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

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 01/13/2017

HEALING OR CURSING- WHICH WILL IT BE?

decisionga

7,000 attend Decision America in GA

There are two spiritual principles at work at the present time in our world, particularly for the U.S. and Israel. At such a crucial time in history I wonder which of them will prevail. The first principle is based on the following verse from II Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This past year there was a huge prayer effort in the U.S. – the Decision America Tour, led by Franklin Graham, Christian evangelist and missionary, President of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Franklin Graham held prayer rallies on the steps of all 50 State Capitals, where thousands of believers in each state gathered to repent for the sins of the church, to pray for the nation and to ask for healing of the land. I believe that God has heard from heaven, forgiven our sin and is beginning to heal our land – against all odds!

HOWEVER, the second spiritual principle at work is based on another scripture in Genesis 12:1-3 –

“1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house,To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

divideIn this transition time between administrations in the U.S. our government has cursed Israel. After years of blessing and defending our closest ally, our government has turned its back on Israel. As of December 23, 2016 it has allowed the U.N. Security Council to call on Israel to halt its “settlement” expansion. The resolution essentially re-states U.S. policy that “settlement” activity in the “West Bank” (Judea and Samaria) is illegal and counterproductive. The U.S. did not support the resolution, but it did not utilize its veto power either, contrary to all the times in the past when it did veto such proposals. Israel has owned the nation of Israel since the time of Abraham and especially since the 1948 establishment of the nation by the U.N. How can building communities in their own land be termed ‘settlements’?

SO, which spiritual principle will prevail?

There have been dozens of instances in recent decades when the U.S. has been hit by some sort of immediate disaster when it has made a move toward the dividing of the land of Israel. Look at this list and see if you think they are all ‘coincidences’:

The following are some of the most prominent examples of this principle being carried out:

-Curse: The last time the U.S. government refused to veto an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council was on March 22, 1979 when the Carter administration chose not to veto U.N. Resolution 446. Four days after that on March 26, the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington. As a result of that treaty, Israel gave up a tremendous amount of territory.
-Result: Two days later, on March 28, the worst nuclear power plant disaster in U.S. history made headlines all over the globe.
_______________

-Curse: On October 30, 1991 President George H. W. Bush opened the Madrid Peace Conference which brought Israelis and Palestinians together to negotiate for the very first time. In his opening speech, Bush told Israel that “territorial compromise is essential for peace”.
-Result: At the exact same time, “the Perfect Storm” was brewing in the north Atlantic. This legendary storm traveled 1000 miles the wrong direction and sent 35 foot waves slamming directly into President Bush’s home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
_______________

-Curse: On August 23, 1992 the Madrid Peace Conference moved to Washington D.C.
-Result: The  very next day Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida causing 30 billion dollars in damage. It was the worst natural disaster up to that time in U.S. history.
_______________
-Curse: On January 16,1994 President Clinton met with President Assad of Syria to discuss the possibility of Israel giving up the Golan Heights.
-Result: Within 24 hours, the devastating Northridge earthquake hit southern California. It was the second worst natural disaster up to that time in U.S. history.
_______________

-Curse: On January 21, 1998 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the White House but received a very cold reception. In fact, President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright actually refused to have lunch with him.
-Result: That exact same day the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, sending the Clinton presidency into a tailspin from which it would never recover.
_______________

-Curse: On September 28, 1998 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was working on finalizing a plan which would have had Israel give up approximately 13 percent of Judea and Samaria.
-Result: On that precise day, Hurricane George slammed into the Gulf Coast with wind gusts of up to 175 miles an hour.
_______________

-Curse: On May 3, 1999 Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was supposed to hold a press conference to declare the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital.
-Result: On that precise day, the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded in the U.S. ripped through Oklahoma and Kansas. At one point one of the tornadoes actually had a recorded wind speed of 316 miles an hour.
_______________

