Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Beginning

Boker Tov (good morning):
This morning I awoke a little earlier than usual. Sunshine was softly streaming through the window, touching my cheek. I turned my face and smile, enjoying the rays warming my face. The warmth from the sun was really my Heavenly Father caressing my face, slowly waking me up to embrace a new day.
As I swing my legs over of bed, I have to watch where my feet land. There is a furry little being named Montaque laying right on the spot of the rug where I place my feet.
Mark is already up, making coffee.
Life is good.
Mark and Monti are out for a walk, which I enjoy my almond-joy flavoured coffee and write.
As I stated in an earlier entry, I have found the joy of reading scripture once again. Not for study. Not to teach. Not to share some insight I have for. Just for pure pleasure.
I started at the beginning: Genesis.

B'resheet: In the Beginning.
The first of the Five Books.
Many see B'resheet, the stories of Six Days of Creation, a snake in a garden talking a woman into eating a piece of fruit, the building of an ark, etc, as nothing more than good stories, fables. Carrying no more weigh or value than the tales told the Brothers Grimm or A thousand and One Arabian Nights.
And then, there a folks like myself that hold to the First Book of Torah as being the real history of  Creation's beginning. We believe in the literal Six Days of Creation. We believe in the Garden of Eden, the Tree, the building of the ark, etc. While I have read the Tales of the Brothers Grimm and Abrabian Nights, and there are indeed morals to the fables, they are stories, some based on real life events.
Genesis is real.
One of  the errors made by many believers concerning B'resheet, is the book is often used as Science text book. Many turn to B'resheet to proof that there was a Divine Design to the Universe, that the accounts of G_D  creation everything out of nothing is true. Many feel Creationism should be taught in school as part of the science curricular.
But that misses the point of B'resheet.
" be-re-shit ba-ra E-lo-him..."  In the beginning G_D.....
Just I existed before I began the story I am writing on another blog, G_D exist when He began to Create the Heavens and the Earth. B'resheet is the Book of beginnings. The beginning of Heaven and Earth. And that Elohim was there as it all unfolded.
B'resheet wasn't written to convince people that the story of Creation. The author, Moshe, believed this story. And so did the Children of Israel. The first book is the early history of our people, starting with the Presence of the Divine stepping into the universe He created.
The the Beginning Elohim.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Valley of Dry Bones

Miracle: is a phenomenon not fully explained by known laws of nature or an act by some supernatural entity, known or unknown, outside force. Some scientist-theologians suggest that miracles are not violations of the laws of nature but "exploration of a new regime of physical experience. Others perceive the act as coincidence. Religious often refer to this as Divine Providence.
Divine Providence: G_d is directing, even recreating every minute detail of creation. This is the underpinning of the Orthodox believer's world view, particularly as regards questions of interaction with the natural world.

Boker Tov:
Yesterday, I wrote about waking with a sense of joy and wonder. This morning, the feeling wasn't as intense, but still there.
I believe this feeling, this slow change in my emotions is due largely in part to a miracle I have witness unfold the past five and a half months.
I have a friend, one I have written about a few years ago who had been quite sick. Mark and I took him in and nursed him back to health.
Sadly, his health went south again and this past January, once again we watched as my friend David battled another serious illness, this time, Mastitis. Today mastoiditis is easy to treat and rarely serious, but in David's case, it was. And given his other health problems, this made treating  him more difficult. David was in hospital for weeks, receiving antibiotics by IV. He was also on a feeding tube. The doctors and nurses worked overtime to restore David's health.
Many times I stood at David's bed, asking G_D: "can these bones rise up and live again?" I knew G_D could bring him back.
But it would be a miracle.
A few months back, David heard of someone who lost his home, needing a place to stay. David agreed to allowed this gentleman to stay in his apartment for a few weeks. His new room-mate and his girlfriend got David's apartment cleanup and ready for David's return.
David's health improved enough that he was released from Rehab Saturday. David's doctor didn't think this was a good idea, that David wasn't really strong enough to be released. But doctor was over-ruled.
So, Saturday morning, Mark and I picked David up and took him back to his apartment. He walked out, with a new cane and socking feet, no shoes. Not even bedroom slippers.
I hide both my anger and my tears.
Rick was at the apartment, waiting for our arrival. Rick's girlfriend, Bonnie was there as well, making for a warm welcome. I had suggested to both Rick and David that Rick be added to David's lease. This would work out well for both of them; Rick would have a place to live and David would not be alone.
I wrote on facebook that David was back home and at least one person I know where to bring David a meal Sunday.
A month ago, David was on a feeding tube.
Given how sick David was even a month ago, it is a miracle that David is even alive. G_D isn't ready for him yet.
Seeing what G_D did for David, renews my hope, my faith that G_D shall move through our lives the same way. Our financial looks dire. It looks like we could lose everything.
But as I watched David slowly walk up the steps back to the apartment he himself didn't think he would ever return to, I have renewed home.
I look around home, at a empty checking account and ask "can these bones live again?"
Yes, they can.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My Dear Sister

