In response to my Emergency order #8 – צו 8 video, many have been asking how they can fill their quivers with more arrows.
Here are some tips and instructions that can help.
In response to my Emergency order #8 – צו 8 video, many have been asking how they can fill their quivers with more arrows.
Here are some tips and instructions that can help.
Your worst wounds and battles are not something to suppress or ignore, but a way to manifest God’s incredible Glory. So we invite you to join a special program, that will transform your innermost being and equip you with tools that can turn you into a victorious child of God, a Tabernacle Builder, a healthy and active disciple.
The Mercy Seat – a piece from our half-scaled model of the Tabernacle
Your Pain, His Glory
What is causing you much pain, tormenting you and pushing your buttons? We all have our battlegrounds – problems, sins or bad habits we seem to never get rid of. For a while we may manage to defeat or control them, but then they rear up their ugly heads all over again, and we find out that the root is still there.
Over the years we have developed a powerful course, designed to help the followers of Yeshua practice in their personal lives what the People of Israel were called to do in the original Tabernacle, so that God’s glory can replace the shame, guilt, fear, and any other struggle.
Doing On Earth What is Done in Heaven
The seminar “Walking Through the Tabernacle” is based on the pattern of the Tabernacle built by Moses. This was God’s original design, His way to turn a mob of broken slaves into children of God, warriors, priests.
What worked for them must work for us, if we learn the principles and apply them. This seminar was developed through our own life experiences, and while ministering to extremely broken people. It is a thorough and intense discipleship course, that have proven itself through the lasting results and the revolution it created in the lives of those who chose to walk through it.
The full seminar lasts seven months. Shorter versions of it were offered in Israel and in several places around the world. We now offer the full program in Israel to English speakers, over a period of 9 consecutive days. The next seminar will be held in the old city of Jerusalem, with some of the main Biblical locations as the backdrop.
The dates are September 1-11, 2023 (including 2 days for arrival and departure).
If you would like to join this unique program, please email us for further details at email@example.com.
In these 21 days leading up to Shavuot (Pentecost), as the eyes and prayers of millions in the Christian world are focusing on the needs and salvation of Israel, I feel that God had placed on my heart another angle of this vigil.
“Yom HaZikaron” – Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims National Day of Remembrance 2023
As far as the secular Jew in Israel is concerned, the holiest day of the year is not “Yom Kippur” (the Day of Atonement) or any other day mentioned in the Torah, but “Yom HaZikaron”. This year it fell on April 24th.
More than 24,000 soldiers have been killed since Israel declared its independence in 1948. This number does not include the hundreds of victims of terror, the shell-shocked who suffer from PTSD, causing them to relive the battles they fought in all over again every day, every night. And of course, it does not include the myriad of those wounded. In a small nation, with mandatory IDF service for all girls and boys once they finish high school, that means that each person knows someone who was killed. In many homes this is a father, a son, a daughter.
Mere hours before the day began two days ago, I heard 4 or 5 shots outside my window, followed by the sound of loud sirens. A 39 years old man (father of 5 from Beit Safafa, an Arab village south of Jerusalem), sped through the street parallel to mine. When he reached the cross walk he veered,left the straight path,and aimed his car at pedestrians crossing the road. He physically wounded 8 – one is still fighting for his life – and several others were treated for anxiety attacks brought on a result of his act. An armed civilian, who happened to walk by, shot and killed him before he could harm anyone else.
I use this same crosswalk countless times each week. Whenever I need to cross the narrow alleys where I live to run any errand, get to the train station, or on my way to some meeting, I pass that exact spot.
A few hours after the attack I went to the Old City. Images of memorial candles and a rolling list with thousands of names of the fallen soldiers were displayed on the wall. Men gathered spontaneously at its base to say “Kaddish” over these names.
When the evening siren went off to mark the beginning of the Memorial Day, Soldiers saluted. Everyone stood still and lowered their heads. Arab passersby, however, continued to walk. For them this is not a holy day at all. The contrast was stark. Painful.
