- Problem Solvers
- Tame Your Tongue
- Up from the Ashes
- Blessing the Mothers Among Us
- Download May Newsletter
by Hannah TekleOne of my favorite things to do is … grocery shopping! Such a straight-forward solution to basic problems: toilet paper all gone, olive oil almost out…
I love the satisfaction of identifying the need, making a grocery list – and then solving the problem at the supermarket. Admittedly, I come from two list-loving parents, and enjoy menu planning and food prep and consumption, plus I no longer have little ones in tow. Even so, I would like to think that my grocery shopping infatuation comes from a deeper place – we humans are designed to be problem solvers.
This past year most of us have been confronted by new and unexpected problems and “mountains being shaken” (Isaiah 54:10). Many of us were impelled to focus on the more basic “problems” of life. Now, as things return to some version of normal, we can rejoice that God has faithfully brought us through this present trial. Our kids are finally going back to school after being in distance learning since September!
As a congregation, we have been waiting for Israeli COVID regulations to change enough so that we can return to in-person worship services. After over a year of posting weekly worship and teachings in Hebrew (and English) on our new YouTube channel, this month we will all come together again for the first time – but outdoors due to the number of people. As of this writing, we are still looking for an outdoor venue for the gathering. Other congregations have found various and sundry solutions: an enclosed parking lot, a large yard adjacent to a congregational building, etc. We are still on the hunt. Driving last week towards the Sea of Galilee to visit some of our families who live in that area, it struck me that Yeshua and His disciples had an identical dilemma, minus the issue of sound equipment. 😉
Like us, they were also gathering in the Galilee. They needed the area to be conducive to hearing the preacher preach, with enough space for families to sit and not be disturbed by passing traffic (granted their traffic was comprised of donkeys and carts – but the problem was fundamentally the same).
The “Mount of Beatitudes,” where Yeshua preached Luke 6, is a lovely hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. I don’t think they had large sunshade nets then, and they definitely didn’t have any outside electric fans. Maybe the weather was great as it sometimes can be here, but maybe it was scorching hot. It makes sense that they would choose that kind of spot: the breeze from the lake kept people cool. The slant of the hill allowed people to sit and see Yeshua as He preached. We read in Luke 6 that there were many “…who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”
So much in our modern life is different from theirs, but the message we are carrying and the power we believe in is the same. I pray that as we all return to the more complicated lifestyles than we had in lockdown, we will not abandon the simple message of the Gospel and that we will hold on to the peace and security we have in Him, allowing Him to be the ultimate Problem Solver as He also anoints us to be problem solvers in His image.
Tame Your Tongue
By Leon MazinBlessings to everyone in Yeshua the Messiah and thank you for standing with us!
In the Torah portion of Leviticus, chapters 12-13, we read of the ritual purification for bodily discharges, and also for one suffering from a strange skin disease – “Metzura” in Hebrew. It is often translated as leprosy or a defiling skin disease. Traditional Jewish commentators say that this disease had nothing to do with ordinary leprosy, since it was not viral, but externally it looked terrible. Tradition says that this disease also appeared in the walls of houses where idols were being concealed, as well as on people who were speaking evil. “Metzura,” in a Hebrew play on words, is connected to “Lashon Hara” – meaning defamation and speaking ill of others (literally an “evil tongue”). In the days of Moses, the cleansing and purification process involved a temporary separation from society, repentance and atonement.
Quite often, the Apostles, when they were writing their epistles (and usually they were addressing a non-Jewish audience), used the interpretations of the Biblical texts that were familiar to Jews in order to explain the rationale behind God’s commandments. The Apostle Jacob (James) used the same principle of the “Metzura – or the Evil Tongue” corrupting or infecting a person, in his famous writings on the tongue. He is drawing on the Torah connection to give authority to his instructions when he says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3: 1-2)
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole body,
sets the whole course of one’s life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)
James emphasizes how important it is to mind what we say, especially for those who teach. In truth, this instruction applies to everyone because, though few of us are Bible teachers, we all have moments where we teach others – be it our children, friends or acquaintances. If we do not guard our speech, we can easily say things in anger or distort the truth.
Gossip, false witness, and unfounded criticism are all examples of an “evil tongue.” What a pity that they continue to harm the Body of the Messiah today, nearly two thousand years after James wrote these words of instruction! Today we rarely see infectious skin diseases such as leprosy, but God forbid that internal “leprosy” might corrupt our lives. Let’s watch our language and draw good words from the Lord, instead of evil words from elsewhere.