Boker Tov:
It has been a while since I have had this feeling. A feeling of joy and wonder. The past several months, I have do this out of pain and tears, needing comfort.
But today I awoke with a tiny ray of wonder.
After the morning task are over, I shall curl up with my dear friend.
The Scriptures.
Not looking for answers, not looking comfort or to be encouraged. Just to spend time with the Holy One, Blessed be He and enjoy His Presence and His Words.
Torah, like wisdom is liken to a woman. We are to embrace Her and call Her our older sister.
Dear Sister, it has been too long.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Real Heroes Don't Wear Capes

We do not know most of their names. Their superpower lies in the desire to be part of something greater than themselves, to serve and protect the nation they love and the way of life we all enjoy.
I am honoured to be part of a family who has so many American heroes. Going back to great-grandfathers, uncles, grandfathers, step-father and step-uncle. My husband Mark, still in the Reserves, my father-in-law, retired Navy, his brothers, all who have passed on, also served. My son who enters his 20th in the Navy, my cousin Daniela who is soon to retire as well as other cousins who are still deployed. They gave up much of their freedoms to go into the service, so that we can keep ours.
I still have the dog tags from Mark's first two tours of Iraq. I wore them to keep him close to my heart. Today I still wear them to remember to pray for those who are deployed now.
I remember the families; husbands, wives, children, parents and grandparents who lay wreathes on graves today. They too are heroes, letting a loved one go that didn't come back.
Mark and I do not go shopping or attend cook-outs on Memorial Day. We prefer to watch the services honouring our honoured dead, saying prayers for the ones that they leave behind.
May They Each Rest in Peace and May G-d Continue to Comfort Those Left Behind.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jewish Holidays - Shavuot


Today is Shavuot. On this day, we remember the roaring thunder off Mount Sinai, where the L-rd came us, the Hebrew people the Torah, the day we entered into the Everlasting Covenant.
It is said on that day of Thunder and Fire, each Hebrew who has ever been born or shall be, stood on that very mountain and accepted the Torah for him or her self. Each of us continue to chose whether we shall walk in His ways or no.
On this day, we also read the Book of Ruth. The events of the Book of Ruth surround the time of Shavuot. On during this time, a young widow, Ruth, decides to enter into covenant, not only with her mother-in-law, Naomi, but with Naomi's people and her G_D. Ruth left her all she knew to enter into Covenant with the G_D she had come to love.
Not knowing what her new life held, Ruth took care of her mother, working the fields as a heaper, until she caught the eye of Boaz, the richest man in town.
Sounds like a romance novel, doesn't it? But it is. Just as Boaz fell and love and later married Ruth, G_D loves each of us and reaches His Hand out to all.
Ruth could have stayed behind with her own people, remarried and maybe even had children. But she went instead, to on to take care of her dead husband's mother and herself. She could have said not to marrying Boaz, but she didn't.
And because of the choices she made, she began the great-grandmother of King David, from who's line, Messiah comes.
We as a people chose G_D and His Torah, and we are to take Her to all that will receive her. We do not force Torah  on anyone by the point of the sword or threatening they will burn in hell. Nor do we make the promise that one's life will suddenly be void of problems, pain and heartache; there are no unicorns to fly one away to the castle in the clouds.
Just the promise that The Holy One will be with you through the journey from here to heaven and forever.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

How Can I Really Say Thanks For All You Have Done?



