I love saying "challah."
It sounds like the Hebrew version of "HOLLA!" Just with a little cough at the front.
Today, Geoff and I headed to the Shuk (market) one last time - this trip.
We love food.
Street musicians just add to the fun. Gettin' crazy with that didgeridoo. Pleasant chaos.
Enjoying food is not all about eating. Sometimes it's just fun to admire.
And smell. Oh spice shops. You are my weakness.
There's no going to the market to get whatever you want year round. Feasting is built around the fruits and vegetables that are in season. The way it should be.
Have we mentioned the cherry harvest is coming in?
They are everywhere. Geoff's dream come true. Guess what we're having for dessert?
Geoff picked out his last, fresh baked in Jerusalem, challah bread.
I love saying "challah."
It sounds like the Hebrew version of "HOLLA!" Just with a little cough at the front.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
Today Geoff and I went to the zoo. But not just any zoo - a Biblical zoo.
I know, the only zoo I remember from the Bible was on a boat, but this one is located here in Jerusalem and highlights animals referenced in the Bible (in addition to many more!).
There was an ark at the zoo. But it was used as more of a learning center. My favorite part of the zoo was their days of creation walk, the fish aquarium on Day 5, and so on. Best 15 minute VBS, ever.
We love visiting zoos and this was the perfect way to spend our Sabbath afternoon. It was such a blessing to slow down for a while (something we don't always get to do even in a land that culturally remembers the sabbath), spend time together, and just BE.
To visit the zoo yourself, check out the slideshow below:
Shabbat Shalom - Sabbath Peace
For many Sabbath meals tonight in Jewish homes across Jerusalem, and the world, there will be at least the above two elements present. Challah bread, and wine. These are traditional elements to the meal, dating back at least to Jesus day. Well, I don't know about the challah specifically, but bread, anyway.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
There was a specific blessing used with the breaking of the bread at mealtime in the first century, that will still be said tonight as many gather to begin the Sabbath. It has changed very little from the time of Jesus, and would translate in English to something like this:
"Blessed are you O L-RD our G-D, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."
Or, if you want to say it in its original Hebrew like Geoff:
"Baruch atah ADONAI Eloheynu, melekh ha-olam, ha-motsi lechem min haaretz. Amen"
"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
"Blessed are you O L-RD our G-D, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine."
"Baruch atah ADONAI Eloheynu, melekh ha-olam, borey pri ha-gafin. Amen."
The bread and wine are not what are being blessed. G-D provided them, right? So they are blessed already. He gives His children what is good. We bless G-D for what He has provided. He has also given us a day of rest, the seventh day, Sabbath, or Saturday. Blessings on you as you seek His rest, whether on this day, or another, or in moments through the week. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, to you.
We finished our shopping at the market today and got to our car as the shofar blast sounded, signaling sundown and the beginning of Shabbat around Jerusalem. Instead of going directly back home, we decided to walk into the Old City to see the gatherings for Sabbath celebrations and prayers at the Western Wall.
This is people watching at its best. Photography in the security cleared ground area pictured above is forbidden on Shabbat (Sabbath) and other religious holidays (Holy Days). The only way to get photos of the religious dressed in their finest who come out in mass on Shabbat, is if you know where the look out points are and can take from above like we did. A bit of wandering in the Jewish Quarter, and you'll find it.
Stone walls really look the best lit up at night, especially famous ones, don't you think? Add to them crowds of religious worshipers, chanting, singing, praying...and dancing with jubilation on the women's side...and the atmosphere throbs with spirit and life. Tourists, military, and pilgrims alike, mingle with the religious Jews as they celebrate the end of the week and beginning of Shabbat. People are sitting anywhere, on the ground and stairs, hanging over fences, all to get a taste of this special place.
This place was fun. Old world meets eclectic - Russian style. You enter at street level and walk down stairs that open to a charming underground tavern. This thousand year old Crusader cloister is full of impressive artifacts and unique pieces of art and furniture. Our kind of place.
We split a dinner course that was only available on Fridays - Geoff couldn't pass that opportunity. I can't remember the name of the dish, much to my chagrin, but it was wonderful. It had an Sh, and a Y in it. More importantly, it had a generous beef patty served in a deep tahina sauce of sorts, with potatoes, onions, and peppers. We ate every bit out of the rustic pottery bowl, enjoying the unique flavors and time together. Have I mentioned food is my favorite part of travel? Well, other than Geoff, of course. Together, bliss.
