The synagogues in my neighborhood have been filled with dance and singing this past week. The celebration culminates tonight and tomorrow. Women, children and passers by gather outside the entrances of the tiny synagogues all over this area. I find myself astonished: such joy! The men dance around with Torah scrolls in their arms, but they don’t even realize they are carrying the true manna, the living Word. Yet I, that believe wholeheartedly that the Word had put on flesh and came to dwell within me, that when I call to Him He answers – how joyous do I become whenever I hold the Word of God in my hands?

Rejoicing over the Torah scroll. This is what synagogues throughout Israel and the world will look like tonight and tomorrow as the cycle of reading through the Torah comes to an end, and a new reading cycle begins. Taken from the Ramat Gan Yeshiva youtube page.

While the Temple still stood in Jerusalem, a special ceremony was conducted: wine was poured on the brazen altar regularly, alongside the sacrifices. But during the feast of Sukkot, water was added to the wine. This was carried with much joy and celebration, and was called Simchat Beit Hashoeva (lit. “Rejoicing over Water-Drawing”). The celebration lasted throughout the night and ended with drawing of water from the pool of Siloam (Briechat Hashiloach).

This tradition has much to do with the rain season at hand. Therefore a unique blessing, uttered only during this feast, is declared in synagogues all over the world, called “He makes the wind to blow and the rain to fall”. Rain, after all, is the main source of water for our desert-like land. Here is one of the versions of this prayer:

You, O Lord, are mighty forever, You quicken the dead back to life; You are mighty to save. You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall. You sustain the living with lovingkindess, quicken the dead with great mercy, support the falling, heal the sick, loose the bound, and keep Your faithfulness to them that sleep in the dust.

Who is like You, Lord of mighty acts, and who resembles You, O King, who kills and raises from the dead, and causes salvation to spring forth? Who is like You, Father of mercy, who in mercy remember Your creatures unto life? Yea, faithful are You to quicken the dead. Blessed are You, O Lord, who quickens the dead. 

So in the synagogues today, Torah scrolls were taken out of the Torah Ark and passed from one man to another. The crowd circled it and danced with much joy for the fact that a cycle of the reading of the Torah has come to its end, and a new one is now beginning. Along side this cyclic reading, the people of Israel ask their Maker to bless them with the blessed cycle of rain and water.

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What Is In the Water?

From the first verses of Genesis, it almost seems like water were always there. Even in our mothers’ wombs we grow in a sac of water. All in all, every living cell needs a certain amount of water in order to exist. Without which, it will wither and die.

Yesterday I was introduced to a term I’ve never heard before: “the anomaly of water”. Almost all substance in nature shrinks in cold temperatures and thus subside in volume. Not so with water. Turns out that water, when frozen and turn into ice, actually grow in volume and girth. This has to do with the special structure of its molecules. That is why ice, which is lighter, floats upon water and does not sink. If it were to sink, the upper layer would also freeze, leading to the freezing of the entire water reservoir, and thus life would cease to exist in the deeper layers.

Paul, Peter, James… and Water

Peter has something quite interesting to say about water. “…by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water” (2 Pet. 3:5). The second part of this verse can be much fodder for evolutionists, but one must not ignore how it begins. The verse sets out clearly creating a correlation between water and the Word of God.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that Yeshua cleanses and purifies His Body by washing with water through His Word, thus presenting it without stain or wrinkle or any blemish (Eph. 5:26-27). And James describes the Word of God as a mirror (1:23).

If we want to look like Him, we must check ourselves with in mirror on a regular basis, and whenever we recognize a stain, blemish or defect, we are to wash it with His Word.

I find it interesting that the Laver in the Tabernacle combines exactly these two things together. It was made of the bronze mirrors the women brought to the gate of the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 38:8), and of course – contained water. The priests approached it after ministering to the people at the gate and by the altar, and examined to see if a piece of meet, or a splatter of blood, or the dust of the wilderness had clung to them – all symbolizing the things that cling to us when we use the gifts God has gifted us with, as we serve Him and others.

How can we go through the veil and enter the Holy Place, the most intimate place within us where we can commune with God, unless we first wash all that has clung to us? How can we exist and grow in holiness without water – weather natural or spiritual? Obviously we cannot.

Our Abba in heaven, the people of Israel celebrates Your Word today and prays for water. Stir within them a hunger and thirst to your true Word. Bring them to the point in which the regulations and wisdom of men will not satisfy them any more. Lead them to the only Well that can provide them with living water, and cause rivers of living water to flow from within them.