Friday, 25 May 2012

While My Beloved Sleeps

As I sit down, gathering my thoughts to write my latest entry, Montaque hops into my lap, and looks at the screen, reading what I have written so far.
He turns that adorable little face to me and his brown eyes face, "you haven't written much."
I assure Monti I was waiting for him.
All the while I hear from the bedroom the sound snores of my beloved.
He is finally asleep.
Mark has tossed and turned the pass several nights. I wake up, take him in my arms and then, softly brush his hair and whisper prayers for him as he falls back to sleep.
It is the stress of being out of work, the job interviews that come to nothing. One job he was offered was only past time and wouldn't even be half of what Mark receives in unemployment. We really aren't living on unemployment. We rob Peter to pay Paul so we can keep our phone and Internet so Mark can keep looking for work.
We pray. We keep seeking G_D. We keep believing. We hold on.
We yell, scream, cry throw tantrums and still at the end of the day, still walk with G_D.
While my beloved sleeps I continue to pray.

Someone told me today G_D allows you to go through tough times until all you have is Him.
He's all we'd had for several months now.
Sometimes, I told another friend today, the most honest answer is "I don't have the faintest idea what G_D is doing." And "this stinks!" It is honest. It is real. Because we we still live in this world and not the next.
Because true faith doesn't have all the answers, but full of questions.
Job said it best: " Shall we accept good from G_D, and not trouble?" Job 2:10
When the Messiah required a hard thing from His followers, Yeshua HaMessiah turned to Peter and said: "Will you leave too?"
My answer is the same as Peter's: "where would I go, L-rd? For You have the Sayings of Life."
There are times Faith comes down to the simple fact; G_D has been Faithful, is Faithful and will continue to be so." Sounds like a pat answer. It is. And there are times it works.
This is not that time.
I hang in there because there is no other place to go. Where can I go? I use to think such a statement made me sound like I was still in an abused marriage.
But not really. For this weekend, we celebrate Shavuot, the Day we entered into covenant with the Creator of the Universe. The Day Hebrews accepted the Torah and said we would do all it says. But it wasn't just the nation. Each of us took on the burden of Torah....
"I, Tirzah Elanna Bat Levi, take you HaShem as my G_D, for better, for worse....."
For me, rejecting G_D because of what we are going through would be just as bad as leaving my beloved Mark while he sleeps.
Sounds insane.
Sounds like love.
I guess that is the true meaning of faith....
"For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.”
Stuart Chase.

The Price of Freedom

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Are We Living Our Truth?

I saw this on facebook today:
Somethings we are so quick to throw scripture about, we forget the words before and after those verses. While the verse quoted is corrected, just a chapter over, we are told that tattoos is forbidden as well.
"Well, that's the Old Testament,  that verse about tattoos it doesn't apply today..."
And when did that change?
Now this doesn't mean my views on the subject has changed. I am, however a firm believer that G_D over looks one His word says is forbidden and yet turns an blind eye to others.l along.
G_D hates sin, but not sinner.
Did you notice I didn't add "the"?
Yes, Leviticus forbids homosexuality. But same book also forbids incest, fornication and adultery. We are told not to eat swine or shellfish, or to wear clothing made of linen-wool blend. How many keep the Sabbath on Sunday and not the Day that is commanded, Saturday.
Rabbi Saul summed this up rather nicely: "You, then who teach your fellow man, do you refuse to teach yourself? You who cry out against stealing, are you yourself a thief? You preach against adultery, do you commit adultery?
We who claim to Walk in the Ways of G_D, must take care that we are not only preaching about the Truth of Torah, but actually know Torah and Live that Truth.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What Does a Muslim Look Like?

