Jacob Ben Avraham

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About Jacob Ben Avraham

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  1. PARASHA: “B’Har” (on the Mountain) LEVITICUS 25:1-26:2……………..JEREMIAH 32:6-27…………………LUKE 7:1-8:56 …..This parasha deals with the giving the land a rest after six years of planting and harvesting, on the seventh year the land shall rest. This, agriculturally, is very sound and comes from the mouth of the creator of all the earth. The reason is quite simple to understand. Crops, such as corn, wheat, barley, vegetables, etc, when they grow in the soil, take in nutrients, quite like us, when we eat, we absorb nutrients from the food we eat. Imagine the land after 6 years of planting and harvesting, all those nutrients, minerals, chemicals from the soil, are being absorbed by the crops sown, if the land does not have a chance to rest and renew itself, it will soon become useless, quite void of nutrients…so… a year’s rest will give the soil enough time to replenish itself. …..We can apply this commandment today, to allow the land to rest after six years of planting and harvesting, even families that have little vegetable gardens in the back of their houses. May they enjoy six years of vegetables and then in the seventh year, just dump compost in the soil, food that goes bad, moldy bread, etc., don’t put it in the garbage, bury it in the garden, do that in that seventh year, and then the next year, plant and harvest again. …..We can look at ourselves in a similar way. How do we count our lives? By a 365-day year? Or by sabbaticals? If we were to count our years by the day, we could say we have many days and years ahead of us! Really? Do we know tomorrow? (didn’t think so). However, if we were to count our years on earth by counting by sevens? How many “sabbaticals” have we lived? How many “might” be left? If I were to count my sabbaticals, I would have to count starting in 1954. 1954-1960 first seven years, 1961-67, the second sabbatical. I would have to ask myself, What have I done or accomplished in each of these periods of seven years? Anything of importance? Have I influenced other lives? If we count by sabbaticals, we will find that we really don’t have many sabbaticals to live. …..What do we do in our “seventh year?” wouldn’t it be wonderful to “rest” a whole year? Or just dedicate that “seventh year” to full time ministry work? That would be quite hard to do for those of us that work for a living Who depend on a salary. Don’t think the boss would be very happy to hear us say; “Boss, I want to take off for this year, it is my “sabbatical” I’ll come back next year at the same time!” (Yeah, u-huh, weeelll, you might not find your job waiting for you after a year) but we do have the summers to rest. If we could divide the year into seven parts, we would end up with more or less 1.7 months of time. Why not minister during 1.7 months? Share God’s Word, teach the WORD to others, for those who can take off a year without compromising their jobs, take every seventh year and just take that time to rest, travel, minister, hike, walk, leave behind gospel tracts, visit different churches and/or Messianic synagogues, and may ADONAI supply ALL of your needs. 26:2 “YE SHALL KEEP MY SABBATHS! AND VENERATE MY SANCTUARY. B’CHUKOTAI (in my statutes) LEVITICUS 26:3-27:34 ….This double Parasha week brings the book of Leviticus to an end. When we read these final chapters, what YHVH is saying is; IF…you follow my torat (teachings, laws) and faithfully observe my mitzvoth (commandments) I WILL….. It is ALL CONDITIONAL, there is nothing without a condition. If we want Elohim’s blessings and good favor, we will follow HIS WORD, accept HIS LIVING WORD (Yeshua) into our life. Yeshua said; “If you love me, ye will obey my commandments” not only the commandments that he spoke about during his life on earth, but also, the ones which he gave to Moshe when HE was with the FATHER as part of ELOHIM. …..Blessings and curses are a part of life. The world calls them as “good luck and bad luck” there is no such animal! All things that happen in our lives are a result of blessings, curses, and testing’s. Do we want to best of our Mashiach? Then, follow HIS Word, follow HIS mitzvoth, not to bring us salvation, that we already have, but as a RESULT OF our salvation (Yeshuah) And if you haven’t accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as your LORD and Savior, and Messiah, NOW is the perfect time, remember, we are NOT promised tomorrow, we are only one HEART BEAT away from eternity. JEREMIAH 32:6-27; 16:19-17:14 ….The prophet, before his people went into exile in Babylon, buys a piece of property, Why? Because Adonai has promised him that he will, to buy and sell again, build houses, plant vineyards, AFTER a period of 10 periods of 7 years each. Israel did not honor the sabbatical years, and now, the land will rest for 70 years. HOWEVER…The prophet was promised that Israel would return and repossess the land. …..We see in reading this parasha that Adonai is a God of judgment, but at the same time, a God of forgiveness Many times, we break HIS commandments, and many times, suffer the consequences for our actions, but there is forgiveness, after the time of suffering and tears, YHVH will never forget HIS PEOPLE. We might go under, but we will never be annihilated. ISRAEL is 4-ever. In chapters 16 to 17, the same thing is being said, YHVH sees all , “For my eyes are on all their ways, they are not hidden from my presence” …..Who can hide from a Holy God? Yet the prophet says; “O YHVH, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in a day of trouble” He continues to trust in Adonai, even though the rest of Israel goes into captivity. We might live in the midst of idolaters, lovers of the world, yet still we must trust HIM. LUKE 7:1-8:56 …..We read about the miracles of Yeshua, Even the faith of a Roman Army officer whose servant was sick unto death, and the servant was healed. What is required of receiving a miracle? Faith! Not blind faith, but faith in the healing powers of Adonai, The Roman believed being far away, yet his servant was healed. He did not see Yeshua, yet he believed. Yeshua said, “blessed are those who do not see, yet believe. …..Yochanan the Baptizer was recognized by Yeshua, as one of the best “talmidim” since he endured imprisonment, and even death, for the sake of the truth. Could we do that? Do we even dare to answer? Time will tell. Shabbat Shalom…………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Greeting the Sabbath with sweet things
  2. GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS FROM A JEWISH PERSPECTIVE …..It was around noon time when Goldilocks left her Brooklyn apartment on the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Ave. She would finally spend a Sabbath Eve with her grandma “Zaide” Sarah who lived in a small retirement village apartment on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Ave. She was in her late 80s now, and really didn’t get around much anymore, at least that was what Goldilocks thought. So she thought it might be a good idea to visit her and spend a Sabbath Eve with her. Mamma thought it was a good idea too. …..So Mamma baked a fresh loaf of Challah, wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it inside of Goldilocks’ back-pack. She went to the corner of 9th and 7th and waited for the bus. Once she boarded, Goldilocks settled down in a seat in the middle of the bus, leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes. Her memories took her back to the times when grandma and grandpa had spent more time together with her. …..In past years, they had taken her to Prospect Park which was near the grandparents place. They would walk together, throw nuts to the squirrels and bread crumbs to the birds. Goldilocks would swing on one of the many swing-sets in the park. A few years ago, grandpa had given up the ghost, and now it was only grandma “Zaide” Sarah. These thoughts had slowly lulled Goldilocks to sleep. She wasn’t planning a nap on the bus, it just happened that way. …..When she awoke, the bus had stopped for a few minutes because the bus driver had gone into a store for a snack and a restroom break. She looked around and saw the street sign, “New York Ave”, quite a way from where she had planned to get off. She had plainly slept through her stop at 7th and 9th Ave. ….”Have a nice day” said the driver as he got back on. ….”Yeah, you too” replied Goldilocks as she rushed down the aisle and jumped down the steps and passed the open door. A few more passengers got on and the driver closed the door and drove away. …..So there she stood there at the corner of Midwood and New York Ave thinking that, ‘somehow, I have to get back to where Grandma lives’. She opened her purse and fumbled around looking for another bus token, but all she found was some loose change, an old grocery receipt, some paperclips and an old folded up homework assignment from Mr. Stein’s Social Studies class. …..’Great’ she thought, ‘so this is where it was, two weeks too late. I’ll turn it in anyway, better late than never.’ …..The loose change amounted to twenty-two cents, not even enough for a cup of coffee. …..’Well, she thought, I could “schnor” myself back to grandma’s place.’ …..She remembered the stories that grandma and grandpa had told her about “schnorers” back in the old country, destitute beggars asking pedestrians for a few Kopeks or even a Ruble or two near the great city of Kiev. …..But, ‘No’ she thought, ‘there’s no way I’m going to schnor for bus fare, I’ll just walk it out.’ …..So Goldilocks began her trek back towards grandma’s place at 9th and 7th. Sure, it was a long way off, but if she walked fast, she ought to be there in time for Sabbath. With the loaf of challah in her backpack, she hurried along New York Ave as fast as she could walk. A little ways up ahead she noticed a sign that pointed to Prospect Park. …..’Well’ she thought, ‘I could go around the park or cut through it. If I cut through it, I’ll save some time, yeah, cut through it.’ she decided finally. So Goldilocks started through Prospect Park with backpack and challah loaf inside. Soon she noticed a trail that led to Brooklyn’s only forest. …..This somewhat intrigued her. She remembered grandma “Zaide” telling her about this small forest in Brooklyn, yet she never took her along one of these quaint forest paths. …..’Guess I can make a detour’ thought Goldilocks, ‘ten or fifteen minutes won’t matter. I’ll still make it back to grandma’s before the Sabbath begins.’ …..So Goldilocks started to walk along the main trail that lead to towering trees and bushes. She was enthralled by such greenery in the middle of the city, she was captivated by the tweeting of the birds, and the scurrying squirrels that paused for a second to stare at her before disappearing into the thickets and trees. …..Soon, she came upon a small log cabin house that was nestled between a clump of trees. It was off the beaten trail but nevertheless, curiosity got the better of her. She went over to investigate. She made her way to this small, strange house in the middle of this vast Brooklyn forest. She read the sign that was nailed to the front of the door which read; “BEARkowitz Family”. There were also three mail boxes near the front door with the names; Papa Bearkowitz, Mama Bearkowitz, and Baby Bearkowitz. …..Goldilocks went closer for a better look and noticed that the front door was opened a crack, so she went up and knocked. …..”Hello, anyone at home?” …..Her knocking opened the door a bit more. No one answered, so she pushed open the door and went inside the BEARkowitz residence. Upon entering she noticed a small, cozy kitchen to the left and around the corner was a combination dining and living room. On the dining room table, she noticed three bowls of porridge. The aroma of the porridge stirred up her appetite, so her went over and sat down in a large chair in front of the larger bowl of porridge. She tasted it but, alas, it was much too hot. …..She moved over to the medium sized chair in front of a smaller bowl and tasted the porridge. But “oi” it was too cold and bland. Then she saw the smallest bowl of porridge in front of the smallest chair. The chair looked comfortable so she sat down and tasted the porridge. …..”Yes” she exclaimed, “just right” …..So she ate it all up. After eating, Goldilocks felt a little tired so she went into the living room and saw two cushioned chairs and a small rocking chair. She sat down in the first chair, but it was much too hard for her comfort. She then tried the next chair, but the cushion was too soft for her comfort. Finally, she sat down in the rocking chair and started rocking back and forth. Yes, it seemed just right. …..After about ten minutes of rocking back and forth in the small rocking chair, Goldilocks began to feel sleepy so she went into the master bedroom and found two beds. She lay down in the first bed which was pretty large, but the mattress was too hard and firm. She went to the other bed and lay down, but the mattress was much too soft. Then she went into the adjoining bedroom and found baby bear’s bed, (who wasn’t really a baby anymore on account that he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed). She lay down on the bed and she felt that it was just right. Soon, she fell fast asleep. …..In the meanwhile, Papa bear, Mama Bear, and Baby bear (who wasn’t a baby anymore since he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed) returned home from shopping. They saw that the door was already open a jar, so Papa Bear said; ……”Honey, did you forget to lock the door again?” ….. “Oi Vey” responded Mama Bear, “Seems like I am getting to be a bit absent minded these days, my bad!” …..”That’s OK” replied Papa Bear, “We don’t have anything worth stealing anyway.” …..So the three BEARkowitz bears entered and Mama Bear put the groceries on the kitchen table for the Sabbath Eve dinner. It was then that Papa Bear noticed the bowls of porridge on the table. …..”Someone has been eating my porridge!” said Papa bear a little annoyed. …..Mama Bear went over to the table and looked at her bowl of porridge and exclaimed; …..”Oi, someone has been eating from my bowl of porridge too!” …..The baby Bear (who wasn’t such a baby anymore since….well…you know) went over to his bowl of porridge and cried out; …..”Someone ate all of my porridge, and I am really hungry now!” …..”Do you suppose that someone came in here while we were out shopping?” asked Mama Bear a bit surprised. …..”Well”, replied Papa Bear, “you did leave the door unlocked didn’t you? We’ll just look around and see. If someone is here, we’ll soon find out.” …..So the three bears went into the living room and went over to their chairs. …..”Someone has been sitting in my chair” exclaimed Papa Bear, noticing that his chair had been moved slightly. …..”Someone has been sitting in my chair too” exclaimed Mama Bear, noticing that the cushion had been moved. Then Baby Bear (who wasn’t a baby…..you know the rest) went over to his rocking chair and said; …..”Someone has been rocking in my chair, look, my comic book that was on my chair is on the floor!” and he went over and placed the comic book on the rocking chair seat again. …..”Good observation son” replied Papa Bear, nodding his head. “we’re getting closer to the truth of the matter, let’s check out the bedrooms.” …..So the BEARkowitz bears went into the master bedroom. Papa Bear noticed that the bedspreads were a bit out of place. …..”Someone has been sleeping in my bed” he exclaimed, shaking his head!’ …..”Someone has also been sleeping in my bed” replied Mama bear, noticing that the sheets were pulled back a bit. …..”Mama, Papa” cried out Baby (well, you know the story) Bear, “someone is sleeping in my bed, and here she is!” …..Mama and Papa Bear rushed into their son’s bedroom and were very much surprised to see the young girl asleep in the bed. For a minute, they just stood there staring at Goldilocks. …..”Is she a friend of yours son?” asked Papa Bear. …..”Never seen her in my life Papa!” replied (well, we have call baby Bear something else). …..Then Mama Bear, very gently, reached over and shook Goldilocks’ feet. …..”wake up, wake up little girl” she said softly. …..Goldilocks stirred a little and awoke from her sleep. She rubbed her eyes a bit and sat up. When she opened her eyes and saw the three bears standing at her bedside, out of her mouth came.. …..Ayyyyy! Yahhh, Yahhhh, yahhh…. screaming at the top of her lungs, terrified to see the bears. …..”Oi, little girl, stop screaming so, you act as though we’re going to eat you alive” responded Mama Bear, a little surprised to see the girl act so. …..”Well Bears are bad, and evil” replied Goldilocks still a little distraught, “They attack and eat people and tear them limb from limb!” …..”I think wolves do that” said baby bear, “it was a big bad wolf that ate little Red Riding Hood’s grannie!” …..”Oi Vey” groaned Papa Bear shaking his head, “She must have gotten a hold of last month’s Field and Stream magazine, you know, the one that had the article about the hikers in the Rockies getting attacked by a grizzly.” …..Mama Bear just smiled at Goldilocks and sat down in the bed beside her. “Not all bears are bad dear” she said, trying to calm the young girl, “but grizzlies, well, they’re bears with an attitude” …..”So what kind of bears are you?” asked Goldilocks, now a bit more composed. …..”Well” began Papa Bear, “To be perfectly honest, we do have some grizzlies in our family. My great, great aunt and uncle; Sasha and Tatyana BEARkovich lived in the forests of Siberia near Yakutsk. Now those were two bears with an attitude, why they took on 4 Cossacks at once and tore them apart. But the Cossacks were the ones looking for trouble mind you!” …..”Yeah, but they’re probably a pair of rugs now in the Tsar’s palace” responded Baby (but not so baby any more) Bear, a little excited to join the conversation. …..”Son” growled Papa Bear, “what did I tell you about saying that kind of thing. They aren’t rugs, they just...well… vanished one day. …..”sorry” sighed baby Bear, a little embarrassed now, especially in front of this unexpected visitor. …..”Well dear” replied Mama Bear, remembering the question, “What kind of bears are we? Well? We’re…ah…”Brooklyn bears!” Mama bear didn’t quite know what else to say. …..”Yeah” added baby Bear, “like the Brooklyn Dodgers” …..Goldilocks just looked at the three bears wide eyed, just looking for a chance to escape. She still had her back pack on and she slowly got off the bed. “Weeell” she began, “I’m not really into baseball, I’m a tennis fan…soooo….gotta go now…bye…” and she quickly headed toward the bedroom door. Papa bear, though, moved quickly in front of her. …..”Just a minute young lady, you haven’t told us why you’re here” he said, standing in front of the door, blocking Goldilock’s getaway. Goldilocks stopped, threw the backpack on the bed and sat down again. …..”First of all, my name is Goldilocks, and well…this is how it went.” So she told the story of how she left her apartment and headed towards grandma “Zaide” Sarah’s place, fell asleep on the bus, got off at the wrong stop, ran out of bus tokens, head back to grandma’s place, took a short cut through the park and then…ended up at the Bear’s house. Now, the Bear family’s interest was really sparked, …..”So you see sir” continued Goldilocks. …..”I’m Mr. BEARkowitz, and this is my family” interrupted Papa bear. …..”OK, nice to meet you…as I was saying…I came across your house, the door was open a crack, I came in, I was a bit hungry and I still am, and well…I saw your porridge and well…you know the rest.” Goldilocks stopped talking and waited for the Bear’s response. …..”So you say you’re on your way back to your