Inside Israel – Shavuot / Pentecost

God bless you and thank you for coming by for a look inside Israel today!  J of Jerusalem shares with us about Shavuot and her very first time being introduced to it.  Praying that you are blessed as you read!  Now here’s J . . .

SHAVUOT 2012 – 26.05.2012   Jerusalem
“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabat…fifty days…they you shall offer a new grain offering to The Lord.  You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves…of fine flour…baked with leaven.  They are the first fruits to The Lord.” Levit 23:15-17
“And it shall be, when you come into the land which The Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it,…and say to Him ‘I declare today to The Lord my God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us…’”  Deut 26:1-3
“And when the day of Pentecost (SHAVUOT) had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…and there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”  Acts 2:1-12
In all fairness, you really must read these three rich, full chapters in their entirety to enter into the joy that is there.  Oh my, but they are a wealth of promise!  And yet…even still…they are (I believe) but ‘seeds’.  And it is from the seeds of these chapters that I bring an ‘offering’ to share with you today…a memory of what The Lord has done during Shavuot/Pentecost in my life. I shared it once before, a long time ago, but perhaps some of you don’t remember. 
First, how is the high holiday of Shavuot celebrated here? Well, in various ways of course, but I will try to give you an overview from my perspective:
As you know, Shavuot (the feast of weeks…it is to take place the day after the 7th shabat following Passover…hence, 50 days or ‘Pentecost’) is one of the 3 main feasts when all Jewish men are commanded to come up to Jerusalem and present themselves with an offering to The Lord.  (The other two are Passover- corresponding to the Resurrection) and Succot (feast of tabernacles).  Today in Israel the celebration is marked by a number of symbolic things (as well as the men still coming up to Jerusalem for the blessing of the Cohanim (or priests). It is often called the ‘birthday of Judaism’, (interestingly, Pentecost is also known as the birth of the Church to many!) the day when the 10 commandments was received by Moses and presented to the 12 tribes.  To celebrate the written Word, handed down from God, many MANY people will study Torah all night long.  These study groups are spread across the nation and are not limited to the religious but have become quite popular with the secular as well.  After a festive dairy meal at sunset tonight, vast crowds will stream through the city – many by torch light and dressed in white – to the Western Wall (the kotel) of the temple where they will sit on plastic chairs or lie on mats on the ground and study and pray with thanksgiving to God for His Word, through the night.  Others will meet in homes, schools, synagogues, offices and even on the beach and in the forest for the night of study) Meanwhile, ever array of cheese cake, blintz, milk product that you can imagine (or BYOND your imagination) has been prepared and will be eaten as though it were a commandment! No one is QUITE sure how this all began (although there are amazingly creative stories to explain it) but there is generally some rabbi who is able to bring a lovely and thought provoking meaning forward.  Yesterday, on the news, one rabbi explained that The Word is pure and living and should be desired as a baby desires its milk as if knowing that it is receiving the very source of it’s life.  Lovely!  Amen.  I’ll drink (milk) to that!  J As a nice note, our Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, held a 2 hour long study of the book of Ruth with his cabinet this week and encouraged the nation to make sure to set the scriptures as not only their history book, but their compass.
AT ANY RATE…this holiday, again, is a particular opportunity to pray for those who are really seeking Truth…that they may FIND HIM Who IS THE LIVING TRUTH, YESHUA! 

