Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 11/29/2017

THANKSGIVING IN ISRAEL

happythanksgivinukkahAn Israeli immigrant explains: “For people in America, Thanksgiving is often associated with idyllic pictures of Native Americans and Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621. A lovely, smiling woman is serving a Native chief and his family. The children are happy, and everyone joins in a celebration of having survived the harsh winter, and the bounty the New World has bestowed.

In modern America, families gather and sit around a table with a turkey as a centerpiece with various other dishes; often sweet potatoes, squash, and green beans are served. Depending on the family and their particular tradition, we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along with the football games, and we are grateful for another year to be together. Some pray, others do not, and since in our modern age many extended families no longer live in the same neighborhood, some fly in from all around the globe.

LonesoldiersHere in Israel, Thanksgiving is quite different and is celebrated by mainly Anglo Saxons who have immigrated and have brought their traditions with them. In fact, we have just finished celebrating the original Thanksgiving, which is Sukkot! Sukkot (Tabernacles) was originally an agricultural feast, one of the three required pilgrimmages to Jerusalem to thank God for the harvest. Traditionally, we invite family and friends into our temporary dwellings, and we spend seven days giving thanks and rejoicing.

Schools are now back in session, and many are off from work only on Shabbat, which means that the Thanksgiving celebration often happens around the Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner table. At least, that is the case in our family because everyone is working on Thursday and some on Friday, as well. As I reflect on the similarities between Sukkot and Thanksgiving, once again I am struck by the biblical roots of many of our modern celebrations. Our family loves the holiday of Thanksgiving, and we have joyfully incorporated it into our celebrations. I have already begun to think of the guest list, which needs to remain somewhat manageable because most of us live in apartments and cannot accommodate multitudes. Nevertheless, we always manage to squeeze in either a lone soldier or a new immigrant.

ajcI have also begun to think of the menu. Since, as I mentioned, many Americans have brought the celebration of Thanksgiving to Israel, turkeys are available around that time. However, in our case, I need to celebrate a week earlier due to a previous engagement. I have already spoken with the butcher to alert him to the fact that I will need my turkey soon! We have developed quite a few lovely traditions to celebrate this day. We each go around the table saying what thing(s) we are most grateful for this year. We also look to our right and say what we are grateful for regarding the person sitting beside us. If you were to come to our celebration, you would see the usual fare that you would see in most homes in America. However, since we will be celebrating on Friday evening (Erev Shabbat), we will also bless the wine and bread!

In the past, we have invited British people along with Palestinians to our Thanksgiving celebrations, and the conversation was lively and often hilarious as we spoke about indigenous people and British oppression. We are glad to incorporate some of our beloved holidays with our current holidays and allow them to evolve as they will. I asked my Israeli and Palestinian students the question, ‘What does Thanksgiving mean to me?’ and received the following comments:

Turkey – Family – Too much food! – Mommy is nervous! (!?) – No day off because we are in Israel – An American thing 

Despite how one celebrates, or what food is on the table (along with the bread and wine we will also have hummus and tehina!) I encourage us all NOT to make this lovely holiday (only) all about the food. It is a time, in my opinion, to thank God for bringing us to this season. It is a time to bless God for his provision, for the gift of his son and his presence and guidance in our lives, and it is a time to bless him for each other.

For some of us, this may have been a year of great loss and pain. Thanksgiving is also a time to bless God even through the difficulties because there will be an end and a purpose for the pain.

‘In everything, give thanks!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Happy Thanksgiving!

From a blog post by K. J. Kruger; she is a mother of four and has lived in Israel for over 20 years. As teacher, life coach, writer, and speaker, she has been passionately involved in reconciliation between Arabs and Jews, and sees her role as being part of tikkun olam (repairing the world)

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Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 10/06/2017

The Feast of Tabernacles Is Here!

The Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot
Jewish Year 5778: sunset October 4, 2017 – nightfall October 11, 2017

…On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for the L-RD. -Leviticus 23:34

A Sukkah (booth)

Sukkot is an eight-day harvest holiday that arrives during the Hebrew month of Tishrei 15. It starts four days after Yom Kippur and is followed by Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Sukkot is also known as the Festival of Booths and the Feast of Tabernacles. This Biblical feast commemorates the time in Israel’s history when the Israelites (Jews) camped in the wilderness in tents (sukkot) and the Lord God of Israel manifested Himself in their midst in the pillar of cloud and fire! This prophetic feast reveals the mystery of God’s plan of salvation for the whole world, when at the climax of history, God will once again “tabernacle” with His redeemed (Rev 21) as the nations, Jew and Gentile alike, come up to Jerusalem, year after, to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Our bibles teach us that when the LORD comes to earth to rule in righteousness, all the people of the world will observe the Feast of Tabernacles:
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16-19

Sukkot also hearkens back to times in ancient Israel when Jews would build huts near the edges of their fields during the harvest season. One of these dwellings was called a “sukkah” and “sukkot” is the plural form of this Hebrew word. These dwellings not only provided shade but allowed the workers to maximize the amount of time they spent in the fields, harvesting their food more quickly as a result.

