Hi and thank you so much for stopping by for another look inside Israel. Today our sis in Jerusalem continues to share about this special time, when people prepare their homes and their hearts. God bless you as you read and pray! Now, here she is . ..
Shalom, dear body of Messiah. May you be blessed and may HE be blessed and glorified!
It’s beginning to look A LOT like Pesach (Passover)! As our stores suddenly become sparkling (well…almost) clean, we find that items that we forgot to get have already disappeared off of the shelves, ie; my husband’s breakfast cereal! With nearly two weeks still left BEFORE Pesach, my poor husband (who usually goes through withdrawals during just the eight days of Pesach) will have to start early…or…discover a less popular cereal that is still on the shelf. (as fewer and fewer shelves display foods that have leaven…or don’t have the ‘right’ rabbi’s stamp…when an item is ‘out’ it is not restocked.)
Are there other signs? Oh yes, many! The strong but delightful aroma of fresh GARLIC hangs over the shuk and wafts through the air on the trains and buses. The garlic harvest happens just before Pesach, and because of that many of us give gifts of the beautifully braided bulbs to hang in the kitchen allowing the recipient of such a gift to use a fresh bulb as they cook…whole barbequed and grilled bulbs of garlic are very popular here and garlic is used in many dishes. Is that a reminder that our ancestors murmured in the desert because the missed the leeks and the garlic? We have leeks and garlic in abundance here now…we simply needed patience. Not just the garlic signals the season in the shuk, but the bright red, sweet and fragrant strawberries deck every fruit stand, the colors are dazzling – like a feast of wild flowers to the eyes – the deep greens, oranges, reds, purples, yellows, whites, of the fruits and vegetables so fresh and abundant – all very present and real evidence of God’s great faithfulness…the wonder of it!
Other things pop up suddenly; ‘ahat pa’ami’ (literally ‘one use’) shops for a start. These are shops full of every size and shape of disposable item …plates, baking pans, every kitchen item that you can imagine (almost) made in a disposable manner so that you can use it during this ‘inbetween’ stage when your regular dishes and pans are gone and your ‘kosher for Passover’ ones are not to be used yet. And, yes, there are ‘ecologically friendly ones’ (although I don’t see how). Plastics shops do a booming business as people replace everything from dish drains to garbage pails. There is even a ‘sink insert’ the size of a kitchen sink that you can place in your sink with a drain hole in the center and … voila! A kosher for Pesach sink is installed.
“Where are you going for seder?” is the sentence I am now hearing through out the day. It is such a blessing that people care for one another! It is commanded that the seder be a big and full meal with your table full and ‘none of the lamb remaining until morning’. Although the lamb is now symbolic (yes, many do eat lamb, but it is awfully expensive as is most meat, so often fish and poultry sit on the table), it is considered sad indeed for ANYONE to be alone for this meal and great effort is made to make sure that everyone is cared for. As you can imagine, it is a very costly meal to prepare, as often the table hosts between 10-100 people. AND I NEGLECTED TO MENTION THE MATZO! How could I have done that! The war of the matzo sales has begun! Who can lure you into their store with the promise of ‘the best price for matzo’ – this is now the battle! Bitter roots are appearing to deck the seder plate, and there are gifts to buy as this is the time for giving of gifts…oh the ACTIVITY!
I have had some wonderful opportunities to open discussions with women of late. On Tuesday (when I began this letter) I had my regular blood test. The technician who took my blood was a ‘dati’ (religious) woman and when I said that I was tired she said ‘Oh! From all of the cleaning and preparations!’ This was a wonderful door. ‘No, actually I have barely begun, but I find it not so hard to prepare for Pesach as I follow the scriptural command to simply have no leaven in my home.’ She smiled and told me that she has also remembered that this was the command. ‘One year while I was scrubbing the floor on my knees’ I told her, ‘I felt as if God said to me ‘This is where I want you…on your knees letting me shine My light on leaven in your heart so that your heart can be clean of leaven!’ I told her how liberating that had been to me and she breathed in every word. I am finding people so very receptive this year as I have shared this with a number of other women. It feels as if I am sowing living seed into prepared soil.
But all is not ‘roses’ as we prepare together for the feast of remembrance. We are experiencing our first ‘sha’arav’ (desert heat wave – hot winds blowing off the desert that literally suck the water out of you) of the year and this is early. An international marathon scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv tomorrow has been cancelled by the health ministry as several years ago a runner died from dehydration during a sha’arav. The locusts that came up from the Sudan, through Egypt continue to multiply and plague our south and threaten our crops inspite of heavy spraying and our still unsure government has been snagged again as they were to sign the coalition agreement tonight…it is again on ‘hold’. My heart was deeply grieved to tears as our Prime Minister gave in to the very liberal, humanistic party demanding the education portfolio. This party has the strong backing of the homosexuals. Thus far our children have been spared these teachings that are rampant in western countries. My heart was rent to wake up this morning to see that this ministry was now in their hands. On top of these ominous events…American President Obama is scheduled to arrive on the 20th…this coming Tues., for a 3 day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He will not address our Knesset (parliament or congress) but plans to address ‘the people’. This is what he has done in places like Egypt before their turmoil…and we are wary. VERY wary…
There is never a dull moment here. ‘Boredom’ does not exist.
So we prepare. We prepare our homes and our hearts…our families.
When I came to Him some 37+ years ago, He began to open to me (sovereignly as I read and prayed- not through any teaching) the beauty of all of His patterns and paths. I saw in the holidays, not a ‘law’ and a ‘restraint’ or ‘religious form’, but a tangible and visible expression of His character and nature…a picture of Who He is…and a loving ‘command’ to ‘keep these ways’. Somehow it did not occur to me that if HE said somewhere in His Word that something was an “abomination” to Him, that because of The Blood of Yeshua I was now suddenly ‘free’ to ‘enjoy’ it. It didn’t make sense to me. Why would I WANT to ‘enjoy’ what my Lord called an “abomination”? Did His opinion of it suddenly change? In the same vain, if He told us to ‘keep this remembrance’ of a miracle that He performed ‘forever’, why would I NOT want to keep it. NO, I DON’T keep if for my salvation, or to fulfill the law…He IS the fulfillment of the law. I keep it for LOVE’S sake…for the love of beauty of His plan and purpose…from a desire to learn to obey His voice…from a desire to love what He loves and to identify with His people who yet have blinders on their eyes. Paul (Shaul) said in1 Corin 9:20“… To the Jews I have become like a Jew in order to win Jews; to men under the Law as if I were under the Law–although I am not–in order to win those who are …”
I will go to sleep now as tomorrow begins early. On a personal note, I am so blessed that our younger daughter and her new husband will be traveling on very inexpensive tickets, from Minnesota to California on the 25th to be with her older sister and family for the 8 days of Pesach! It brings us much joy to know that they have chosen to be together, even if we can not be with them. How wonderful that He truly has all things set in His order for His purposes and His glory. May we choose His ways. May we walk together in peace, demonstrating who HE is to a lost and dying world. May each of you be encouraged in Him, His Word and His Spirit. May we love what He loves. ALL glory to The Lamb that was slain and Whose precious Blood is on the doorposts of our hearts.
Lovingly, your sis in Jerusalem