More then 20 years ago now, I had a wonderful experience around Shavuot which has always colored the day with wonder for me.  After I was saved and began reading the Bible, I wondered before The Lord what Shavuot was really about and how it concerned me.  We had not celebrated it when I was growing up, as we did the other holidays and from the scriptures I couldn’t really put any significance to it.  At the time I didn’t even realize that it was Pentecost.  (After all…my KJB called it ‘Pentecost’, not Shavuot) 
I received a phone call from my sister one day that went something like this:  “___, (my name)…I’M GETTING MARRIED!”  YAY YAY!  My sister was nearly 39 at the time and had recently been up to Alaska to visit us.  I had talked to her about The Lord more forcefully then ever before and she had really begun thinking…however… in response she had gone back to NY, joined the synagogue and was now marrying a rabbi!  This was NOT the response I had hoped and prayed for.  She continued talking.  “We are to be married right after Shavuot, and OF COURSE you are invited, but I KNOW THAT YOU CAN’T COME…AFTER ALL YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY AND YOU HAVE THE CHILDREN…AND IT’S OK THAT YOU DON’T COME…!” (The undertone being ‘please please don’t come!’)  I nearly broke her eardrums “OF COURSE I’M COMING!  Don’t be SILLY!  You are my only sister and I will be there with bells on!!”  Silence!  “No…you don’t have to.  PLEASE don’t go to the expense…” (Could it be that I was an embarrassment to her?  A Jewish believer, a disciple of Yeshua…did not fit in well to the picture.) I let my joy for my sister swallow up the understandable rejection and began to pray-plan my way to her wedding.  During prayer one morning I felt so certain that The Lord wanted me to bring two, homemade, challot (the braided shabat breads also used for celebrations).  OK.  The airlines were USED to people carrying strange things to and from Alaska…I would bring two challot.  To my joy they came out perfectly.
Armed with my Bible, gifts, and two huge challot tucked under my arms I made my way across the country to the wedding.  I arrived on Shavuot eve (I seem to recall) and we made our way to ‘Susie’s house’.  Susie was an 82 year old scholar in Jewish studies who had been mentoring my sister.  Obviously she knew about me.  She greeted me graciously and I put down the challot.  ‘You have brought 2 challot for your sister’s wedding? May I ask why?’  I told her ‘I prayed and felt that this was what I should bring.’  She glowed!  ‘How amazing!  The temple offering for Shavuot!  Very good!’  I was taken by surprise.  Who knew?  Levit 23 was not yet alive to me so God had literally graced me by placing them in my hands. Everyone smiled approvingly at me. 
The next morning we went to my sister’s synagogue for the Shavuot service.  It was the first one that I ever recall being present at and the first time that I had been in a synagogue for many years.  My sister and her fiancé, my mother and I hustled into a row half way back at the center of the synagogue and I followed along in the unfamiliar prayer book…but wait!  It wasn’t unfamiliar!  Now we were reading from Habakkuk “Lord!  In judgment remember mercy!” then from Ruth…all of the scriptures that we read were ones that I had been praying and my heart began crying out for my people and I prayed along, more and more, in tongues (I did not know Hebrew at the time).  After a long time the elders went up front and removed a scroll from the ‘ahron’ or ‘scroll closet’.  My sister whispered to me that it was the book of Ruth which is read at Shavuot and that it would now be carried around the synagogue for everyone to touch and bless.  The elders prayed together and then suddenly one came running down the aisle …TO ME!  He called me out of my row.  My mother held on to me ‘no, no’ she said…’yes, yes’ he said.  My sister said ‘OY!’.  My nearly brother in law held his head in his hands.  I figured that they were going to take me out and stone me.  INSTEAD…they took me up front. “What should I do?”  I questioned.  “…I don’t know…” he said “It is ok.  We will show you what to do.”  They put me behind the scroll, which they carried, and said ‘You follow behind and pray’(!!!)  This was A BIT BIZARRE to me…!  ‘GOD!  ONLY YOU COULD ARRANGE SUCH A THING!’  So there I was…following the scroll around the synagogue as the some 3-400 congregants reached out and touched it, kissing their hands first, and I?  I was weeping and praying at the top of my voice in tongues for the salvation of all of them! 
When I went back to my seat, my sister and my brother in law both had their heads in their hands and my mother explained to me ‘They were honoring your sister,’ Ok.  Whatever it was…I was blown away!
After the service I approached the elder who had chosen me ‘May I ask why you chose me? Thank you for honoring my sister.’  He was searching my face and the rabbi joined us ‘I don’t know who your sister is, but you are a lover of God!  You are a lover of God! Are you from Russia?’  At this point The Lord put His all knowing Hand on my heart and said ‘Shhh!  Not now…you will have another chance to share’ so I said ‘Yes, I am a lover of God, but I am not from Russia.’ He said ‘It doesn’t matter.  You are a lover of God and that is why we chose you.  Thank you!’ 
Oh, I DID get a chance to share with the rabbi (that was at my sister’s wedding the following day…and a totally different story!) but I will never forget my introduction to Shavuot, and this holiday has continued to hold an awe of anticipated unexpected joy for me concerning things yet unknown to me that WILL break forth…in His time!
So now we are preparing to leave for our yearly Shavuot celebration held in a wonderful Bedouin tent on a mountain top in Yad h’Shmonah (a believer’s moshav on the hills that border 3 of the tribes of Israel).  We will share a meal, worship and testimony, and I will bring my two loaves of challa. 
I hope to get back to writing some more ‘everyday’ letters soon.  SO much has happened, as usual in this land of so-much-happening.  Thank you for praying for our family and for our land and people. God bless you with His Presence.  Lovingly, your sis
ani b’derek
Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 6:43 am  Comments (8)  
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Inside Israel – Report on Jerusalem Day