First, I am not a Muslim. Nor is my husband. Though we have been accused of being so, even closet Muslims, we are not.
Like many of our Sephardi brothers and sisters, we are often mistaken as Muslims because of the kipper (kapp) and the matter many Sephardi women cover their hair. We do have Muslims friends who we do enjoy fellowship, but there is a difference, a clean difference in what we believe.
Mark and I both often hear: "you look Muslim."
I counter: "what does a Muslim look like?'
Would you really know if your child's teacher or classmate, someone you work with or an actress who's work you enjoy is of the Islamic faith?
How quick we are to label someone because they "look different" than us?
Let's be honest, shall we? No matter how you wear a scrave, someone is going to whisper in your ear (or loudly in someone else's ear, so you get the message) "you look like a Muslim. Which is worse than your slip showing or being fat. It is coded for "you are a walking bomb and about to blow us all to Kingdom Come." You look like "one of them and not like one of us." You don't look like a Jew/Christian. You don't like an American.
And what does an American look like?

May I See Your Hair?

In my last post, I answered a question raised by one of my readers about the donning of the hijab or some other form of head covering.
Growing up in Boston, I was use to seeing both men and women with their heads covered. Men wore hats to work as well as to church or temple, taking them off when they entered the building. Women kept their head gear on.
I remember Catholic women wearing the mantilla, the beautiful lace scrave, so soft. So holy. First communion is usually given at age eight or nine, the age of reason, when the child decides they wish to following the teachings of the church.

I remember going to the First Communion of a friend. All the little girls looking like mini brides. My friend Christina told me the mantilla she wore was handmade by her great-grandmother and passed down from mother to daughter for their first holy Communion since. I remember seeing the various older women wearing the mantilla, the ones will the comb sewn in that raises the lace to look like a crown, going about their day of shopping, stopping to exchange the latest news.
During this time, the Nation of Islam was also growing in Dorchester. How often I would see these women, daughters of Islam going about. A childhood friend of my (who sadly I forgot her name) came from a Muslim home. I still remember the lemon-aide her mother would make. I never saw her hair, because it was always covered. I remember asking, one day, "why can't I see your hair?" She told me that all holy women cover their hair. Like Sarah, Abraham's wife and Mary, the mother of Jesus. I never forgot that.
Years later, it is I that is now asked from time to time why do I cover my hair. Many times, the question comes from women like Rebeca, who are thinking about veiling. Others it is curiously. They find it beautiful, exotic though not for them.
For others, the hijab, prayer cap, snood and veil are anti-woman, just another way for men to oppress woman. To control what we wear. Because they can't control their lustful thoughts, they drape us like store window dummies.
How often Mark and I have visited a church or temple and people move away because they think there's a bomb underneath my shawl. Or some very nice lady comes over and pointing to my snood day, "you know, if you would just accept Jesus, you wouldn't have to wear that."

Many think Mark insisted I cover my hair; he didn't. It was my choice.
A few weeks ago, Mark and I were speaking to a rabbi about visiting his congregation. When asked if there would be a problem with me wearing a scrave, the answer was; "as long as it isn't the Muslim looking ones."
And that is the real issue. I look like a Muslim.
Next post; what does a Muslim look like.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Hijab, Snood and Cute Hats

This entry is in response to Rebeca Dion's wishing to know more about the Hijab.

Hijab means:  headscarf or headcovering in Arabic. While by many religious women, but known by other names, the hijab is known for being worn by Muslim women, usually married, but in many cultures by all women over the age of 13. Many more traditional women including a veil that covers the face except for the eyes.
The practice donning of the hijab among Muslim women is based on religious doctrine, though the Koran doesn't command it.
The wearing of the hijab comes from the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari.
 The Hadith, the "tradition of Mohammed," reveals the teachings of the prophet to believers. Bukhari's version of this text is generally regarded as the standard one, although numerous versions exist. In a very broad sense, the relation the Hadith has to the Koran resembles the New Testament's to the Old in Christian scriptures.
According to the Hadith, "My lord agreed with me ('Umar) in three things... (2) And as regards the veiling of women, I said 'O allah's apostle! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.' So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealled" (Bukhari, v1, bk 8, sunnah 395).

