Could Have

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Polish born poet, Wislawa Szymborska, is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. The Polish authorities tried to silence her and outlawed her poems, as they did not align with the communist ideology. But she continued developing her unique voice, and eventually won the Nobel prize in literature (1966).

In one of her poems Szymborska stated that “no more than two out of a thousand care for the art (of poetry)”. In reality though, copies of her books have been sold in quantities that compete with prose, and were translated into a myriad of languages, among them Hebrew.

In a simple, direct style, bare of the artistic flowery elements that usually characterize poetry (rhymes, imagery, motifs, etc.), she touches on some of the most monumental issues, using the simplest of means. In almost all of her poems she captures small moments and lingers on them, while expressing much acceptance of human weaknesses.

Her poem “Could Have” caught my eye. From a different angle she tells the story of survivors of a war that is not named specifically, but is well recognized between the lines.

Could Have

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck – there was a forest.
You were in luck – there were no trees.
You were in luck – a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant…
So you’re here?

Still dizzy from another dodge,
close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or speechless.
Listen, how your heart pounds inside me.


The national annual holocaust memorial day (Yom HaShoah) starts tomorrow. The thousands of survivors who are still among us, like Mania and Esther, Miriam and Inna, Arkady and Yafim and the others we keep in touch with throughout the year – for the most part believe it’s a mere coincidence that they survived. Will you take a moment, think about their bruised soul, and pray that they will lift up their eyes to the One who saw every “could have” they have been through, and has a mysterious way to weave their brokenness into the wholeness His Son’s blood provides?

Absalom Smith

The famous slap heard around the world is still stirring up waves – even weeks later. I presume you have all heard its echoes all the way to your parlor. But if for some reason you are unaware of what I’m referring to, you can read all about it in the link at the bottom of this post.*

What has stirred such a fire under the feet of the Prince of Bel Air, that up to that point was watching with wide grins, as Chris Rock was joking at the expense of others? Was it just his wife’s honor he was trying to defend when he jumped out of his chair?

I kind of doubt that. After all, now, not only does the whole world know that Jada is bald, (almost) everyone talks about it, adding snarky remarks about her hot-headed husband, who, God only knows, may be quick to raise his hand to her as well? Or simply put: Assuming Will wanted to protect her honor, he ended up just dumping it into a deeper hole.

Great Honor

But if this is what he was really concerned with, could he have acted differently? From the video that went viral, it looks like Will didn’t even glance at Jada before he jumped up to slap Chris Rock. Maybe he thinks that what hurts him also hurts her; that his muscular arm will suffice to fill his wife and the audience with awe. But had he stopped for a second, he would have realized that what he is about to do will only accomplish the opposite, and that he is about to expose his wife to further humiliation.

I wonder what went through Jada’s mind in those seconds. She may have started the day with a visit to her manicurist, followed by a trip to the hair salon, before she put on the fancy clothes and accessories she chose so carefully. After all, her husband was nominated for best actor, which meant the cameras will focus on them quite a bit. Great honor was awaiting them! So what went through her mind when right there, in front of the whole world to see, the hope was shattered and the narrative reversed?

Who Cares, Anyway?

The story in and of itself may be interesting, but that’s not the reason I bring it up here. I am looking into it because of its resemblance to a Biblical story, one that is pretty hard to digest.

This has been the worse day in the life of Princess Tamar. It could very well be that it too started with some beautification treatments, and carefully choosing a beautiful garment denoting her virginity, and jewelry to accentuate her beauty. After all, she was just invited to personally care for the heir to the throne. Great honor indeed! 

It could well be that Tamar had her eyes already set on Amnon (though the Torah forbade marriage between half-siblings, it doesn’t look like David’s kids really took heart to keep the commandments). Amnon was the firstborn, the successor to the king. And if she indeed had any dreams of marrying him, it means that his abusive actions had hurt not only her physical body, but broke her heart and shattered her dreams as well.