Hi and thank you for stopping by for a look inside Israel. Today J of Jerusalem shares about the differences she found in Jerusalem Day this year from previous years. God bless you and yours, as you read and pray, for J and for Israel! Now here’s J . . .

Jerusalem Day was different this year.
If you have ever flown to Israel on our national airline, El Al, you were likely exposed to and interesting intrigue. We were puzzled by it when we immigrated, nearly 17 years ago, but now we understand. What happened was this; We asked where the El Al gate was, since it wasn’t posted, and we were told that ‘it would be announced.’ We waited…and waited… and WAITED, getting a bit nervous. Finally there was a whisper and a quick announcement… ‘El Al will be departing from gate 3’. We ran to gate 3 on the other side of the airport where we checked in through Israel’s famous ‘tight security’. We were asked if we ‘needed to go to the bathroom’ because we wouldn’t be allowed to go after this. Hum. We entered a secure, roped off area and waited, curious at all of the cloak and dagger. About 10 minutes before we were supposed to board the plane, we were hurriedly informed, as a group, that we needed to RUN to gate 73 (seemed about 10 miles away). It was the most ‘remote’ gate at the airport. We got there and boarded so quickly that it was startling, and before we were seated, we were in the air!
Jerusalem Day was like that this year!
In years past ‘the March of the Flag Dance’ came through the center of the city, from King George to Jaffa Road, through the Old City gates to the Western Wall. Many thousands of people would fill the streets rejoicing, singing with great joy and dancing the traditional ‘circle dances’ with Israeli flags lifted high and waving about. It is a contagious joy and I have loved it, particularly the songs thanking God for Jerusalem and singing from the many Psalms concerning Jerusalem.
But this year…hum! The FIRST thing that I heard was that the March of the Flag Dance would NOT be going down Jaffa Road because our notorious ‘lite rail’ is busy ‘practicing’ and we can’t possibly ‘interrupt it’. (That sounded fishy to me) Ok. WHERE is the march? I called, I asked, I searched the web. Nothing! Others began asking me ‘Where IS the march route?’ No one seemed to know.
Our older daughter called me; “Ema? Are you going to the Flag Dance March? I’m thinking of bringing the children.” Finally, yesterday I narrowed it down to TWO areas. Our ‘Official municipality web site’ said that the march would go from both Sacher Park and Independence Park through Jaffa Gate to the Wall. The radio news said that the march would begin in an East Jerusalem (Arab) neighborhood that has had disturbances lately, and enter the Old City through the Damascus gate…through the Moslem quarter to the wall. Hum! That would be ‘making the point’ that our Prime Minister announced so clearly “United Jerusalem will NOT be divided”. We had a 50% chance of hitting the march. We opted for the ‘easy way out’ and took a taxi to Independence Park (MUCH closer to us, thus a smaller fare).
I found a taxi and we piled in. “Shalom! Yom Yerushalym Semach! (happy Jerusalem day) Do you know the route of the march?” Stony silence! Wouldn’t you know it…an Arab taxi driver on Jerusalem day! “No idea!” he answered sullenly. “Where do you want to go.” It was a sober, silent ride. Quite different then my morning trip to the shuk where I made a point of wishing my favorite vendors “Yom Yerushalym Semach!” and they responded joyfully, often with song.