Saying “Kaddish” while names of the fallen are displayed on the wall
To some extent, there really is something holy and sacred about this day. Holy in the sense of separate, different. Israelis are the masters of vocal arguments on any subject. Yet, during this day most of us manage to put aside our differences and generate a common array of emotions. Compassion and sorrow, mourning and determination. And a sobering understanding that we have no choice but to keep fighting, as we have no other land.
In our foolishness, we did try to assimilate among the nations and cease from being the chosen (and persecuted) people. At the end of the 19th century, many Jews in Europe considered converting to Christianity, not because they believed in Yeshua, but in order to rid themselves of their Jewishness. Some even did. That didn’t help, as we well know.
Among them was one, Theodore (Binyamin) Ze’ev Herzl. He argued that all Jews should be forced to convert, and was even planning on following through with it. He truly believed this would exempt us from the burden of anti-Semitism.
But then came the Dreyfus Affair. As a journalist, Herzl was sent to cover the court case. This is when he realized that anti-Semitism had deeper roots, and that the solution must include a separate state, not assimilation or a change of religion. Thus was born his vision for the establishment of the Jewish state.
But with all due respect to Herzl’s vision, God had talked about it centuries before. The biblical prophets had spoken about it time and again. Yes, God did punish His chosen people for our sins, and among other things even expelled us from our own Land, which will stood desolate for centuries, but when the day came, He did (and is continuing to) restore us back to it. In it.
Herzl passed away in 1904. Three decades later Europe began vomitting its Jews in the throes of some extreme bellyaches.
Here we are. Still surrounded by those who don’t think this is our place. Thank God, this time we have a well-armed fleshly arm(y) that can protect the Land. But sadly, most of us keep ignoring the Right Arm who created our nation for good deeds, and chose us to fulfill a unique destiny – shine His light to all nations.
Yesterday morning, as the two-minute siren was heard once more throughout the country, and ceremonies were held in all military cemeteries throughout Israel, I sought to enter a spot in the heart of my nation as we remember our dead. I wanted to linger within myself in that space in my heart, where I carry the widowhood of my nation. I focused on the seam line in our collective existence. On one side of this seam line lies a deep certainty that we must protect ourselves when needed. On the other side lies our unique calling to carry something from God to all people groups of the world, including (and perhaps especially) those who live among us.
This seam line is not sewn with colorful threads. It bleeds. And its shape is that of a cross.
Israel, my beloved, lift up your eyes to the One who found you in the field, washed your impurity, dressed you in fine clothing and called you to be a light for His creation (Ezekiel 16). Expand the pegs of your tent, stretch out the curtains of your dwelling place and do not hold back. Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. God already promised that you will break forth to the right and to the left, and that your offspring will inherit nations and inhabit desolate cities. The days are coming when you will no longer be treated as a shamed virgin or a widow who is despised. For your Maker will reveal Himself as your husband, as the Lord of Hosts. You will then realize that your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. He is the one who called you when you were a forsaken and sorrowful woman, a wife of youth who was rejected. In a moment of anger He indeed forsook you, but in great mercy He is gathering us – your children. In His wrath He concealed from us the true Face and identity of the Jewish Messiah, but in eternal mercy He will show His compassion on us and redeem us (Isaiah 54:2-8).
Dear Israel, it is indeed permissible for us to cling to the memory of the fallen. We should definitely remember those who gave their lives for our protection. But as we do that, as we shed our tears and go through a powerful long day of solidarity, I pray that that we will be able to pick into His heart. That we will find the courage to adjust the rhythm of our yearnings and sadness to His, and that in His embrace we will find the seam – that spot that can enable us to be restored WHILE we take our place as a mother-nation, helping other people groups find their eternal identity and purpose.
I am longing for the day when we do not see only threats surrounding us, but succeed to create a bosom in which even Arabs from Beit Safafa can find the true answers and the straight path.
My father, Yona, was a holocaust survivor. The holocaust was an unwanted, silent shadow in my family. It was always there, floating in mid air – though we all pretended it did not exist.