grandma’s place near 9th and 7th Street, right?” Asked Papa Bear. “what’s her name if I may ask?” …..”Sarah” answered Goldilocks, “Zaide” Sarah. …..”Grandma “Zaide” Sarah is YOUR grandmother?” questioned papa Bear a bit surprised. “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein?” …..”You know her?” questioned Goldilocks, wondering how in the world he could know her grandma. …..”Why everyone around here knows Grandma “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein” replied Mama Bear, “She is so friendly, always comes to the park, feeds the birds, the squirrels, tells the children in the park Bible stories, why, we just saw her today when we were on our way home from shopping. She was at Temple Beth Shalom. I believe that Rabbi Stein and his wife invited her to their place to spend Sabbath Eve, such a nice old lady” smiled Mama Bear looking at Goldilocks with all serenity. …..”You mean to tell me that I came all this way and she isn’t even home!? Answered Goldilocks, quite annoyed now, upon hearing this unexpected news. …..”Well, you could have called her on the phone” replied Mama Bear quietly. …..”She never answers the stupid phone” cried Goldilocks, “and mama baked this Challah especially for her!” she added, taking the paper wrapped loaf of Challah bread out of her backpack, showing it to the bears. …..”The challah” cried out Mama Bear, slapping herself on the side of her head. “That’s what we forgot dear husband, the Challah bread at Aaron’s bakery!” …..Papa bear just stood there, stroking his chin, deep in thought. “You know” he began, “This is a very interesting situation. We have a Sabbath Eve chicken dinner in the oven, and Goldilocks here has the Challah. Young lady, how would you like to be our Sabbath Eve dinner guest this evening?” …..”Yes” added Mama Bear, “it would be an honor to have you!” …..Goldilocks didn’t quite know how to respond. Then she smiled a big smile, and nodded “Thank you so much, I accept, I’m as hungry as a bear….Oh…sorry, no pun intended, my bad.” …..”Well” replied Mama Bear, “It’s settled, let’s go into the dining room and wash up, the Sabbath is almost upon us”. So the three bears and Goldilocks left baby bear’s bedroom and went into the dining room. …..”Now, you two go to the sink and wash your hands and don’t forget the hand washing blessing. Papa bear and I will get the dinner on the table, and get the candles and wine out to greet the Sabbath. …..So baby bear and Goldilocks washed their hands, recited the blessing, and went over to the dining room table. …..”Goldilocks, you sit over there” said Mama Bear, pointing to one of the chairs, “and Baby bear, you sit next to Goldilocks.” …..”Come on Mama” cried out baby bear, “Cut it out with the ‘baby bear bit’ I’m already 13 years old, remember my Bar mitzvah last month?” …..”Well” began Mama Bear, “You know how the story goes, the author named you…” …..”I know, I know” interrupted baby bear, “but you can change my name…Pleeeeeaase!! He cried. …..”Go ahead, change the name” responded Papa Bear, as he set the candles in place on the table. …..”How about, YOUNG BEAR?” asked Mama, looking inquisitively at her son. …..”Sounds native American” replied her son bluntly. …..”I like it” replied Goldilocks, smiling from ear to ear. …..”YES” shouted Young Bear, pumping his fist in the air, “Young Bear, Young Bear, Yes, Yes!” …..”OK, it’s settled, YOUNG BEAR, you sit with Goldilocks, the Sabbath is almost among us” replied Mama Bear as she put on her white scarf. Papa Bear put the roast chicken, mashed potatoes and corn in the middle of the table. The table already had a beautiful white linen table cloth, especially for the Sabbath. He poured some wine in the four wine glasses which was in front of each family member and the surprise visitor. He then set the Challah bread next to the chicken and sprinkled some salt on it. Papa put on his Yarmulke and looked at his wife and nodded to her to begin. …..Mama bear lit the candles and waved her hands, as if drawing in the light of the Sabbath candles, then recited the prayer; …..”Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam……..” Then Papa Bear took the Challah and cut it, and recited the Sabbath prayer for the bread, then gave a piece of Challah to those at the table. Then came the blessing over the wine, and the wine was shared as well. …..After all had partaken of the bread and the wine, Papa Bear said, “Aumein” and the rest responded, “Aumein” …..”OK, so let’s eat” replied Mama Bear, as she served the chicken, the mashed potatoes and the corn to everyone at the table. …..”Gut Shabbos everyone” said Papa Bear, nodding at Goldilocks. …..”Gut Shabbos” replied Goldilocks, “Gut Shabbos to all of you and thank you.” …..”You are so welcome young lady” said Mama Bear, very happy to have a Shabbos guest. …..Goldilocks was really enjoying the BEARkowitz’s Shabbos meal, and then she noticed that “Young Bear” was looking at her, and seemed to have something on his mind. He finally got enough nerve and lifted up his voice saying; “…..Uh…uh…Goldilocks?...uh…I wanted to, kinda, like, ask you something?” …..”Yeah, what?” replied Goldilocks, a bit curious as to the nature of the question. …..Young bear swallowed a piece of chicken with a bit more wine and then responded; …..”OK, are you…well…kinda like…uh…going with someone? I mean…do you…like have a boyfriend?” …..Goldilocks just smiled and rolled her eyes; “Oi” she said, “what next?” Now it came to pass that an old rabbi with a long white beard, a bekishe, and a black hat just happened to come across this story written on several sheets of lined notebook paper. He just happened to be walking in Prospect park in early Spring. He sat down on one of the park benches to meditate on the creation of HaShem. He looked and saw the 5 pieces of notebook paper stapled together and folded. They were right at the end of the bench weighted down by a small rock. He read through the story, smiled and said within himself; ‘Yes, this would be perfect for next Sabbath’s message.’ So, the rabbi went home and made some notes with the help of the rebbetzin. Upon the arrival of the next Sabbath, the rabbi went up to the Bema and began his discourse. God has given us all the spirit of curiosity, began the rebbe, We are curious about new things, new situations, our nature is to be inquisitive, so we venture off-course a bit to explore new terrains. What lies behind closed doors you might ask? Sometimes, the doors are open just a bit to invite you to ‘push it open and take a look inside.’ Life is full of new experiences and opportunities that we might wish to tackle. Some of them might be just “too hot” to handle. We might not be prepared just yet. Other tasks may be, in our opinion, “too cold” “too bland” or just “too boring” for us to handle, or accept. However, if there is a job that needs to be done, a “mitzvah” needing to be performed, a person in need of your help, no matter how “bland” or “how boring” it may seem to you, God has put you there for a reason. Never think that a “mitzvah” is beneath your dignity, God will bless and reward many “humble floor sweepers.” Then there are the situations and “mitzvoth” that seem “just right” right up your alley you may think. “This is just what I was hoping for.” Or “expecting” or “waiting for.” Then there is “sit down” time, “down time” a time for a rest, a personal “shabos” time. You may rest in an easy chair, or take a long snooze in a “b.b.b.” (baby-bear bed). Many will take their long-awaited summer vacation, some will just be satisfied with a weekend Sabbath rest. Some will take a yearlong “sabbatical” that is if it can be afforded. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He worked and then rested. We should take his example. There is a time for work, to do mitzvoth (good deeds), and a time for rest. There is a time and a season for everything and everything has its time and its season. There is a time and a season to repent of wrong doing, a time for teshuvah, to get right with God, that time is now. There is a time, a place, a season just right for you. Take advantage of it, because there is no promise of tomorrow. As the Prophet Isaiah said; “Seek the L-RD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!” (55:6) By rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham PIC: Meditation and walking along the long path, life is like that too! (Brazoria County nature trail)
  3. PARASHA: “Emor” (say..) LEVITICUS 21:1-24:23…………….EZEKIEL 44:15-31……………..LUKE 5:1-6:49 …..In this parashah study we see more details on the sanctity, Holiness, and comportment of priests. When we read in chapter 21, we read that YHVH is very particular and pays much attention to the physical. We might think that God only looks upon the heart, but thousands of years ago, the physical appearance was important, some with any kind of imperfection; like a broken foot, blind in one eye, hunchback, dwarf…It doesn’t say that they could not serve in the tabernacle or later on, the temple, but they couldn’t offer sacrifices. …..We must remember that the priest was a kind of mediator between the people and YHVH, Today, YESHUA the Messiah is our mediator, between us and the Father, and Yeshua was/IS without sin, perfect in all ways, both inside and outside. We may not know what he looked like physically, but we can know that he didn’t have any physical deformities, being God in the flesh. …..We also see regulations on marriage, touching dead things, etc…the priest was in a class of his own. The priest was “God’s man” his “representative” on earth, so, as the priests had a higher calling, their expectations were much higher than the regular “Joe Israelite” There is a repeated phrase: “You shall not profane my Holy Name, I am YHVH (Yod Hey Vav Hey) “ when we act contrary to His commandments, expectations as “b’nei Elohim” (children of God) we ARE profaning HIS Holy name, be it in words, or deeds. If the Israelites were observed by God through a looking glass, then the priests were observed by God through a microscope! If you get my drift! How are WE seen by our HOLY, SINLESS, GOD? Our standards are based on the Torah of Adonai. HIS standards should be OURS as well, yet we always come up lacking, because of our inborn sin nature. …..Thank Adonai for YESHUA, who bridged the gap caused by sin, to be our “high priest” before a Holy God, although our sin in dark and ugly, and we should see ourselves as such, because it is reality, through YESHUA, Our Heavenly Father sees us as “white as snow” or “white a wool” and now, under the new covenant, we are all “high priests” in his eyes, should not our expectations be as a “higher calling” just like the priests of old? …..Chap 23: “HaMoedim of YHVH” (The feasts of the LORD). Here the special days of worship and assembly are mentioned, the first being the “Sabbath Day” it is a “day of Rest” a time of worship and coming together to worship Adonai and learn from HIS Word through His teachers, pastors, rabbis, evangelists, etc. The Sabbath day was NEVER changed to Sunday. Not that it was bad to come together on Sundays, any day of the week is a good time to come together. It just became customary for the believers in the first century to come together on the “first day of the week” like it is mentioned in Acts, to fellowship and eat together, but the believers ALWAYS considered Saturday, the Sabbath, the special and the official appointed day for rest, worship, and Bible study. For me, the sabbath and Sunday are both special days to worship God and study his word with other believers. …..The Passover and days of unleavened bread, symbolize Messiah Yeshua in our lives as the “Lamb of God” who took away the sin of the world, and who is also, the “Bread of Life”, who was “roasted in the fires of judgment for our sins, whose blood was shed for our sins, once and for ever. The “matzah” bread without leaven symbolizes Yeshua as the Bread of Life, without sin (leaven). And his blood is symbolized by the wine. …..The Feast of First Fruits and Shavuot; counting 50 days from the time of Passover, to celebrate the blessing of a good and fruitful harvest of grains, (wheat and barley, the main crops). On Shavuot or “Pentecost” two leavened loaves of bread were made, each weighed about 5 pounds, were “waved” by the priest before the LORD in a special ceremony. These loaves symbolize the blessings of YHVH, they could also represent Israel and the Nations, “2” is the number of “unity” and “division” we are all “united” to YHVH by Messiah Yeshua, and have been “divided” or “separated” from the lost world of sin, YET, we still have our sin nature, noted by the leaven in the loaves of bread. It was also on “Shavuot” that the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai …..The Feast of Trumpets, “Yom Teruah” symbolizes the start of the “days of Awe” when we reflect on our own relationship with Adonai. How do we measure up to God’s standards? Lacking? Fall short? I would say YES. 10 days later, comes “Yom Kippur” the day of “covering” or “Atonement” which was when the high priest came into the Holy of Holies, once a year, to commune with Adonai. This day points to Calvary, when Yeshua’s blood “atoned” for our sins, past, present, and future. It is a day of fasting, repentance, and soul searching. It is a day when we are accustomed to dress in white. …..Feast of Tabernacles, or “Sukkot” is a joyous festival, when the “harvest” is in, kind of like “Thanksgiving” in the US of A. The time when God came to earth in human form as Yeshua, born in Beit Lechem, being raised learning carpentry and Torah, a teacher of Torah, healer of diseases, a raiser of the dead, and a sacrifice for our sins. This festivity was for 7 days, “7” the perfect number, and a special “8th” day “Hoshana Raba” when the customary reading of the Torah starts over again from Genesis. It also symbolizes when the Israelites lived in tents, “temporary dwellings” as our bodies are “temporary dwellings” for our souls and for the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. …..Chaper 24: The Menorah, the lamps were lit from dusk to morning, the menorah was made of gold, which symbolizes perfection. The flame/light symbolizing Yeshua who is the “Light of the World” and the “all-consuming fire” and also, all believers are the “lights of the world” reflecting the SON light! “Table of Shewbread” which was in the Holy place across from the Menorah. Has 12 loaves of unleavened bread, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, again, Yeshua the “Bread of Life” Hey, maybe that was where the idea of the “bagel” came from, bread with a hole in middle, who knows! Maybe! This bread was for Aaron and his sons. EZEKIEL 44:15-31 …..In this prophetic book, the Prophets sees into the future, the future priests of the third temple, (to be built in the near future) the descendants of “Zadok” will be the priests in the millennium, the same high standards are for these priests as well. It also states the job of the priest: “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” This should also be the goal of every Torah teacher, rabbi, minister, pastor, etc.. to teach the WHOLE TORAH in their place of worship and study, so that their sheep might follow their shepherd whole heartedly and secure. LUKE 5:1-6:49 …..Yeshua speaks to the people, from a boat. After teaching, He and Kefa go out a ways and the result is a boat-load of fish. Kefa hears, yet protests, “We fished all night and caught nothing” yet still obeys and “reaps the harvest” many fish, the take home to sell and eat. …..With simple obedience through faith, we can all reap the blessings that YHVH has instore for us. A little bit of faith, trust, and obedience, will bring in a big catch. Now, Kefa is promoted to be a “fisher-of-MEN” rescuing men’s souls from the grasp of haSatan, and bringing them into the Kingdom. Are you a fisher of men (and women) or are you still content with the small “fishy” things of life? You decide! Shabbat Shalom…Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: One night of Hanukkah, many years ago
  4. PARASHA: “Achrei Mot” (after the death) and “K’doshim” (holy ones) LEV 16:1-20:27 Amos 9:7-15; Luke 2:1-52 Entering into a KADOSH (Holy) Relationship with Adonai …..This Parasha speaks of the solemn Moed (appointed day) of Yom Kippur. The “Day of Redemption” also known as the “day of Coverings” (Yom HaKipurim). It was the only day of the year when the High Priest could enter into the “Most Holy Place” (K’dosh haK’doshim) the “Holy of Holies”. This is where the “Aron HaKodesh” (Ark of the Covenant) was kept and where the “Shekinah” (Glory of YHVH) hovered over the “Kaporet” (the covering of the Ark of the Covenant, looking down upon the Mercy Seat. ….The Parasha starts out with; “”Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the Ark, lest he die” Was this perhaps the reason why Nadab and Abihu died? Because the went into the Holy of Holies with their own fire? That is another thought. The high priest had to put on a special tunic, all white, of fine linen. Thus today it is customary during Yom Kippur to wear all white, symbolic of how YHVH views us through Yeshua our Messiah, but ONLY through Yeshua, can we be viewed as “Holy unto the LORD” …..The High Priest had to sacrifice a bull and a ram for the sin and burnt offering. The bull could signify the “strength” of G-d, representing also Aaron and his family. and the ram, the reminder of the ram sacrificed instead of Isaac on “Mt. Moriah”. The ram symbolizes YESHUA who took our place on the cross of “Mt. Calvary” …..Two goats were also present; one served as a “scape goat” and the other the “sacrificial goat”. We see Yeshua symbolized in both goats. One was sacrificed as a sin offering, symbolizing Yeshua as our “sacrifice of sin” because we are sinners. The other goat, carried symbolically our sins, and was sent off into the desert, (Azazel) as “Yeshua took our sins away from us”, and as far as the East is from the West, so our sins will be separated from us. …..Aaron then took a censor of hot coals from the brazen altar, and he took incense and put the incense on the hot coals, then, with the smoking incense, he went into the Holy of Holies and put blood on the Mercy Seat. We see our Messiah Yeshua in all of this. To have fellowship with our creator, we need to start at the cross, where our sins were judged. This is the brazen altar. The incense symbolizes our prayers that go up before our Heavenly Father, through our prayers, we have fellowship with HIM. The blood that is sprinkled on the mercy seat symbolizes the blood of Messiah, that was shed for all of our sins. Under the mercy seat are the commandments that were given on Sinai. These were broken by our rebellion, and the blood of Messiah “covers” the sins of us all, BUT, more than that, they have been REMOVED, once and for ever. …..Chapter 17 speaks on the “HaDam Kodesh” The sanctity of blood. Since blood symbolizes life, then, YHVH has prohibited the drinking of blood. One of the reasons that carnivorous animals are not kosher to eat is because they eat flesh, and flesh contains blood. “You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood” 17:14 …..Chapter 18 deals with sexual sins, there is no need to go over them since they are self-explanatory, much is common sense, yet in today’s societies, there is a perverse sexual expression, and philosophy of “if it feels good, do it” this is a lie straight from the pit of hell, straight from HaSatan! Sex should be expressed in the bond of matrimony and in this sense, it is entirely holy and sacred, because there is a commitment between the husband and wife, which (should) last a lifetime. And this is where the enemy attacks, Satan hates families, that’s a fact. …..chapter 19 deals with quite a variety of commandments; “You shall not profane the