-Curse: In 2005, President George W. Bush (the son of George H. W. Bush) convinced Israel that it was necessary to remove all of the Jewish “settlers” out of Gaza and turn it over entirely to the Palestinians. According to the New York Times, the very last of the “settlers” were evacuated on August 23, 2005.
-Result: On that precise day, a storm that would be given the name “Katrina” started forming over the Bahamas. The city of New Orleans still has not fully recovered from the damage that storm caused, and it ranked as the costliest natural disaster in all of U.S. history up to that time.
_______________

-Curse: On May 19, 2011 Barack Obama told Israel that there must be a return to the pre-1967 (indefensible) borders.
-Result: Three days later on May 22 a half-mile wide EF-5 multiple-vortex tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri. According to Wikipedia, it was “the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.”
_______________

Now that our present government has cursed/betrayed Israel at the U.N., will our entire nation will be cursed as a result? It has cursed Israel by stabbing them in the back. The U.N. Security Council resolution 2234 that was passed on December 23 2016 is the biggest betrayal of Israel in modern history. It could be that “all hell is about to break loose in this country.” (Actually in Nevada there have been 8 earthquakes in the past 24 hours; 69 earthquakes in the past 7 days)

But maybe not! With a new administration that has promised to support and protect Israel, perhaps God will stay His hand of judgment on the U.S. Keep on praying!!

 Thanks to prophecynewswatch.com which collected these facts.

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 12/14/2016

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE?

Although I don’t recommend stopping the celebration of Christmas or Hanukkah (and I’ll explain why), please consider this information from NEAPN (New England Apostolic Prayer Network).

paganThe pagan origins of Christmas: “In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast. In Rome, the Winter Solstice was celebrated many years before the birth of Christ. The Romans called their winter holiday Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the God of Agriculture. In January, they observed the Kalends of January, which represented the triumph of life over death. This whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The festival season was marked by much merrymaking. It is in ancient Rome that the tradition of the Mummers was born. The Mummers were groups of costumed singers and dancers who traveled from house to house entertaining their neighbors.

From this, the Christmas tradition of caroling was born.” “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people [are] vain: for [one] cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.” Jer 10:2-4

In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ’s birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. The new religion went down a bit easier, knowing that their feasts (and statues) would not be taken away from them.”

christmastreeAccording to NEAPN, The Lord made it clear, that we are to celebrate the (Jewish) Feasts always; however, no thanks to Emperor Constantine, who got us out of the timing of the Lord – the Hebrew calendar, and celebration of the feasts. He picked up the pagan rituals and tacked them and their timing right into the Christian (Gregorian) calendar. Isn’t that what the enemy (satan) wants to do according to scripture?  Get us out of the timing of God.

As Christians, grafted into spiritual Israel (Romans chapter 11), shouldn’t we celebrate the Jewish feasts, knowing that Jesus came not to destroy the works of the law but to fulfill them? (Matthew 5:17). Many Christians do not realize that the Jewish feasts of Israel are still observed today by Jews. We must become familiar with the feasts in order to better understand the roots of our faith as well as God’s redemptive plan throughout the ages. The feasts can be observed in Leviticus 23 in the order of their seasonal observance. The dates of the feasts for 2016-17 are:

Rosh Hashanna  – Feast of Trumpets:  October 2-3, 2016
followed by the 10 Days of Awe
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement: October 11-12, 2016
Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles: October 16-23, 2016
Simchat Torah/Joy of Torah: October 23-25, 2016
Pesach – Passover: April 11-12, 2017
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 12-19, 2017
Feast of First Fruits: April 15-16, 2017
Counting the Omer: April 15 – June 3, 2017
Shavuot/Pentecost – Feast of Weeks: June 3-4, 2017

Also commanded by the Lord are the weekly observance of the Sabbath (Shabbat) and the welcoming of each new month at the new moon observance – Rosh Chodesh.

hanukkahmenorrahNote that Hanukkah (Feast of re-dedication of the 2nd temple) is not included although it does commemorate a true miracle in Jewish history, just as for Christians, Christmas commemorates the birth of our Savior Yeshua Ha Mashiach/Jesus Christ, who, it is believed, was born in October, during the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, Jesus observed Hanukkah!  John 10:22-23

I’m just saying. . . .