We had a great evening together and were thankful for the opportunity and decision to stop, taking time to celebrate Shabbat Shalom, Sabbath's peace. Shabbat Shalom to all of you!
Living here in Jerusalem it's hard not to notice the end of the week. Shabbat (Sabbath) begins at sundown Friday and the celebration of the 7th day is underway.
One Sabbath "law" is that you can't drive, because to start the car causes a spark, which is reminiscent of building fire, which is reminiscent of work. To avoid all this reminiscensing, the observant Jew must abandon the convenience of the car and walk, if you must travel at all.
Okay, you can only laugh at that "law" after identifying at least 3 ridiculous "rules" in your own life. If you're like me, that won't take long; human nature comes up with some cahrazy stuff. Laugh away!
Because of the "no driving on Shabbat" thing, the normal congestion of city traffic along these ancient roadways suddenly disappears and religious Jews are spotted in mass walking to and from synagogue, the Western Wall, etc. The number of "religious" Jews isn't as overwhelming as you'd think, but the Sabbath can bring out the holy in a surprising number. Who isn't up for a weekend rest? The majority of restaurants and shopping centers close for this one day "week-end," so even if you aren't keen on observing the Sabbath - there isn't much reason to get out.
Today one of our Palestinian-Christian friends invited us to lunch with his family. An afternoon of eating was more like it. Suffices to say, there was no need to make dinner; we will be full till New Year's. Grilled lamb, chicken, salads of all kinds, potatoes, pita. So. Much. Food. If I ever learn to be half as hospitable as this family I'll count life a grand success. (In effort to attain this, I did make a plate of chocolate covered strawberries when they visited our home Wednesday, which they mostly stared at probably wondering what on earth I had done to those perfectly good strawberries...oh well.)
On our way home the sun was setting so we decided to stop in at the Old City and Western Wall, always a sight on Shabbat. Ultra-orthodox Jews and many others flood the area in a sea of formal hats and prayer shawls. The shofar (ram's horn) sounds at sunset signaling the beginning of Shabbat, the 7th day.
I like hearing the sound of the shofar. Geoff has one. I tried blowing it once and produced a sound like a lamb being led to the slaughter. Blown properly its true sound is much more beautiful, I assure you. I'm a Jr. High band drop out for a reason, thank you very much.
Well, I did make third chair.
Out of all three of us.
We had a great week. The last group left Tuesday night and it was sad to see them go. We really enjoyed our brief time with them and were so impressed with their hearts and love for each other, G-D, and all they encountered. Meeting such wonderful people on a regular basis is a serious perk. Next group arrives Sunday!
It's been a good week. I'm thankful for the cultural surroundings that make it easier to stop for a day to slow down, re-focus, thank G-D for a Good week, and prepare for the next.
Shabbat Shalom, y'all! May the L-RD bless you this week-end with the fullness of rest - RESTORATION.
These are the green fields of Israel. The relatively small area that is the land of the Bible holds great diversity - from the deserts of the Negev, to the Springs of the Golan Heights. We took the photos below right in between; this is sheep country, with shepherds and herds a common sight throughout the region.
This is the area where David would have written a song that will be familiar to many from Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
I used to imagine that this song described lush fields of green with large, flowing rivers of water. Back in the Text's original context, we find a land with many inedible bushes, and just enough grass to survive.
The good shepherd knows where to lead the sheep to find sufficient grass, small springs, and safety and shade in caves. They must keep moving to find enough food, and the Shepherd must lead them along the right paths.
The pastures of my imagination leave no apparent need for a shepherd. With more food and water than they could consume, sheep get lazy, fat, and spoiled, thinking they have nothing to fear in such a land of plenty. Their vulnerability to the Predator is never greater. In our lands of excess and access to anything we want, we forget the greater joy of having only what we need.