God wants our tongue to serve Him, to encourage others, to bless, and to build up. Therefore, it is said:
“I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10)
Up from the Ashes
By Eitan ShishkoffA quintessentially Israeli public event is the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) ceremony. Held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, it features the lighting of six torches in remembrance of the six million Jews who were wantonly and brutally executed in the Nazis’ “final solution.”
One of the speakers at this year’s ceremony, held on the evening of April 7th, said that the State of Israel was not built on the ashes of the Holocaust. I respectfully disagree.
The still fresh smoke of the crematoria undoubtedly influenced the United Nations decision in November of 1947, to grant the Jews a sovereign nation in our ancient Middle Eastern homeland. But a political decision cannot explain the raw determination and sacrifice that fueled the Jewish defense of barely reborn Israel following the U.N. vote
From my early days as an immigrant here in Israel, I wondered “What makes these people so aggressive, so defensive, so argumentative, so in-your-face?” One day the answer dawned on me: the Shoah. Modern Israel is the human and divine response to the hellish attempt to eradicate every man, woman, and child descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel exists today through God’s intervention and through the heroic response of the men and women who returned from 2000 years of exile. The subtext of Israeli society is the Holocaust. You cannot get around it. And it explains so much about who we are.
Eventually, miraculously they made their way to Israel
Listening to the stories of survivors, one hears a common thread. Children then, in their 90s now, they tell chilling stories of seeing family members gunned down before their eyes and hiding for the remaining years of the nightmare. Eventually, miraculously they made their way to Israel. Here, each one found work, found a spouse, and raised a family, being woven into the fabric of a vibrant society that, against all odds, came to be.
The six survivors who lit the commemorative torches came from the previously thriving Jewish communities of Greece, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Poland, and Belarus. What is their conclusion? How do they feel about life? While carrying the indescribable grief of the horrors they witnessed, each one glowed with gratitude to be alive here, in Eretz Yisrael—to see their great grandchildren. Their stories are not just of survival, but of triumph over death.
“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” (Isaiah 61:3-4)
“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off! Therefore prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’” (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
Blessing the Mothers Among Us
By Guy CohenIn Jewish households around the world, there is a tradition on Friday evening as families welcome in the Shabbat after lighting the candles. The father speaks a blessing over his sons, daughters and wife. The blessing often involves reading Proverbs 31:10-31 in praise of the virtuous wife. This is also a way of showing appreciation to the mothers who have spent the day cooking and cleaning in preparation for the Shabbat meal and the following day of rest.
In this day and age, it is not easy to maintain a strong family, especially when our lifestyle and economy often require a woman to fulfill the responsibilities of home and family, work outside of the home and, often, even study to improve her ability to contribute to the provision of her household. Somewhere, in all of this, the woman also needs to care for herself as well. This applies to mothers in all situations, including single moms.
Lydia in Acts 16:11-15, 40 was a Proverbs 31 woman, in spite of living in a culture where women had few rights. After she and her household accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and were baptized, she opened her home to Paul and Silas. This welcoming did not end there but continued after Paul and Silas were released from prison, a situation which took courage on her part. She was a true overcomer.
I would also like to share a story I recently heard about a woman in my town of Acco, where our congregation and humanitarian aid center are located.
Hello, I am Hagit [pseudonym]:
I am the mother of two daughters, divorced after a decade of marriage in the shadow of severe economic, mental and physical violence. The first years after the divorce were devoted to our rehabilitation. We were gradually able to regain our trust in people and in the fact that our world is beautiful and good. Along the way I was helped by many who strengthened me and helped me begin to realize that I am capable of working and earning a decent living… and a better future for myself and my daughters.
One of the best tips I received was to enroll in academic studies. I did not know how… I would get tuition funding, how I could continue to support my family as a single mother, how I would overcome academic difficulties and many other concerns and doubts.
With the encouragement of my family and friends and also with the support of the social worker, I faced my fears and gained the courage to enroll in a program for a bachelor’s degree at the Western Galilee College… I had great hope and determination to succeed.
In addition to the tuition there are additional expenses such as a laptop, printer, textbooks, etc. I received assistance from a fund that helps single women. The fund covered most of the tuition for me and in return I was required to volunteer in the community.
I decided I am not ashamed to get help from those around me. I enlisted the help of friends and family to care for my daughters. I enlisted the help of my classmates and tutors to help me to successfully complete my assignments. Friends have encouraged and supported me all along and stopped me from quitting school and giving up during times of difficulty and crisis.
Harvest of Asher is partnering with Acco to bless needy mothers like her in this city. We appreciate your support and prayers in this matter.