Feed Tel Aviv Holocaust Survivors Holiday Outreach
Feed Tel Aviv Holocaust Survivors Holiday Outreach
Over the summer we met some people from abroad who had come to Israel for the purpose of ministering to Israelis. I suggested that they join us for our weekly outreach to the homeless in south Tel Aviv. Their response to my invitation surprised me. They said that they used to minister to homeless drug addicts in their home country, but they found that there is very little “fruit” with that population. What it felt like I was hearing was: it’s not worth the time to serve the neediest of the needy because you don’t come away with many success stories.
Numbers-focused ministry can get our hearts off focus
Those of us who work in ministry know that raising funds for what we are doing can be a challenge, and it is easy to fall into a place where we begin to focus on what looks impressive, measuring the worth of what we are doing by the number of success stories. That is something that we all struggle with. There are also outreach and discipleship movements models that are highly focused on numbers and multiplication: while all efforts to share the gospel and disciple new believers are holy work, we all need to be reminded how important it is to keep our hearts focused on the Lord and the people we serve.
Never Giving up Hope
There is truth in what the people from abroad said about ministry to the homeless: it is not often that you see those who are willing to make the commitment to enter a drug rehabilitation program after being a long time on the streets. There are many reasons why this is so. This kind of service can also be very difficult and challenging emotionally, and sometimes you can become discouraged and drained. But, God in His grace always sends us encouragement and reminders when we need it!
The truth is that each time we are on the streets ministering with food, first aid and the love of Yeshua, there are always those who agree to have us pray for them. Some even pray and ask Yeshua into their hearts. Even if those people don’t end up getting off the streets, we know that we have sown seeds of God’s love and truth in the darkest places.
Each person is the whole world
We have a saying in Hebrew that says each person is the world entire. It basically means that saving one person is like saving the whole world. This last month we met a young woman in her twenties who is coming to the area to buy drugs. She is new to the streets and is living out of her car. Over the last several weeks, we have had many deep conversations with her; one of our regular lady volunteers made a special connection with her. In our conversations with her we shared about the hope in Yeshua and about getting into a drug rehabilitation program.
Last week this young woman arrived an hour before we start serving, while we were still setting up and preparing the food. The volunteer who has a good connection with her sat for over an hour with her, talking and praying. Afterwards she even joined us in preparing and serving the food. Two days ago, this young woman entered a Messianic drug rehabilitation program.
Saving just one person from the street is great fruit indeed!
I personally want to thank all of you who support this ministry and enable us to serve this marginalized and even despised population here in Israel. For us it is reason to rejoice when even just one person’s life is saved from the streets. Yeshua calls us to leave the ninety-nine for the one, and to rejoice when that one who is rescued. We hope that you celebrate with us over each precious person who is saved!
by Moti Cohen
On September 21st, Tiferet Yeshua joined together with Fundacion HALEL ministry to erect an alter of worship and intercession on the Mount of Olives in preparation for the Day of Trumpeting (Rosh HaShanah). SInce 2017, Deborah Luquer, director of Fundacion Halel ministry, has been leading groups of worshippers and intercessors to erect alters of worship in strategic locations throughout the land of Israel to proclaim the Lord’s Kingdom before His return.
This year we joined Deborah’s international team, along with Israeli worshippers, to raise up an alter of praise and intercession on the Mount of Olives which the prophet Zechariah describes as the place where Yeshua will make His triumphant entry into Jerusalem after defeating the armies of the antichrist:
Then the LORD will go out to fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem…
This is the third year that we have joined Deborah and Fundacion HALEL during the fall Feasts, and each year has been powerful and special. This year, however, was an extraordinarily powerful time. First of all and most importantly, there was a deep sense of love and unity among all of us, believers from different congregations in Israel and believers from the nations.
As the sun began setting over the Temple Mount behind us, we started praying and worshipping, proclaiming Yeshua as Lord, Savior and righteous Judge. Right below us, groups of ultra orthodox Jews were gathering to pray at the graves of important rabbis: because the prophets are clear that the dead will be resurrected when the Messiah arrives, starting at the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is basically a giant ancient cemetery, covered with graves down into the Kidron valley below and up the side of Moriah to the eastern gate of the Old City.
An outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we worshipped and blew the shofars (trumpets)
As we were worshipping and blowing the shofar, the Holy Spirit fell on us in a powerful way. One of the worship team members who was feeling sick and feverish when she arrived for the rehearsal was completely healed. Two young new believers from Tiferet Yeshua joined us and both experienced a dramatic baptism in the Holy Spirit. One of them even heard the audible voice of God speak to him about his future and calling: needless to say, he was on His face weeping for the rest of the evening. The moment we starting singing a song in Hebrew, the chorus of which says “Yeshua is light, Yeshua is the light of the world”, the setting sun broke through the clouds, flooding us in an intense golden light.
We sang, prayed and proclaimed Yeshua’s return for a spotless bride in Hebrew, English, Spanish and Russian. We wish that we could share with you all how powerful our encounter with the Lord was at the moment, standing on the ground Yeshua will stand upon when He returns and feeling how much He loves us and wants to purify and perfect us, His Body and Bride, to be ready to meet Him under the wedding canopy.
As we fast and seek the Lord’s face during this Yom Kippur fast here in Israel, we at Tiferet Yeshua are crying out to the Lord in repentance, asking Him to purify and prepare us, His Bride, in love and holiness. He is coming soon! Let’s get our hearts ready for Him.
When lining up the end-time events described in the New Testament with the description of end time events in the book of Joel, it becomes clear that the first two fall feasts, the Day of Trumpeting and the Day of Atonement, mirror the progression of the great and terrible day of the Lord just before His return, when the armies of the antichrist descend upon the land of Israel and surround Jerusalem:
Day of Trumpeting (Joel 2: 1-11)
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
In the above passage of Joel, the sounding of the trumpet is an alarm to assemble the people together because a horrible and fierce enemy has invaded the Land—it is essentially the “last” Day of Trumpeting. It is also the moment that Messiah Yeshua appears in the sky with the voice of the trumpet and the those who are in the Lord are raptured:
Rapture at the Last Trumpet (Matt. 24:30-31)
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Day of Atonement (Joel 2:12-17 )
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly
In this passage, the prophet Joel is calling all the people to declare a holy fast, to weep, mourn and cry out to the Lord to save them—a description which sounds like the Day of Atonement. While this passage clearly speaks about the Day of Atonement, it also calls for a trumpet to be blown in Zion, which makes one think that it might be referring to the Day of Trumpeting since no trumpets blown on the Day of Atonement. Well, yes and no: there are no trumpets blown on the Day of Atonement except for once every fifty years during the Jubilee year:
Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you.’”
If the last “Day of Atonement” at the Lord’s return takes place in the Jubilee Year (which we believe it will!), it adds another powerful dimension of prophetic meaning to this “last” Day of Atonement when a trumpet will sound declaring salvation, liberation and restoration.
All Israel Will Be Saved
I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves…
This passage in Zechariah sounds like it is describing the exact same end-time event that Yeshua is describing in Matt. 24:30 when “…the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn…”. Zechariah 12:10-10 specifically describes the national, collective response of Israel at that moment. This moment is also when Paul’s Romans 11:26 prophetic declaration that “…all Israel shall be saved” comes to pass. Israel will go through terrible tribulation and suffering, but she will also be the only nation in the earth that collectively accepts the Messiah and is saved. Joel 2 describes that final moment: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So, if the last Day of Trumpeting marks the Lord’s appearing in the sky and the rapture, and the last Day of Atonement marks Israel’s calling a fast and solemn assembly to weep and mourn over “the one they have pierced”, then the Feast of Tabernacles that follows can be none other than Yeshua’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where He will tabernacle with His people! As we prepare to observe and celebrate these deeply meaningful biblical fall feasts, let us focus our hearts with expectation and intercession on their future redemptive promise.