The purpose of the headcovering is not to oppress women, but to protect their honour, an act of modestly.
The hijab is now known as not only the headscarf, but the whole of Islamic dress for all females. It is said that a woman who wears the the hijab will not wear tight clothing. But it isn't just Muslim women donning the hijab. Many black Hebrews and Christians women don the hijab as well, since the dress reminds them of our fore mothers, such as Sarah, Rebeca and Leah and Rachel. Of motherland Africa and Israel.

So why is a nice Jewish girl like me covering my hair, looking like a Muslim and causing mass confusion?
Like our Muslim sisters, Hebrew women have always covered their hair. Many a Hebrew bride even today is adored in such finerly as this lovely Jewish woman on her wedding day. Proverbs 31 speaks of us as clothed in strength and honour. Dressing our household in fine linen.
For the same reason, not to be seen as a single or loose woman, we covered our hair with covering that are very similar to the hijab of today. Our beauty, then as now is kept for the eyes of our husbands.
Growing up in a church home, my sister and I wore hats to church. Something I still do when going out to a worship service or running errands. We wore fine hats because we were going to enter the Presence of the King of the Universe, we wore hats to show our respect, to humble ourselves before Him.
Many religious groups, like the Amish, cover their hair, for the same reason. Plain and simple, to avoil vanity and keep ones focus on G_D and the duties at hand. For most, not all, our various head coverings are an outward sign of an internal, heart committed to our faith.

Because like so many of my sisters, whether, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Amish,  etc.I cover myself for my husband's eyes only. So that no man approaches me, thinking I am single and seek out my company.
I wear the headscarf  because as a righteous woman, I am Set Apart. I am Set Apart as a woman of G_D and as a wife. When I cover my head, I feel the Presence of the Holy One. Like my wedding band, the colourful that covers my hair tells all I am not just anyone. I am a daughter of the Most High and there is a measure of respect that comes with that.
 I cover my hair and my body so that you are drawn to my face and talk to me and not to my breast. So that when I stand up to leave, one is impressed by my mind and not how long my legs are.
I love the both the snood and the hijab, because there is an elegance that comes from both. Such beauty. Such class. We actually look like ladies. Men stand in our presence and hold out chairs. They open doors and offer us their seat. While many men would deem us high maintains, secretly these same men whisper to Mark, "I wish my wife carried herself like Laini."
I cover myself, head to toe, because my husband looks the way I love. I never get tired of hearing, "baby, you look goooood!"

Does this mean every woman who covers herself is modest or holy? No. Many do so because they are required to cover themselves by the laws of their country or because of the rule of their. Many a young woman leaves her Amish, Jewish, Christian or Muslim home, dropping their bibles, prayer books, prayer shawls and prayer caps as they walk out the front door. Nor am I saying that women who wears jeans, mini-skirts and don't cover their hair are on their way to hell.
Like anything, this is a matter of choice.
For me, it is a beautiful choice.
Next post; why all the fuss about women who cover their hair????

Monday, 21 May 2012

Fresh Cut

Usually, I don't show my hair (modestly, you know) but today I decided to take off my hijab for a moment.
Due to the stress and depression, my hair has taken a beating. My lamb's locks were actually locking (a look I do not like). Despite the vitamins, the olive oil, coco butter, and coconut oil, the sheen was gone. My hair was dry and the ends were breaking.
And since we cannot afford for me to go to the hair dressers, I took things into my own hands.
Sunday, after another deep conditioning (and while Mark was gone) I dividend my hair into six sections and then cut each braid about four inches. Praying the whole time.....
A few hours later, Mark came home and we talked for a few minutes. I asked if he noticed anything different.
Mark said: "yes, you conditioned your hair, it really looks nice..." then he took a closer look..."it's looks shorter..."
And then..."you cut you hair. It looks great. You look so sassy!"
Yeah, he likes it.
So now you see my auburn woolly mane, now with wisps of silver.
And for the record, my husband has informed me this is the last time I may cut my hair.
He likes it long.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Yummy Morning