Growing up I tried to avoid immersing myself in books and movies on the topic. It’s not an easy feat here in Israel, as the “ghost” of the holocaust is hovering everywhere, including the public education system. But where I had the option to choose, I steered clear of it. Not because I thought it not worthy of my time. We work closely with several survivors on an ongoing basis, and hearing them is a gift I do not take lightly! But reading books and watching movies took an emotional toll that was hard to bear.
This year, for the first time in my life, I thought I am ready to face it. Ready to be exposed to more stories, ready to open my heart and look evil straight in the eye. So when I was asked to escort a group of Israeli youth on a journey to Poland, I dove straight into the center of hell – the biggest extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Something happened to me there. I still struggle to find the accurate words to describe it. I find inside me a new level of awe for accuracy. I don’t want to just use big adjectives or familiar words to describe it. I am not even sure I am supposed to describe it. I just let whatever surfaces float within my soul and spirit, until eventually it will find rest or make some sense.
Since I came back, I have moments of confusion and some raw new emotions. I have anger, mingled with deep sadness, and I am not always sure towards whom. I find myself dealing with thoughts that never bothered me before. I may share some of them here later. But at this point, as we commemorate the annual Holocaust Memorial Day here in Israel, I’d like to share with you a short video I recorded together with my friend Rachel Smilovich, who translates me here into Spanish for her friends and relatives.
Sunday, April 19th, 1903
The Kozaks ended their Easter prayers at the Orthodox Church in Kishinev (now the capital of Moldova, Chisinau), and on their way home to enjoy the holiday meal had began to slaughter Jews in the city. For three days the rioters mutilated bodies and scattered them throughout the city. They were hammering nails into the heads of the victims, gouged out eyes, and threw infants from high altitudes, beat and castrated men and raped women. During the riots, 49 Jews were killed. 92 were severely injured, over 500 slightly injured, and over 700 homes and businesses were looted and destroyed.
The local bishop rode through the streets of the city in his carriage during the riots and blessed the rioters. The Minister of Interior Affairs ordered the provincial governor to not come to the Jews’ defense. The police and the army stood on the sidelines, watching and doing nothing to prevent the massacre.
Images of the aftermath of the Kishinev Pogrom
All They Care About is Money
For a while, before the riots broke out, a local newspaper regularly published articles against the Jewish population, under titles such as “Death to the Jews” and “Crusade Against the Hated Race.” Then, in early 1903, the body of a Christian boy was found a few kilometers outside of Kishinev. It was later discovered that he was murdered by his uncle over a dispute regarding inheritance, but by then it was too late… the Jews were blamed for his death. The newspaper also accused the Jews of a capitalist exploitation of Christians, and gradually incited riots against them, at the encouragement of the bishop.
The Russian ambassador to the United States claimed in an interview conducted in May 1903 that, “The reason for the biased attitude [towards Jews in Russia, Germany, and Austria] is due to the fact that Jews do not work in the fields or in agriculture. They prefer to lend money.” A familiar claim: Jews deserve to be persecuted because money is all they care about.
My grandmother Zilpa was born in Kishinev in 1900. She was only 3 years old when these riots began and the locals, thirsty for blood, murdered her father, my great-grandfather. Shortly after the pogrom, Zionist activists convinced her mother to leave for Israel with her three children, along with over 50 kids, who were orphaned as a result of that pogrom. Zilpa later settled in the city of Rishon LeZion, where she established her home and gave birth to my mother, Ahuva. That is also where all my sisters and I grew up.
Savta Zilpa and me, age 1
King Cyrus of Persia issued his famous edict in 539 BCE. Despite the decree allowing all Jews to go back to their homeland, only around 42,000 returned to Zion. Researchers struggle to accurately estimate the exact number of Jews who remained in Persia inspite of that decree, but there is no doubt that their number was at least two or three times larger, maybe even more. Why didn’t they all come back? Why did so many of them prefer to stay in exile?