Above is a picture of a sheep pen. Such caves litter the landscape in sheep country, and shepherds stack rocks on the sides to form the "pen." Sometimes more than one flock join up at larger "pens" or caves. When its time to go, the shepherds shout or whistle their unique call, and only that shepherd's sheep come bustling out. The others remain...it's pretty impressive. Until they are called, the sheep hang out in the cool and safety of the caves, while the shepherd guards the way in, as my long legs help illustrate below.
Jesus used sheep/shepherd illustrations a lot. He was a great speaker and as such used illustrations known to His audience...and they knew sheep. For those stuck in the Temple, and others of us who don't get to hang out with sheep that much, He offers a little insight to sheep life that was recorded for us.
"...anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice...
..Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:1-5, 7-10)
We have been provided for in numerous ways over the past weeks, and are learning to know the joy of Provision from our Shepherd more each day. We are thankful for the kindness and generosity of the group, and will miss those we have come to love in our short time of fellowship with them. As they board a plane, Sabbath begins in Israel...more specifically, it begins for Geoff and I. Ah, a welcome time of rest and restoration.
One of the blessings Geoff and I have enjoyed the most during our time in Ecuador has been the opportunity to embrace Sabbath (Shabbat). Each Friday we do our best to finish what we need to get done in anticipation for the upcoming holiday - it's like Christmas every week!
We have a few ideals for the celebration for this day that we have tried to practice whenever possible. We aren't overly legalistic, and remember that these goals are set for ourselves. As a wise man (Jesus) once said, "The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath." We have found incredible joy and freedom in the joy of practicing this discipline.
We follow the Jewish traditions of the day beginning and ending at sunset, as written in Genesis, "There was evening, there was morning, the first day..." Each Friday afternoon we prepare a meal, get the house cleaned up, and try to take care of as many "worldly" responsibilities as possible so that we can enjoy a day focusing more specifically on the Kingdom of Heaven, and our purpose in it.
We welcome Shabbat as the sun goes down with the same meal each week. For our main course we eat lentil soup made with lentils, onions, garlic, olive oil, and some wine. Lentils were eaten in Jesus day, and we love the idea that we could be eating similar foods to what HE had. We also have bread, (sliced and toasted that Geoff dips into olive oil), and wine - elements we know Jesus would have had during His Shabbat meals, that we enjoy in remembrance of HIM. After the meal we eat a taste of honey to remember how "sweet" (Psalm 19:10) His Word is and read the parashah for the week. This meal is the start of our Sabbath celebration that lasts until the sun sets on Saturday.
Though a hard discipline to prioritize at times, our lifestyle here has more easily allowed us to engage in this blessing from the LORD and we are thankful for the experience! Though hospitality trumps fasting of any kind, we try to avoid eating anything that would have sacrificed it's life on Shabbat, remembering that GOD's original design was free of such death. This is one example of a few practices we try to incorporate that help remind us through the day to focus solely on the Kingdom of Heaven, and not those of this world.
We desperately need this day to stop everything to focus on HIM, or we find our lives motivated by the passions of this world instead of passion for His Kingdom. During the week we are full of the day to day concerns of surviving on earth and do our best to invite GOD into those moments. On Shabbat our only concern is to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven, and we do our best to respond to GOD's invitation to join HIM in a Sabbath rest. The distractions of the world are free to wait for another day as our Savior reminds us who we are in HIM. May the LORD reveal to all of us how to invite HIS Sabbath rest into our lives. Shabbat Shalom! (Sabbath Peace!)
Based on what we've seen on Facebook and through more direct connections, it appears to have been a tough week for several. Sickness, grief, robberies, death and other forms of earthly trials seem to have attacked several in our circles.
As the sun sets this evening, Sabbath begins, a day of rest on the seventh day as illustrated by our Creator Himself. I praise GOD that "there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of GOD (Heb. 4:9)." The cultures of the world make Sabbath rest increasingly hard to receive, but I pray that we are able, if only for a moment, to find rest in HIS healing presence. This day is set aside to allow us to be still and receive HIS Love as we become mindful not of the things of this earth that pass away, but of HIS Eternal Kingdom. On this Sabbath we pray for the presence of GOD to invade our hearts, bringing peace and rest to all.
"Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the Heavens."
Travel with us as we explore new lands, engage cultures, and learn to better love each other, those we encounter, and the Lord Jesus Christ at every crossroad of life.
Where Are We Now?