Originally published October 1st, 2020
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh…
-Song of Songs 4:6
A spiritual challenge: when asking, seeking and knocking don’t seem to work
This last year, I found myself feeling far from the the Lord, and I began longing for His presence. When I prayed about it, God showed me that one of the reasons I was feeling so far from Him was because I had pulled away after going through a period of suffering which began in March of 2020 when Israel went into covid lockdown. At the time, my husband and I had been seriously seeking the Lord, (we had just finished participating in a 40-day global Jesus Fast), we were moving forward in our ministry, and things were good! When the lockdown hit, I thought it might be an opportunity to have some “time off” from our busy routine. God, however, had something completely different in store for me.
Pretty quickly after going into quarantine, I started suffering from a debilitating physical condition. In addition to the practical steps one should take in such a situation, I took every right spiritual step: I sought the Lord in prayer. I spent more time in the Word. Instead of improvement, things got worse. So, I searched my heart. I repented. I prayed more. I declared the Word over my life. But then attacks started. And they kept coming. For a long time. Eventually, over time, things started to improve, little by little. But even after things had improved significantly, I still felt somehow traumatized, like I had been in a violent shipwreck at sea and was washed up on the shore still alive…but barely. I had climbed the mountain of myrrh through the night that Song of Songs 4:6 speaks about: myrrh, an ancient biblical spice used in the sacred anointing oil and in Yeshua’s burial, often speaks of suffering and death.
The Garden of Gethsemane – An invitation to suffering
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane…He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
The scene of Yeshua alone in the Garden of Gethsemane came to me often during my difficult period. That night in the garden, Yeshua had asked the disciples who were closest to Him, Peter, John and James, to stay with Him as He wrestled with the great suffering He was about to endure. Instead of watching with Him, Yeshua’s nearest and dearest fell asleep.
When His persecution and suffering began, all His disciples (with the exception of John) would abandon Him. We often think of the great physical pain our Lord endured on the cross, but we do not often contemplate how it was coupled with the emotional pain of being abandoned by nearly all His friends and, ultimately, being cut off from the presence of the Father, as Daniel 9:26 foretold: the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. This is the Suffering Servant whom we are called to follow and emulate.
How popular culture has shaped our faith
Shallow secular culture has unfortunately influenced many in the church and trained us to think that God’s main desire for us is to be blessed, prosperous and happy. As a result, in the minds of many, any kind of suffering in the life of a believer must be the result of sin. A very mature woman of God at Tiferet Yeshua whose teenage son was killed fighting in one of Israel’s recent wars in Gaza shared with me the pain she experienced when fellow believers made her feel that her suffering and loss must be the result of sin.
Let me be clear: there is much needless suffering we experience which is a result of our bad choices, practicing sinful behavior and not investing time in our relationship with God. However, the New Testament makes clear, over and over, that there is indeed suffering which is according to God’s will (1 Peter 4:19) and that we are invited to participate in Messiah’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-17).
It’s all about love
I once thought participating in Yeshua’s suffering came only through direct persecution for the gospel. That is indeed part of it, but it is also more than that. When we understand that God’s main desire for us is to grow and mature in our love for Him and for others, we discover sooner or later that suffering is part of it.
Song of Songs 5 – The mature believer’s invitation to the Garden of Gethsemane
In Judaism, the Song of Songs is considered “The Holy of Holies”. In addition to its being a literal description of the love between King Solomon and his betrothed, the Shulamite maiden, on a spiritual level it is seen as a description of the sacred love journey between God and Israel. As followers of Messiah, we see it as the description of the bride of Messiah (Jew and gentile) growing in mature love for her Bridegroom King.
Chapter five of the Song of Songs describes the suffering and persecution of the mature bride. She is described as a garden, and others are blessed and strengthened by the fruit evident in her life (5:1). At that point, she must feel good, being right where she needs to be! But she is unaware that her Bridegroom is inviting her into a new and painful phase of growth, not unlike Yeshua in the Garden of Gethsemane asking us to keep watch with Him and to fellowship with some of His sufferings.