Judea stood desolate. In contrast, life in exile was comfortable. Persian kings were not as cruel as their Babylonian predecessors, and they allowed religious freedom throughout the empire. Moreover, by that time, most Persian Jews were born in exile and not in Judea. They were not familiar with life in the land, and have adopted much of the local culture. This is evidenced by pagan names we find in the OT, such as Esther (Ishtar), Belshazzar (the name given to Nehemiah), and Mordechai (named after the god Marduk), as well as Persian words that penetrated the OT (like paradise, religion, Purim, dictum, satrap).
Even Mordechai and Esther preferred to stay in exile. I find a hidden warning to the Jewish reader here: whoever delights in the comforts that the enlightened exile provides him, risks possible destruction or assimilation.
Did the threat of mass destruction, that hung over Persian Jews for months, lead to another wave of immigration to the Land? The Bible does not specify, but the dynamic is familiar. Waves of immigration to Israel increase in direct proportion to the rising in anti-Semitism in the same region.
Wars and Aliya (Immigration to Israel)
When a war breaks out somewhere, the media coverage usually centers around the geopolitical aspects, and the focus is placed on the agressor and the victim. In the war that has employed the media in the past year, Putin is of course the attacker and Zelensky the victim. And God? Is he hiding?
This is how, for the most part, the media presents things. But even when God and His outstretched arm are hidden from the lenses of the media, it is clear to us that He is the one pulling the strings behind the scenes. And what sometimes appears at face value as a series of random events, actually advances His plan. Always!
Wars have two important ramifications the media does not even realize that they need to pay attention to. Wars help spreading the Gospel to new areas, because every time borders are breached, the Gospel can reach new places; Believers move to safer places; refugees leave countries where they were not exposed to the Gospel as this was prohibited by law, and arrive in places where they are more exposed to it; and the horrors of war stir the fear of God in the hearts of people who until then were indifferent.
The second ramification is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. Jews living in danger zones begin to understand that a safer place is waiting for them beyond the so-called paradise of diaspora. And so, new waves of immigration to Israel begin. Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, more than 38,000 requests for immigration have been submitted to Israel’s embassies in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. More than 50,000 immigrants have already arrived in Israel since the beginning of the war (more than twice as many compared to the year before).
The Tables Have Turned
Whenever anti-Semitism is on the rise in any place, an obvious cloud of fear begins to hover over the heads of Jews living there. But the book of Esther describes the opposite. An interesting expression appears in chapter 9. “The tables were turned” – things switched over. Apparently, many of the peoples who lived in the Persian empire chose to convert to Judaism, that is to join the Jewish people.
“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them” (Esther 8:17).
The reason is clear: a royal decree was published, allowing the Jews to avenge their enemies. So why not join them and be on the attacking side? It is certainly possible that many of the converts did so purely out of pragmatism. But I wonder if among them were also those who simply feared God, not the Jews. Were there some who understood that there is no point in worshiping false idols since there is only one true God who protects His people? If so, it means that throughout the ancient world, in the 127 countries that stretched from India to Cush in those days of king Xerxes, there were Gentiles who joined the Jewish faith and began to learn about God’s words and prophecies (see also 9:1-3).
Shortly after that era, the canonization of the Tanakh came to an end. Next we have 400 years of scriptural silence, and the next thing the Bible records for us starts with the birth of Yeshua and the Magi, who arrived in Bethlehem from the east. It’s almost as if the Bible picks up from the same geographical area it left. I wonder if these Magi grew up on the knees of the descendants of those converts, and learned from their mouths about the Messiah King and the star that will one day shine from Jacob.
Jews and Money
There is an interesting emphasis in the book of Esther. Twice it says that the Jews “did not stretch out their hand in plunder” (9:15-16). On the contrary, they invested money and sent gifts to the poor (9:22). The book makes it clear that there was no greed on the part of the Jews, no attempt to profit financially, and no capitalist exploitation of the locals. It was just a people fighting for their lives. Nothing more, nothing less.
The average Israeli does not concern himself much with the Biblical text. Most of us study the OT in school as a historical or literary text, but not as a holy, sacred one that we should meditate on. The OT is written in Ancient Hebrew. The language we speak today is a modern one. Though the two have many similarities, they are in fact quite different, which makes it difficult to understand the Biblical one.