Sukkot is also related to the way the Jewish people lived while wandering in the desert for 40 years (Leviticus 23:42-43). As they moved from one place to another they built tents or booths, called sukkot, that gave them temporary shelter in the desert. Hence, the sukkot (booths) that Jews build during the holiday of Sukkot are reminders both of Israel’s agricultural history and of the Israelite exodus from Egypt.

Lulav and Etrog

There are three major traditions associated with Sukkot:

  • Building a sukkah.
  • Eating in the sukkah.
  • Waving the lulav and etrog.

At the beginning of sukkot (often during the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot) Jews construct a sukkah. In ancient times people would live in the sukkot and eat every meal in them. In modern times people most often build a sukkah in their backyards or apartment terraces, or help their synagogue construct one for the community. In Jerusalem some neighborhoods will have friendly contests to see who can build the best sukkah. Few people live in the sukkah today but it is popular to eat at least one meal in it. At the beginning of the meal a special blessing is recited, which goes: “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.” If it is raining then the commandment to eat in the sukkah is postponed until the weather is more accommodating – luckily Sukkot is eight days long!

Since Sukkot celebrates the harvest in the land of Israel, another custom on Sukkot involves waving the lulav and etrog. Together the lulav and etrog represent the Four Species. The etrog is a kind of citron (related to a lemon), while the lulav is made of three myrtle twigs (hadassim), two willow twigs (aravot) and a palm frond (lulav). Because the palm frond is the largest of these plants, the myrtle and willow are wrapped around it. During Sukkot, the lulav and etrog are waved together while reciting special blessings. They are waved in each of the four directions – sometimes six if “up” and “down” are included in the ritual – representing God’s dominion over Creation. You can learn how to wave the lulav and etrog in this article: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/ht/howtolulavetrog.htm

Priestly blessing

The lulav and etrog are part of the synagogue service. Each morning of Sukkot people carry the lulav and etrog around the sanctuary reciting prayers. On the 7th day of Sukkot, called Hoshana Rabba, the Torah is removed from the Ark and they march around the synagogue 7 times holding the lulav and etrog. The 8th/last day of Sukkot is called Shmeni Atzeret. On this day a prayer for rain is recited, demonstrating how the Jewish holidays are in tune with the seasons of Israel, which begins on this day.

Building the Sukkah

“You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” -Leviticus 23:42

The sukkah is great fun for the children. Building the sukkah each year satisfies the common childhood fantasy of building a fort, and dwelling in the sukkah satisfies a child’s desire to camp out in the backyard. The commandment to “dwell” in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of one’s meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one’s health permit, one should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, including sleeping in it.

A sukkah must have at least two and a half walls covered with a material that will not blow away in the wind. Why two and a half walls? Look at the letters in the word “sukkah” (see the graphic in the heading): one letter has four sides, one has three sides and one has two and a half sides. The “walls” of the sukkah do not have to be solid; canvas covering tied or nailed down is acceptable and quite common in the United States. A sukkah may be any size, so long as it is large enough for you to fulfill the commandment of dwelling in it. The roof of the sukkah must be made of material referred to as sekhakh (literally, covering). To fulfill the commandment, sekhakh must be something that grew from the ground and was cut off, such as tree branches, corn stalks, bamboo reeds, sticks, or two-by-fours. Sekhakh must be left loose, not tied together or tied down. Sekhakh must be placed sparsely enough that rain can get in, and preferably sparsely enough that the stars can be seen, but not so sparsely that more than ten inches is open at any point or that there is more light than shade. The sekhakh must be put on last. Note: You may put a water-proof cover over the top of the sukkah when it is raining to protect the contents of the sukkah, but you cannot use it as a sukkah while it is covered and you must remove the cover to fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah.

You can buy do-it-yourself sukkot from various sources online, or you can build your own. It is common practice, and highly commendable, to decorate the sukkah. In the northeastern United States, Jews commonly hang dried squash and corn in the sukkah to decorate it, because these vegetables are readily available at that time for the American holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many families hang artwork drawn by the children on the walls. Building and decorating a sukkah is a fun family project, much like decorating the Christmas tree is for Christians.
Click here for a humorous video of a sukkah being built in record time:
http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/building-a-sukka-in-record-speed?utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=12Tribe+Films%3A+Sukkot+Videos+and+Gilad+Shalit+Videos&utm_campaign=12Tribe+Films%3A+Sukkot+Videos+and+Gilad+Shalit+Videos&utm_term=sukka+building_jpg

My belief is that Y’shua (Jesus) was actually born during the Feast of Tabernacles, some time in October. Scripture gives enough proof of the timing of Mary’s pregnancy along with harvest times and  Elizabeth’s pregnancy to support this. Happy Sukkot!


Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 09/15/2017

ROSH HASHANAH – HEAD OF THE YEAR

Rosh HaShanah (Head Of the Year) (Day Of Trumpets)

  • “In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” – Lev 23:24
  • “Now in the seventh month (Tishrei)apples_honey_1, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets (Yom Teruah).” – Num 29:1
  • “This month [Nisan – the month of Passover] shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” – Exo 12:2
  • Biblical New Year “You shall celebrate… the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.” – Exo 34:22
  • The year increases at the month of Sukkot (7th month)
  • Anniversary of creation!

About Rosh HaShanah…

Trumpet blasts to pronounce the autumn festivals

  • Focus is “T’shuvah” (Turn): Turn to G-d, turn to others, turn to those in need.
  • Begins the 10 Days Of Awe (Yamim Nora’im)… The 10 day count to Yom Kippur (The Day Of Atonement)
  • Greeting is “LaShanah Tovah”or “LaShanah Tovah Tikatevu”
  • Apples and honey are eaten to symbolize a sweet upcoming year

Prophetically…

  • Foreshadows the upcoming tribulation, which heralds the start of the “Autumn” at the end of days.
  • “The Day Of The Lord” (Yom Adonai)
  • “Blow a shofar in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming” – Joel 2:1
  • “I (John) was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet” – Rev 1:10

    To read from a previous Rosh Hashanah post, click on https://graftedinelena.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/rosh-hashana-feast-of-trumpets-2

This year, Rosh Hashanah occurs from sunset September 20 to sunset September 21.

day-of-lord-2Many people believe that the season of the Lord’s return will begin during the Autumn feasts some year. Trumpet blasts certainly are prophesied in relation to that. With all the signs in the sky and current events (blood moon tetrad, comet (Planet X-Nibiru), solar eclipse of 8/21, “wars and rumors of wars”, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, nuclear threats, lawlessness, terrorism, heightened persecution of Jews and Christians, etc., etc., it seems to me that we are close. However, nobody knows the exact day or hour of His return, yet we are commanded to know the signs of the times. But whether it’s imminent or years away, repentance and turning to Jesus/Yeshua is crucial. What do you think?
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II Peter 3:1-14

1 “Dear friends, I am writing you now this second letter; and in both letters I am trying to arouse you to wholesome thinking by means of reminders; so that you will keep in mind the predictions of the holy prophets and the command given by the Lord and Deliverer through your emissaries.

First, understand this: during the Last Days, scoffers will come, following their own desires and asking, “Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? For our fathers have died, and everything goes on just as it has since the beginning of creation.” But, wanting so much to be right about this, they overlook the fact that it was by God’s Word that long ago there were heavens, and there was land which arose out of water and existed between the waters, and that by means of these things the world of that time was flooded with water and destroyed. It is by that same Word that the present heavens and earth, having been preserved, are being kept for fire until the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. 10 However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.

11 Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, 12 as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming. That Day will bring on the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt from the heat; 13 but we, following along with his promise, wait for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will be at home. 14 Therefore, dear friends, as you look for these things, do everything you can to be found by him without spot or defect and at peace.”

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 08/01/2017

TODAY is the 9TH of AV – a VERY SIGNIFICANT DATE


Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally(?) have occurred on the ninth of Av. Tisha B’Av means “the ninth (day) of the Hebrew month of Av.” It usually occurs during August. This year it falls on Jul. 31/Aug. 1 (remember, the Jewish ‘day’ begins at sundown).

Specifically: Jewish Year 5777: sunset July 31, 2017 – nightfall August 1, 2017

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B. C., the second by the Romans in 70 A.D. Tisha B’Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed. During this three week period, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Shabbat) and from wearing new clothing. In synagogues, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black.

There have been several incidents of blood red lunar eclipses on or around the 9th of Av, 3 years in a row as of 2011. Could this be significant?

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,. . ‘“ (Genesis 1:14)

The caption on this picture from the Library of Congress reads “Jewish beggar at the Wailing Wall reading.” He may have been a beggar, but if you show the picture to Jerusalemites, they’ll instinctively respond, “It’s Tisha B’Av, and he’s reading the book of Lamentations (Eicha).” A story is told of Napoleon passing a synagogue and hearing congregants inside mourning. To his question who they are mourning, he was told they were weeping over the destruction of the Jewish Temple 1,800 years earlier. Napoleon responded, according to the legend, “If the Jews are still crying after so many hundreds of years, then I am certain the Temple will one day be rebuilt.”