2 Samuel 13 tells how in mere minutes, Tamar’s world turned upside down. From a respected, honored princess, wearing a royal diadem, she became a broken mess with ashes covering her head. That morning started with a desire to assist her brother out of love and goodwill, but by day’s end, she was left with a shattered heart and a body that was forever broken.

Up to that point, Tamar wore a beautiful garment, designed for the virgin princesses (v. 18). Once Amnon stole her virginity, she outwardly did what she felt on the inside. She tore the robe, spread ashes on her head, and began screaming.

Hush Now

At this point, her own Will Smith – brother Absalom – enters the scenery and takes matters into his hands. “Hush now, hold your peace, keep quiet!” he commands Tamar, “he (Amnon) is your brother; do not take this thing to heart!” (v. 20).

Credit: Love Quiding. Charcoal portrait drawing series

Or simply put: “Forget your own feelings and emotions, and ignore what just happened”. I’m not sure why he emphasized the fact that Amnon is her brother. Was that the reason he wanted her to hush? Because the family’s honor and reputation were about to be contaminated? Was he asking her to not display the family’s dirty laundry for all to see?

Whatever his reasoning, while Absalom commanded her to ignore her emotional wellbeing, he was very focused on his own. The narrator goes on to tell us that while Tamar set desolate in her brother’s house, Absalom took care of his own honor and planned a bloody revenge on Amnon.

Art credit: Illustrator Xinuo

Not only that, when their father – king David – heard about it all, he was furious, but he too seems to not do anything (v. 21). The two men that were supposed to protect Tamar, raise up her head and restore her honor, did nothing to that effect. Amnon was later murdered, but otherwise, he would have been sitting on the throne following his father’s death.

A City of Refuge

For a while now, I have been working with a team of several leaders and professionals, in order to establish some infrastructure and guidelines that would serve the Israeli Body regarding sexual harassment. At this point we focus on assaults caused by other believers, especially those done by people in leadership positions.

The local Body is not recognized by the Israeli authorities as an official institute, therefore we are not obligated to gather statistical data. In addition to that, the fact that we are relatively a small Body, within which almost everyone knows everyone else, makes the collection of localized information nearly impossible. So we rely on data gathered in the western Christian world, and on complaints and requests we receive from across the Land. Sadly, the picture portrayed is pretty grim.

At this point, we are working on the publication of an informative booklet on the subject.** It exposes the extent of the issue at hand, details the treatment options and the means of prevention available, and so forth. At a later point, we plan to compose some form of a charter, which will hopefully be signed by the local leaders, in order to purify our precious Body from this harmful, evil affliction.

Some of the team members are dealing with casualties of sexual harassment in their daily work and ministry. We often hear many cries. At times it is a restrained one. On rare occasions, it can be heard far and wide, much like the cries of Tamar.

The abuse she had suffered did not end the moment she was sent out of Amnon’s room. It just changed its looks. The Body of Yeshua must act in this realm in a different attitude than those characteristic of David or Absalom. Our team was formed in order to alert believers to this cry and even join it.

Our congregations and ministries should be “Cities of Refuge” in the most basic sense: a place in which the wounded receive healing, the sinners and even the criminals receive correction and restoration, and the flock sees what practical grace, judgment and reconciliation can be, and what the fact that they are available to us through the blood of Yeshua actually means.

Beauty for Ashes

Abba, your son’s Bride resembles at times portions of Ezekiel 16. We started our story abandoned, naked and dirty in the field, and then You bathed and clothed us with silk and adornments. No matter how severely we have been trampled, the crown You promise to place on our heads is greater than all the ashes or baldness or sackcloth we often embrace.

Forgive us for hurting each other, as well as ourselves; make straight our paths before You. Yeshua. You promised to present us before You without spot or blemish, yet that is something only You can do! So Replace this shame and adorn Your Bride with real honor.

And as for our team: please fill us with the necessary wisdom, so that we can contribute our part to eliminating this evil from our midst. Help all the elders that are sitting at the various gates of the land to heal the social order in Your precious Body, our Body. Paraphrasing Ezekiel 17:6, I ask that by Your blood we will live. By Your blood, we shall live!