An Interesting Phenomenon
About 15 years ago, a fascinating phenomenon emerged. Secular singers, many are local famous stars, became bored with mundane love songs, and started looking for more profound texts to compose and sing. They found their inspiration in the OT and in ancient prayer books, that are used regularly at the synagogues. Wonderful music is composed to accompany the old, forgotten words, that by now are heard again everywhere. In the marketplace, in homes, in town squares, in stadiums and theatres. Who could have imagined just a few years ago that thousands of tickets to these concerts, where performers are singing about God, will sell out in a matter of hours.
And so, through the back door, so to speak, Israelis recite the ancient words, and begin to take interest in their meaning. Hopefully, even internalize it. What a brilliant way to awaken in our souls a deep longing for His Word, for the text we have become numb and indifferent to. But God had promised to restore us back to the Land, and then to Himself, and He is using unique means to go about it.
To You Is My Desire
One of the first songs in this new wave is based on a prayer for Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – that was written in the 12th century. The words are proclaimed each year in the synagogues, proclaimed back and forth between the cantor and the crowd. It deals with almost every member of the physical body and dedicates them to God, and the lines are arranged in the order of the Hebrew alphabet.
About a decade ago, a famous Israeli singer – Meir Banai – composed music to some of the verses of this ode, and the song became an instant hit, despite its hard to understand Hebrew.
Meir Banai, Le’cha Eli
To you, my God, is my desire, in You is my pleasure and my love. To You my heart and my kidneys belong, to You my spirit and my soul. To You my hands and feet belong, and from You is my whole nature, (all of) myself, my blood is for You, as are my skin and my bones. To You my eyes, and my ideas, to You my form and my design. To You my spirit, and my strength, my fortress and my hope. To you I cry out, and do not keep silent, until my inner darkness You turn into light. To You I’ll cry, to you I’ll cling, until the day to the earth I return. To you is the Kingdom, to You honor and glory, to You my praise will surely rise. From You all help in time of need, be my help in my times of need. And what am I, and what’s my life? What is my strength and my power? As chaff wafting in the wind, how will you recall my being? And in your hidden, secret Light [a Rabbinic symbol of the Messiah] my refuge and safety lies, and under your wings may my place forever be.
Come! We Have Been Awaiting You for So Many years
In 2008, another Israeli superstar- Amir BenAyoun – published an album called Standing in the Gate, focusing on the coming of the Messiah. One of the songs, which also became a hit, says:
I hear You are returning all the way back. I saw the angels setting a banquet table for the Son of the King. I also saw a ladder, with longing climbing up and down it. I heard winds caressing the leaves. I heard the ocean has declared a time of celebration. I saw the stars and moon dance up above. They too know how to roll back. I heard that the sun is nothing but a shadow. I saw a tower shake and fall to the ground. Come! We have been awaiting you for so many years. We have gone crazy, we have no face anymore [a Rabbinic phrase which means we have no more strength] We just perish more and more with the passing of time, so come! Yes, come! We have no more dishes we can break. We don’t know who’s sane here, who’s a drunkard that keeps falling to the pit, obviously, So come, yes come! I heard You are standing at the gate, and that every blameless lamb would be able to live in the woods, and I heard too that this heart will no longer die. But that imagination will sign a peace contract with reality, and all the sounds will become one simple song. So come!
Amir BenAyoun, Omed Ba’Sha’ar – Standing at the gate
A Surprising Moment
A huge surprise struck the Messianic Hebrew speakers in the Land when a secular, mainstream singer – Avraham Tal – fell in love with the words of 1 Corinthians 13 and composed music to it. The chatter in YouTube surrounding this song makes it obvious that the audience had no idea where the text originated from. Once that was discovered, people were filled with fear and concern they may have been guilty of idol worshiping by singing words taken from the NT.