But, would unbelievers be drawn to our Savior if we suddenly stopped celebrating Christmas? No, they wouldn’t, because the culture is so saturated with the customs we’ve adopted for centuries, that it would seem unfriendly, hateful and non-religious. But in our celebrating of Christmas, let us focus on the fact that on a very special night in Bethlehem, Israel, ‘love rained down on the earth’ as our Redeemer entered time and space in order to rescue us. Praise His Name forever! Baruch Hashem!

Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 10/16/2016

SUKKOT- Past, Present and Future

Modern day sukkah (click to enlarge)

The Biblical feast most associated with joy is Sukkot, the week-long Feast of Tabernacles/Booths which begins on the 15th of the month of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar (October 16-24, 2016). Twice the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) tells Jews to rejoice during this week, and Deuteronomy reminds them that with God’s blessings they will rejoice again in the future. Torah instructs them to dwell in booths (sukkot) for seven days to remember that they dwelt in booths when the LORD brought them out of Egypt (Leviticus 23:43). Today they don’t all live for an entire week in the sukkah, but many still spend some time outside in that temporary home.

Imagine dragging the wood, hammering the nails, setting up the walls, laying branches as our roof, spacing them just to let in the sun and view the stars at night. Most are simple and very fragile. Maybe that’s why they bring to mind the awesome reliance on God the Jews had during this time – for food, shelter and protection in a harsh environment. Also, they draw to mind the miraculous ways in which God protected them, providing manna daily, and the cloud of glory which led them on their way. Even their sandals and clothing miraculously remained intact. The review of the travels in Numbers 33 describes the journey leg-by-leg, over 41 verses. God led the Israelites (Jews) each step of the journey and that is one of the reasons for rejoicing.

As Messianic Jews and Christians – in the New Covenant, the booths remind us of the Son of God coming to live among us, “tabernacling” with us. John 1 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God through His Son comes to our “tents”, to our experiences, and shares in them intimately. He and His talmidim (disciples) went from house to house, sharing in suffering, in loss, having no place to rest their heads.

Moreover, as Yeshua (Jesus) came to our “tents”, He promised eternal dwellings, saying “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) He promises another kind of eternal dwelling in the promise of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), saying “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper. . . He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16, 17) Sha’ul (Paul) gives us more depth into this intimacy, telling us, “we have the mind of Mashiach (Messiah)” (1 Corinthians 2:16), and “your body is the temple of the Ruach HaKodesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) This is God dwelling among, with, and in us.

Perhaps the deepest reminder within this week of booths is that God Himself tabernacled in the flesh in becoming man; the great miracle that “the Word became flesh” and that our Savior is “the fullness of the godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) God did not merely set up a tent in human flesh, but united in intimate union with the human soul.

The holy and infinite Creator did not deal with our sin in an unseen or incomprehensible way. Rather, the God of Glory became man, to save man, and to suffer the infinite indignity in experiencing suffering and death. “For, inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death.” (Hebrews 2:14, 17)

Finally, because Adonai (God) has set up the sukkah in humanity, He will send us our final dwelling place, the New Jerusalem. Heaven itself will come down to meet us. Her light will be “like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:11) and the names of the tribes of Israel will be on its gates and the names of the apostles of the Lamb on its foundations. Its light will be the glory of God itself, the Lamb. God leads us on our way—Jew and Gentile in the Messiah Yeshua. He joins us on our way and He brings us a final home with Him.

From an article by Thomas Ackerman, MJAA

To read about customs and traditions associated with Sukkot, visit my post from 2011: The Feast of Tabernacles Is Here!

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