Betrayal, Shame, and Forgiving Both Fathers

In my previous post (Selichot) I promised some more testimonies to the power of forgiveness. Here are a few more:

Tess’s Walk Through the Tabernacle

In her quest for freedom from emotional pain, Tess studied through the years various models of inner healing. At some point she realized that in order to walk in this desired freedom, she must identify the lies she believes in. She knew that the Tabernacle is the pattern God gave us in order to maintain a close relationship with Him. So, she figured there had to be more to it than the symbolism of the materials. While talking to a friend about the Tabernacle pattern being the way to God, she discovered my website. Tess tells: “I was touched to find an Israeli Messianic believer who had a revelation on the pattern from heaven, and who combined it with the journey of the human heart from the Outer Court to the Holiest Place. I wanted to learn more.”

By the time she registered for the Seminar, she was very angry about a series of recent betrayals. But once we started, Tess realized that God had a plan behind this betrayal. That He wanted to use the very “thorns” she had been carrying in her heart from her own “Egypt” to in order build inside her a place full of His glory, a Tabernacle. So, she started inviting Yeshua to be Lord over the details: over her struggle to forgive those involved and over her shame that her vulnerabilities were exposed.

There, at the Bronze Altar, she tasted the relief that comes with forgiveness. She realized that tormenting thoughts stem from unforgiveness, and that whenever something does not feel comfortable inside her, there is someone she first needs to forgive. Tess was relieved to find out that she does not need to figure things out. Rather, she can invite Yeshua into the situation, into each feeling, each thought and each reaction attached to it, and that He will sort it out.


Tess at the Bronze Altar, inviting Yeshua into the details

All of a sudden, she was surprised to learn that God is not moody. “It may sound silly”, she says, “but I always felt like I did not know which face of God I would find when I met with Him.  Tess had a big “wow” moment, when she realized that God is not unstable or inconsistent. Rather, He is so large and deep and consistent that He holds all these emotions simultaneously in perfect unity. That Holiness and love and justice are all wholly and thoroughly true and thoroughly Him all the time. Until then, she somehow perceived God as compartmentalized or fragmented. Tess repented of the mindset that kept her from drawing near to Him, and no longer wonders or worries which face she will encounter!

At the Basin Tess washed her understanding by studying what the Scriptures teach about shame. First, she gave her own definition, so that she could later compare it to God’s definition. Up to that point she defined shame as “being pervasively flawed, helpless to do anything about it; therefore the flaws must be covered up”. At the Basin, she found the Hebrew word that corresponds to shame in English. By looking it up in its context, she realized how far her understanding of the term was from what God says about it. She learned that it is others who put shame on us. She also learned that exposing someone’s “nakedness”, meaning their vulnerabilities, brings shame on the exposer. And that shame intends to destroy. It enters our hearts when someone exposes our vulnerability, it confuses us, scatters, breaks boundaries and ruins people’s safe places.


Tess washing at the Basin

As Tess was putting together these various pieces of “polished mirrors” (Ex. 38:8) from the Word, she eventually encountered a core lie she believed, and perceived to be truth up to that point. This lie says: “Shame is true. Shame speaks truth. The harshness of shame is to be expected. It is normal.”

This is when she passed through a mental Screen inside herself, into a Holier Place, as God’s light was exposing this dark lie. This was her Lampstand moment.

Once the lie of unnecessary harshness was exposed, Tess longed for tender mercy. The tenderness of the Hebrew word Ra-Ham spoke to her. It means mercy, a tender womb, compassion. She approached the Table and looked up some of the verses that contain this root. The trustworthiness of Isaiah 54:4-8 ministered to her, especially in light of its current literal fulfillment for Israel. She wrote verses 7 & 8 on cards and started chewing on them, feeding her hungry innermost being:

“For a small moment have I forsaken you, but with great mercies will I gather you… I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you.”

After a while, when these verses settled well inside her, she started eating Ps. 103:13: “As a father has compassion on His children…”

And then Lamentations 3:22: “…His compassions never cease.”

And again, Nehemiah 9:19: “Yet You in Your many mercies forsook them not…”

And after a while, Isaiah 49:10: “…for He who has compassion on them will lead them and guide them to springs of water…”

Tess ate these verses regularly, but especially when she felt the harshness of shame towards herself (“…with great mercies…”), when she felt scattered (“…I will gather you…”), when she needed compassion but not indulgence (“…his compassions never cease…”), and when she needed tenderness. Prior to building this Tabernacle, she would be filled with anger when these feelings popped up. But gradually, these specific Truths started corresponding with her painful feelings, becoming a part of her immediate reaction. A part of His Word became a part of who she is, and God’s glory took over her shame. What a wonderful Tabernacle, what a glorious testimony to who He is.

As a result, the friendship which was destroyed is now restored and healed. This is a Holiest Place situation, where God’s glory dwells on what used to be a source of pain. Since then Tess has built several more Tabernacles. Each time she found Him faithful to manifest His glory in her life in various ways. She knows He is always with her, that He is trustworthy, firm and reliable; that He instructs her; that He holds on to her without slackening or letting go, and strengthens her; that she can hold on to Him; that His glory is in how He stoops down to us in kindness, without falseness, and with dignity.