Avraham Tal, Im BiLeshonot – If I speak in tongues (1 Cor. 13)
I can easily fill this post with pages upon pages of endless links to beautiful, touching songs, as this phenomenon has now become a norm. Secular Israelis still love Rock and Pop music, but they are also more than willing to shell out several hundred shekels on a ticket to a concert that solely covers ancient texts that focus on God.
I will end with one more song that touches me personally. It has garnered more than 9 million views on YouTube, even though it was published only three years ago. The writer is a religious singer- Ishay Ribo – and it is based on another confession declared at synagogues worldwide during Yom Kippur.
The song describes the work of the high priest in the Holy of Holies during the most revered day on the Jewish calendar. Up to that point, the secular Jew (and perhaps the religious one too), did not really know much about the order of service of the high priest in the Temple.
As you listen to it, you can pray that starting tomorrow (during Tuesday and Wednesday this week), as people gather in synagogues and confess their sins in hope that some covering will be provided for them, more eyes will open wide, more scales will fall, and more people will seek the Face of the one true High Priest. May this nation see Him for who He truly is, and bless the name of His kingdom forever and ever, as the song says.
Ishay Ribo, Seder Ha’Avoda – The order of service in the Temple
(be sure to click the CC button for the English translation of the song)
The Messiah is coming out of the synagogues, out of ancient texts that have not been accessible to the nation for centuries, and in some ways is returning from the alienation and foreignness that was added to His image during centuries of diaspora.
And just like He did when He walked this earth, when against all the expectations of the religious system He mingled with harlots and tax collectors, Samaritan women and even Zealots, He now reveals parts of His Face through pop culture. The multitudes are opening their hearts in a most unexpected location – the amphitheaters, and they are crying:
Come! We have been awaiting You for so many years, and we have no face anymore.
Come, Lord Yeshua!
The Biblical pattern for worshipping God has nothing to do with religion. It’s based on faith and on hearing. Israel is called to hear, not necessarily to focus on what we see. Idols can be seen, but they don’t have life, and therefore don’t have a voice. The essence of this important principle is described in the well-known statement: “Hear, O Israel”; and not “Look and see, O Israel…”
Our entire faith comes from hearing. So even though what we see has a much stronger hold on our human flesh, seeing is not the testing stone for Truth or for the depth of relationship one can have with the God of Israel.
One of the most challenging aspects of following our God is recognizing His voice and following it. We’d rather follow what our eyes see, or what audible voices say. We work hard to recognize His still small voice, that so lovingly echoes in our innermost being. Throughout the OT and the Gospels, Yeshua constantly rebuked our nation for expecting signs and wonders – proofs that can be seen, while ignoring the Ancient Voice of the Word – written and spoken.
A Loud and Clear Sound
Imagine with me – a multitude of people, milling around aimlessly, not sure what to do, when to move. And then, a sound is heard, loud and clear, calling them to their appointed place with the blowing of the Shofar.
There are seven feasts God called Israel to specifically celebrate or commemorate perpetually – seven appointed Moadim. Times set aside to meet with Him, to draw near to Him (Lev. 23). These give us the framework for God’s plan for the salvation of the world and preparation of His kingdom.
But for the most part today in Jewish circles, we have lost much of the intended meaning of these Moadim. Many of these appointed times are not celebrated at all, and the rest are not celebrated the way God intended them to or at the original Biblical date. And thus we miss many annual opportunities to hear His voice and stray further and further from the path that points to Yeshua.
Zichron Teruah – Leviticus 23:24
Tonight, Jews all over the world will mark the feast of Rosh Hashana – the beginning of the Jewish year. Some call it the “Day of Trumpet”, but a more literal translation of the original title is “remembering the sound of the trumpet”. Kind of an odd name. What is it exactly that we are supposed to remember?
Why is the Shofar Blown?
Jeremiah (6:17) describes the voice of God as Kol Shofar – the sound, or better yet the voice of the shofar. The context makes it clear it is referring to God’s voice. So, what is it exactly we are called to remember? I believe it is the voice of God. Zichron Truah – remembering the voice of God.
Where did the people hear the blowing of the trumpet as the voice of God? At Mt. Sinai.