–She is asleep, but her heart is awake (5:2): when Yeshua finds the disciples asleep, He says, “the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt.26:41)
–The Bridegroom, outside, alone in the night, is seeking her companionship (5:2): “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matt. 26:38)
-She is confused at this unexpected turn of events, but ultimately responds in obedience (5:3-5) – despite being scattered and confused, the disciple John and a company of women stay with Yeshua through His suffering (Jn. 19:25-26, Mrk. 15:40-41)
-She opens the door to Him, but He is not there. She seeks Him but cannot find Him (5:6): Yeshua is abandoned by the vast majority (Matt. 26:56) and suffers the ultimate separation from the Father on the cross (Matt. 27:46, Dan. 9:26)
-She is beaten and bruised by authorities over her and they strip her of her cloak (5:7): the Lord Yeshua was beaten, bruised and stripped of His clothing by the Jewish and Roman authorities (Matt. 26:67, Jn 19:1)
What is the response of the mature bride after all this ordeal? She cries out that she is lovesick for her Beloved and launches into highest praise of Him to the daughters of Jerusalem. What a powerful witness! In the next chapter, she declares “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine” from a place of personal experience knowing there is nothing that can separate her from His love. That is why her Beloved calls her “as awesome as an army with banners” in the next chapter (6:4).
That is going through the refiner’s fire – an idea that used to frighten me. The longer we walk closely with our Beloved, the more we understand His heart for us and that sometimes He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death in order to bring us to a deeper level of maturity, love and knowing Him…which is the truest joy and pleasure we can ever know.
If you feel like you have never experienced a real relationship with God, I highly recommend to you my friend Monica’s testimony!
by Tamar Afriat
Watching the main Israeli news coverage of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, I was struck by how vastly different the Israeli perspectives are from the West’s. The most startling fact is that the vast majority of Israeli experts have reached a sobering consensus on Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine: it represents a dramatic change in world order. Furthermore, such a new world order, they contend, places Israel in a precarious position.
The West Thumbs its Nose at Russia
The battle for Ukraine is not actually about Ukraine: it is a power struggle between Russia and the West. For years Putin has been trying to get the West to pay attention to him and respect him. In response, the West has largely written him off as a backwards autocratic dictator who suppresses the press, imprisons or kills off political opponents and stifles personal freedoms (all of which is true). At the same time, through the enlargement of NATO, the West has been expanding into Russia’s zone of influence which Russia calls a provocation. Ukraine, a country bordering Russia that wants to free itself from Russian tentacles, has been seeking NATO membership which would guarantee Ukraine military protection by the West should they be attacked by a non-NATO state. For Russia, it would mean the deployment of NATO long-range missile systems at their back door.
In 2021, Putin asked US President Biden for legal promises that Ukraine would not become a NATO member. Biden refused Putin’s request, and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg boldly declared in response that:
“Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence.” (AXIOS, 01Dec21)
To Putin, a proud man dedicated to Russia’s dignity and securing his country’s strategic interests and resources, those were fighting words. The ones who would pay the price would be the Ukrainians.
What works: Military Action or Economic Sanctions?
Europe is unwilling to enter large-scale military conflicts. The US has become war-adverse because they still have the bad taste of costly military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq in their mouths which, to a large extent, ended badly. Instead, the West believes in the “soft power” of economic persuasion.
Russia, on the other hand, has been steadily building up and modernizing its army and is willing to use it to achieve diplomatic ends because it knows that no country in the West will try to intervene militarily. According to economic experts, sanctions, even the toughest ones, can take years to have any real effect. According to Alistair Milne, professor of economics and Swift system expert:
“The uncomfortable fact remains that economic sanctions, if they are to be more than symbolic, necessarily impose costs on both sides and might have to be imposed for a long time. Russia has spent a decade preparing for the current war and any consequent economic sanctions.” (The Conversation, 28Feb22)
This week, a leading political analyst in the US called Putin “irrational, isolated and not connected to reality”. On the other hand, Israeli analysts are calling Putin one of the smartest and most savvy leaders in the world. The difference in the assessment is stunning. So, which one is true?
