmas Trees – Ben Stein

At the heart of the ‘Season of Lights’ – both Hanukkah and Christmas – is the God who is Love – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. May we uphold and reflect the light of His love and truth in the growing darkness of hatred and violence that threatens to envelop the world. To that end, here is a relook at a commentary by Ben Stein.

May our hearts be filled with His blessing, Shalom and love now and always,

~Keren Hannah

Quite a few years ago, in 2005 to be exact, after ‘Happy Holidays’ became more politically correct a greeting than ‘Merry Christmas,’  and Christmas trees were called ‘Holiday trees,’ the following was written by TV presenter Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

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My confession:

I am a Jew, and every  single one of my ancestors was Jewish.  And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.  I don’t feel threatened.  I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me.  I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto.  In fact, I kind of like it.  It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu.  If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in the God of Israel are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship [named celebrities] and we aren’t allowed to worship God?  I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

Ben Stein

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