The Book of Genesis describes how Jacob mourned during the entire 22 years that Joseph was missing. Nothing consoled him. No one could comfort him. One would think that after 22 years the pain of the death of a loved one would somewhat lessen or ease with the passage of time, but in this case it did not. Why? Because there was no closure, no burial. Why? Because Joseph was not dead! For over 2000 years the Jewish people have been mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple. At every festive occasion its loss is remembered. No wedding takes places without the symbolic broken glass. Ashes of mourning are placed upon the forehead of the groom and a section of a new home is left unpainted or unfinished, all in remembrance of the Destruction and the Exile from Zion. One might ask, “Why are they still crying after 2000 years?” Why can’t they get over it and move on? Why? Because there was never any closure, no burial. Why? Because the Temple’s bricks and stone have been destroyed, but the Divine Promise still stands, the Temple will be rebuilt and until that day Zion will never be forgotten!
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Here is a more complete list of significant events on this date in Jewish history and why it is a time of mourning for the nation of Israel:

• Av 9, 1312 BC – The ten spies brought the bad report leading to the wilderness wandering. See also: 14,000 Days

• Av 9, 586 BC – Babylonians destroy Solomon’s temple. See also: Ezekiel’s 430 Days

• Av 9, 70 AD – Romans destroy 2nd temple. See also: Daniel’s 70 Weeks • Av 9, 135 AD – The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar — the Jews’ last stand against the Romans — was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered.

• Av 9, 1290 AD – July 25, 1290 Jews forced out of England.

• Av 9, 1492 AD – August 11, 1492 Jews forced out of Spain. • Av 9, 1914 AD – August 1, 1914 World War I Began (The immediate cause of the war was the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb citizen of Austria-Hungary and member of the Black Hand. On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on Russia)

Treblinka• Av 9, 1942 AD – July 23, 1942 – Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. The camp is fitted with two buildings containing 10 gas chambers, each holding 200 persons. Carbon monoxide gas is piped in from engines placed outside the chamber, but Zyklon-B will later be substituted. Bodies are burned in open pits. HistoryPlace

• Av 9, 2005 AD – Starting at midnight on August 14, 2005, the entry and presence of Israeli citizens in the areas to be evacuated was prohibited under paragraph 22A of the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law 2005. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on August 22, and from northern Samaria on August 23, 2005. Related news articles here.

• Av 9, 2005 AD – Aug 16: Gaza Evacuation: The Beginning of Dividing Israel for Peace – Israel’s Disengagement Plan: Renewing the peace process See also: Dividing the land and 1st Seal

Amazing, isn’t it? There are no coincidences in God’s plan. What does it all mean??

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 07/19/2017

IRREVOCABLE CALLING

Your Calling is Irrevocable

IrrevocableThe Jewish people are scattered all over the world. In 1947 the state of Israel was re-established. Around 7.5 million people live in Israel today, of whom approximately 6 million are Jews. There are many other Jews still scattered around the world today. What does the future hold for the Jewish people?

Eugene Peterson translates this New Testament passage using the term ‘insiders‘ for the Jewish people and ‘outsiders‘ for the non-Jewish people. Many individual Jews over the years have become Christians (Messianic Jews). In fact, all the very earliest Christians were Jewish ‘insiders’. But now the vast majority of Christians are non-Jewish (gentile) ‘outsiders’. What does the future hold for the ‘insiders’?

The key to Paul’s understanding lies in Romans 11:29: ‘For God’s gift and his call are irrevocable.’ The apostle Paul is not introducing new teaching. It is a theme that runs throughout the Bible

Psalm 89:19-29

  1. God’s covenant with his people will last forever
    We see in the covenant with David that God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. God called ‘a young man’ from among his people (v.19c). He gave him gifts. He ‘bestowed strength’ (v.19b). He ‘anointed’ him (v.20b). He promised that his love would be with him (v.24a) and that he would maintain that love to him forever: ‘My covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure (vv.28b-29).

This promise was originally given to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). It is repeated many times (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24 and here). Then later, in the book of Isaiah, what was promised to David is promised to Israel: ‘I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David’ (Isaiah 55:3b). Paul shows clearly that all this has been fulfilled in Jesus. He writes, ‘We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus‘ (Acts 13:32-33). He goes on to quote Isaiah 55:3, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David‘ (Acts 13:34).

God promises that he will maintain his love for you forever and that, through Jesus, you inherit all the blessings promised to David.
Father, thank you for your faithful love for David, for Jesus, and for us. Today, like David, I call out to you, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Saviour’ (Psalm 89:26).

Romans 11:11-32

  1. God’s promises to Israel will prevail
    As we have seen, in Romans 11 Paul is answering the question, ‘Has God rejected his people?‘ His answer is, ‘No, no, no’: ‘God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable’ (v.29). As The Message version puts it, ‘God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty – never cancelled, never rescinded’ (v.29, MSG).

olivetreeYet Paul still grapples with the apparent reality that most have not accepted Jesus. He speaks about them ‘stumbling’ (v.11) and experiencing a ‘hardening’ (v.25). They are now like olive branches that have been ‘broken off’ (v.17). In this passage he tries to explain how this can fit with the unbreakable promises that God has made to the Jews. He highlights three key points:

  • First, this hardening was only partial. There has always been a remnant, chosen by grace (vv.11-16).
  • Second, the hardening was fruitful, since it led to riches for the Gentiles: ‘When they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in’ (v.11, MSG).
  • Third, the hardening was temporary. ‘”Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No’ (v.11, MSG). ‘This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary’ (v.25, MSG). ‘Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!’ (v.12, MSG).

olivesThis last point is particularly important to Paul, who cares passionately about his people. He eagerly anticipates the full inclusion of the people of Israel (v.12). He goes on to say that ‘all Israel will be saved’ (v.26). He does not say ‘if‘ this happens, but ‘when‘ this happens. He uses an olive tree as a picture of the Jewish nation (vv.17,24). Christ came. The nation rejected him. The tree was chopped down but the roots were left. The gardener grafts in the Gentiles (v.17).

The time is coming when the Jewish branches will be grafted back (vv.23-24, MSG). Then the whole tree will be complete. The Gentiles grow up out of the stump – they do not support the root (the Jews) but the root supports them (v.18). There are three successive stages in the fulfillment of the divine plan of salvation:

  • First, the unbelief of the greater part of Israel: ‘some of the tree’s branches were pruned’ (v,17, MSG)
  • Second, the inclusion of many outsiders through faith in Jesus: ‘you wild olive shoots were grafted in’ (v.17, MSG)
  • Third, the salvation of ‘all Israel’ (v.26)

graftBut, what does ‘all Israel will be saved‘ mean? Some have argued that it means Israel can still be saved apart from Christ. However, this position is not credible. Paul has argued throughout the letter that Jesus is the way of salvation. Others have argued that it meant the whole nation of Israel, including every single member, will put their faith in Jesus. However, ‘all Israel’ is a recurring expression in the Old Testament and other Jewish literature, where it need not mean ‘every Jew without a single exception’ but ‘Israel as a whole‘ (for example, 1 Samuel 7:5; 28:1; 1 Kings 12:1; Daniel 9:11). This also fits with the context of what Paul is saying here in Romans. Paul is considering God’s dealing with the nation as a whole. Thus, ‘their fullness’ (Romans 11:12) is to be understood in the same sense as the fullness of the Gentiles. The large-scale conversion of the Gentile world is to be followed by the large-scale conversion of Israel.

richesPaul concludes: ‘There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in’ (vv.30-32, MSG).

Thank you, Lord, that the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Thank you that you promise that, one day, all Israel will be saved. Lord, we pray for that day to come quickly, that we will see not only a large scale conversion of the Gentile world but also a large scale conversion of the people of Israel.

This is taken from a daily Bible reading commentary in the YouVersion Bible App.

 

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 06/05/2017

REMEMBERING THE SIX-DAY WAR

inourhands

Israeli paratroopers stand in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem

Monday, 05 June 2017 | The flow of history is punctuated by wars and battles that changed the status quo and altered the destiny of regions and nations. No list of conflicts that have swayed the state of world affairs is complete without Israel’s Six-Day War.

Some call it the war that transformed the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East as a whole. Still more hail it as a turning point in Israeli and world history. Others see it as the watershed event that launched the infant Jewish state from a rag-tag nation to a regional superpower. While the Six-Day War is arguably all of the above, it also stands out in the annals of history for something more: an against-all-odds victory miraculously snatched from a foe boasting a larger, better equipped army—all in under a week. In fact, the Six- Day War, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently, was “a miracle and a salvation for Israel.”

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Six-Day War. Almost half a century has passed since the morning of 5 June 1967, when a command from the head of the Israel Air Force unleashed a surprise aerial attack on the Egyptian air force, a move that resulted in one of the most brilliant pre-emptive strikes in modern history—and marked the start of six days of war.

As with Israel’s previous wars, the odds of victory were not in the Jewish state’s favor. In fact, the people of the Promised Land once again prepared for battle from what appeared to be a hopeless position: backed into a corner, isolated on the world stage and vastly outgunned and outnumbered. Some 80,000 Egyptian troops, 60,000 Jordanian troops, 50,000 Syrian troops and more than 850 tanks and 600 combat aircraft, stood poised for attack. Armed and equipped with double the amount of soldiers, three times the number of tanks and four times as many combat aircraft, victory did, after all, appear within easy reach.

5Feb1917ComblesFranceWWIFaced with the desperate odds, the powers-that-be in Israel decided to act first, hoping that the element of surprise would give the tiny nation the edge. Having exhausted all other options, the Jewish state knew that another war was a matter of when, not if. The winds of war had started howling long before the morning of 5 June 1967. Despite Israel’s victory in 1949 and again in 1956 against its hostile neighbors, the Arab nations still refused to recognize Israel’s existence and continued to call for her destruction. Moreover, raids and attacks from Egypt, Jordan and Syria meant that the nation was caught in a perpetual state of conflict. Then, on 22 May 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to all ships heading to and from Israel, a move meant to cripple the Jewish state economically. Any other country would have considered this an act of war. Yet tiny, war-weary Israel attempted a route of peaceful negotiation.