The Potential New World Order
With one voice Israeli analysts are saying the same thing: Russia’s military aggression is signaling a new world order. The Russians, along with other nations, have had their eyes on the Western-led world order and see that its leader, the US, is becoming more isolationist and has been weakened by deep internal conflicts largely led by progressive liberal agendas. According to Dr. Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, the US has been pulling back from robust international engagement for the last ten years, and, in the absence of American power, Russia and China have been gathering strength. Top Israeli political analysts agree that the new global power dynamic that is emerging is bad news for the world: who are the members of the new global power club? Russia, China and Iran.
Russia’s Army on Israel’s Northern Border
“…the Russians are our neighbors to the north, and it is important that we manage the delicate and complex situation there smoothly…”
-Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, Oct. 20212
Every month or so, I hear the roar of Israeli fighter jets over my home in central Israel, and I know that the next day I will most likely see in the news that Iranian arms convoys or other Iranian military installations in Syria have been bombed. What many people are not aware of is that back in 2015, Russia intervened militarily to save its old cold war ally, Assad in Syria, which it achieved with great success. Since then, Russia controls the Syrian airspace and maintains a strong military presence in Syria. In the meantime, Russia does not want to allow Iran to overrun Syria as it once did, and here its strategic interests dovetail with Israel’s: keeping Iran at bay. Israel has been maintaining a very delicate and important cooperation with the Russians in Syria which allows Israel to keep Iran’s military ambitions in check through targeted airstrikes.
If Russia comes out of its military campaign in Ukraine mostly unscathed, it will most likely start flexing its muscles more in the Middle East. While Israel’s sympathies and identity is with the West, it also has a very complex and nuanced strategic relationship with Russia. Because of this tectonic shift in the world order, Israel will have to find the right formula to be able to walk between its sympathies for the West and its ideals and Russia’s growing power and influence in the region.
We see this as continued birth pangs, and our prayer is the God’s perfect will be done to prepare all believers to stand firm during these times of shaking and to be light in darkness!
by Tamar Afriat
This is a story about Menny, a very special person who joined Tiferet Yeshua. Recently after one of our services, Menny walked up to Debby, Tiferet Yeshua secretary, and asked her, “Debby, how do you know Yeshua is alive? I know He is alive because He raised me from the dead. But how do you know He’s alive?”
Over the summer we shared the amazing story of how Menny first reached out to us. He was looking for a cerain English-speaking church in the area, but somehow God led him to us, a Hebrew-speaking congregation of Jewish believers instead. When Menny first showed up at Tiferet Yeshua, he told Kosta in Hebrew, “I am a Christian now because I believe in Yeshu the Christian”. The name “Yeshu” in Hebrew is a derogatory term given Him by the rabbis. Menny had never heard His real Hebrew name. He also did not know that there were other Jewish followers of Yeshua. Since he first reached out to us, we have had the privilege of getting to know Menny and to hear his amazing testimony. Menny often says, “What happened to me is not normal.” We agree, but we serve an amazing God who sometimes uses extraordinary circumstances and experiences to reveal Himself to us, like he did with Menny.
The day Menny died:
After his military service in the IDF, Menny took a trip to the US and ended up staying for good. In November 2014, Menny was a married father of five children, working in real estate and construction when he started renovations on an old Victorian building he had bought. The building had been damaged in a fire, but inspections had found the building structurally sound for renovation. While Menny was working over a high gable on the second floor, that section of the building collapsed, and Menny plummeted 30 feet and was then buried under the building debris. After being airlifted to a nearby hospital, his medical records show that he had no signs of life upon arrival. After they succeeded to resuscitate him, they began the fight for his life.
For over a year Menny was in a coma. The way Menny describes it: “My head was smashed apart. My whole right side is filled with titanium becuase my bones shattered from the fall.” Menny woke up from the coma after a year and a half and had to begin intensive physiotherapy to relearn how to do everything. At least, that is what they told him, because he barely remembers those first couple years after he woke up from the coma. During that time, Menny could not speak. He was relearning how to swallow, feed himself, to walk. Eventually, the doctors determined that Menny had significant brain damage and sent him to a nursing home. Somewhere along the line Menny started speaking again. It was then he started to share his experience, where he had gone and the person he had met—the reason why he was still alive.