It is a cold, rainy Sunday here in Virgina.
Mark is trying to drag Montaque outside so the little guy can take care of business.
I am sitting here, enjoying a cup of  freshly brewed coffee.
I smile. It is a yummy morning.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved York Peppermint Patties. Take first bit; that small shiver that goes through ones body, from head to toes. One closes ones eyes and looks up to heaven.
Only the Rapture could bring such bliss.
But then, about a year ago, that all changed when my Mark, who know my love of York Peppermint Patties, delighted me and send my soul soaring when he added this little gem to my morning coffee...

Both International Delight and my husband one of my dreams come true. International Delight created and Mark found it, surprising me with this as well as the Almond Joy.
Mark is such a good husband.
One of the things I taught Mark early on in our marriage to buy things like ID creamers, you can freeze. This way you can stock up. I have to do this when the Butter Rum and Peppermint Mocha comes out during x-mas.
Imagine if you will, placing a Peppermint Patty in your coffee....
So as I sit here, about to get into my morning blogging, I am slowly enjoying my cup of coffee, the sense of dark chocolate, peppermint and lifting up an scent that would rival the sweetness incense.
Later in this afternoon, when I sit down and open the current book I'm reading, I will enjoy another cup of this heavenly delight.
And try to keep my cup from my dog.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Right to Love Whom We Wish

Marriage is a Civil Right. All Americans should be able to marry who ever they wish and receive the protections and benefits there of.
America is not a Theocracy. Never has been. We who have embraced the Word of G_D and live by its percepts, are also expected to live by and obey the laws of this nation or any country we live in. The scriptures tells we are to obey our government officials, except when it conflicts with the Word and Will of G_D. This is why in countries such as Iran and China where our faith is illegal, we meet in secret to practice our faith and will not submit to an abortion willingly because we already have one child. This is why I would marry Mark if it was still illegal for us as a interracial couple to wed. I would willingly face the consequences, including knowing our children would be considered bastards, that I would not be added to Mark's health insurance, that Mark's family could stop me from seeing him in hospital, that Mark would receive nothing from my estate. Unless we moved to another state or country, our lives would be a living hell.
And there are millions of Amercian couples who are going through that right now. Because our law reads that marriage is between one man and one woman, we have fellow Americans who do have the right to love as they wish.
America is not a Theocracy. It is not the Kingdom of G_D here on earth. Neither Mr. Bush or Mr. Obama are the Messiah. We who are righteous must remember others have the right to live their lives as they see fit.
While my reasons for not supporting same-sex marriage are on a moral statue, just as there are concerning for abortion, I don't believe the government has a place in our lives or our bedrooms.
So, allow me for a few moments to play Devil's Advocate......
After all, they are Americans and should be afforded the right to marry those they love as well.
Why put a limit on how many partners you can take as a spouse?
Why make them chose? I am not making light of the subject. If this man truly loves all three women and they have no problem with sharing their husband, who are we to judge? How can I, black woman married to a white man, deny such happiness to this foursome.
Look how happy they are? And you know the children will be cared for and loved. This is part of their religion. We have the freedom to practice our faith in this nation, correct?
Again, I hope no one will get angry. This is my response to the gentleman who me send an article entitled,  Explaining Gay Marriage to an Idiot.
I understand better than you think.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Monti Does YNOT Pizza