His Volume Level
Exodus 19:16-20 tells that God spoke with the voice of a trumpet. That’s His volume level. Or his frequency! So on this day, we are to remember what God said on Mt. Sinai. We are to go back to the Word of God – not to some interpretation.
With the sound of the Shofar God is calling us, begging us: come back to the original framework, to what you were told from the beginning!
However, most of us Jews hear the Shofar and think this is man’s way to open heaven during these ten Days of Awe, so that God can hear us. We do not turn back to His original Word, but rather to interpretations and distortions made by men.
How should we then remember? By going back to the original.
What should we remember? That which God spoke to us, and the very fact that He still speaks today. Directly, Right into our innermost being. Sometimes with a still small voice, sometimes with the shaking sound of a Shofar.
Zichron Teruah – hear what God has to say to you. It should always cause us to examine our hearts and bring us to repentance.
Tashlich – Getting Rid of Our Sins
In the middle ages, an interesting tradition started during which the Jews would find the nearest body of water – a river, a pond, a lake – gather there, empty their pockets and symbolically get rid of all their sins. They would then follow that by reading from Micah 7:18-20:
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
If someone does this ritual with Yeshua in the center – this can become a beautiful symbolic act.
As Jews all over the world take time, beginning tonight, to celebrate Rosh Hashana, we encourage you to pray that their hearts will turn to the One who has set the days and times, that they will long and thirst to the original sound of His voice that is still calling them, and that they will remember.
a Jewish prayer with oldest biblical wind instrument, shofar – Yamma Ensemble – YouTube
*This post was written by my assistant, Adi Baxter.
Eicha? How can it be?
“Eicha?” cries the mourner (probably Jeremiah) in the first verse of chapters 1, 2 and 4 in Lamentations.
It’s not some cursory “how?” He is literally asking: How can it be? How is it possible that such horrors have become our lot? How is it that the very backbone of our culture, our religion, our life – the Temple – is gone? How come we are left to eat our own flesh and blood? How come You are not answering our prayers? What happened to Your promises? What have we done to ourselves? And how come God Himself is silent and hidden – “Even when I cry out and plead for help, He shuts out my prayer” (Lam. 3:8, 43-44).
Ayecha? Where Are You?
Thousands of years earlier, God’s voice reverberated all throughout the garden as He walked there in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8).
At that moment, what was the highlight of their daily routine, the time in which Adam and Eve heard God’s voice, turned into terror. They hid in fear, aware of their nakedness and ashamed of it.
This time, it was humanity that was hiding from God.
In Between Both Cries
The original Hebrew writing was comprised of consonants only, without spacing, vowels or markings. You had to hear each word in order to know how to pronounce it.
So long as Hebrew was a spoken language, the proper pronunciation of God’s Word was preserved. After all, the texts were read over and over at the synagogues. But things changed in the Middle Ages, and the concern was that the proper pronunciation will be forgotten. Several sages got together in Tiberias and developed a system of punctuation and vowelization (parallel to the Lain a, e, I, o, u). These were embedded in, below or above the letters themselves. Later on, this system was adopted by almost all Jewish communities in the diaspora.
The vowelizations of “Ayecha?” and “Eicha?” are different, but the Hebrew consonants are one and the same. Prior to the Tiberian system, unless you heard them read allowed, you could think this was the same word.
So even though we are reading it differently, even though each question is looking for a different answer, there are similar results in both events, to both cries, which are expressed with exactly the same consonants. And in between these two questions – Ayecha and Eicha – you find the jarring picture of mankind in its lowest moments.
When God asked Adama and Eve “where are you?” He already knew that the book of Lamentations will be written; that an entire nation will sit in sackcloth and ashes, and through dried lips will cry out these same letters, only with a different pronunciation. He also knew that hundreds of years later, around 70 AD, we will cry the same cry again, wondering once more: How come?
Behind a Tree
In Genesis, Adam and Eve hid behind a tree. By the time the book of Lamentations was recorded, there were hardly any trees left in Jerusalem. The Babylonians had cut them all out to make rams and beams for their siege over the city.