“Your name is not in this book”
When Menny tells his story, he starts with a caveat: “Listen, I know I have problems.” What he means is that it not as easy for him to speak as it used to be, and sometimes he can’t find the right word. But one thing is for sure: his memory is crystal clear. We found local newspaper accounts of the building collapse which mention Menny by name and his injury, and all the details he remembers are exact. While Menny was in the nursing home, a woman minister from a local church who volunteered there started taking walks with Menny as part of his physical therapy routine. She told him it was a miracle that he was still alive. He then told her the real story of his miracle:
“When I died, I went up into the universe, into the next world. It wasn’t a dream. I came to a man who had an open book on a stand in front of him. I approached him and told him, ‘My name is Menny Mor. Where do I go?’ The man just looked at me. I knew he was the one who was supposed to tell me where to go. So, I ask him again, ‘Where do I go? To the left or to the right?’ Then he said to me, ‘You are not written in this book. I am sending you back to where you came from.’”
Menny thought that the man he saw could not be God because no one can see God and live. But he also knew that the man he interacted with had authority and that he saved Menny’s earthly life by sending him back again. The minister who accompanied Menny on these walks told him the identity of the man he had met: Jesus, the Son of God. The Messiah. The way, the truth and the life. To Menny it made perfect sense: if anyone wants to go the Father, they must go through this man, Jesus, to whom was given all authority. As the minister continued to share about this Jesus with Menny, that He was a personal friend and savior, Menny gave his heart to Him and discovered that His presence was with him all the time.
A Miraculous Recovery and Call back to Israel
Despite the doctor’s assessment that Menny had serious brain damage, he kept improving and he was able to speak again. Before long, Menny’s son who had come to visit him said, “Abba, we have to get you out of here! You don’t belong here.” Menny left the nursing home and continued improving. He started driving again after passing a three-hour test of his mental fitness. His faith in the Jesus who had saved him continued strong too, and he told his family all about it. Needless to say, they told him to stop talking nonsense. They told him, “That’s your brain damage talking!” Menny stayed in touch with the Christian minister who volunteered at the nursing home, and she encouraged Menny to go back to Israel: “God gave the Land to your people. That is where you belong.” So, after forty years in America, Menny returned to Israel a very different man.
Learning the Hebrew Name of His Savior
After Menny returned to Israel, his minister friend continued to stay in touch and disciple him. After the covid restrictions in Israel were eased, she encouraged him to get connected with a local church. She sent him the name of an English-speaking Lutheran church in the area, but the number she sent him was our number instead. It seems that God wanted Menny to get to know the Jewish identity of His Savior and to learn His Hebrew name, Yeshua.
I talk to Yeshua all the time
For someone who has gone through so much suffering, you would never know from Menny’s attitude. He is happy, has a great sense of humor, is outgoing and is full of life. He also shines the light of Yeshua. “I talk to Yeshua all the time,” he says, “When I’m walking, at night when I can’t sleep. I talk to Him and ask Him to help me.” It is clear that Menny has a very special and deep connection with the Lord Yeshua through his experience after the accident, but Menny is also growing in the depth and understanding of His faith, getting to know the Jewish side of His Savior by reading the New Testament. Last week Menny decided that he wanted to make a declaration of his faith in water immersion, accompanied by pastors from Tiferet Yeshua leadership team and other friends. A week later, we asked him how he feels: “I feel new, like if I think about the future there is nothing that upsets me. Just peace.”
by Tamar Afriat
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av was a profoundly momentous historical and spiritual event which the Roman general Titus himself perhaps recognized: he reportedly refused a victory wreath, claiming that he was just the vehicle through which the Jew’s God was punishing them. Indeed, the siege of Jerusalem that led up to the destruction of the Temple was a long, drawn-out nightmare for all those trapped in the city. The proportions of their suffering are staggering and recall Yeshua’s prophetic exhortation a generation earlier to the women of Jerusalem who were mourning for Him as he bore His cross through the city:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!'”