We had the joy of having big brother Sam this morning. He's been in town for some training and he was on his way back home when he stopped to spend a few hours with us.
Because he couldn't stay for supper as we had planned, he offered to treat us to lunch, asking if there was someplace where we could bring Monti with us.
Mark suggested YNOT pizza since, like many of the restaurants in Ghent have outside eating places. We love YNOT Pizza, not that it is within walking distance, but that it has the best Italian cuisine in Tidewater.
It was a beautiful day for sitting outside and enjoying an Italian meal with a friend. After a week of being beaten up, its nice to sit and talk, even laugh with a friend, a good friend who's been there you for ten years.
Frankly, I prefer YNOT to Olive Garden; not that it is cheaper in price, but the portions are huge and their food is just plain good. I end up bringing most of my meal home.
At one point, to distract Monti from a approaching Pitbull, Mark held him while I fed Monti chicken jerky. The dry meat treats breaks Monti's attention and thus no reaction to the other dog crossing into Mont's space. Once calm, Monti went back to sitting under my feet, enjoying the sun.

I suggested to Sam the white spinach and tomato pizza and small Greek salad, which he went for.
Looks good :)
We sat and enjoyed our meal, Monti tickling each of us with the running of his fur on our legs. We talked about many things; Mark's job search, Monti's training, my depression, the project Sam wishes me to work on. We spoke of the Trayvon Martin case. Sam told us about riding one night with his neighbourhood watch, sharing what the teams can and cannot do. We spoke Mr. Romny and about Sam's eldest child, a daughter, being home from collage.
And it was good for Mark to have another guy to talk to. And it was good for me to get out and not worry about the bills and such for a few hours.
So shabbat supper shall be leftover chicken cacciatore, some reading of scripture and an early night sleep.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ten Days

From Luke 24: 45-53
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

From Acts 1: 1-10:
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Yeshua began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “L-rd, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The Ascension of Yeshua.
After Yeshua HaMessiah rose from the dead, He was seen by His followers to prove He was indeed alive. Yeshua remained with His followers for forty day after that. He opened the Torah and teaching of Moshe to His followers, showing how He had fulfilled the scriptures. Yes, I know that there are those who disagree with me on this point. That's fine and your right.
One day, all will be put right.
But back to my entry. I have always wondered what those days must have been like; forty days, walking and talking, being taught by the Master Himself. How I wish I could be there to hear, to learn.
And a few years ago while reading this passage, the thought came to me: I can know exactly what Yeshua taught.
I have the Torah! I have the Five Books of Moses! I have the writing of the prophets, right at my finger tips. All I have to do is open my bible and after blessing G-d for His Word, learn of Him.
So many times we ask and we ask and we ask. And sometimes the answer is right before our eyes.
If we wish to know what Yeshua taught His followers during that time. Read the Five Books of Moses.

Ascension of Messiah above the Hill of Bethany

Shalom: on this day, Yeshua HaMessiah returned to heaven, to prepare that place He has promised us. Ten days from now, it was will be Shavout, when we remember and celebrate the giving and the recieving of Torah.
On this day, Yeshua told His followers to return to Jerusalem and wait the promise of the Father.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Chosen People

Shavuot; the celebration of the giving and receiving of Torah.
This beautiful Holy Day also answers the question: why are the Jews called the Chosen People?

Genesis 17:7 - And I will establish My covenant between Me and you ( Abraham) and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be G_d to you and your descendants after you."
Abraham sought G_D, found G_D and then by chose, entered into covenant with G_D. To "cut covenant" in the Middle East, then and now, was a big deal. Like when I and a childhood friend of my (I wish I could remember his name) we cut our wrist and mingled our blood together, making up "blood brothers," it met our lives were now and forever intertwined. The only thing that could break that bond would be death. Of course, as kids we didn't know this at the time. We just thought was cool to exchange names and now we can now drink out of the same soda can and not get yelled at.
 G_d makes promises o His friend Abraham that passes down to Abraham's seed, his children.
This was the setting of Mount Sinai. G_D, keeping His promise to free the Hebrews and bring them to the Land Promised to them, chose this point and according to Exodus 24:7:
"Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the L-RD has said; we will obey."
Just as father Abraham chose, we too, each of us make the choice whether we will accept, we will obey G_D's law. No Hebrew man. woman or child was force to enter the covenant.
It is said that The L-RD offered the covenant to all seventy nations, but all refused to accept it unconditionally. We, the Jews were the last ones He asked and knowing we had nothing to lose (or  that there was a mountain held over our heads.) To this day, every Hebrew child who reaches the age of 13 years, may chose to entere the covenant or no. To embrace the Torah as their. This is why during the celebration when we rejoice with a family who's daughter is now Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) or son becomes Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment)" the Torah Scroll is passed from father to son (or daughter) and the child draws the scroll to their heart, embracing these Holy Words as their own and G-d willing, one day will past onto their children.