Fast forward a few centuries… the Romans did the same to the trees that grew up in the meantime on the Judean hills. When the remnant was marching through these hills into exile, they saw forests of crosses everywhere, with thousands of their relatives hanging on them. And again the cry was heard: How come? Eicha?
Cry Over Her
I know I am going back and forth in time in this post, but this is how the picture of human suffering looks like: patches of time and history and questions that are cried out. So please bear with me, as a few decades prior to that horrific march of starving Jews through a forest of bloody crosses, Yeshua stood on a slope on the Mount of Olives, looked over at Jerusalem and began to lament. He knew that both these cries were about to be heard again.
In the few words expressing His wailing (Vs. 42-44), you can easily tuck the entire five chapters of Lamentations. You can also hear an echoing of both Eycha and Ayecha?
Yeshua knew that He will soon be lifted up on another tree, which will become a stumbling block to His people; that each time we will see it, we will immediately associate Him and the Cross with our enemy; that His true, tender, longing voice will be deeply hidden from Jewish eyes; and that we will cry once more: “His Face is hidden from our eyes” (4:16).
He Is Who He Is
The 9th day of Av this year falls on Saturday, August 6. For 24 hours the religious Jew will sit on the floor as a sign of mourning, read Lamentations and other texts like it, and cry out to God: “Where are you? How come? How could you have brought such destruction and desolation upon us? Again and again!”
We can pray that within these cries – “How?” and “Eicha?” – they will not be afraid to hear God’s “Where are you – Ayecha?” That they will dare to step out of the box, out of the traditional vowelization and dots and iotas, hear Him and look upon that One Tree, where all answers are provided.
“El Mistater” – The God Who Conceals Himself; Singing: Haim Israel and Yoav Itzhak
Hear my voice, that is heard among all voices
by the God that accepts all prayers.
God that conceals Himself in a hidden canopy,
the mysterious Intelligence of all purpose.
The King of Kings is crowned with the highest crown.
God will grant you a crown!
And if I erred, you will have mercy on me,
absolve me, do not ignore my pleas.
I will open my arms, I will be comforted,
and I will magnify your name and make it glorious.
Please, please, please, oh please,
in your mercy.
“The ancient words fill me with strength,
In the ancient voices I find healing.
They help me live,
They help me grow,
And create a better world.
“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood,
I said to you: ‘in your blood, live!
Live, live, in your blood you shal live!’
I said to you: ‘in your blood, live!’
“Suddenly above my head appears a rainbow,
Spread wide as a colorful fan
Proclaiming life, declaring hope
and peace, tranquility and grace.
“And I said to you: ‘in your blood, live!’ ”
Naomi Shemer, an Israeli songwriter, who passed in 2004, took the words of the prophet Ezekiel (16:6), and applied them to the nation of Israel. They fit so well in the delicate seam between Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims Memorial Day, commemorated just moments before the sky is filled with fireworks and celebrations of Israel’s 74th Independence Day commence, while the radio still plays these soft, mournful songs.
Indeed, God saw Israel in her orphaned, widowed state (Ez. 16:3-6), and out of the bloodshed this land is so full of, He commands her to live!
I would like to paraphrase verse 6 a bit and say to Israel: in His blood there is life. In His blood you can live. Live in His blood!
Over 24,000 men and women had shed their blood for this land, many of them not even aware they were fulfillfiling ancient prophecies. Today we remember them and lay flowers on their graves in various ceremonies held throughout the country. It is time, Israel, to acknowledge another grave, one that requires no flowers, as it has long been emptied by the Resurrected One, who shed His blood for all of us.
And to you, my beloved ancient Israel, I wish that this year, as you are still so young, that you will look to Him to turn your mourning into dancing, and your sorrow into joy. And as you lift your eyes up to the fireworks that will fill heavens in just a few short hours, a rainbow will spread above your head, and the Lord of hope will fill the emptiness in your heart with peace, tranquility and grace.
Shemer’s song performed by Ruchama Raz.