L’ Shana Tova
Well as the sun is setting on this the first Shabbat of the New Year, and the week of preparation and celebration of Rosh Hashanah comes to an end, I am thankful to Ha’Shem for His many blessings. It has been a long and very full week. Before I share a bit about that let me just give a brief overview of Rosh Hashanah, the first of the three Fall Feasts all of which occurs this month.
The fall is arguably the most important time of the year in Judaism. Three of Israel’s holiest days are celebrated then, and all in the space of 15 days. They are Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and 5 days after that by the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. This season is a time of reflection, contemplation, and putting things in order and getting right our relationship with God.
Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded by both Jews and Christians as a memorial of the creation of the world. This holiday is the New Year’s Day, on which the people rejoice in grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implore His blessing for the future year.
The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which follows are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. Unlike other holy days, they do not celebrate a season or historical event. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth.
The giving of gift baskets is practiced throughout Israel at this time of year. Although they can be filled with many different things, they commonly contain sweet things; candy, apples, honey, and pomegranates. This past week we assembled and delivered 300 such baskets for the families we help each week, as well as those who have been injured by the kassam rockets.
On a more personal note, we celebrated Rosh Hashanah surrounded by friends new and old. We shared a wonderful meal with all the traditional foods (toda rabah Stewart) followed by an evening of fellowship. Our Thursday night fellowship has been growing and now has eight to ten regulars.
For those of you who don’t already know I will be back in the States mid November for a visit. I look forward to visiting you all once again. Please remember me in prayer as all the travel and housing arrangements are being made.
I also have another prayer request regarding an invitation I have been given to visit Christian Fellowship Church in Zambia next May. I met Pastor Victor Kunda here in Israel when he was visiting. His small village in Zambia is devastated by AIDS, poverty, and oppression. The orphan population grows larger everyday because of disease. Anyway I am praying and seeking HaShem’s will in regard to visiting and ask that you join with me. Blessings!