A little bit of Nachat

Waking up this morning I thought I knew the rules of the game. Earlier this week, 154 stones in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri were violated. Anti-Semitism world wide was on the rise, and maybe it was time for me to bring my angle about this. But then I pulled up the Israeli news site and read that Vice President Mike Pence put on gloves, flew into Missouri and helped clean up the place. (http://patch.com/us/white-house/mike-pence-helps-clean-vandalized-jewish-cemetery)

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Vice President Pence landing a hand at the desecrated Jewish cemetery

Than I recalled another piece of news I saw this week: Nicki Heily, the US ambassador to the UN, condemned the UN tendencies against the only democracy in the Middle East – Israel. (http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/02/20/nikki-haley-slams-united-nations-for-anti-israeli-double-standards/)

Earlier this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Australia. This is the first time an Israeli PM is received in Australia. Not only that, he was welcomed with a heartwarming, unique speech! (http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/israeli-prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahu-arrives-in-australia/news-story/5e5188a2b384d31ce8c8a5dbfc0d3013)

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Prime Minister Netanyahu with
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

We are so used to the world going crazy, in the opposite direction to God and in clear objection to His people. What shall we do when the world is getting even crazier, and influential politicians start liking us and talk about it in front of the media?

The most bizarre yet in my opinion: an Israeli news site published a piece two days ago. I can assure you we never before came across such information. (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4922341,00.html)

Does the world really wants to turn Jewish? What is going on? Will I have anything left to write about?

Then it dawned on me: I do not believe it! Deep down inside I don’t believe we will be wanted or loved as a nation. Ya, maybe one day, in heaven. Not down here. Sure, all those incidents reported above all happened. Yes, something different is happening in western politics where Israel is concerned, but deep inside I just know there must be a catch. Soon the cameras will be turned off, the lights will be turned on and we will all see what is really going on behind the scenes.

For decades, centuries, even millenniums, we have been so used to the world turning against us. No matter what the facts were, eventually we were found guilty. No matter what atrocities were done to us, we were the ones who had to defend ourselves (not that it made much difference). We were the ones left to clean up what others have done against us.

Several reports coming lately out of Arab nations tell that Jews should no longer be blamed as a nation for all disasters throughout history; that the Palestinian cause is no longer a primary concern in the Arab world. These reporters’ heads are still sitting on their shoulders.

Another Saudi journalist said that the Arab world is no longer concerned with the Palestinian cause as it used to be, and that continuing with armed resistance only hurts the Palestinians themselves.

A Kuwaiti journalist expressed his support for relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. “Be Brave – move to Jerusalem and trust in God,” he said.

Ah?

Things are changing inside Israel as well. A decision was passed recently by our Knesset, which regulates the legal status of settlements behind the green line. This legally establishes the status of hundreds of thousands of Israelis, who settled in the mountains of Judea and Samaria. They did it at the prompting of previous administrations, but later on became the recipients of much despise, especially from the media. These residents were facing a constant threat of evacuation, living with an ongoing sense of uncertainty. Finally there is an end to this crazy affair, which has lasted for decades.

Yesterday, four new judges were elected to Israel’s Supreme Court. Up to now it was comprised for the most part of left wing judges, who led some sort of a revolution – i.e. meddled in the minute details of legislation and prevented a large majority of the government’s decisions. Indeed, they have the legal right to do so in Israel. However, this new body of judges elected is much more conservative. It will not interfere in such a way with the government’s ruling, and is much more right winged and religious in nature.

Have we hardened our hearts, or is it only me? Prayers are answered, things are moving in the international arena, but can we see see God’s mighty Arm moving on our behalf?

I know… there are end time prophecies. There are still difficult and painful days to come. But in the meantime, I will try and do with a bit of satisfaction. Satisfaction – “Nachat.” A great Hebrew-Yiddish word. I’m not sure it can be translated into one English word. It alludes to comfort and convenience, warmth and a wide smile on one’s face. Yes, we can do with some Nachat. So, why do I feel like I still need to keep my gloves on?

Oh well, Shabbat is at hand and I have to go and cook dinner. For a little while I can exchange the boxing gloves with disposable ones.

I wish you Shabbat shalom, full of Nachat

Tu Bi-Shvat

Tomorrow is the 15th day of the Jewish month Shvat. All over the country people will plant trees, upgrade their yards and gardens, eat fruits and enjoy the fact that we are once again established in our land, able to enjoy it, toil it and reap its fruit.

Sixty eight years ago this was also the festive and exciting occasion, when the Israeli parliament – the Knesset – gathered for the very first time.

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Dr. Haim Weizmann’s speaking at the opening session of the Knesset

Dr. Weizmann gave an amazing speech in the opening session:

“It is with a sense of honor and awe that I rise to open the Constituent Assembly of the  State of Israel, the first Jewish assembly of our day, in Jerusalem, the eternal city. At this great moment in the history of our people, we give thanks and praise to the God of Israel, by whose grace we have been privileged to see redemption, after generations of suffering and misery.

“This occasion is the outcome of the tremendous reawakening of our national consciousness during the last few decades. It began approximately seventy years ago, when the best among us, the unknown and nameless leaders of that generation, arose to fulfill the age-old dream of the return to Zion and the revival of national existence.”

Two days later he was elected as the first president of Israel. Ever since than, our Knesset celebrates its annual birthday on this date.

Weizmann died on November 1952. Among the many souvenirs he left behind was a fancy booklet, titled Comfort ye my people. It includes chapter 40 of Isaiah, and a picture of the scroll found around that time in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea.

This booklet was handed to Dr. Weiznann on that very occasion – the first formal session of the Knesset. The chapter speaks about the end of the Jewish exile and the return to our land. The proximity of these events to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls certainly contributed to the symbolism of the entire occasion.

Earlier this week the Jewish National Fund (a non-profit organization founded in 1901 with the purpose of reforesting the Land of Israel) had set out plants all over the country and dug the appropriate holes. The crowds are invited to come today and tomorrow, plant a tree and contribute their part in the restoration of the barrenness of Israel.

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Throughout the country these images can be seen today and tomorrow,
as families join in reforesting and restoring the land,
especially after the horrible fires we had a few months ago 

So today and tomorrow, as even atheist and secular Jewish families will take the opportunity to get re-connected with the Land, you can pray that we will also search for the true root, The Root; That we will appreciate the fact that we are back in our land. We do tend to take it for granted, as if there was no holocaust, no exile. What a great opportunity to look both back and into the future.

I am spending some time in the south of Israel now, in the Negev desert, mostly writing. I was a bit surprised when I realized God wants me to focus this year on a couple of projects that are quite different than the usual stuff I do. I will write more about it soon. The southern part of Israel is the least populated area in the Land. Travelling and walking around here reminds me of just how many more of our people are still in exile, and how this land yearns for them to come home, settle and toil and tie their restoration with hers.

Keep gathering us, Lord, from all corners of your earth. Speak to your nation, awaken in your people their original ancient calling, and develop in them an urge to be established back in their land. And also reveal the Jewish face of your Son to them, so they may call on His name and be saved.