We got out at Independence park, although we saw immediately that there was no one there. We joined the throng outside the park walking toward the old city and were encouraged by seeing a flag here and there. We asked people along the way “Where is the march?” and received the same response over and over “I don’t know! I heard here and I also heard East Jerusalem.” It became humorous as people began putting together ‘clues’. “You know…It CAN’T be here because there isn’t enough security! I hardly see any soldiers!” Right! Smart man! Another added “And the street below us isn’t closed…” Someone piped in “well… but the march should come along the Old City path so they don’t need to close the road down there.” Now we were working together “Oh yes they would. They need to rope off the whole area…” Ok! Convinced I said “Come on kids! Let’s head to Damascus Gate” A chorus of voices protested “I’M TIRED SAFTALI! LET’S GO HOME!’
We DID walk toward the Damascus gate and saw parts of the 40,000 people who were dancing with the flags, but it HAD been hours already and the children had HAD ENOUGH, so we joined the masses of people looking for taxis. FINALLY piling the bedraggled children in, I greeted the driver “Shalom Adon (sir)!” I smiled and told him the address. Before we had gone far we were blocked by dancing rejoicing people. I smiled. The driver began to curse them “Look at them! Idiots! No respect for the law! Get out of the way! (honk honk) Look at these people! They don’t even come from here and they block the roads. None of these people come from here! They don’t love the land like those of us who are from here!”…ah me…we had another Arab taxi driver…and this one thought he had tourists, because that is the ‘line’ that they feed tourists. I have been told about it and now I was experiencing it. I began to pray. “Wait a minute!” I said. “I work in a doctor’s office and MANY people have been born here through out the generations. I know that for a fact.” He backed up “Well 50% come from other places.” Feeling self conscious now that we were immigrants I prayed, how do I proceed? I listened to him spout and prayed for wisdom. I agreed with him where I could. Even the children were silent. Suddenly I turned to him and said “Do you have any Grandchildren?” Ah HA! Caught him off guard! He smiled broadly “THREE! I have THREE.” “AH!” I said to him “These are MY 3! Wonderful isn’t it!” He was grinning ear to ear. I asked him about his children and learned that he had 3 children as well, and that they were thriving. All had gone to university HERE and become professionals … doctors… successful business men. He was now glowing with the joy of one who has a very satisfying life. “I am driving a taxi, but I also have a University degree. I worked for a long time as a teacher, but chose to drive taxi instead. I love to be outside and this way I see so many things.” He was happy and relaxed now. “This country has been good to you” I said, and he could only agree…”God has blessed you”. He was smiling when we got out. “It was very nice talking with you, sir” I said. “And I enjoyed meeting you” he answered.
No…this was NOT a Jerusalem Day like any other I’ve experienced. As we sit on the verge of a week full of explosive potential, perhaps it was a prelude. Our armies are prepared for 3 scheduled days of ‘border storming’ by countries around us, and a call for uprising in Jerusalem…AND…Wed is Shavuot…Pentecost! Explosive? What a week to expect miracles…to call for The Hand of God to reveal Himself…to believe in faith that PERHAPS this WILL be the week that The Holy Spirit is poured out AGAIN in this place!
Yes, Shavuot is next…the time of the first fruit offering…Shavuot…Pentecost…and that is another letter. I must go to bed. Thank you so much for your prayers! Lovingly, your sis.

ani b’derek

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