We are in the midst of a month of holy days! As the Feast of Tabernacles begins this week, our office and store will be closed from Wednesday evening through Saturday, 8:05 p.m. Pacific Time.
This week’s Ask the Rabbi will go out Saturday night after that time.
I write these words while gazing at the ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, glowing golden in the afternoon sunshine. The Biblical festival of Sukot,/Tabernacles starts Wednesday evening. The streets of Jerusalem feature three signs of the approaching holyday.
(1) Every apartment, house, restaurant and hotel is starting to sport the small booth-like structure called a sukkah.
You shall dwell in booths for seven days…
(2) Dotted around the city are hundreds of street vendors selling lulav and etrog sets—the four species required for worship during the holyday of Sukot.
And you shall take for yourselves on the first day
the fruit of the citron tree…
(3) Tens of thousands of Christians are arriving on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Much of the purpose of my visit to Jerusalem is to help Israelis, in government and in the private business sector, understand that America’s support for Israel is utterly contingent on American Bible-believing Christians.
I debunk the bogus theory that America supports Israel because she needs an ally in the Middle East. If that were true, the strongest proponents of such support would be the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House. It goes without saying that those three pinnacles of power are blissfully unaware of any deep need for connection with Israel. If anything, they lean toward the Arab world.
Were it not for tens of millions of Bible-believing, philo-Semitic Christians who love Israel and who vote, I am quite certain that America’s attitude toward Israel would be little different from that of France or the United Kingdom.
Bible-believing Jews and Christians see Israel as a unique land. We all see Israel as being on a higher spiritual plane.
For this reason, the Bible and Abraham’s children frequently speak of ‘going up to’ and ‘going down from’ Israel.
And Abram went up from Egypt
And God appeared to him [Isaac] and said
“Do not go down to Egypt…”
…and Jacob said to his sons…
go down there and buy us food from there…
However, when in conversation with people of other nations who may not appreciate the idea of their countries being on a lower plane, nomenclature changes to, ‘come’ and ‘go’.
For to my land and birthplace you shall go,
and take a wife for my son, for Isaac
…your servants came to buy food.
There is a striking exception to this sensitivity.
After insisting that he would detain Benjamin as a thief, Joseph, in his role of viceroy of Egypt, said to his brothers:
…and as for you, go up in peace to your father.
Earlier, Joseph spoke just as the brothers would expect an Egyptian to speak:
And your younger brother, bring to me…
By using the terminology of ‘go up’, Joseph subtly reveals himself to be part of Abraham’s family.
In response, Judah begins his poignant seventeen-verse speech (Genesis 44:18-34) containing no fewer than seven mentions of ‘going up’ and ‘going down’ referring to the journeys between Egypt and Israel.
Because this is the first time the brothers used this language in his presence, it signaled to Joseph that they now suspected he was a descendant of Abraham. Joseph immediately broke down and formally identified himself.
Indeed, Bible-believing Jews and Christians do share a vision and a destiny part of which is that they alone, see Israel as being ‘up there’. I am finding that Israelis are increasingly open to the idea that Jews and Christians are allies in the struggle to save civilization.
My mission continues to be bringing Jews and Christians together to defend our common values and our thirst for God’s word. Studying Bible is a shared passion and I create my books, audio CDs and DVDs to provide everyone access to over 3,000 years of ancient Jewish wisdom.
You have been most patient with our store closures over these holiday weeks and in appreciation. I hope you enjoy hours of enjoyable learning that strengthen your faith and improve your life.
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Work Ethic, Anyone?
Recently, I was looking to purchase some sewing needles at a fabric store. This seemed an eminently reasonable place to shop for such an item. The store had been rearranged since my last visit, so I asked for assistance from a 40’ish female employee standing at the checkout counter with nary a customer in sight.
“Hmm,” she said. “I’m not sure where those are.”
While that didn’t seem a sufficient answer to me, she made clear that our conversation was over by breaking eye contact and flipping through a magazine. Wandering around the store, I found the needles and returned to checkout. This time, a second lane was (wo)manned as well. Both women… READ MORE