Tu B’Shevat

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Today is Tu B’Shevat.  This is the New Year for trees.  This day marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.  That may seem yearly to you, but today it was sunny and about 65 degrees.

Leading up to this day, all the grocery stores have fruit baskets and dried fruit displays for sale.  It is very common for people to eat from the fruits of the land of Israel, such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Here is an abridged quote from an article in a Jewish periodical I read recently:  Tu B’Shevat’s appeal resides not just in its foods and rituals, but also in its sensibility. The day lends itself to good thoughts and goods deeds that bear on fruitful contemporary issues, from stewardship resources and sustainability, to our relationship with the Land of Israel.  In the right hands and with the right attitude, they can be effectively combined into a wholesome, uplifting and decidedly modern observance.

While that takes the scope of the holiday beyond the Biblical intent, I do believe it could help those outside of Israel to take a moment to remember the Land of Israel and how it is an everlasting inheritance for the Jewish people.  It also reminds us of fruit and what kind of fruit are we bearing in our walk with the L-rd.

Chag Sameach!

 

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Birkenau, December 2016.

Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  While I applaud the effort to remember and draw attention to the horrific events of this event, it seems that it has not truly made the impact for which we would hope.

I recently read an article on CNN online which stated,

“Even after decades of rigorous political education and intense, self-critical soul searching, 9% to 10% of Germans express classic anti-Semitic feelings, according to a 2017 report commissioned by the Bundestag (the German Parliament).   Many more, up to 50%, harbor more mild anti-Semitic prejudices.”
So while German was the place from which Hitler and the Nazis carried out their murderous plans against the Jewish people of Europe, the people there, the descendants of those who participated, still harbor those same feelings.
I think it is time for the believing community to recognize that anti-Semitism is satanic!  Period!  There is no rational reason for it.  The Jewish people contribute to any community they live in, by building up education, the arts, medicine, science, etc.  They are not a drag on the economy.  They do not contribute to the crime in a country.
Education to the masses is not the answer.  It will not illicit a heart change.  Only when one embraces the plans and purposes of G-d will he/she recognize the evil of anti-Semitism.  I do believe, however, that Biblical education of believers will make a difference within the believing community.  That is one reason I am taking classes for certification in Holocaust studies–so that I can share what is coming and ask people to decide how they are going to respond.
Last night, I saw a program on the History Channel here in Israel.  They were interviewing some children who were saved from Amsterdam, as well as some of those who participated in the underground rescue.  One person said something which struck a chord with me.  He said that no one thought how bad it would get and they were totally unprepared.  This does not have to be the case for us!
As we remember the Holocaust, we must each decide how we will behave when crisis comes again.

Today in Israel

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This is the view out our window today.  In Israel, we receive all of our rain between November and May.  No rain dates needed for picnics in the summer!  In a country filled with sun most of the time, these dreary days are actually a nice change.  It is a good day to play instrumental music, drink tea and bake…and prepare for Shabbat!

It is great news that the U.S. plans to reduce funding to the Palestinians.  The money the Palestinians receive never makes it to the people.  It is used by their terrorist leaders and it must be stopped.  These celebrities and others who come out and slam the decision have most likely never been to Israel, do not understand that territories which transfer from Israeli administration to Palestinian administration become terrorist-filled anti-Christian areas.  We personally know Palestinians who have told us of the increased persecution once Israeli troops withdraw.

I just spoke to Baruch on the phone.  He held a small event in the Los Angeles area and we want to thank everyone who attended.  He was so glad to meet each of you!

 

Shabbat Shalom!

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Below is a brief commentary on this week’s Torah Portion (Parashat B’Shalach).  This is such a great message to remember at the beginning of 2018!

In this week’s Torah portion, one learns a very important principle. Have you ever been in need and prayed that G-d would multiply what you have and meet that need? There are numerous examples of this in the Scripture. One of my favorites is the woman who needed money and the prophet told her to gather many jars and for her to pour what little she had into one jar after another.  This she did and the oil did not run out until all the jars were full (See 2 Kings chapter 4). Although G-d does indeed multiply what we have in providing for us, there is another way in which He meets needs.

One of the most miraculous times in Israel’s history was those forty years in the wilderness. I have been in the wildernesses of Paran and Tzin where Israel spent a great deal of time during those forty years and clearly there was no way that the Land could have provided for such a large group of people. We all know that HaShem supplied to the people manna. The Hebrew word for manna is מן “mahn”. Some scholars have said that this word is related to the Hebrew word מה which means “what” relating to the fact that the Children of Israel did not recognize what this was at first.

There is a second, and what I believe to be a better, interpretation for the meaning of the Hebrew word from which manna is derived. We all know that manna is a heavenly food. Although it was thin and tasteless and did not appear to be very nutritious, it sustained the people during those forty years. One of the Hebrew words for food is מזון. According to the famed rabbinical commentator, Rashi, the word manna is just an abbreviation of this word (מזון to מן). The miracle here is that HaShem sustained the people by providing far less than the people had expected. In other words, one need not always pray for more to meet his needs, but ask G-d to sustain you on less.

I am reminded of a friend of mine who was broke and hungry. It was at a time in his life that he was very much alone and did not have anyone to turn to for help, but Yeshua. He was so hungry and did not have any money at all. He prayed and behold after a few steps, there was a dollar in front of him. He went and bought at a grocery store a small package of noodles and a little piece of chocolate cake. This was several years ago and although the portions were very little, he said some how this small meal truly satisfied him. It made quite an impression upon him because when he told me this story many years later, having turned his life around (by G-d’s grace), I could see how these two things— the dollar he found and how this simple meal met his need—had impacted his life.

The principle that we often neglect and for which we seldom pray is— for HaShem to sustain us with less rather than provide more.

Progressing with your Goals?

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We are nearing the end of January and I thought it might be a good time to assess my progress towards my 2018 goals.  Have I made any progress?

My goal was to read one book each month.  In January, I read 2 and I have begun reading my book for February.  It was given to me recently by a friend and the title is, “Where was G-d?, by Nita (LaFond) Johnson.  Perhaps you have read it.  It is about the Holocaust, the church’s role, survivor interviews.  So far, I am enjoying it very much.

I have also registered for a program on Holocaust studies here in Israel.  Even with our travel schedule, Baruch encouraged me to make the commitment.  He was also the one who encouraged me to get my Master’s degree, which I completed during the Second Lebanese War, while we were having rockets shot at us.  It is very important to find someone in your life who will encourage you when you need that extra push.

These are the goals I’ve made progress on so far.  Lot’s more to focus on!  How about you?  Would you like to share something you are working on this year?  Leave a comment!

Thinking Back on Alba-Iulia

Top 3 photos from the LoveIsrael.org conferences.  Bottom photo, Jewish community president (far left) sharing with our friends Dan and Fran, as well as Baruch and me. (Photos:  George Popa)

The Romanian people are very special.  They are giving, caring, and wanting to learn the truth.  For some reason, G-d has really opened the door here and we are truly blessed.  While there this trip, we received no less than 4 invitations to new venues.

Alba-Iulia is special and the people in the pictures above came to studies on Monday during the day and Tuesday during the day (at 2 different locations).  On Monday Baruch spoke on several different theological issues and on Tuesday he taught the entire book of Ruth.

We find it very interesting how many people we meet have some connection with a Jewish person and how people are interested in Israel, the Jewish people and prophecy.  Of course these are all interconnected and it is a great foundation from which to share.

G-d has placed us in Romania regularly, as this is where we tape our television shows.  Therefore, we are so pleased to see the Romanian people embracing LoveIsrael and sound Bible teaching.