We are called the Chosen People because we chose G_D, we chose to follow His commandments, to walk in His way. Our being "The Chosen People" doesn't make us superior,  for Judaism teaches that all humans are equal. G_D gave us the Torah, we now in turn give the Torah to any and all who will receive her. With each Shavuot, we are encourage to not only rejoice, but to reflect upon the spiritual choices we have made, the Torah we have accepted, the G_D we adore and crazy about us.
For me, when I think of Shavuot, it reminds of another covenant I made, one on our wedding night we cut in blood.
And just as the years of being Mark's wife have given given sweeter, so has Torah. And The One Who gave her.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Giving and Recieving of Torah

In a few weeks, the Jewish world will celebrate one of the greatest of Holy Days.
Shavuot is the time when we  rejoice in the giving of the Torah and the Giver of the Torah. Well also rejoice in our receiving of Torah and entering into convenat with the Giver of Torah.

Shavuot has many names. "Chag (or Hag) Shavuot" means the Feast of Weeks. "Hag Matan Torateinu" means the Feast of the Giving of the Torah. Many considered  this day to be "Chag HaBikkurim" or a day of First Fruits.  As "Atzeret" a day of "being held back or drawn close to the L-rd. 
Shavuot also means "oaths", with the giving of the Torah, the Hebrews and G_D exchanged oaths, forming an everlasting covenant, not to forsake one. Which is why the Day is often pictured as a wedding day. Many Shul are decorated, even the Huppah is raised and the Torah is chanted underneath.

 Nor is it not uncommon for Jewish couples to renew their promises to each other.
Like Mark and I did last year.

(These pictures were taken after Shavuot was over, not during the Holy Day)

Finally, this day is also called “Chag HaKatzit”, the day of the cutting of the crop. This name refers to the wheat harvest, which is the last of the crops to be reaped. This reaping took place at this time. We also read from the Bible Book of Ruth, which places the time of the events described in that book as occurring at Shavuot. Ruth says the events of the book happened “at the beginning of the cutting of the barley crop.”
Just as when Mark asked me to be his wife, sealing it with a gold ring and I had to say yes and then receive the ring, The Torah was given to Israel, never forced upon her. When we stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, we were asked "Will you take this Torah to yourselves," we as a people said yes, we shall. It is said that every Hebrew stood at Sinai, and every Hebrew has the right to accept or reject Torah.
There are three trains of thought as to why the Torah was given to Israel and not another nation.

One is that, the Holy One, Blessed be He offered the Torah to all the nations of the earth, each nation had its own reason for turning it down, the Jews being the only ones who accepted it.  Another thought, one I have most often is that the Jews were offered the Torah last, and we accepted it only because G_D held a mountain over our heads!
Still, another suggests that God chose the Jews because they were the lowliest of nations, and their success would be attributed to God's might rather than their own ability.
For me, I find the answer in Torah herself.
The Holy One made a promise, a covenant with our father Abraham, to bless the nations through him and his seed. One of the ways that we are to "bless the nations," is His giving us the Torah, not to keep for ourselves, but to give to the world.
On Sinai, G_D entered an everlasting covenant with Israel, a covenant that still stands.
Each year, we celebrate the giving and the receiving of Torah, we celebrate the receiving the G_D of Torah.
And I like to think, He rejoices in receiving us