name of the LORD thy YHVH; You shall love thy neighbor as thyself, I AM YHVH”. All of the 613 commandments of HaShem have to do with honoring YHVH and our relationship with our fellow man. When we honor and love the LORD with all of our heart, we are honoring and not profaning the Name YHVH, and when we honor and treat our fellow man well, and try to establish a good relationship with him or her, we are, in a matter of sense, keeping the whole Torah, (in a general sense). When we are a bad witness before our fellow man, when we are an embarrassment because our sins are brought into the light, then, we are profaning the name of YHVH. …..”you shall not curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind” (19:14) When one talks about another in a negative sense or spreading an “untruth” the “other” cannot hear what is being said, it is as if that person is “deaf”. When we misrepresent the Truth of God, teach or spread false teaching whether on purpose or by error, we are in a way a “stumbling block” before someone that does not know Yeshua “The blind” (spiritually). “You shall not sow your field with mixed seed” ( 19:19) because each plant takes away from the soil nutrients, planting a mixture of crops will very soon deplete the soil of all of its nutrients, making the soil useless. “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor TATTOO any marks on you I AM YHVH! That is quite a statement. I am of the opinion that if God wanted us to have tattoos on our bodies, we would have been born with them. Why can’t people be happy with the bodies God gave them? Why do they have to alter them with drawings and markings? But such was the custom of the pagan cultures like the Canaanites, Moabites, etc, and it continues today. However, the blood of Yeshua covers, cleanses, forgives ALL sin, even the sin of tattooing, yet tattooing is one sin that will leave its mark forever! (unless it is somehow removed) …..”uncovering the nakedness of ….” Is another way of saying, “having sex” chapter 20 takes up that topic again along with other topics. Adultery, under Torah command, resulted in the death penalty, If this were effective today, how many couples would be true to each other, really? Perhaps many more than we imagine. It seems like sexuality is a serious issue with our creator. If it is serious with Him, it should be with us as well. When we follow the Torah of Adonai, and put his commandments into practice with all of our heart, we are consecrating ourselves to Him, as “Kedoshim and Tzadikim” (holy and righteous ones) however always remember, that “SAVING” k’doshim and tzadikim comes ONLY through FAITH IN YESHUA! It is our faith in HIM that makes us Holy and Righteous, and this relationships leads us to Holy and Righteous works, which are obedience to his mitzvoth (commandments) AMOS 9:7-15 …..Amos Ha Navi (Amos the Prophet) speaks through the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) saying that Yes, Adonai will seek out and punish Israel for their sins, and will search out the kingdoms of the earth where they are at, many will and have been destroyed because of their rebellion, HOWEVER, not all, there is always a remnant which is faithful, and true to the God of creation. …..Amos looks into the future, and sees that Israel, and all of God’s children, both born as Israelis, and born in the Gentile nations will come together as ONE, (echad), …”Behold, the day is coming says YHVH…” we look into the future millennium and see “paradise restored” and real and eternal peace, and Yeshua will be on the throne as KING and LORD of all the world, what a time that will be for ALL of us. LUKE 2:1-52 …..Do we forward to the future return of Yeshua? In this chapter, Simeon and Anna looked forward and greatly rejoiced to see Mashiach, even as a baby. He was presented at the Temple and was circumcised, Simeon and Anna recognized him as Mashiach, even before he grew up and performed miracles. Simeon said ; “My eyes have seen YESHUAH! Who is a LIGHT (HaOr) to bring revelation to the Gentiles. It is God’s perfect will that Yeshua be revealed to ALL PEOPLES, both those of Israel and those outside of Israel, so that HIS BODY might be complete, a “Kehilah Kadosh, Kol HaAm” (A holy congregation of all people) Shabbat Shalom………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: The Sabbath lights lit, the day of Rest has begun
  5. It was probably back in 1961 or 62, well anyway, back in "those ancient years" was when I was just a small kid, who played in my back yard in a sandbox, or on my swing set. Some times "Herman" the crow would come "cawing" and would sit on top of the swing set and "caw" at me, it was our back yard neighbor's pet. When it came time to cut the grass, dad would take out his "toro" lawn mower, pull the cord and it would start. I would run up to dad and follow him along, across the yard which was on a hill. I would pull out the blades of grass that hid inside the folds of his jeans. After mowing, came the raking of the grass cuttings, then he would bundle them up in a bag and we would put them in the wheel barrel, down the street we would go, daddy and me, past Mr. Canzianni's house, he smoked smelly cigars, we would enter the woods and follow a path then dump the grass cuttings in special place, then return home again. Our Heavenly Father is busy doing many things for the Kingdom, Are we following HIM, or do we expect HIM to follow us. No matter what the job is, if it is going up hill or down, in winter or in summer, If He is busy with Kingdom business, THEN, if WE are HIS kids, let's follow HIM, where ever HE goes, what EVER he does, we might learn a thing or two, PIC: Morning sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico, near Surfside, TX, summer camping trip, Let the "SON" shine on YOU!
  6. PARASHIOT: “Tazriah” (she bears seed) and “Metsora” (infected ones). Lev 12:1-13:59......................................... Lev 14:1-15:33 Prophets:....... 2 Kings 4:42-5:19..... Brit HaDasha:..... Luke 17:11-17 …..This week we have a double Torah portion; “Tazriah” which talks about when a woman gives childbirth, and “Metsora” which talks about “Tzara-at” which most Bibles interpret as “leprosy” but in actuality, the word “Tzara-at” covers ALL skin afflictions and diseases, including the dreaded disease called leprosy, medically known as “Hanson’s disease. Go to google “images” and see it, but be sure you don’t eat anything before hand, it is quite horrible. …..Leviticus Chapter 12 covers childbirth, and YHVH deems “unclean” a woman after giving birth, and she has to stay put in her tent, 7 days plus 33 days. All together, “40” days, “40” is the number for testings’ and trials. Why, we might wonder, should a woman be rendered “Tamei” or “Unclean” because of giving birth? Only YHVH has the pure and true answer. It isn’t that she has sinned by giving birth, on the contrary, she has given life! Some rabbinical midrashim (commentaries) state that there is both “death” and “life” during childhood. “Life” is the new baby, yet “death” because the woman loses fluids (blood) which symbolizes life. Not that the woman actually dies, but the “lost blood” however much or little, still symbolizes life. …..For a female child, the purification time is longer, 2 weeks plus 66 days, altogther, “80” days, the number “8” is the number of “new beginning” If we remember when Yeshua was born, Miryam and Yosef brought two turtle doves to be sacrificed after she went through her ritual cleansing, Yosef brought Yeshua to be circumcised on the 8th day. …..Chapter 13 deals with two kinds of “Tzara-at” skin diseases (all kinds, both major and minor) and “mold & mildew on clothing. In ancient times, the person with a skin disease had to be isolated outside the camp until he or she got better, and was “healed” there were probably some ointments available then, probaby primitive, the priests were not doctors, but acted as “judges” who would “judge” the person “healed” if the disease was temporary, today we have many kinds of skin ailments, Psoraisis, Escema, simple rashes caused by allergies, scabies, ringworm, etc, were all based under the word “tzara-at” when the person was well and the disease was no more, the person would offer a sacrifice and return to the camp. Here again, we see a form of “death” (cast out, rejected) and “rebirth” entering into the body of Israel once again after healing. …..Clothing also had to be checked, God knew about the dangers of mold and mildew long before man found out. People had to carefully check the fabric of their clothing, the sewing together of the yard was called “woofs” and “warps” and if there was a red or green discoloration, it was “mold and mildew” (also called “tsara-at”) …..A person’s house could also be affected with “tsara-at” with mold and mildew, if it was, the walls had to be scraped and the affected stones removed and replaced. …..How does this affect us spiritually? There is a “spiritual leprosy” that is rebellion against YHVH, living in contrary to His Word, doing what is “right in our own eyes” disregarding the commandments as if they were “only for the past” claiming that “Now we are under grace” and not guided by the Torah. Grace and Torah always co-existed, and they still do! Abraham was saved by grace, and this was before the written Torah. Even though many commandments can not be followed today, there are still many that CAN BE followed, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater! …..If we were to analyize our spiritual lives and maturity honestly, how many of us would have to cry out “Tamei” (unclean) and go run and hide? Yet there is forgiveness and a new beginning in our Messiah Yeshua, who paid our sin price and penalty on Calvary’s cross once and for ever. We can “come in the camp again” when we confess of sins before a Holy God, and accept His forgiveness, and accept his inner “healing”. …..Some rabbinical commentaries claim that “tzara-at” came upon people’s skin, clothing, and houses because of ‘Leshon Hara” (evil tongue) because of spreading lies, slander, gossip, backbiting, backstabbing, etc. Take in account “Miriam” who was struck with “Tzara-at” when she spoke against Moshe! Yet Moshe interceeded on her behalf, and she was healed. The same way Yeshua heals us when he goes on our behalf before the Father. …..We should be careful when speaking and only speak positive things about others, if another is in error, go to that person personally and confront the person in love, not talk about what he or she is doing wrong with others. No wonder we have only ONE mouth, yet two EARS. Listen carefully, yet speak little. 2 KINGS 4:42-5:19 …..We read about “Naaman” the Syrian who was healed of his Tzara-at, whatever kind he had, He was healed, not because of anything he could pay Elisha, but what he did in OBEDIENCE and FAITH. He went and bathed in the River Jordan, when down 7 times, again, “7” is YHVH’s perfect number, it kind of symbolizes baptism in a way. When we came up the seventh time, he was healed of his disease. …..We can became clean inside when we obey God’s Word, and accept Yeshua as Savior and LORD, Yeshua is the “Living Water” and when we “bathe in Him” we become clean, our “tamei” becomes “tahor” LUKE 17:11-17 …Not the official Parasha reading, but this deals also with the healing of 10 who suffered with some sort of skin ailment, which made them “tamei” and “outcasts”. Yeshua healed them all, only for the asking, YET only ONE returned to say “thanks”. Do we take our Salvation for granted? Do we think we deserve it? Remember that only through the grace of YHVH does he allow us into HIS family. Do we really live like “B’nei Malach?” (children of the King) or….do we succume to the deceiver and lair of all times? Do we praise and thank Him for so great a gift such as YESHUAH (Salvation) ? do we thank and praise YESHUA for YESHUAH? Something to think about …………..Shabbat Shalom………………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Sea of Galilee, from a distant mountain park site, July/2015
  7. PARASHA: “Shemini” (Eighth) LEVITICUS 9:1-11:47………………2 SAM 6:1-7:17……………..MARK 14:1-72 …..Aaron and his sons had been preparing for the priesthood for seven days. So we see a period of “7” days, that Aaron and his sons have been in the Mishkan, preparing, praying, being “ordained” by YHVH to take on the ministry of High Priest (Aaron) and “priests” Nadav, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Is it any surprise that we see the number “7” here, since it is God’s number of perfection? The Hebrew letter “Zayin” has the equivalent of the number “7” in gematria. “Zayin” symbolizes “weapon”. The Holiness of Yeshua is our “weapon” against HaSatan. …..On the “Eighth” day, the sacrifices begin, the whole ministry begins, and YHVH himself will ignite the first fire on the brazen altar, saying, “I AM HERE, in your presence” Chapter nine tells of the animal sacrifices that the priests offered. They symbolize “Yeshua” who took our place, and paid our sin debt. The brazen altar is the “Cross” upon which “Yeshua” was judged for our iniquities. The animals being sacrificed symbolized that. But wait a minute, something is about to go wrong! Inauguration day is about to smudged. The football is about to be fumbled. The waiter carrying the wedding cake is about to slip and fall. …..Vs 10, “Then Nadab and Abihu, “b’nei Aaron” (sons of Aaron) each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profain (tamei) fire before YHVH which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from YHVH and devoured them, and they died before YHVH” …..Many Bible students look for a meaning in all of this. What was the “Esh Tamei” (profain fire)? The Torah is not crystal clear on that, so we can only assume, or come to an educated guess taking into account “clues” Perhaps, Nadab and Abihu were not asked or commanded to offer incense PERIOD! Or at least at that time, perhaps they thought, “Yo bro, this might be a good idea! Let’s try this!” well, they got fried! Many believe that they can come to God “their own way” or might think; “there are many ways to get to God” YHVH has set the record straight, the ONLY way is through YESHUA, through simple FAITH. Yeshua said; “I AM the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, NO ONE comes to the Father but by ME, (John 14:6) …..Another thought is that perhaps Nadav and Abihu had too much to drink, that they might have been drunk when they offered the incense, that they were not in their right minds, with clouded reason, so the “incense offering became “profane” their “holiness” was marred, so, being a God of Holiness, HE could not accept the sacrifice, and so, HE burned THEM up! We can understand this concept by Moshe’s words: …..”By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people, I must be glorified” …..We see that the LORD speaks and says; “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you when you go into the tabernacle of Meeting, lest you DIE”. …..The other thought is that they made their own “fire” instead of taking the fire from the brazen Altar and placing the incense on IT. This also could be “profane fire” that would symbolize that entrance to the Holiness of YHVH could be from OTHER sources, other than the Brazen Altar, remember, it symbolizes the cross and Yeshua was crucified on it to pay our sin debt. By making their own fire, they were in a way saying, “We can come to God by OUR OWN WAY. Not the “Yeshua” way. …..If this is indeed the meaning, perhaps they erred in their reasoning because they were not in their right mind, because of “strong drink?” so we are back to the “strong drink prohibition” Well, it makes sense, when ministers serve in the pulpit, behind the Bema, and they are teaching Torah, they need to be in their right mind, clear thinking and not have their reasoning clouded because of alcohol or other drugs. It isn’t that alcoholic beverages are prohibited to believers, they are prohibited when we are “Ministering” before the LORD and others. Wine helps the digestion of food; did you know that? But many are of the opinion that it is better to abstain at all times, so as “not to fall” into temptation of “overdoing it” by taking “one cup too many.” …..The other aspect of this Parasha is Chapter 11. It talks about the food we are to eat. This is where some believers get upset, start misinterpreting scripture, by saying; “God has cleansed ALL FOOD” so now we can eat “porky the pig” and dive into the seafood restaurants and indulge in lobster, crabs, oysters, clams, crawdads, shrimp, and other marine cockroaches, which God never intended for human consumption. “ALL FOODS” are what HE has ALREADY DEEMED as our FOOD! Which are the animals listed in Lev 11! Not what “man” has come up with to be “food” as if God’s menu is lacking! …..Many will go to Acts 10 to the vision of Sh’mon Kefa and say, “You see, God told him to eat all those creepy, crawly things!” but Adonai was using food as a “focal point” to get Kefa’s attention, it wasn’t about food at all. Kefa only ate “kosher’ food, from Lev 11, He knew it, God knew it, so, in a way, God is saying to Kefa, “The same way you feel about all these creepy crawly beasts in the sheet, you won’t touch them, you feel that way about the Gentiles! He says, “Don’t call unclean, what I call Clean” in other words, “I have “cleaned” the Gentiles! (it wasn’t about food at all). ALL PEOPLES from ALL OVER THE EARTH, are considered “Tahor” (clean) when we come to Yeshua as LORD and Savior, not just the Israelis from Israel. …..So why the prohibition of many of the popular “food” items we see today; like pork, pork sausage, ham, shellfish, catfish, shrimp, etc.? God made our bodies and our physical makeup, so as our creator, HE KNOWS what should go into our bodies and what needs to stay OUT. Those animals are “scavengers” and will eat almost ANYTHING dead or alive, many have toxins in their fatty flesh, high levels of cholesterol, etc, so, even though all that Italian prosciutto, and hard salami looks and smells great! Resist it! Chose turkey sausage and bacon rather than the pork sausage and bacon. Yeah, Yeah, it doesn’t taste the same, Yo dude, deal with it!! …..Yes, we are free to eat anything we want to, it is a free world, we are in a free society, and we have free choice So did Adam and Eve, and see where it got them, they ate something they weren’t supposed to have eaten! If we want optimum health, and feel good, stay with God’s diet, if we want something less than God’s best for our health, go for Porky P. Our LORD and God wants the best for our Spiritual health as well as for our physical health, that’s why he gave us his Torah. Read it, study it, and learn from it, put it into practice. 2 SAMUEL 6:1-7:17 …..We see another case of “good intentions” which ended up bad. The Aron Ha Kodesh (Ark of the Covenant) had been in the hands of the Philistines for some time, YHVH cursed them and caused them to return it to Israel. David received it with glory and honor, HOWEVER, He did not transport it CORRECTLY, to Yerushalayim. It should have been brought back on the shoulders of the Levites, bearing it on the appropriate staves. Instead, it was on an ox cart being driven by oxen. As we read the story, the oxen stumbled, and in order to keep the Ark from falling off the cart, Uzzah put out his hands and touched the ark, held it to keep it from falling. ….ZAP! Uzzah was fried! He meant well, he was sincere, but…he was sincerely WRONG. NO ONE was allowed to touch the Ark, NO ONE! Only the Levite priests, and they could only carry it on poles. Today, many might seem to want to come to the LORD on THEIR STANDARDS, doing THEIR OWN THING. If today’s times were like the times back in the old days, back in the old Bible days, we might all have been ZAPPED! Years ago Yet we serve a loving, forgiving God, who will put up with our issues, ways of doing things, our tongues, attitudes, etc, By the death of Yeshua our Mashiach, we have free access to the Throne of Grace. But “Kodesh” (Holiness) still comes ONLY through YESHUA. MARK 14:1-72 YESHUA and his talmidim celebrate Passover. The original Passover in Goshen consisted only of roasted lamb or goat, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread. But during this time of fellowship, the “last Supper” a few more elements had been added, the “sop” (charoset) which is a mix of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and honey, and wine. He has his twelve together, Y’hudah Ish Kariot, made his exit, the worse mistake a man can do, He lived and followed Messiah for three years and learned nothing. …The unleavened bread symbolized his body, which was/would be broken, for THEM and for ALL OF US. …The wine symbolized his Blood, which was shed/would be shed for THEM and for ALL OF US. The shepherd was struck, and the sheep were scattered! Yet 50 days later, the shepherd returned in Spirit form and HE is STILL WITH US. Yeshua rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and returned with his Holy Spirit. Indeed, the curse of sin and death had been conquered, Baruch HaShem!! …..As Yeshua submitted to the will of the FATHER, right there in the Garden, let us also be guided by the perfect will of YHVH, in ALL areas of our life. Shabbat Shalom………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: Flowers-on-the-wall, Old Yaffa, Israel July/2015