** We need some funds to produce this informational booklet on sexual assault. Many hours have already been poured into it, and now the end is in sight. If you would like to sow a little part into making this vision a reality, please email us at and we will provide you with further details.

Healer, Judge, Warrior

Amir and Shani met about seven years ago, both were working at the time for the Israeli police force. He is a Christian Arab, she is Jewish. He began his academic education in medicine, switched to law, and eventually served as a police officer.

Tuesday, March 29th, just a few minutes before the clock struck 8pm, Amir’s police unit was called to the streets of the orthodox Jewish city of Bnei Brak (on the outskirts of Tel Aviv). Someone was shooting all over the place with an M-16. Senior Staff Sergeant Major Khuri managed to disarm the terrorist, but sustained critical wounds while doing so. He later died at the hospital.

A Hero

The funeral ceremony was held at the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth. Shani, his Jewish fiancé, hugged the Police Force flag and saluted: “My hero, you are now the hero of all of Israel!”

Images from Amir Khuri’s funeral (credit:

Several terror attacks had hit us in the past couple of weeks, yet the media dedicated much airtime to this story. Probably because of its uniqueness. An Arab terrorist (a Muslim), that was planning to die while killing Jews, ends up killing another Arab; and the victim, on his end, was willing to sacrifice his life in order to save Jews.

Two orthodox Jews were also killed in that attack, both residents of Bnei Brak. The willingness of a Christian Arab to jump into the fire in order to save Jewish lives has stirred up a mini-revolution in that city. Its residents are not used to such gestures coming from Arabs. The funeral, though held in a Christian location (which is considered defiled by the Orthodox) was attended by many Rabbis and orthodox Jews.

A “Ruler who Whitens” and a “Red One who is Straight”

So much symbolism is embedded in this story, even in the very names of Amir and Shani.

Amir Khuri means in Hebrew “a prince, a ruler, a governor, a nobleman who has turned white”. Shani Yashar (his fiancé’s name) means “red and straight”.

For the first time ever the municipal authorities of Bnei Brak have decided to commemorate a non-Jew. Almost unanimously everyone voted to name one of the city’s streets, that up to that point were always named after Jewish heroes, in Khuri’s name. That’s their way of honoring his bravery and the fact that his actions prevented a greater tragedy.

I am trying to imagine the day in which a street in Israel will be named in honor of another Hero, one who was willing to jump into the fire to save Jews – of Yeshua the Messiah. I can’t think of an emoji that will depict our astonishment when that will happen.

We do know that such a day will indeed come, as the whole land will be called by the name of its rightful owner, in whose wings all the above symbols and many more are expressed: healing, law-giving, righteous judgment, and the power to turn our sins white as snow as He puts us on a straight path.

One At a Time

Welcome, Yeshua! You are the only Ruler and Prince (Amir), in whose Red (Shani) Blood our hearts are made White (Khuri) and Straight (Yashar). Even though entire streets or cities are not called in Your name as of yet, we rejoice over each Israeli heart that realizes The Hero of Israel was willing to give His life for him or her.

I thank you that our nation is able to recognize a hero when we see someone who is willing to give his life, not only for his own loved ones, but for those who are considered to be enemies.

As Passover approaches, I ask that You open more eyes among our people, specifically this time among the Orthodox in Bnei Berak. Enable them to see the Jewish Face of the one who is still considered the greatest enemy of our nation.

Please stretch Your mighty Arm so we can fathom the fact You had sent Your Son to His suffering. Amir’s father cried bitterly and said that all he wants right now is to have his son back home, with him. If asked, I doubt he would willingly send Amir to this final watch of his. So understandable. But there is nothing he could have done to prevent the outcoming.

El Gibor (Mighty God), Pe’le (Miracle), use this story to soften another layer in our hardened hearts. Amaze us with the sobering realization that although You could have prevented Yeshua’s death, we are carved so deep on the pupils of Your eyes, that You chose to let Him go.

I also ask that Amir’s family and his fiancé will acknowledge the full price that has already been paid. As the Christian world is preparing to celebrate Your death and resurrection, please work in their hearts and turn their mourning into joy.