Reconciliation was, however, not an option for the Arab nations. “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel,” Nasser proclaimed on 27 May 1967. Three days later, Iraq’s president confirmed, “Our goal is clear—to wipe Israel off the map.”

Cairo and Damascus had already combined the might of their armies, and Egypt soon embarked on a similar sinister plot with Jordan. The stage was set. The Arab war machine stood poised on the borders of the Promised Land, waiting for the command to annihilate the Jewish people once and for all.

As Israel entered into yet another war it did not want, the prospects were grim. The atmosphere hanging over the Jewish state was one of foreboding. Schools closed their doors. All public transport ceased. As the men marched off to war, teenagers joined the effort by filling sandbags. School halls transformed into massive bomb shelters. Hospitals stood at the ready for the tens of thousands who were bound to be wounded in the fighting to follow. Government allowed public parks to be dug up to prepare a burial place for an estimated 10,000 casualties.

soldiersnewYet six days later, everybody—including many in the Jewish state—stood stunned. In one hundred and thirty-one hours and fifty minutes, the vastly outnumbered Jewish state had managed to beat the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. In the six days from 5 to 10 June 1967, Israel won one of the most unexpected and decisive victories in military history. In less than one week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) managed to destroy 85% of Egypt’s military hardware. The Egyptians also lost all their bombers and nearly 85% of their combat aircraft—the majority on 5 June 1967, the very first day of war. The Syrians and Jordanians did not fare much better. All of the Hashemite Kingdom’s airfields and bombers were demolished, while the Syrian air force also suffered heavy blows. When the six days of war came to an end, Israel had captured hundreds of Jordanian and Syrian tanks, military vehicles and guns and had access to many Egyptian ammunition caches.

Above all, when the smoke of battle had settled on 10 June 1967, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people was once again united. Moreover, after almost two decades under Jordanian occupation, Judea and Samaria, the ancestral land of the Jewish people, saw the children of the patriarchs return to the hills and valleys that countless Jewish generations had once known as home.

In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, military strategists and analysts praised the might of the IDF. Yet while the troops fought valiantly, even Moshe Dayan, commander of the Israeli forces in 1967, recognized the astounding victory as a miracle.

On the seventh day, after the din of battle had died down, Commander Dayan made his way to the Western Wall to tuck a note in the cleft between two ancient white stones. The message on the scrap of paper was penned thousands of years ago by Israel’s King David, This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23).

Source: (by: Ilse Posselt, Bridges for Peace, 05 June 2017)

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 05/19/2017

PROPHECY FULFILLED

judeasamariaToday there are over 360,000 Israelis living throughout Judea and Samaria. While the world largely condemns Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, it is the fulfillment of many Bible prophecies. The Palestinians insist on calling the area the ‘West Bank’ and ‘occupied territory’. There are many Arabs co-existing peacefully with Jewish communities, yet the security threat to Israelis continues. From 2000 to 2005 over 1,000 Israeli citizens were killed and 6,000 were injured in suicide bombings, sniper fire and other forms of terrorism. The security fence, built since then, has greatly reduced the number of attacks however.

Jerusalem_Dateline_021717_HD1080_img_369066Although it has been very difficult for the families who live in their Biblical homeland, they view it as a privilege. God promises “I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before”. (Jeremiah 33:7).

We grieve with and for the families of lost loved ones, such as Dafna Meir of Otniel, killed in front of her home in January, Hallel Ariel of Kiryat Arba, 13 year old girl stabbed to death on her own bed last June, Rabbi Miki Mark also of Otniel, killed in a drive by shooting near his home.

judea_cropJesustimeHowever these rightful residents choose to remain obedient to God’s Word in taking possession of that which the Lord gave to their forefathers. There are over 170 passages in the Bible where God promises to give the Land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (the Jews), as an EVERLASTING INHERITANCE of the Land.

from an article by Maggie Huang of Project Under His Wings/CFI

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 04/10/2017

PASSOVER PARALLELS

Passover Seder

Re-posting about Passover for 2017: Most people have at least some knowledge of what the Jewish Festival of Passover (Pesach) is all about, even if it is only from watching Charlton Heston as Moses in the movie ‘Ten Commandments’. In the Bible book of Leviticus, God decrees that seven feasts are to be observed every year by His people (an eighth one is the weekly Sabbath).  “‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:  The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  ***On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’” (Lev. 23:4-8). The Passover is basically to remember how God delivered His people from their 430 year slavery in Egypt. The Jews were told by God through Moses, on the night before their liberation, to paint the blood of a sacrificial lamb over the doorposts of their homes to avoid the angel of death to their firstborn. Christians believe that this event was a ‘shadow’ or ‘type’ of what was to come in the future when Messiah Jesus (Yeshua, the only sinless man in history) came to set people free from their captivity to sin and damnation by being the perfect Lamb who was sacrificed. The Passover in Moses’ day was celebrated by bringing a flawless lamb to the high priest to be slaughtered and have its blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle (“.. without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin..” Hebrews 9:22) The blood of Christ symbolically covering Jewish and gentile believers likewise avoids for us eternal damnation for our sins.