  8. DREAMS OF FIRE by Jacob Ben Avraham Antonius Flavius Aquila sat down to breakfast at the large ornate wooden table in his Pompeii Villa. It was a villa of luxury built with the many denarii and aureii gained during his tenure in the senate of Rome. All, however, was not earned by honor, but by corruption and bribery, of turning a blind eye in the face of justice. For a few hundred denarii, another innocent Roman became another resident of the Mamertine (notorious prison in Rome), and the heart of Antonius was hardened even more. He was very much a part of the corruption of Rome, even though he tried to justify his actions with the desire to provide the best for his family. His wife and son, however, wanted none of it. He raised his hand and motioned for his household slaves to bring him his breakfast meal. They came to him with roasted fish, cereal, and some bread, with honey, figs, and dates. They also filled his silver goblet with wine and set it also before him on the table together with the breakfast food. The slaves then returned to do other household chores leaving Antonius to have breakfast alone. He lifted up his silver goblet and looked toward the mosaic image of his wife Julia. The tile image stared at him like a ghost from the past on the wall across from the table. The coal black eyes of the image reminded him of his blackened soul. “Hail Julia, the love of my life, I miss you so” cried Antonius as he lifted his silver goblet toward the image, and then sipped some wine from the cup. Julia was indeed a woman of Rome, a patrician of a noble family whose voice cried out for the needy, the indigent, and for justice. Her noble ideals clashed with those of Antonius. Many times, she lifted up her voice in protest to the injustices of Antonius, his voice rose above that of Julia so as to silence her protests. In the last few years, she became a shell of her once robust being, a shadow in the darkness instead of a light for justice. A light snuffed out by the injustices of Antonius, and others of the senate. Over the years, Antonius made a few enemies, so he thought the move to Pompeii would be good for his family. The villa and costly estate brought no change to Julia. Rome had taken its toll on Julia, wife of Antonius Flavius Aquila. She took refuge in the garden of the Villa, eating hardly anything. She just sat on one of the stone lectii lined with velvet cushions, surrounded by the beauty of flowers, a fountain, and a statue of the god Jupiter. Day by day she would look out toward the distant olive groves. Her eyes followed the birds, wishing that she too would have wings, to fly away from the memory of corruption. Her eyes would look past the olive groves to the mountain called Vesuvius, wishing she could somehow hide out in one of its many caves, never to be found. It was one March morning when Antonius came down to breakfast, that he went out into the garden. He found Julia lying down on the velvet cushions of a stone sofa, thinking her asleep, he went to awaken her only to find her cold corpse with a vial of poison in her outstretched hand. He would have to live with his “ides of March”, the price of Roman corruption had followed him to Pompeii. He would have rather faced an assassin’s dagger than see his beloved Julia dead, and by her own hand at that. Her once lively voice now silenced forever. Marcellus, son of Antonius lay asleep in his room on the second floor of his family’s Pompeian villa. Suddenly, the earth began to shake and rumble from below, there was a loud noise of an explosion of some sort. The sky turned dark and the air became hot, so hot that it was hard to breathe. Small white stones began to fall like heavy rain drops all around the villa; on the roof, in the garden, stones dropped and floated in the fountain. More stones began to fall, larger ones, stones glowing with red hot fire hit the roof, breaking off bits and pieces of tile. As the air became more and more heated, a hot white powder began to fall mixed with the falling stones. The hot air was now painful to breath in, the smoke and fire seemed to come from the mountain called Vesuvius. Marcellus clutched his throat as breathing became more and more painful. The white-powdery substance burned his eyes. Finally, he passed out. When he opened his eyes, it was day light. He was lying on his bed. The birds in the garden were chirping. He quickly got out of bed and ran to the window overlooking the garden. He gazed at the countryside beyond the garden and observed the mountain called Vesuvius in the distance. It was the same as ever, a tall monument of earth and stone overlooking the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A few clouds covered the peak but there was neither fire nor smoke. Marcellus realized it was a dream, yes, a dream. But what could the dream mean? All dreams had meanings. Just as the dream of Jacob and the ladder had a meaning, so did this one, but what was the meaning? Marcellus got up from his bed, put on his tunic and sandals, and went down stairs to the dining area where his father was having breakfast. “Good morning father” greeted Marcellus with his usual smile. “Good morning son” replied his father rather coldly. Antonius had undergone a change since moving to Pompeii. Even though he retired from the senate of Rome, his thoughts still returned to the corrupt activities he had been a part of. He could not escape his own conscience, and it showed. “I am going to meet with Claudia father” replied Marcellus, “I would dine with you but she is waiting for me”. “Yes” said Antonius, getting up from the table, “go and meet with your Claudia Do you really take me for a blind fool?” Antonius walked slowly toward his son. Marcellus was surprised at his father’s response. “What do you mean father? I don’t understand?” “There have been rumors about secret meetings of Christians, Marcellus” said Antonius coldly, “you and Claudia have been seen with them”. Marcellus just stared at his father. So, he knew, somehow, he found out. He dare not deny his new found faith in Israel’s Messiah, knowing that many had already sacrificed their lives at the mere sport of previous emperors. “Have you nothing to say Marcellus?” asked his father “Yes father” replied Marcellus standing erect, “I am a Christian and Claudia too” “By the gods” roared Antonius “have you any idea how many denarii I’ve had to spend to keep certain people quiet by not sending a message to Rome saying; ‘The son of Antonius Flavius Aquila is part of the sect known as Christians’ “Who knows” he continued “we might lose all this” waving his hands around looking at the villa. “It’s always money and everything material, isn’t it father?” replied Marcellus more boldly, “did you ever think, father, that there is more to life than just money and power?” “Everything you see here I built for you and your mother” replied Antonius, “but your mother didn’t appreciate it” pointing to her tile image on the wall. “How could she?” replied Marcellus, “knowing how this place was built with blood money of innocent Romans, money that closed your eyes to justice and truth. She couldn’t live with that” “It was hard on your mother” said Antonius looking down at the ornate tile floor. “Rome took mother’s life” snapped Marcellus, “so many times she cried out for justice and your voice and actions always silenced hers. She couldn’t live with that anymore. “Your mother took her own life” Antonius said quietly “You were still young” “But not too young as not to remember the look in her eyes, of anguish and sadness, you and Rome drove her to her death” replied Marcellus. “Remember son, you too are a Roman” “Don’t remind me father” cried Marcellus as he turned his back to his father, walking quickly to the entrance of the Villa. Antonius just stood there watching his son leave the house. Marcellus turned once more to his father. He still loved his father, and his heart went out to him. “Father, why don’t you come with me and Claudia to our meeting and listen to what is said about the master?” said Marcellus hoping for the best. “Just go” yelled Antonius, “go follow your dead Jew and see where it gets you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in front of a gladiator’s sword. I can’t protect you forever”. Marcellus looked at his father sadly, if only he could understand the truth. “He isn’t dead father, he lives, he lives in the hearts of all those who follow him. His spirit lives in all who believe in him, even if it means facing the gladius (a roman short sword) or wild beasts. With those words, he left the house and went out into the street. He would look for Claudia in the usual place, at the forum in front of the temple of Apollo, right under the sun dial. As he made his way to the busy forum, he continued to think about his mother. Oh, how he missed her, if only she had not taken her own life. The move to Pompeii was somewhat sudden. Antonius sought peace and safety from the life of Rome, as there were those who sought his life for his misdeeds. Pompeii would be like a city of refuge he thought, not only for him but for his family. But Rome had taken its toll on Julia. Unable to help those who fell to the fate of the Mamertine, or to the jaws of beasts, she decided to join them by her own hand. The forum was just ahead. Marcellus looked toward the temple of Apollo and found the sundial, but Claudia wasn’t there. He noticed that there was a group of Pompeians gathered in the middle of the forum. He heard the voice of one crying out as if giving a speech, a speech of warning. As Marcellus approached the crowd, he saw Claudia on the outskirts listening attentively. He approached her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Oh Marcellus, I’m glad you’re here” she said with an anxious voice. “It’s Sostenes, the Greek. He is going to speak to our group today but he chooses first to speak to this crowd of mockers”. “Indeed” replied Marcellus, “he has valor and courage like a gladiator” Both Claudia and Marcellus continued to listen. They now formed part of the crowd which now pressed closely around this old, bearded stranger from Greece. “Oh people of Pompeii” continued the stranger, “Rome has sinned a great sin against the Almighty God. Rome has destroyed his holy temple in Jerusalem and has stolen its treasures”. “God, which god?” cried out one from the crowd. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” answered the stranger. “The only one God who created the heavens and the earth. He has seen the corruption of Rome and the injustice toward man. He has seen the idolatry and sin of this city too. He will therefore come down and destroy Pompeii with fire, brimstone, smoke, and ash. Judgment will come from your mountain you call Vesuvius. Judgment will be swift for God will not be mocked. Your city will reap the whirlwind. Woe unto you people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, flee while you can, flee to the sea to escape judgment”. By this time, the people had started to laugh and mock the stranger. “Get out of here Greek” said one; “This city has too much life to die” said another. Just then, two burly gladiators pushed through the crowd grabbed the stranger by the arms and pushed him to the ground. “Go preach doom to another city old man” said one of the gladiators. “The gold, silver, wine, and women keep this city alive” said the other as he gave the stranger a hard kick to his ribs. “Sostenes” cried Claudia as she pushed through the crowd, falling by his side to protect him, “Leave him alone”. “A few rotten tomatoes and old fruit were cast a Sostenes as he lay on the ground, staining his beard and clothing. “Ah, the lady Claudia to the rescue, eh?” remarked one of the gladiators, “then see to it that this old man stays out of trouble, we don’t need any prophets of doom here.” The two gladiators then left the crowd which then also dispersed, continuing their routine business in and around the forum. Marcellus then came near and helped Claudia get Sostenes to his feet. After a few minutes they were alone, and no one else paid any attention to the three. “Sostenes” said Claudia somewhat upset, “were you not told to go straight to the house of Gaius the fisherman?” “Ah yes” replied Sostenes, shaking off the dust, dirt, and rotten fruit from his clothing, “but I couldn’t resist speaking to these Pompeians. They must be warned just as Noah warned the people of his time.” “And no one paid any attention to Noah did they?” replied Marcellus, helping the old man to remove the rest of the rotten fruit from his tunic. “This is my beloved Marcellus” said Claudia, “he is also a believer in our Messiah from Nazareth. “I am glad to meet you Marcellus” replied Sostenes, fully regaining his footing. “I am used to this my brother, these are the things one must endure for God. At least I have not been stoned like Paul” The three then made their way toward the house of Gaius the fisherman, whose house was near the sea port of Pompeii. “Sostenes, what happened to you” exclaimed Gaius as he opened the door to let the three in. “A little problem convincing the crowd of impending doom” replied Sostenes, sitting down in a rustic wooden chair near the kitchen area. The ordeal with the crowd and the walk to the sea port wore him out. “What are you talking about?” replied Gaius, rather bewildered. “I will explain my dear friend” said Sostenes rather calmly. “Will all the families arrive soon?” “Yes” said Gaius, “I have sent word to all of them that you would be here with a special message.” “That’s good. Now I would like to wash and have a little something to eat and drink” replied Sostenes, as he pulled his chair next to the wooden kitchen table, in the humble house of Gaius the fisherman. Gaius and his wife went to the kitchen and brought back some food for Sostenes. He then washed his hands in a small wooden bowl and enjoyed a meal of figs, dates, and some roasted fish with bread. Gaius then poured some wine in a little wooden cup and handed it to Sostenes. He broke the bread and lifted up the wine, reciting the blessing. As he was eating, the Christian families started to arrive. Before long, the humble house of Gaius was filled with men, women, and children who had placed their trust in the resurrected Yeshua, Messiah of Israel, and the hope of all mankind. As Sostenes got up from the table, Gaius motioned to the people to sit down on the floor. All eyes were now on Sostenes, the old Greek believer from Athens. He made his way to the front of the large room, which now seemed small on account of all the people. Gaius set a chair for him to sit down. Once seated, Sostenes started his discourse. “My dearly beloved brothers and sisters of Pompeii, I wish you peace and the believers of Athens also send greetings and peace” “Peace to you also, Amen” replied the crowd in unison. There were about 50 gathered together in the house of Gaius. “For those who don’t know me, my name is Sostenes” he began. “I am a devote Jew from Athens. I am also a follower of our Messiah Yeshua who was foretold by the prophets of old” “It was during the feast of Passover that I and some other Jews from Greece went to Jerusalem for the event. We had heard when we got there that a certain man named Lazarus was raised from the dead, and that the man “Yeshua” was the one who gave life unto him again. “Now, we asked ourselves, if this man Yeshua could possibly be the Messiah that the Torah speaks of, we would have to seek him out and meet him personally. We found his followers and spoke to one called Phillip and asked him if we could see Yeshua. He then went and told another named Andrew. They went and returned to us with Yeshua, who was very happy to meet us.” (John 12:20) “He then confirmed our hopes and the miracle with Lazarus. He revealed to us the prophecies from the Torah concerning himself. He also told us that now, his time was at an end, and that he would accomplish the purpose for which he came into the world. We could not understand his saying, but later we understood. It was when we saw this same Yeshua hanging from a Roman cross.” “Our souls were parted in pieces, but we also understood that the prophecies of the Torah concerning Him had to be fulfilled. “Now, almost 50 years later, Yeshua again spoke to me through his Holy Spirit. It was through a dream, a strange dream. It was a dream of fire, smoke, destruction, death, and judgment, the destruction, my dear brothers and sisters, of your city Pompeii and your neighbor Herculaneum. The fire of judgment will come from the mountain you call Vesuvius.” At that time, others from the group of believers stood up and spoke; “I too had a similar dream”. And another said “I too dreamed of fire coming from the mountain.” The Marcellus slowly stood up and said; “I have had that dream for the past three nights.” Claudia looked at him with wide, wondering eyes of awe. She pressed her hand in his and said; “I also had the dream”. Sostenes, with wide open eyes looked around the room slowly nodding his head. “Then it is confirmed among all of you. Judgment is indeed to fall upon this city. God is not mocked, for in destroying his holy house, now the house of Rome will fall.” “But when?” asked one, “When will this occur?” “The LORD has hidden this from me” answered Sostenes, “but I will enquire of the LORD right now.” Sostenes slowly turned and prostrated himself on the floor of the fisherman’s house. The believers in the room were all quiet, and waiting. All eyes were on Sostenes. The lips of Sostenes moved but no sound came out. Then, he was quiet, deathly still. After what seemed to be an eternity of tension, he slowly got to his feet. His eyes showed a mixture of fear and awe. Then he spoke his oracle. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Hear ye people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, thou hast lived a life of ease, pride, and arrogance, praying to gods that are not. By the hands of your emperor Titus, my holy house in Jerusalem was laid waste, burned with the fire of hate. Now, your houses will be laid waste with my fire of judgment that will proceed from my chosen mountain called Vesuvius. My fire and ashes will cover your cities and they will lay forgotten for a season. “For on this day, the twenty and fourth day of this month of Augustus, will judgment fall. Run my children, run to the sea and sail away to safety. Tarry not for judgment is here.” Sostenes dropped his hands to his side. All the people in the room were deathly quiet, deep in thought, in unbelief. Then they started to talk among themselves. One spoke out “The twenty-fourth day of August, that’s today, we have no time to lose” Gaius the fisherman spoke next. “I have ready three fishing vessels outside tied to the docks; we need only water and provisions” Then yet another spoke; “I have two boats in the boat houses in Herculaneum. I will get them and bring them here; I need only a few men to help me.” At that he left quickly followed by four other men of the group. Another spoke up; “I am a close friend of Pliny the Elder. He is at Misenum in charge of the Roman fleet. I believe he will lend me a few vessels.” “Go quickly” cried Gaius, “all of you return to your homes and gather some food and vessels of water. We shall all meet back here at the docks. Sostenes, you shall stay here with me.” Sostenes, the old Greek nodded and sat down. “May the LORD delay his judgment until we are all gathered back together again!” “I shall return home and warn my father and the household slaves.” said Marcellus as he embraced Claudia. “I too will return home and warn my parents.” replied Claudia, “But I know that they will take me as a fool.” “We shall meet back at the boat docks as Gaius directed.” said Marcellus as they broke their embrace and took to the streets of Pompeii. The group of believers was soon headed back to their homes as fast as their feet would carry them. Marcellus passed the Forum, heading toward the street that lead up to his father’s villa. As he approached his home, he looked into the garden and saw that his father had some guests. The slaves were also busy serving some wine and food to them. He approached his father quietly and with due respect. “Salutat dear father” said Marcellus as he bowed in reverence. “Ah Marcellus my son” replied Antonius lifting a silver cup with wine, “I am sure you know my two friends from the senate at Rome, ex-senators Quintus and Marcus”. The two other men nodded at Marcellus, lifting their hands in greeting. “It is a pleasure to see you again, dear friends of my father” replied Marcellus. “The pleasure is ours” responded the two with a smile. “Father, I must warn you” began Marcellus, “we must leave Pompeii at once, there is danger.” “Danger?” questioned Antonius. “What sort of danger?” “The mountain called Vesuvius will rain down fire and ashes. This whole city will be covered. All will be destroyed, lost. This is the judgment of God.” ended Marcellus excitedly. Antonius just sat there on one of the garden’s stone lectus, hanging his head with a deep sigh. Marcus and Quintus looked at each other and then at Marcellus with looks of confusion and disbelief. “And just where did you hear that?” questioned Antonius, looking sternly at his son. “From Sostenes, an old man from Athens, and…” “A Greek” interrupted Marcus with a laugh, “so that was the commotion at the Forum early this morning.” “Those Greeks are all actors, always into drama” added Quintus, looking at Antonius and then to Marcellus. “But tell me dear son of Antonius” continued Quintus, “which god will bring this judgment?” With nerves of iron and a deep breath, Marcellus revealed his faith to the party of three there in the garden. “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who is also called Yeshua. The only One God who came to earth in human form to save all mankind from sin. It is he who will bring judgment to this city.” The three men just sat there at the ornate marble table in the middle of the garden, looking up a Marcellus. Their eyes spoke of wonder and disbelief, hearing the words that came out of the only son of Antonius. “Now my son speaks as a Jew as well as a Christian” responded Antonius rather angrily. “You see my dear friends” continued Antonius, “Marcellus my son belongs to this sect called “Christians.” Much to my disappointment he has abandoned the gods of Rome to worship this “Jesus of Nazareth” or as the Jews called him, “Yeshua” “But didn’t Rome put him to death under Pontius Pilate?” questioned Quintus “I believe I remember seeing that report which was sent to Tiberius so many years ago” “His followers claim he rose from the dead” said Marcus quietly. “Nonsense” replied Antonius loudly, “these Christians have caused nothing but trouble in Rome with their ridiculous teachings.” “Trouble?” questioned Quintus, “how?” “Why they burned Rome to the ground” replied Antonius, “when Nero was emperor…. “Oh Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “it was Nero himself who torched Rome, him and his praetorian guard. The Christians were only his scape goats, quite impossible for them to have done such a thing, what with their teachings of peace and love.” “You speak treason” replied Antonius, now standing erect before his friends, “I could have you arrested for speaking so about an emperor.” “Sit down Antonius” replied Quintus rather annoyed. “I know several Romans who would pay many aureii to have some Cacius or Brutus place a dagger in your gut dear friend. Hail Caesar!” he said mockingly, raising his almost empty silver cup toward Antonius. Antonius glared down at his friend and then slowly sat down, his eyes still flashing anger toward his friend. “But come now Antonius, we are good friends, are we not?” replied Quintus smiling. “I would never do such a thing. What are a few hundred aureii between you and me?” “Now about these Christians” continued Quintus, “Why don’t you ask Marcus here about them?” why he would know more about them, wouldn’t you Marcus?” now looking intensely at his other friend. Up to now, Marcus had almost nothing to say. He just sat there with a silver wine cup in his hand. He seemed though to be deep in thought. “I have nothing to say” replied Marcus quietly, not even looking at Quintus. “I think you do my friend” said Quintus, “your silence speaks for you. Tell Antonius about your son Flavius. Remember you are among friends.” Marcus finally looked up at his two friends, “My son Flavius is also a Christian” he said softly. “Flavius?” said Marcellus, “Yes, I believe I know him. He brings us the bread from the market place for our meetings. I deeply admire his devotion and his love for our LORD.” Marcus, upon hearing Marcellus, continued to speak, but now with more courage. “My son is a changed person since following the teachings of this Jesus. He is more polite, more helpful around the house. Why he even helps the slaves with their chores, something he never would have thought doing before…” “You see Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “much benefit could come from this sect called ‘Christianity’, or “the Way” as some of these people call themselves. Just imagine Rome with these Christians, more love, less corruption, more peace toward fellow man as they often times say. Rome would be a very different place if these Christians had their way, wouldn’t you say so my dear Antonius?” Antonius just sat there looking at Quintus, then at his son, but said nothing. He seemed to be pondering the words of Quintus, and the testimony of Marcus concerning his son Flavius. A Christian Rome! What would the world make of it? “Please, I beg you all” said Marcellus now with a worried look on his face, “We don’t have much time, we have boats at the docks and we are gathering provisions what with the city marked for destruction….” “Marcellus” interrupted Antonius, “My friends and I have business to discuss and we can’t be bothered with the tales of a fanatical old Greek.” “It was nice seeing you again Marcellus” said Quintus with a broad smile, lifting his silver cup toward one of the slaves to have it refilled with wine. With tears in his eyes, Marcellus turned quickly and left the garden. He hurried through the streets of Pompeii forgetting all about gathering provisions from his house. The attitude and disbelief of his father and his friends saddened him, but what more could he do? Noah also announced judgment in the time of the flood, But no one believed him. He made his way through the Forum and hurried in the direction of the docks. As he approached, he saw that there was a great crowd already loading provisions aboard the boats, with Claudia among them. He would do his part with the loading as well. Suddenly, he felt a rumbling sound beneath his feet. The sound grew louder, now the ground started to shake. Then he heard a loud noise like an explosion. He looked toward Mt. Vesuvius and saw that black smoke and fire were coming from the top. He observed a column of black and white smoke reaching far into the sky and then breaking off into what seemed to be branches. The sky slowly turned dark, blotting out the sun. Small white pebbles mixed with blacked stones started to fall from the sky, hitting roofs of houses and buildings. The noise was like a violent rainstorm, but worse. The pebbles and rocks brought with them a smell like sulfur. The air all around grew hotter and hotter. Then he heard a voice calling his name, it was Claudia. “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now!” she shouted from the boat she was near. Marcellus looked back in the direction of his home. His thoughts went to his father. He must, he thought, save him from this now evident judgment of fire from Vesuvius. “I must go back for my father” shouted Marcellus. “We haven’t the time” cried Claudia, “Please; I don’t want to lose you!” Marcellus didn’t think twice, he turned and ran back toward the city. When he reached the Forum, people were crying out to each other, hardly able to see amidst the falling ash which now blanketed the city. The citizens of Pompeii were running to and fro in mass confusion. The air was now hot and suffocating, being almost impossible to breathe and see ahead. Marcellus took a piece of cloth and covered his mouth hoping to filter out the deadly sulfur fumes which now poisoned the air. The volcano continued to throw out burning rocks and ash. Lava bombs were everywhere. Only the LORD could protect him from the falling fire. As he ran toward the direction of his house, he saw Lucius, one of his household slaves running towards him. “Marcellus, where are you going?” cried Lucius amidst the cries of the crowd around them. “I must rescue my father” cried Marcellus, with eyes wide with fear. “It’s too late master Marcellus” replied the slave with tears in his eyes, “the ground opened up under the house and garden, and the walls fell in. Your father and his friends were buried under the walls. I am sorry master, only I was able to escape alive.” “Oh father” cried Marcellus, burying his face in his hands, “why didn’t you listen? Oh why did you not heed the warning? Now it’s too late.” “We must hurry Master Marcellus, to the boat docks!” said Lucius, grabbing Marcellus by the arms. The two ran through the streets in the direction of the boat docks. The volcano was now in full force. It seemed like all hell had come to the surface of the earth. Fire and smoke shot high into the sky. The air was thick with choking gases and sulfur fumes. All around them burning rocks were falling, red hot with glowing fire. The lava bombs were hitting buildings and people all around. Marcellus and Lucius passed a poor dog in the agony of death, being slowly covered with hot ash. Many people now lay still in the ash covered streets, slowly being covered with the volcano’s blanket of death. As the two hurried along the streets towards the seaport, they passed a small girl about two years old crying and hugging her mother. The mother lay dead in the street, her head split open and a smoldering red hot rock lay beside her. Marcellus didn’t think twice. He rushed over and picked up the whimpering little girl and continued to run toward the boat docks with the house slave Lucius. Finally they could see the boats at the docks already sailing away. The air and wind were hot and there was a continuous rain of hot ash and burning rocks all around. People all around them were screaming and crying out for their loved ones. With each breath, the intense volcanic heat and ash scorched the throats of the dying citizens of Pompeii. It seemed like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was being repeated. One boat was still tied to the dock. The people on board were shouting to the two who were running towards them. Marcellus noticed that Claudia was there, standing near the mooring. She caught sight of Marcellus as he ran alongside of Lucius “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now” cried Claudia. “Get in the boat,” shouted Marcellus, “I’ll untie the ropes.” and he handed the little girl to Claudia. Marcellus and Lucius both loosened the ropes that held the boat fast to the dock. They both pushed the boat away from the dock and jumped aboard. “Let’s go” cried Gaius the fisherman when he saw that the two were safe on board. A few men pulled hard on the oars while a few others pulled up the sail. The hot wind quickly filled the sail and the boat was off, sailing away from the docks of Pompeii. Burning rocks and ash continued to fall all around them. The water around the boat sizzled and boiled as the red hot lava bombs hit the surface. The men in the boat strained at the oars, pulling hard against the waves to catch up with the other boats which carried the believers. Finally, the five boats were together. Gaius looked around at the boats, and when he saw that they were all together, began thinking about a destination. The five boats kept up a swift pace, making distance from the burning inferno of Pompeii. When they were a good distance away, Gaius called out to get the attention of all. The people aboard the boats were talking amongst themselves, wondering about their destination. Gaius could sense that, and they were quite right to wonder. They had to have some place to go, but where to? With a loud voice which carried to all five sailing vessels, Gaius stood up and began to speak. “Dear brothers and sisters in the LORD, Today our God has saved us from the fire of his wrath against the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Yes, we will miss our homes, but we will find new homes where we shall begin anew. Now, where will we go? There is the city of Paestum which is South by South East within a day’s sailing. With fair winds we shall get there shortly.” Gaius then sat down and ordered the men at the oars to take the lead. He motioned with his hand for the other boats to follow him. All the people nodded their heads in agreement. Paestum would be their destination and their home for the time being. Sostenes got up and moved over to where Marcellus, Claudia, and Lucius were seated. “Paestum is a small city, but it does have some groups of believers. They will welcome us.” His voice was calm and assuring. There three sat there and smiled, embracing one another. Claudia now looked down at the little girl who was clinging tightly to her legs. “and this little girl?” she asked “Her mother was dead” responded Marcellus. “I picked her up on the way to the docks. I believe I did the right thing. I think the Master would have done the same.” “Yes” replied Claudia who picked up the little girl, now holding her against her breasts. “You did the right thing; this little girl has a new family now.” “Well then” said Marcellus, “since we are a family now, don’t you think it would be good to be united as man and wife, and receive the LORD’s blessing on our union?” Claudia looked up into the eyes of Marcellus, her own eyes filling with tears of joy. “With all my heart I will accept you, my dear Marcellus, as my husband.” The two then turned to Sostenes. “My dear brother Sostenes” began Marcellus “Would you be willing to join us in marriage when we reach Paestum?” Sostenes nodded and smiled. “It would be an honor to join the two of you as man and wife.” Marcellus then turned to Lucius who was sitting by his side; “and you my dear Lucius, are no longer a slave, but a free man, so don’t call me master any longer.” Lucius looked up at Marcellus, a broad smile of joy appearing on his face. He slowly got up and embraced Marcellus. “I would still like to be by your side. You, Claudia, and this little girl could be my family.” He said with happiness. “Then” answered Marcellus, “By our side you shall be, however, you shall receive wages for your services, we can discuss that later when we get to safety.” Upon mentioning wages, Lucius reached down and unrolled some clothing revealing a medium sized leather bag. He untied the top showing the contents of several hundred silver denarii and gold aureii coins. “I took these from your father’s house just before it collapsed Marcellus, I thought this money might come in useful in the future” said Lucius thoughtfully. Marcellus and Claudia looked into the bag. They could only imagine how many lives had been destroyed over the greed of silver and gold. But now, this silver and gold would have to be put to good use. “A heavy burden to bear” said Marcellus, now deep in thought. “Yes, this money will be useful. All these people in the boats have lost everything they owned. When we get to Paestum, we shall divide up the money and give each family an equal share. They will then have a little something to start their lives over again” Marcellus look into the eyes of Lucius, putting his hand on his shoulder he continued. “That will be your first duty as my accountant dear Lucius, to separate the silver and gold coins. Count all the coins and take a count of the people, then each family will receive an equal share of gold and silver.” “You are indeed generous Marcellus” said Lucius, “so unlike your father.” “My father did not know our LORD and Savior” replied Marcellus sadly. “I would like you to tell me more about Jesus” said Lucius, “I would so much like to be a part of this community of believers called “The Way”. “I will gladly tell you all that I know” replied Marcellus happily, “and Sostenes will tell you first hand of the Master of Nazareth.” “Yes” replied Sostenes, as he put his hand on Lucius’ shoulder, “I met Jesus many years ago, and it seems like only yesterday. I will tell you about him.” Behind the boats lay the city of Pompeii, now being covered by lava and ash. The four looked behind one more time at the city of doom, now just a faint orange glow in the distance, the fire, smoke, and ashes, all a reminder of God’s fierce judgment against the empire of Rome. PIC: Region of Galilee, Israel