She now says, along with the Queen of Sheba: “The report was true that I heard in my own country about You, but I did not believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. Behold, the half was not told me… you have far exceeded the report I heard.”

Ben’s Story – the Impact of Forgiving Both Fathers

I met Ben a couple of years ago, in Norway, and was impressed with his honesty and thirst for healing. Here is his story: 

One late evening, my wife decided it was time to tell me something she had been waiting to say for a while. She felt I was finally ready to hear it. It had to do with forgiving my father.

I had recently come to know that the father figure in one’s life is extremely important, as it impacts how we see ourselves, as well as God. There was something I had longed to hear from my father since I was a child – comforting and encouraging words that would confirm who I am and how he sees me. Words that would tell me that I am valuable and good.

I grew up in a good and healthy Christian home. My father has always been very loving and kind, but did not express it so much in words. Since my love language is good words, I really needed to hear it from him, especially growing up.

In my youth I played soccer. The way my teammates and team leaders had been speaking during the games had a tremendous impact on the way I saw myself. I have always been very scared of making any mistakes. And since I was an extremely sensitive boy, I didn’t have the self-confidence to withstand what they were saying to me. That is where I would have needed my fathers words.

So that night I started talking with Jesus about what I had been longing for. I heard Orna’s teaching, and found it very natural. It flows with how we feel and think and react. That evening I felt the unforgiveness in my heart or in my solar plexus – I don’t quite remember, and I think I felt a lot of anger. But when I said: “In Jesus’ name, I forgive my father!” I could slowly feel the tension loosening, and in came a deep breath of fresh air.

Later I read in Orna’s book that when we forgive, Jesus’ blood comes into the painful area, into the prison cells, where we hold captive the person who had hurt us, and cleanses them.

The following day my wife and I went to my parents for dinner. I did not say anything about the night before, but I was thinking about it the whole meal. And then… after dinner, my father suddenly said the most encouraging words he ever told me, without him even knowing I had forgiven him.

He simply said: “What me and your mother have always longed for is for you to really be who you are”.

This may sound simple, but that was the most beautiful thing he could ever have said, and it meant so much! He acknowledged who I am. I truly believe that circumstances change after we forgive, just as Orna taught me. I gave my father a big hug, and both of us moved to the living room. It created such a natural opportunity to tell him that I had forgiven him. We had an open and honest conversation, knowing that this is a milestone for me.

Now, when I recall some of my past memories, I can sense that Jesus is Lord in and over them. It is so very special. Thank you Jesus!

The last four years I have gone through a gradual but radical recovery from mental illness, where Jesus has slowly healed me from a long line of problems: clinical depression, psychoses, suicidal thoughts and attempts, obsessive thoughts and emotions, massively lost memories, deep rooted anxieties and fears, unhealthy beliefs and views on God and his Word. I was so ill, I don’t even remember how it was. When I hit rock bottom, I went into a mental hospital and really got saved by Jesus, the same day.

It has now been two years since I came out of the hospital. I got married and we moved into our own house. Jesus is now saying that I am ready to finish the chapter of illness in my life, that it has been a triumphant one, and that I am ready to continue into work and ministry, taking the lead in my marriage, and making true my dream to help, comfort and counsel people who struggle with similar issues.

Orna and Dana visited our small town and taught the Tabernacle and forgiveness. Towards the end Orna started talking about blaming God and carrying unforgiveness towards Him. I felt strongly that it was speaking to me.

I realized I had been angry with God for having to go through all this. When the session was over, I didn’t even say goodbye, just walked home quickly to be with God.

I laid in bed, and began to invite Jesus in as Lord. I started speaking to God about everything I had to go through, and how angry I was with Him. It was a precious time, and I kind of felt there was a good answer, a solution, right around the corner. I forgave God with all my heart, after I acknowledged all the feelings and thoughts I carried against Him. The answer I got was surprising, yet extremely comforting. When I had forgiven God, it was like I could hear a voice saying: “It was not Me”.

All of a sudden I saw Him only as the Helper. In everything. The Supporter, the One who has enabled me to go through all this. Only good. Only comforting.

I also recalled something my therapist has told me: “All the phases of the illness have been necessary stages of the recovery”. That changed my perception of God immediately, and in the weeks after I saw more areas where I had blamed God.

And once I had “forgiven” God, I was able to hear Him say: “I forgive you”. It was really Him forgiving me for carrying that unforgiveness towards Him – after all, God never sins against us. This has healed my perception of God, and made me understand a verse from 1st John more deeply: “God is light, and there is no darkness in him!