Being a ‘pilgrimage festival’, all the men of Israel were to come up to Jerusalem in the Hebrew month of Nissan 14-21 (usually April – this year (2017) on April 10-11) for an 8 day holiday beginning with a special meal called the seder (order) on the eve of the first day of Passover (erev pesach). (Did you know that the Christian Last Supper was a Passover Seder?) Today, as then, at the family table there are symbolic foods, special songs and the story of deliverance is retold in detail with the youngest child asking certain questions of the father, beginning with ‘What makes this night different from all [other] nights?’ This liturgy is called the Haggadah (telling your son). Before Passover, houses are swept clean of all leaven (symbol of sin) and unleavened bread (matzah) is eaten for the entire week.

Matzah

The matzah is striped and pierced in appearance. This is such a picture of the striped and pierced body of Christ at the hands of the Roman guards who pierced Him with a sword, and scourged Him with whips.

Passover symbolic foods

The symbolic foods eaten at the Passover seder are these:

Beitzah – A roasted egg – symbolizes the cycle of the seasons and of the sacrifices in the Temple, and

  1. Karpas – Parsley (or vegetable) – symbolizes the renewal of spring
  2. Ze’roa – Roasted shank bone – symbolizes the pascal offering in the Temple
  3. Charoset – Chopped apples and nuts – symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used to build the storehouses for Pharaoh
  4. Maror – Bitter herb (horseradish) – symbolizes the bitterness of the slavery that the Israelites endured in Egypt.
  5. Chazeret – Romaine lettuce – symbolizes spring
  6. Salted water — represents the tears the Israelites shed when they were slaves in Egypt.  The parsley is dipped in the salt water
  7. Four cups of red wine or grape juice — Each cup is related to a different Biblical verse that promises that God will redeem the Israelites from bondage in Egypt
  8. Matzah — the unleavened bread the Israelites baked before leaving Egypt

Finding the ‘afikomen’ (dessert) is part of the celebration of Passover. Three pieces of matzah are ceremonially set aside. The middle one is the afikomen. At one point during the meal, it is taken out, broken in half, wrapped in linen and hidden. Later in the evening the children are invited to search for it, and whoever finds it rejoices greatly as he/she receives a gift. Yeshua also was wrapped in linen and hidden in the grave. Three days later He rose again, a cause for great rejoicing by believers ever since because of the GIFT of Salvation! Our Christian celebration of Resurrection Day (Easter) commemorates the resurrection of Yeshua. Do you see the parallels? There are so many more but enough for this blog post. I will be attending a Passover Seder with the congregation of Mishkahn David this year. I also attended one in a Jewish family’s home in 2009. Remember, I am ‘GRAFTED IN’!

***2017 update: Just learned another Passover parallel.  Exodus 12:1-3 states this – 1 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 ‘This month (Nisan) is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.'” and 5 “‘The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.'” Note that the Lord commanded the Jews to take a perfect lamb into the home of the father and take care of it. This lamb became like a pet who was loved by the family, yet they were commanded to kill it on the 14th day. There was sacrifice on the part of the lamb and the people were sad.

The Christian parallel is this, that on the 10th day of the same month of Nisan, Jesus was brought into Jerusalem to the house of His Father, and His followers loved Him and waved palm branches shouting ‘Hosanna – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” This is found in John 12:1 – Six days before the Passover (or the 9th day of Nisan), Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.” and John 12:12-13 –  12 The next day (the 10th daythe great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” And, on the 14th day, He celebrated a Passover supper (the Christian ‘Last Supper’) leading to His crucifixion the next day where He paid the ransom for all sinners who believe on His Name! These two events, separated by centuries, are one and the same!

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 03/08/2017

PURIM 2017

Queen Esther (costumed)

This year March 11/12 is the Jewish festival of Purim. This fun holiday is celebrated every year on the 13/14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in Ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” (sound familiar?)

With Purim, the people of God are SAVED from extermination.  I am re-publishing this post on Purim for 2017 for those who are new to the blog and/or to Purim. The date is different but otherwise the info is the same.

The story in a nutshell:
The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.

Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin) defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was incensed and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery (Esther 9:24) -“because Haman the son of Hamdata the Agagi, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had thrown pur (that is, “cast lots”) to crush and destroy them”; Haman made. Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to God. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 13th of Adar the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they rested and celebrated.