  9. 4. SARAH Leah Holtz sat slumped in the dirty sofa in the living room of her dingy apartment; hair disheveled, eyes red from the effects of the previous night’s binge with alcohol. Out of her reddened eyes, she gazed around at the almost empty apartment. Around her were a sofa, a few chairs, and an old wooden table, all that remained of a short, failed marriage. She stared at a wedding picture on the wall where she stood beside her husband, who had recently run off with her best friend, leaving her only past bittersweet memories. Now, alone in the world she thought, she would try to drown out her sorrows with bottles of cheap wine. Her hopes for a long, happy marriage collapsed when she returned home from work one day and found half the furniture gone, an empty bedroom closet with only her clothes hanging, and a “good-bye” note left on the bed from her husband. What kind of “best friend” would steal your husband? She thought. Her best friend was now her bitter enemy, a home wrecker that deserved the worst. she suddenly screamed, hurtling the empty wine bottle she had in her hand toward the picture on the wall. The bottle exploded in a shower of broken glass against the picture on the wall; now shattered as well, lying on the floor amidst broken dreams of marital bliss. A sharp pain now came from her abdomen. It had been now a couple of days since the hospital clinic procedure, and she was still in pain, both physically and emotionally. Leah had taken upon herself to lash out at everyone. The hurt she felt would be felt by others. Anger and resentment overcame her being, and the world had better watch out. Her swollen, reddened eyes slowly closed as she slumped back into the old, worn sofa; the after effects of the alcohol still swimming in her head. All of a sudden, she heard voices and a knocking on the front door. “Leah, are you there?” A woman’s voice was heard together with the soft knocking. “It’s Angela and Robert from church, are you OK?” “Please answer Leah, we’re concerned about you” the knocking continued. “We’re praying for you, we all are, we miss you at church, please talk to us” “Go away!” please just leave me alone” shouted Leah “go pray for someone else!” “Leah, we love you, we just want to talk to you and be with you at this time” “I don’t need anybody right now……. leave ……. just leave OK?” sobbed Leah. “God loves you Leah” responded the voice on the other side of the door “and he always will, you need him now, especially at a time like this” “Then why did he give my husband away to someone else, to my ex-best friend even?” “God didn’t do that Leah, remember your husband isn’t a Christian, you knew that when you married him. He did that all on his own because he doesn’t live by God’s holy standards” the voice behind the door continued softly “the lost live according the world’s standards, not the LORD’s” Deep inside, Leah knew that. Her husband had never really accepted the LORD. He had been a high school football hero, with all the girls wanting to date him, and he dated a lot of them too. He always enjoyed flirting with Leah, even when he was with other girls. He finally asked her out. They went out a few times, then, after graduation, he popped the “will you marry me” question. Leah liked his body, his big muscles, the “Mr. Football” Look. He swore the “I’ll love you forever” oath. She brought him to church a few times. In the Sunday school class, he looked bored. He told her the “I believe in God, and that’s enough for me” line. They got married any way. The pastor warned her against being “unequally yoked” but she thought she could change him. The ceremony was quick in the downtown courthouse. Three months into the marriage, she returned home from work to find an almost empty apartment and the “dear Leah” note on the bed. What hurt most was the “thanks for your hubby” note at the end of the letter, signed by “Cindy”. She had been her best friend in high school, so she thought. Now, Leah was alone in the one-bedroom apartment; her mind filled with ghosts of the past, haunting memories, hurt, pain, remorse, and bitterness toward the world, and toward God. “Come on Angela” said a male voice outside the door “there’s nothing more we can do here”. Leah heard the sound of footsteps fading away, then the voice spoke again; “Leah, there’s a letter taped to the door, I’m pushing it under the door to you OK?” Leah heard the sounds of footsteps returning and she saw a small envelope being pushed under the front door. “remember, we’re praying for you Leah” said the female voice, Leah then heard the footsteps fading away for the second time. She was alone again, but this time, her interest was aroused by this strange letter under the door. Slowly, she got up off the sofa and walked over to the door. She picked up the envelope which had the hospital clinic logo in the corner, but her name was hand written on the front. It only had her first name “Leah” nothing more. She walked back to the sofa; her eyes glued to the envelope. Slowly, she opened the envelope and took out three hand written pages of notebook paper. There was also a map drawn on a piece of white bond paper. She saw a signature on the third sheet of paper with the words, “nurse Becky” Slowly, Leah’s eyes ran across the words on the first page. As she read, her eyes filled with tears. She read the second page and finally the last. She read the letter over and over again, allowing the words to sink into her embittered soul. She looked at the hand drawn map, and then looked back at the words of hope on the three pages of notebook paper. Little Sarah ran back and forth, marveling at the sights and sounds of this fascinating place of vivid colors, beautiful sounds, and fragrant smells. She ran through ankle deep lush green grass, with multicolored flowers everywhere. There were blue, red, orange, green, and violet flowers blooming as far as the eye could see, and the fragrance of them all was in the air. In the distance was a vast forest of trees, fruit bearing trees and flowering trees. As she looked here and there, she spotted a river, a river of crystal -clear water that branched out into streams that lead to the grassy meadows. The main part of the river seemed to melt into the vast forest of trees. As Sarah continued to look at the river, she saw that it emanated from beneath the walls of a great city. She stared at the walls that surrounded the city, walls that seemed to have no end. A golden glow was all about the walls. She heard music, lovely music, music of a multitude of choirs that came from the city. The beautiful singing voices filled the air and blended in with the fragrance of the flowers and the beauty of this wonderful place. Here and there, Sarah saw others like herself. They were all dressed in pure white tunics with golden belts around their waists, and feet shod with golden sandals. Sarah walked through the grass towards the river, she stopped before a bridge, a bridge made with vines entwined with flowers growing over the crystal-clear water. She looked down into the water and saw many pebbles and stones that shone with all sorts of vivid colors. All of a sudden, she felt a soft hand on her shoulder. She turned around and looked up into the smiling face of a tall, beautiful being that radiated a pure white light. “Hello Sarah” said the being with a soft voice “welcome to your home”. “Who are you?” asked Sarah, “and how do you know my name?” “My name is Angel, replied the shining being, “and I know everyone’s name here, and so does the king who lives in that city over there.” as he pointed toward the walled city that had the golden glow to it. “Wow” cried Sarah in amazement, “is the king nice like you?” asked Sarah as she continued looking up into the smiling face of this beautiful being called Angel. “Yes” replied Angel “the king is nice and he loves you so very much. He wants to meet you, but first, do you want to go over the bridge?” “Oh yes, of course” said Sarah taking a step forward to cross over the river. She looked down into the water to gaze at all the multicolored stones. The stones glittered with red, yellow, green, blue, and crystal transparencies. There were also multicolored fish that swam this way and that. “Would you like to see more?” asked Angel who was right behind her. “Oh yes” cried Sarah, clapping her hands together with glee. “fine” said Angel, “just take my hand and off we’ll go”. Sarah grabbed Angel’s hand. Then, all of a sudden, two enormous snow- white wings opened up from Angel’s back. The two soared skyward. Sarah was enthralled seeing all the sites of this strange, wonderful place. The two soared above green meadows, spread out with multicolored flowers, above vast forests with all kinds of trees From a distance, they could even see into the city of the king. The city was full of people and shining beings all walking, talking, laughing, and singing. There were musicians playing on all sorts of stringed instruments. Some sounded shofars, others sounded long, silvers trumpets. There were hundreds of buildings, large mansions with the shining beings inlaying all sorts of precious stones in their foundations. The whole city was aglow with a radiant golden light which was everywhere. In the far away distance, there was a long wall made of transparent crystal. The wall stretched as far as the eye could see. Sarah was curious about the wall. “What’s that long wall?” she asked Angel with wide, wondering eyes. “Well, let’s go see shall we?” replied Angel, and off they went towards the direction of the mysterious wall of crystal. As the two got closer, they could see many small children beside the wall, all dressed in white tunics with golden belts. All of them were accompanied by tall shining beings, standing by their side. Angel and Sarah landed in front of the wall, and she could see that there were moving images inside this very long wall of crystal. All the children and the shining beings were all observing the moving images that were inside the wall. Sarah stood wondering about all this. Angel seemed to know her thoughts. “This is the wall of sorrows” he said sadly. “ sorrows?” questioned Sarah. “what are sorrows?” “Sorrows are sad things that happen” replied Angel. “Would you like to have a closer look?” Sarah nodded her head, and the two approached a small area in front of the wall. Sarah looked back toward the city of the king, which was now just a tiny golden speck in the far away distance. “why is this wall so far away from the city of the king?” asked Sarah. “it is because there is no place for sorrows in the city, only happiness” replied Angel as he stepped forward and passed his hand in front of the crystal clear wall. All of a sudden, an image appeared. Leah walked along Oakland Street, map in hand. It was a crisp autumn day and multicolored leaves were falling here and there. The letter had indeed aroused Leah. She pulled her worn jacket around her body as the autumn wind picked up. She finally came to Old Oak Road. There weren’t many houses on this road. She followed the directions on the hand-drawn map. In the far distance, she could see that the road dead- ended near a wooded area. She looked to her left and passed Old Oak church which had been abandoned for years. Next to the church she saw the place marked by an “x” on the map. It was a small cemetery surrounded by a rusty, iron fence with the words “Old Oak Cemetery” above the entrance. She had heard about this cemetery from friends at school. It wasn’t in use any more. There were old graves here, going back hundreds of years. Leah passed under the sign and walked through the rows of old gravestones. The autumn leaves carpeted the grass which was now overgrown with weeds. Leah looked around with curiosity, reading the words carved on a tombstone; “Joshua Rogers, beloved husband, born 1714, died 1784 She went by some more grave markers, looking at the map and observing the old, worn words inscribed. She came to another one and read the inscription; “little Angelique Williams, beloved daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Williams Born August 9th, 1805 died of fever November 20th, 1805, departed but not forgotten, Comforted by Heaven's angels, in the presence of the LORD” Leah looked again at the map, the letter indicated to follow this grave marker to the end of the row of graves. Angel and Sarah both stared at the figure in the wall, going in and out among the tomb stones, as if looking for something, or someone. “What is that place Angel?” asked Sarah “What is that woman looking for?” Angel looked at Sarah with sort of a sad smile, “She’s……looking for someone” replied Angel, “someone she loves and misses.” “but there’s no one there” said Sarah, still looking a bit confused. “that’s the land of the dead” said Angel sadly. “People that are no longer alive lay under those stones with writing, even little people….. like you”. “like me?” asked Sarah “but I’m alive, I’m here with you” said Sarah with a smile. “Yes” said Angel, “you are alive indeed” “Are all those people who lie under those stones here too?” asked Sarah, looking up at Angel with wide, wondering eyes. “Not all” replied Angel sadly, “some are in the world of darkness, the nether world, A place called Hades. A world absent of love, laughter, and peace. It is a world of pain, torment, and suffering. A place where the presence of the king is not known” “Why are they there, and not here?” questioned Sarah. “because they refused the love of the king” replied Angel sadly. “the king made a big sacrifice, and many people rejected it, so, they could not come here.” “That’s so sad” replied Sarah. “Yes, it is” said Angel , “but it was their own choice.” Leah followed the row of grave markers from the one marked “little Angelique” At last, she found what she was looking for. There, in the corner of the cemetery, was a small mound of dirt covering a freshly dug grave. There were a few wild flowers on the mound and a small wooden cross with a wooden plaque nailed to the top of it. Slowly, Leah approached the grave. The autumn wind picked up again, blowing brown and yellow leaves here and there. Somewhere in the woods next to the grave yard a crow started to caw. Leah now stopped and stared at the grave marker. She held the hand written letter in her hand, reading the inscription on the plaque, then read the letter. As she read the name on the little wooden cross, she dropped the letter and fell down to her knees in front of the grave marker. Angel and Sarah continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She suddenly broke down and started to cry, grabbing hold of the little wooden cross. She released words of sorrow and grief; tears now streaming down her cheeks. “Oh my daughter, my little daughter, I am so, so, sorry. What did I do? I robbed you of life”. “I robbed you of the life that God gave you through me”. “Those people at the clinic, they lied to me”. “They told me that you weren’t…weren’t really alive, fully human yet, that you weren’t a real person. but you ARE…or you were” . “Oh please PLEASE forgive me.” Sarah and Angel watched as the woman continued to cry and let loose her feelings of sorrow and repentance. “Who is she” asked Sarah with a sad countenance. Angel looked down at Sarah, who shared the same look of sadness on his face. “She’s your mother Sarah” “My mother?” said Sarah with a bewildered look on her face. “Yes” replied Angel, “she listened to the wrong people, she received very bad counsel. “bad counsel?” asked Sarah looking up at Angel with a confused look on her face. “Sarah” replied Angel as he bent down and picked up little Sarah into his arms, “counselors are people who are supposed to speak the words of the King, speaking wisdom that promotes life, and not death, destruction, and the murder of the innocent. Some counselors serve and worship the King, and give wise and good counsel from his written WORD. But there are others that give bad and evil counsel. They do not serve or love the King. They serve the lord of darkness”. “The lord of darkness” asked Sarah, “who is he?” “He has many names” replied Angel. “Some call him Beelzebub, the devil, the father of lies, Mephistopheles, the prince and power of the air, the dragon, and Satan”. “Ohhhhh”….said Sarah slowly… “I don’t think I like him, he has scary names” “No one up here likes him” replied Angel, “once he lived up here with us, he was part of our family, but he rebelled against the King, and the King cast him out of here a long, long, Time ago. But you need not fear him Sarah, you’re here with me and are part of the King’s family” “I am glad I’m part of the King’s family” said Sarah smiling. Sarah and Angel continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She continued to sob and cry out, “forgive me”. There, prostrate on the ground, in front of the little grave marker she continued repeating; “forgive me daughter, forgive me, Oh God forgive me”. Sarah looked into the face of Angel. “What should I do?” “What would you like to do Sarah?” replied Angel. “Forgive my mother” replied Sarah. “Then tell her” said Angel softly, “Talk to her and tell her that you forgive her”. Angel put Sarah down and she went up to the wall. She was now face to face with the image of her mother. Her mother, whose image was inside this long, long wall of sorrows was right next to her now. Sarah placed her little hands down to where Leah’s head was. The wall felt warm, as if she was actually touching her mother’s head….then she spoke. “Mommy, don’t cry, I forgive you, I love you and I really miss being with you. Don’t worry, I’m well., I’m alive here in this wonderful place. I'm with Angel and the King. The King forgives you too, and someday soon, you’ll be here with us and we’ll be together. I don’t feel pain any more”. The mention of pain brought Sarah’s scant memory to a brief, short past. To a dark, watery place, a place of muffled sounds and voices, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. There was a sudden sharp pain, and then a burning sensation, then….she opened her eyes and found herself in this wonderful place of awe, beauty, and peace. Leah continued to sob, laying prostrate on the ground; her body covering the little grave marked only by a small wooden cross and a plaque nailed to the top. All of a sudden, she felt something, something warm and soft touching her. A warmth that penetrated the cool autumn breeze that now blew across the old, forgotten cemetery. It was as if two tiny hands were touching Leah’s head. Then, a strange feeling overcame her, a feeling of calm, of peace, a feeling that she had never felt before. Somehow, she knew that God had forgiven her. “My mommy feels better now!” said Sarah, looking up at Angel with a broad smile. “Yes” responded Angel, “you did the right thing” “Can I send my mommy a gift?” “sure” replied Angel, “go ahead and send her something nice”. Sarah looked around, then something caught her eye and it seemed to be just the right gift to send down. Leah’s sobs subsided as she continued to hold the base of the small, wooden cross. For the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, she felt that the burden of resentment and guilt was taken away. All of sudden, she heard a flutter of wings and a soft cooing sound. Leah looked up with her tear stained face to see a small, white dove cooing softly, perched on top of the cross. The dove looked down at her, continuing to coo ever so gently. Leah smiled. “Oh thank you for hearing me my precious, precious daughter”. “Nice touch” said Angel smiling down at Sarah. “You sent that” replied Sarah smiling up at Angel. “No, you sent it” said Angel smiling back. “We both did!” replied Sarah, grinning from ear to ear. “Yeah” said Angel, “I guess we both did”. Sarah and Angel continued watching Leah as she finally closed her eyes, falling into a deep, restful sleep, holding the base of the little cross in a lonely, almost forgotten cemetery. A cemetery amidst autumn leaves, and a little white dove still perched on top of a small, crude, wooden cross cooing its heaven sent lullaby. Sarah backed away from the wall, watching the image of Leah slowly vanishing away until only the crystal clarity of the wall was before her. “Well” said Angel, “how would you like to go inside the city of the king and look around?” “Wow” replied Sarah, “that would be great. Can I meet the king too?” “Sure” said Angel, “He wants to meet you too”. Angel then took Sarah by the hand, and opening his snow white wings the two started back towards the enormous golden city. “By the way” asked Sarah, “what’s the king’s name?” “He has many names” replied Angel, “but he goes mostly by King Messiah Yeshua which means Salvation is from God”. “That’s a pretty name” replied Sarah. “I hope he likes my name” “Your name means princess” said Angel. “The king has built you a special mansion, fit for a princess like you.” “Nice” replied Sarah, “I can’t wait to see it.” Angel and Sarah came to rest on a road, a road made of transparent, pure gold. Hand in hand, they started their walk together towards the gates of the City of the King.
  10. STANDING ON THE ROCK! (Exodus 33:12-23) .....Moshe asks YHVH a very interesting question; “You say bring this people up, but who is going with me?”Without guidance, we can go nowhere. It is like walking in the dark without a flashlight, or being in the middle of the ocean without a compass. Where will we go? Who will lead us? Adonai has the answer Moshe is searching for;.....“My presence goes, and I shall give you rest” (vs 14) The “Ruach Elohim” will go with the people, and they will receive “shalom”. There are two kinds of rest, “physical rest” from our labors, and “spiritual rest” that is from within us. Before, we were burdened down with the curse of sin, but once we accept Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) as our LORD and Savior, we have his “presence” inside of us to give us “peace” (shalom)Moshe wants to experience the “essence” of YHVH, but who can know who He really is? Can we grasp the meaning of the universe? The mind of God? We are limited, to what we can fathom as fallen beings, but YHVH listens to Moshe and gives him an answer;.....“I shall cause all my goodness to pass before you, and I shall proclaim the Name of YHVH………See, there is a place with me, and you shall stand on the ROCK……. (vss 19,21).....There was a special place, a special ROCK, where Moshe was placed, he “Stood” upon the ROCK” (HaTzur)In the picturesque/symbolic ancient Hebrew, the letters can symbolize, “The first Tzadik to receive the nail”The ROCK symbolizes YESHUA, who IS the TZADIK (the righteous one) who received the Nail and paid our sin price in full, and thus…giving us SHALOM (rest) from our spiritual torment of being lost sinners. The name YHVH proclaimed is HAVAYAH, (the essence of existence) who is “Haya” (the past) Hoveh (the present) and “YiYah” (the future) and who is YESHUAH (salvation of YAH)Shalom……………rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: On a military base in El Salvador (GOD is THE ROCK of my life)
  11. ONE PASSOVER IN JERUSALEM I will tell about these events, how they happened as I best recall, so many years ago, although they seemed like they happened just yesterday. I am a merchant, as my father was before me, as my father’s father was. Buying and selling has been our trade for hundreds of years, every year following the same trade routes from my home port, to Alexandria. There I buy Egyptian cotton, flax, some turquoise, lapis, and amethyst stones to make into necklaces and rings. These would sell very well in Rome and in Athens among the wealthy Romans and Greeks. They would pay many denarii and drachma for these wares. From Alexandria, I’d go to Joppa and begin my journey to Jerusalem, stopping to rest in Emmaus for the night. Jerusalem was very busy around the time of Sukkot and Passover, with people being in a festive mood. They would spend their money for small luxuries . I would pick up a few more things to sell or trade in Judea and go north to Caesaria . From there, I would board ship to Athens, then Rome, and afterward, back home to my family. I am not a rich man mind you, but I am not poor either. I give thanks to God that I am a good provider and my family does not starve by any means. We try to follow the mitzvoth of the Torah and always attend our synagogue on the Sabbaths. This year started off as the last. It was during the reign of Tiberius Caesar when the iron hand of Rome held its grip on Judea. I paid my passage on the merchant ship and when we were filled with fellow merchants and their wares, we cast off anchor and headed toward Alexandria, the first stop. To pass the day, I listened to sailors’ talk which consisted of stories about high winds and rough seas, when Poseidon stirred up the sea bottom, and giant waves crushed ships against the pillars of Hercules. As a Jew, I do not believe in these pagan gods, but only in Adonai, who first spoke to father Abraham a few thousand years ago. On this trip, however, the talk was interesting since in concerned a certain Judean carpenter who taught torah in the synagogues. He also had special power to heal all those afflicted with illnesses. This was one person who I’d love to meet, as I had hurt my shoulder once in performing a mitzvah. I helped a man pull a cart from a ditch, but the cart was very heavy on my shoulder. Perhaps this man could heal it. Perhaps he would also buy some Egyptian cotton too. No telling if this man would be in Jerusalem at this Passover time. We made port in Alexandria in good time. I bought some merchandise and the next day, we set sail to Joppa. We had fair winds and calm seas during our short voyage. We disembarked at Joppa and I proceeded to unload my merchandise. As usual, I rented a donkey and a cart to transport my merchandise during the two day trip to Jerusalem. By the end of the first day, I reached Emmaus. There I spent the night at an inn. There I heard more talk about this carpenter, whose name was Yeshua. He used to build furniture, farm equipment, and mend wheels. But now, he traveled visiting different synagogues and taught from the Torah and from the prophets. This was all very interesting to me, but what amazed me the most was the talk that he healed all the sick that came unto him, he had even given sight to the blind and made crippled men walk, even, might I dare to say, even given life to dead men. I also heard it say that he had some followers, twelve, men from all walks of life. They just gave up everything to follow him. I went to sleep that night thinking of all these things, wondering how much truth there was in it all.. The next day, I started off again toward the city of Jerusalem. The city of the prophets. As usual, I expected great crowds of Passover observers. I reached the city late in the afternoon. I found the inn where I usually stayed, secured my merchandise with the inn keeper, who also provided feed for the donkey. I sat down for a meal of some bread, grapes, a bit of roasted lamb with lentils and wine. Afterward, I sold a few articles near the inn and settled down for a night’s rest. The next morning, I awoke to much excitement, seeing people running to and fro. I asked the inn- keeper about the excitement, and he told me that last night a trial had taken place in the middle of the night at that! The high priest Caiaphas had tried a man for blasphemy and that there were three other criminals to be executed by crucifixion by order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. I had never seen a crucifixion, but it was said to be a horrible death, a slow death that only the Romans could come up with. Beheading was more merciful, reserved only for Roman citizens, not for Judeans. I went outside to see a crowd running toward the governor’s palace. Out of curiosity, I followed along. The crowd was very thick with all kinds of people, both Judeans and foreigners alike. Little by little, the crowd pushed more towards a narrow road. There were mixed emotions in that noisy crowd. Some were shouting curses, others were wailing and beating their breasts and crying for mercy, but mercy for who? For criminals? I was finally pushed by the crowd to the edge of this narrow road, which lead outside one of the gates of the city. Soon, I managed to see some movement on the road. There were some Roman soldiers marching behind a mounted centurion. Afterward, came two prisoners each carrying a roughly hewn cross-beam across their shoulders. The prisoner which got my attention was behind the other two. He was being whipped by two burly roman soldiers, each brandishing a short whip made of ropes. It was obvious to me that this man had already been beaten, very much so. As this gruesome parade of misery and human suffering moved more and more toward the city gate, I managed to have a better look at the third prisoner. I learned later that the fourth prisoner had been set free in honor of the festival of Passover. The third man was about 20 cubits from me, when I noticed that beside me was an old man with a long white beard. He was sobbing greatly and praying for mercy for this third man. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes, and then he spoke these words to me; “It was all foretold by the prophets of old, my son”, “by Isaiah, by Daniel, that the Son of David would be afflicted and carry the burden of our sins.” “he would also be born in the town of Bethlehem as foretold by the prophet Micah” “Who is he? I asked. The old man replied, “His name is Yeshua, raised in Nazareth, who worked as a carpenter, who came to fulfill the Torah and the Prophets. I heard him teach at the Mt. of Olives, I was there that day, and he also taught at my synagogue. He is full of the Spirit of Adonai my son. He is a righteous man indeed.” “But why” I asked “do they want to crucify him, why?” The old man did not get a chance to answer my question, for suddenly, there stood in front of me, a tall, rough looking roman soldier. “You” he barked, as he stepped nearer to me, his finger pointing directly at me, “carry that man’s cross” and he pointed to Yeshua, “he’s too weak to carry it any longer.” I felt uncomfortable with the soldier’s request, in fact, a little angry. “Why should I, a free man, carry the cross of a condemned man?” I protested. The soldier stepped nearer to me, his hand on the hilt of his sword. All of a sudden, I felt a hand on my arm. It was the old man. He looked up into my eyes which were still full of tears. “My son” he pleaded, “do not despise such an honor. You have been chosen by God to carry the burden of the Son of Man, as he is carrying yours, and the sins of the whole world.” I did not understand the complete meaning of his words until now. The roman soldier looked at the old man, and then to me, “You’d better take the old man’s advice if you know what is good for you” he growled as he continued to glare at me, his hand still on the hilt of his sword. I looked at Yeshua, who was now on his knees, with the heavy cross beam tied across his shoulders. Sweat and blood were pouring from his face. There was a large circle of thorns embedded on his head, buried deeply in his scalp. Blood was matted in his hair. When I saw him, my heart was filled with compassion. Never had I seen a human being so mutilated, in the midst of so much suffering and hate. I took a few steps toward Yeshua. The Roman soldier then gave an order and another soldier took his sword and cut the ropes that tied Yeshua’s arms to the cross beam. But even free of the ropes, Yeshua continued to hold the cross beam as if it were a part of his being. Little did I know that it would be so true. I was now beside this man Yeshua. What I saw horrified me. Pieces of flesh were hanging from all parts of his body. His eyes were swollen and chunks of his beard had been torn out. There were pieces of sharp metal and bone embedded in his back and legs. His body was broken and bloody, a mass of human carnage, a victim of hate and wrath. What ever did this man do to deserve such punishment I asked myself? Didn’t the old man say that he was a righteous man? I bent down to help him pick up the crossbeam. Then he looked at me with a look I’ll never forget. Under his swollen eye lids came a look of peacefulness and love, together with the physical weariness and pain. I spoke only these words to him; “Yeshua, I have been ordered to assist you, and I will do so to ease your suffering” He slowly nodded his head, and I put my head under one side of the crossbeam, with my arms over the top, and together, we both pushed up with our knees. The crossbeam felt heavy against my shoulder. All of a sudden, the pain hit me again. I remembered so many years ago, when I was helping a fellow merchant to lift a cart. I had hurt my shoulder and I had been in so much pain ever since. Lifting things would bring on this pain. Yeshua seemed to have sensed that I was in pain. I looked at his peaceful face and said; “It’s the pain, I hurt my shoulder many years ago” Then Yeshua did something that to my dying day I’ll never forget. He stretched forth his hand and ever so gently, touched mine squeezing it softly. Suddenly, strength and power surged through my arms, back, neck and entire body. The pain in my shoulder vanished. I lifted up the crossbeam without any pain whatsoever. I looked at Yeshua amazed. This man, Yeshua, had healed me. This Yeshua was more than just a man. Could he really be the Messiah of Israel that the prophets spoke of? Together, we walked slowly down the street, the other two criminals were ahead a ways. The crowd was full of mixed emotions. Some shouting and cursing, others weeping and beating their breasts, pleading for mercy. We went through one of the city’s gates. We followed the road out of the city, towards a hill that resembled a skull. Some of the crowd began to disperse, others followed our gruesome procession up the hill. Up and up the hill we went. The crowd was now sparse, with now only a few men and women. Some of the religious leaders were following behind. The Roman soldiers were also there, barking orders one to another. I looked up into the sky. In a few hours, the Passover lambs would be slaughtered. This time, instead stead of being a joyous occasion, it would be a Passover of sadness, of grief, of a righteous man being condemned to death. It just didn’t make any sense to me. All I knew was that I was there to help this man named Yeshua, and to help him bear this cross that he would soon embrace to meet the arms of death. We finally reached the top of the hill. A roman soldier directed us to a spot in front of a long pole, which would be the center beam for the piece we were carrying. He ordered me to drop it. I let go and the piece fell to the ground and Yeshua falling right next to it. The roman soldier then pushed me away, and proceeded to lift the cross beam and nail it to the center pole using four long iron nails. What followed would be something I’d never forget, the image still etched into my memory. It was an image of Intense suffering, pain, cruelty, and just plain madness. Two roman soldiers grabbed Yeshua by his arms and dragged him over to the cross. They then threw him down between the two crossed pieces of roughly hewn wood. They then proceeded to stretch out his arms across the crossbeam. One of the soldiers held Yeshua’s arm to the crossbeam as the other grabbed a mallet and a thick, long, spike nail. The nail seemed to be a hand span in length and as thick as a middle finger. He then placed the nail on Yeshua’s wrist and proceeded to bring the mallet down on the nail. The nail penetrated flesh and muscle quickly, and held fast to the roughly hewn wood. Blood poured out of the wounds and dripped onto the ground. But what amazed me more were the words that proceeded from Yeshua’s lips; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” One would expect curses and not words of forgiveness to proceed from the mouth of a condemned man, but Yeshua was not just an ordinary man. I’d like to think that what the old man told me was true, the he indeed was the Messiah that all Israel hoped would come, to free this nation from this wretched Roman rule. But then, if he is the Messiah, then why allow all this to happen? He could have prevented it. Was there something I didn’t understand? A detail overlooked? A word of prophecy that the Torah teachers failed to mention? I watched now as the Roman soldiers took hold of the cross, pushing and pulling it upright, and then dropped it into a hole in the ground. I gazed once more at this Yeshua who was now suspended between heaven and earth, by two nails through his wrists and feet held fast to a block of wood. This Roman cross of suffering and affliction now stood erect with the beaten and bloodied body of Yeshua, who spoke not a curse, but words of forgiveness. Could he indeed be this long hoped for Messiah of Israel? I could not bear to watch any longer. I could no longer help him or do anything for him, so I started back down the hill. I turned to look once more. I saw a woman and a man by the cross, and Yeshua was looking down at them. He seemed to be talking to them. I wanted to stay, but my feelings of anger and grief were besides me. Anger toward this cruel Roman rule and injustice, and grief for this Yeshua who deserved none of this. Then he looked toward me, just for a brief moment, I felt something in my heart, which penetrated into the depth of my soul. I felt his thoughts which were saying; “thank you for showing me compassion, and for helping me with my burden. This burden I carry is for the whole world.” I then saw one of the criminals that was nailed to a cross beside him, say something to him. Yeshua turned and spoke some soft words to this man, I saw this criminal smile, in spite of the pain and agony. The words that Yeshua spoke also penetrated his heart and soul. My eyes welled up with tears, I couldn’t stand by any longer and see this suffering. I continued to walk back down the hill. I no longer wished to look back, but only to leave the city and leave behind me this scene of hate and pain, of suffering and grief. I reached the inn where I was staying at. I paid the inn keeper a few shekels of silver, then took the donkey and cart and headed north to Caesaria where I would continue on my journey. I just wanted to get away from this city, which now, only brought violence and hate to its Passover feast. As I traveled northward, I noticed that the sky was turning dark, thick black clouds hid the sun from view. It was a strange feeling. A day turned like night. This had never happened. Even he donkey acted strange. It stopped suddenly and started to bray, stomping the ground kicking up a cloud of dust. I do not remember how long I stood there in the road. With the donkey, the cart, and all my wares, trying to figure out these strange events. I felt bewildered, a bit confused. Who was this Yeshua really? Messiah? God made man? A man connected to God in a way I could not understand? Suddenly, I felt a rumble, from under the earth which grew louder. The ground under my feet began to shake. I heard a clap of thunder and saw a bolt of lightening which lit up the sky for one brief moment. The sun then came out from behind the clouds, and began to set toward the west. I turned once more to look towards the east, to gaze upon the city of Jerusalem, the Daughter of Zion, who murdered the prophets, whose inhabitants lay within the iron grasp of the Eagle of Rome. I am telling theses events the way I remember them. My name is Simon, a merchant from the city of Cyrene. This story is a legacy I have left to my two sons, Alexander and Rufus, who, like me, now follow in the footsteps of our Messiah, Yeshua. By Rabbi Jacob Ben Avraham copyright: 2014 Petersen-Barksdale publ. Story 3 from “God Tales” PIC: a small mother dove sits on her egg, in our backyard , as the mother cares for her children, so God also cares for us all