Purim observances:
There is a special atmosphere in the synagogue during the Megillah (Book of Esther) reading. Children and sometimes adults arrive in costumes. Some costumes are traditional Mordechai and Esther disguises, and some are the more modern Spiderman and Harry Potter costumes. Anything goes on Purim.  Everyone brings noise makers (rashanim) which they shake whenever “Haman”, the villain in the Purim story, is mentioned during the reading, and they boo and hiss at his name. Another custom was to write Haman’s name on one’s shoe soles and to stamp one’s feet until the oppressor’s name was erased. The custom of making a noise when Haman’s name is mentioned is very ancient and widespread. When Mordechai’s name is mentioned they cheer loudly.

Purim Food Customs
It is a mitzvah (good deed) to eat Seudat Purim (a festive meal) on Purim day. Often Purim songs are sung during this meal. There is even a commandment to drink to intoxication (imagine a command to get drunk!), until they no longer know whether they are blessing Mordechai or cursing Haman.

Purim basket

“Haman’s ears”

Another Purim custom related to food is Mishloach Manot or Shlach Manos (sending of portions – food baskets). Part of the Purim atmosphere is seeing children and adults, in costume, walking through the neighborhood giving baskets and plates filled with hamantashan and other goodies to family, friends, and neighbors. At the festive meal, and during the rest of the day, Jews eat hamantashen (Haman’s ears). Kreplach is another food often eaten at the festive meal.

Matanot LaEvyonim is Hebrew for “gifts to the poor.” On Purim, every Jew is required to give a minimum of two gifts to two people in need. The gifts should be food or money. Often synagogues join together on Purim to raise money to give to the needy.

Costumes and Carnivals

Purim Party

The most popular way to celebrate Purim is to dress up in costumes. The costumes mark the reversal of fate and the fact that Esther concealed her origins. Some say it also portrays the mysterious fact that God’s name is not mentioned once (He is hidden) in the Book of Esther, yet He was clearly in control of the whole situation!

Purim Plays, called Purim Shpiels, are also prevalent as a way to increase joy on the holiday. In Israel, street parades, called Adloyada, which means “until we can’t tell” (the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai), have become popular on Purim. Carnivals and parties are also common ways to celebrate Purim.

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 01/26/2017

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

JANUARY 27, 2017

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday.

remdayAlthough Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in Israel on April 24 this year, the world remembers today. . . .

Bridges For Peace publication

PM Netanyahu greets Holocaust survivors

PM Netanyahu greets Holocaust survivors

Friday 27  January 2017Note: Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day that transcends borders and religions as the world remembers the terrible genocide during which an estimated 6 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered.

On 27 January 1945, Russian forces reached the ‪Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and opened the gates to the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Over the past 71 years, Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of evil, cruelty and deprivation.

holoNearly 60 years after the terrible days of World War II and its unspeakable repercussions for European Jewry, a number of those who lived through the nightmare drafted a Survivor’s Declaration.  

“The Age of Holocaust Survivors is drawing to a close,” it reads. “Before long no one will be left to say I was there, I saw, I remember what happened. All that will be left will be books of literature and research, pictures and films, and multitudinous testimony.

“This will be a new era,” the declaration states. “The dark inheritance of the Shoah that was so indelibly stamped on the survivors’ souls and hearts will become a sacred mission imposed upon humanity.” “The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people.”

As sunset ushered in the start of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the importance of remembrance, anti-Semitism and the way forward for the Jewish state.

Hall of the Children - Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, Israel

Hall of the Children – Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, Israel

Following is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2016 greeting on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“Preserving the memory of the Holocaust is more important today than ever for in this period of resurgent and sometimes violent anti-Semitism, it is commemorations like this that remind us all where the oldest and most enduring hatred can lead.

Unfortunately, in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews. Around the world, Jewish communities are increasingly living in fear. We see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state. Israel is targeted with the same slurs and the same libels that were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial.

Radical Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous anti-Semitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Tehran. And it’s not just Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Europe. Even respected Western opinion leaders, colleges and companies have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

The obsession with the Jews—the fixation on the Jewish state—defies any other rational explanation. While across the region, Radical Islamist militants brutalize entire populations, enslave and rape women, murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel. More than North Korea. More than Iran. More than Syria. More than all of them put together. Some things just don’t change.

Today, the world once again marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the six million Jewish and five million Gentile victims of Nazi terror. We also stand with those being oppressed and murdered today. The world needs to remember so that the sins of yesterday don't turn into the reality of today. NEVER AGAIN!!!(Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90

Today, the world once again marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the six million Jewish and five million Gentile victims of Nazi terror. We also stand with those being oppressed and murdered today. The world needs to remember so that the sins of yesterday don’t turn into the reality of today.NEVER AGAIN!!! (Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

“But one thing has changed. We have changed. The Jews have changed. We are no longer a stateless people endlessly searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to offer us protection.

Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our own homeland. Today we can speak out against the voices of hatred and those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedom. We have changed and we stand and speak out and we defend ourselves. But where is Europe? Where is the rest of civilization?

When a state like Iran and movements like Daesh [ISIS] and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; for theirs.”

Source: (This press release was originally published by Government Press Office on 26 January 2016)  Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

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