  12. MESSIAH YESHUA IN THE PASSOVER From EXODUS 12:1-13 Vs 2; “THIS MONTH SHALL BE THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS, IT SHALL BE THE THE FIRST MONTH OF THE YEAR TO YOU” So where does January 1st fit in? It doesn't!. This was an invention of man, to change the calendar that God had already given us. God operates on a lunar calendar, and the Gregorian calendar uses the sun. But if we are going to understand the events and dates that events occur in the Bible, we need to be familiar with the lunar calendar. The month of “Nisan” which usually starts in April or late March, is the “New Year” for us. This year, 2017, “New Year's day” was on March 27th Vss 3-5; ON THE TENTH OF THIS MONTH, EVERY MAN SHALL TAKE FOR HIMSELF A LAMB......................YOUR LAMB WILL BE WITHOUT BLEMISH...FROM THE SHEEP OR FROM THE GOATS. Something tremendous is about to happen, a joyous occasion, an event of “Thanksgiving” sort of speaking. In the USA we are accustomed to celebrate “Thanksgiving” in November, with turkeys, and we invite all family and relatives over to eat. In Egypt, the Israelites were slaves, and were about to be freed. This “Thanksgiving” occasion called for “lambs” perfect lambs without illness, or deformities, One of the names of “Yeshua” our Messiah is the “Lamb of God” who was also, and still is “without blemish” what happened on the 10th day of the month of Nisan two thousand years ago? Yeshua entered Jerusalem on a donkey, to be known as Messiah, to heal the sick, and teach the Torah, to be known by the people, everyone greeted him with palm branches and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David” and five days later shouted “Crucify him” (well, not all shouted that) many wept and many understood Daniel's prophecy that the “Messiah would be “cut off” (crucified) in Daniel chapter 8. This date is commonly known as “Palm Sunday” in the christian communities. “Palm Sunday” was on the 9th of April this year. Vss 6-7; YOU SHALL KEEP IT UNTIL THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE SAME MONTH, THEN THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY OF THE CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL SHALL KILL IT AT TWILIGHT. AND THEY SHALL TAKE SOME OF THE BLOOD AND PUT IT ON THE TWO DOORPOSTS AND ON THE LINTEL OF THE HOUSES WHERE THEY EAT IT” A day begins at “twilight” when the sun goes down, it is the start of a new day. So, five days after the lamb was in the houses, being inspected to see if it had any blemishes, it was slaughtered at “twilight” and the blood was placed on the two side beams of the houses, and on the top beam. When we see Yeshua in this, we see him in Jerusalem, comes in on the tenth of Nisan, then on the 14th day of Nisan, five days later (ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen) he is crucified on the cross of Calvary, for our sins, once and for all time, The blood on the doorposts and lintel form a “cross” we can imagine the head of Yeshua at the top, wet with the blood from his head where the crown of thorns was, and the two side posts where his hands were nailed, and the blood ran down to the base of the cross. Vs 8; AND THEY SHALL EAT THE FLESH ON THAT NIGHT, ROASTED WITH FIRE, AND WITH UNLEAVENED BREAD AND WITH BITTER HERBS, THEY SHALL EAT IT” We often see this done in parks, on BBQ pits, families bring hamburgers, hot dogs, fajitas, sausage, etc and roast them over an open fire, well in Goshen, the lambs were roasted over open fires on spits, we look at the symbolism of “fire” and we are reminded of “heat, light, destruction, purification, zeal, and judgment. Yeshua was “roasted” on Calvary's cross in the fire of judgment, being judged for all of our sins, past, present, and future. Yeshua is also known by the name “The Bread of Life” who was born in the “House of Bread” (Beit-Lechem) or in English “Bethlehem” it is only fitting that the “Bread of Life” would be born in the “House of Bread” Unleavened bread symbolizes “without sin” leaven symbolizes “sin” as “leaven or yeast” puffs up the dough, and so we get bread made with flour and yeast, sin often makes us “swell or puff up with false pride” . The “bitter herbs” remind us of the slavery that the Israelites went through in Egypt for 400 years. We are reminded of the “slavery to sin” being bound to Ha Satan. We don't know exactly what kind of bitter herbs were used back then, but today, we use horse radish. The bitterness of sin is passed when we come to Yeshua and accept Him as LORD and Savior. Vss 11-13: …...”YOU SHALL EAT IT IN HASTE, IT IS THE LORD'S PASSOVER, FOR I WILL PASS THROUGH THE LAND OF EGYPT ON THAT NIGHT AND WILL STRIKE ALL THE FIRST BORN OF EGYPT, BOTH MAN AND BEAST, AND AGAINST ALL THE GODS OF EGYPT, I WILL EXECUTE JUDGMENT, I AM YHVH. NOW THE BLOOD WILL BE A SIGN FOR YOU ON THE HOUSES WHERE YOU ARE, AND WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD, I WILL “PASS OVER” YOU, AND THE PLAGUE SHALL NOT BE ON YOU TO DESTROY YOU WHEN I STRIKE THE LAND OF EGYPT” This is the night when the Egyptians get paid back for all their abuse and cruelty. In one night, Egypt was ruined. And a few days later, Egypt's army found itself on the bottom of the Red Sea. Egypt never quite recovered from the blow. Adonai-Elohim was saying to Pharaoh “I AM the LORD God, and YOU are not ME!” nor were the gods, any kind of gods, if anything, demonic entities. Each plague was against one of the many gods. “darkness” came against “Ra” the sun god. The death of the cattle came against “Apis” a god with the head of a bull. The Nile turned to blood, against the Nile goddess, and so forth. But the “Blood Standard” would “save” all who found themselves behind the closed doors of the houses where the blood was. Even the Egyptians Many who “woke up and smelled the coffee” sort of speaking, who realized they were on the losing side, if they put blood on their doors, they would also be saved. This shows that we serve a just God who is not racist. He accepts ALL people of ALL NATIONS, and RACES. Who would trust in the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) that is why we see a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt together with the Israelites, it consisted of Egyptians and Nubians (people from Ethiopia and Sudan) who were living in Egypt at that time. The LORD would PASS OVER those houses where the blood of the lambs was placed. Today when we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) who shed his blood on Calvary's cross, we are saved from eternal destruction, eternal death, and separation from our creator. Just as the blood standard was in effect back then, it is still in effect NOW, and always will be. HAPPY PASSOVER SEASON………………….Rabbi Ben Avraham PIC: View of Jaffa-Tel Aviv
  13. 7. A STRANGE JOURNEY by J. Ben Avraham The young man found himself in some sort of tunnel. It was a swirling tunnel that seemed to be made up of radiant light. This radiant tunnel of light seemed to revolve around and around, pointing to some kind of distant vortex which seemed to grow nearer and nearer. At first, he felt himself being pulled through this strange tunnel rather slowly, then, the speed picked up. He managed to see through the sides of the tunnel the blackness of the night sky filled with an array of heavenly stars. These were the same stars he saw night after night, now; they seemed closer, even closer still. He thought back to the warm, summer nights when he often lay down in the grassy hills near the olive groves. He would look up into the sky and imagine he was father Abraham, seeing the same evening stars, those twinkling, tiny lamps that gave testimony to God’s splendid creation, the same God whose promise was fulfilled so many thousands of years ago, that through him, a nation would be born. Now these same stars became a white blur as they rushed passed him, or perhaps it was he who was rushing past them through this strange tunnel of light. As he looked to the far distant radiant vortex, he noticed a star which was brighter than all the others which were around him. The star grew in size as he moved through the tunnel, faster and faster. The star seemed to take on a certain shape as he got nearer. He saw that the shape took on the appearance took on the of a four-square city of a whitish-golden glow. He saw a wall, a wall that seemed to stretch for miles and miles and appeared to have no end. Beyond the walls lay the city itself in a dazzling array of multi-colors. The tunnel of light ended suddenly and the young man found himself suspended high above the city looking down. Gazing down upon the golden city he observed a multitude of heavenly hosts array in dazzling white tunics with golden belts around their waists. Their feet were shod with golden sandals encrusted with all sorts of precious stones. No doubt these beings were angels as they also had enormous white wings which were folded behind their backs. The angels were all busy at work, building and inlaying precious stones in mansions of all sorts and sizes. As far as his eyes could see, there was construction work going on. It seemed that this entire city was getting prepared, prepared for some event, a very special event. As the young man continued to look out over the golden celestial metropolis, he saw one of the angels looking up at him. The angel opened up his radiant white wings and flew upward towards him. In a matter of seconds, they were face to face, both suspended above the glowing city of golden white light. “Peace and blessings to you son of Adam” spoke the angel with a resounding voice. “And to you angel, blessings and peace” replied the young man at the wonder of this entire splendor. “Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven, the great city of the King” continued the angel. “I’ve heard that name before” replied the young man, “I’ve heard it mentioned by a dear friend of mine. To whom does this city belong?” “It is the city of the King” spoke the angel with pride, “The KING of kings and LORD of lords, the creator of the universe and all that is in it. It also belongs to all who are HIS and to all who believe on HIS name.” “I see” spoke the young man, “I see all the heavenly hosts down there busy building all those glorious mansions. Are they not for you who believe on HIS name, you, who indeed belong to HIM?” “Indeed” replied the angel, “we do belong to HIM and we believe on HIS name who is HOLY, but this city is built for all redeemed man, for all men and women, great and small who have trusted and who will trust in the complete work of redemption of the LAMB” “Redemption?” questioned the young man, “Redemption from what?” “From the curse of sin” replied the angel, “the sin which all mankind has inherited from Adam, who is father of all who breathe the breath of life Oh Son of Man.” “And how” questioned the young man, “is this redemption to be fulfilled?” “The blood” replied the angel, “for without blood there can be no remission of sins.” “But that is the reason for the sacrifices” answered the young man, “We have daily sacrifices at the temple. The priests and Levites take bulls and goats and…” “They are but shadows, oh man” interrupted the angel. “Shadows?” questioned the young man. “Yes” replied the angel, “shadows of things to come, mere shadows of He who has come to fulfill all the prophesies of the Torah and the Prophets. It is He who walks among you this very day.” The young man stood there wondering, wondering and marveling at the words of the angel. Just who could this be he thought? Did he know him? The angel seemed to know his thoughts. “It is He who teaches in the synagogues, the essence of the Torah and of the Prophets. It is He who makes the words of Moses come to life and gives sight to blinds eyes and strengthens the legs of the lame. It is He who heals all sort of diseases and raises the dead. He is the one who comforts the sorrowful and who embraces the children.” The angel stood there gazing into the eyes of the young man, hoping that the words would enlighten his soul. The young man just stood there, suspended high above the holy city of God, thinking, contemplating over the words of the angel. As he was deep in thought, only one person came to mind. Only one person could meet that description. “Could it be my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man, looking deep into the eyes of the angel. “Indeed” replied the angel with joy, knowing now that understanding had reached and penetrated his soul. “Your heart has revealed the truth to you, and this same Yeshua will suffer at the hands of sinners. He will be mocked and stricken, he will be despised and chastised with whips, and by His stripes will all mankind receive healing.” “Those are the words of the Prophet Isaiah.” said the young man, still deep in thought. “Indeed” replied the angel, “and that prophecy will soon come to pass.” “But who would want to hurt my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man a little perplexed. “He has done no harm to anyone, only good has he done.” “Does a lamb offend so that a serpent will strike?” asked the angel, gazing intensely into the eyes of the young man. “Nay, yet the serpent will indeed strike the lamb and the shepherd will be slain, yet the shepherd-lamb will rise from the dead on the third day. Hear this oh man, the serpent’s head will then be crushed And only then will the captives that lie in Abraham’s bosom be set free. The Son of Man will take the key of life and open Heaven’s gate to receive the redeemed. All those who sleep in the dust of the earth, from righteous Abel to him that will be at the side of the lamb will inherit this same city which you now see.” The young man marveled at the angel’s words, taking in all this wonderful news. “And how do you come to know all this?” asked the young man “It has been revealed to me by the Father” answered the angel. “It is He who knows all that will come to pass, and as the Father thus wills all that is to come, so does the Son give testimony to the Father by His obedience, even unto death.” “When will all this occur?” asked the young man, his questioning eyes gazing into the angel’s. “Soon” answered the angel, “very soon, but I must now return unto my labors below as you must return to yours, as you are being called back. Soon, very soon we will meet again and this City of God will be your inheritance as one of the redeemed by the blood of the lamb.” The angel then opened his snow-white wings, aglow with the Shekinah light and flew back down to the streets of the City of God. There he rejoined the rest of the multitude of heavenly hosts, and continued to build inlaying precious stones in the mansions of the redeemed. The young man just stood there, hovering above the City of God. He watched the angel as he returned to his work with the others, becoming just a tiny speck amidst the vast multitude of heavenly beings. He stood in awe, taking in the glorious splendor of Heaven. How he wished he could stay, being a part of the heavenly host. All of a sudden, he heard a voice. It was a voice of thunder, a voice of command, of infinite authority. He felt the air vibrate around him; the resonating voice seemed to engulf him completely, seemingly to draw him away from this heavenly realm. Indeed, he felt now that he was being drawn away, entering the same tunnel of light which brought him to this city of peace. He felt himself being pulled away, faster and faster. As he looked back he saw the Kingdom of Heaven growing smaller and smaller until it looked like just another one of the bright stars of the heavens. Around and around he traveled, feeling an unseen force which he could not explain, a force which pulled him through this strange tunnel of glowing, pulsating light. He observed around him all the stars of heaven going past him, leaving behind them small tails of light. Up ahead, he noticed a small, round object of blue and white color. The object got bigger second by second. He then noticed brown and green mixed with the blue and white colors. The object then got so big that it seemed to engulf him completely. The he noticed familiar objects; trees, hills, and mountains. He noticed a familiar countryside of green meadows and date palms. He finally saw something very familiar, it was his own house. Behind his house was a small, rocky hill. He felt himself being drawn into that that hill, a hill that harbored an empty tomb. Suddenly, everything went dark. He felt confined, lying down on a hard, stone surface. He felt bound by cloth and a horrible stench of death permeated the pitch dark atmosphere. Then suddenly, a voice rang out, a voice that he recognized the voice of a friend, his master and teacher, the voice of God, saying.... …LAZARUS, COME FORTH!!! PIC: awaiting the flight crew, when I served as chaplain, "Fuerzas Armadas de El Salvador"
  14. So as not to copy word for word I will tell this story in my own words; There was once a heathen who had married a godly woman, and the husband often made light of religion, especially Judaism. Once he was so mad at his wife that he cast her out of the house and said: "I will not allow you to enter this house again until you have spit in the rabbi's eye 7 times" The unhappy and distraught wife roamed the streets and moaned her situation, she prayed to God to find a solution, she prayed in private but you know, there seems to always be someone listening, The story eventually got around to the rabbi and he thought and pondered the situation. Finally, when Sabbath came, and the godly woman was always at Shabbos service, the rabbi went up to the bema (the preacher's podium) and began his discourse; "I have a serious problem, I have a serious eye infection, and the Holy One (Blessed be his holy name)told me in a dream that the only cure for this eye infection was to have a pious woman's spittle fall into my eye, so, I can think of no one better than that woman in the back" and he pointed to the outcast woman. "I want you to come up and spit in my eye 7 times, since "7" is the number of G-d and I will be healed of this infirmity." The woman, very much surprised, obeyed, went up to the Bema, the rabbi bent down and looked up at the pious woman, she spit in his eye 7 times. Then the rabbi stood up and said, "Now return to your husband and tell him that you indeed spit 7 times in the rabbi's eye, and pray for him that he will come nigh unto God and the Torah" retold by J. Avraham PIC: The Sea of Galilee from a nearby mountain park overlooking Tiberius
  15. Shalom to all, thank you for reading the Parashiyot and thank you Willa for responding, and asking for an explanation of the festivals (Moedim) that follow Passover. As we know, PASSOVER starts , this year, on Monday Evening. This is when the majority of the synagogues and Jewish household will celebrate Passover, however, the festival consists of 7 days, so one has 7 days to celebrate it. Example, at our synagogue in Houston, TX we will go to a nearby hotel and hold the ceremony, then, on Friday, the 4th day of Passover, we will have a special Spanish language Passover service for the Sephardic members and guests. YESHUA is represented as the PASSOVER LAMB, who was "roasted" in the "fires of judgment" As the lambs and goats were roasted in the fires that the families of Goshen had in their dwellings, so was our Savior, Messiah and LORD judged for our sins on the first Passover day in Yerushalayim. One of my short stories is "One Passover in Jerusalem" which I will post on Passover Eve in this forum's literature section. THE 7 DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD follow the first Evening of Passover, at that time, the only animals sacrificed were the lambs and goats. At our Spanish language Passover, we always serve roast lamb and goat meatballs, in memory of the first Passover. The unleavened bread is symbolic of "sinlessness" since "Leaven" (Chamtez) symbolizes sin, since this substance is a 'living organism' which when encounters warm water and sugar, it "puffs up" or "swells up" that is why bread rises. Sin is similar in that our "pride puffs up" and we are giving a message that says, "I am going to do what I want, I am a rebel". By not eating regular bread for 7 days, eating only "Matzah wafers" we are saying, "I am consciously rejecting sin in my life" and making an effort to live by Torah standards, but we must realize that this shouldn't be for only 7 days, it should by 24-7, 365 days a year life style. FIRST FRUITS/SHAVUOT/PENTECOST this celebration comes 50 days after the first day of Passover, this was when the Israelites gave thanks to YHVH for a good harvest and offered up a "Minchah" offering of 2 loaves of wheat bread, it is said that each loaf weighed 5 pounds. The loaves would be "waved" back and forth, sideways and from front to back, symbolizing the "North, South, East, and West" which symbolizes all of creation. the number "4" symbolizes "creation" . This is a "thank" offering to YHVH for the blessings of a good harvest, something like the pilgrims celebrated in November in 1621, but on a smaller scale. This also symbolizes "Yeshua" as the "Bread of Life" (Lechem Chayim) Shabbat Shalom............Rabbi J. Ben Avraham PIC: standing outside the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum, July, 2015