The Great Jewish Revolt – The Beginning of the End
In AD 66, rival Jewish rebel groups began a revolt against the Roman occupation of Jewish lands. Some of the rebels were driven by the desire for political freedom from Rome, some were driven by messianic fervor for a full physical and spiritual redemption. When the Romans succeeded in putting down the Jewish rebellions in the north in the Galilee, the rebel groups fled south to Jerusalem where, instead of focusing on the Romans, they began fighting each other.
In the spring of 70AD, the Romans legions commanded by Titus began the siege of Jerusalem during the festival of Passover. His calculations for timing were brutal: Titus had allowed the Passover festival to continue unhindered with pilgrims streaming in from all over the country for the feast. That was the moment Titus began his siege: outside the city were four Roman legions, inside were Passover pilgrims, city inhabitants and three rebel factions vying for control with increasingly cruel violence.
A House Divided
The Jewish resistance in Jerusalem had no chance to withstand four Roman legions, and eventually they would have been overcome. However, the cruelty that the rebel zealot factions inflicted on each other increased the number of causalities and the suffering of the people way beyond what the Romans could have done on their own. The Jewish in-fighting made the Roman’s job easier, and Titus decided to let the Jews destroy themselves. His calculation proved right: at the beginning of the siege, zealot factions burned a stockpile of grain that could have lasted the city for years. This insane act quickly brought on starvation and suffering and hastened the fall of the city.
“Weep for Yourselves”
The vision of suffering and desolation that Yeshua had seen a generation before came to pass. The account of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus describes the situation in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Roman siege: there was the constant noise of the rebel zealots fighting each other mingled together with the sound of weeping and mourning over the dead. In his book, Of the War, Josephus describes how the misery of starvation eventually changed the sound of the city:
The upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged. The children also and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead, wheresoever their misery seized them. As for burying them, those that were sick themselves were not able to do it; and those that were hearty and well were deterred from doing it by the great multitude of those dead bodies…A deep silence also, and a kind of deadly night had seized upon the city.
Crucifixion and Desolation
One of the most startling things to imagine about the destruction of the Temple in 70AD is how Jerusalem looked toward the end of the three-month Roman siege. According to Josephus, Jerusalem was a stately, beautiful city surrounded by richly wooded hills. During the siege, the Romans had cut down all the timber on the hills for fifteen kilometers in order to use in constructing bulwarks, battering rams and also for crucifying people. Anyone caught escaping the city, whether man, woman or child, was crucified atop a great siege bank that had been built up around the city.
At one point, as many of five hundred people a day were being caught trying to escape and crucified opposite the city walls. Inside the city was death from starvation and murder. Outside the city were thousands of crucifixions. Beyond that, barren hills where all the trees had been cut down. It is a scene that calls to mind some of the most harrowing images of the holocaust.
On the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, (4th of August), Titus’s forces breached the city walls from the north and commenced a great slaughter of those left inside. Many of the survivors fled to the Temple for protection where they met their end. According to Josephus, a river of blood flowed down the Temple stairs. Before setting fire to the Temple, the Roman legionaries made pagan sacrifices on the Temple’s holy alters. Afterwards, they took nearly 100,000 Jewish captives who were sold into slavery all across the Roman empire.
Seenat Cheenam – Baseless Hatred
Years ago, our family took a tour of the temple tunnels in Jerusalem which was led by a young orthodox guide. After detailing the destruction of the Second Temple, she added, “The Romans did not destroy the Temple. We did it with our baseless hatred.” She was echoing the consensus rabbis had reached several generations after 70 AD: the Jewish rebellion had been a bad idea, and the destruction of the Temple was not due to Roman military superiority but rather “seenat cheenam”, baseless hatred among the Jews.
After our tour of the Temple tunnels, we asked the young woman who had been our guide a pointed question: Considering the fact that the First Temple was destroyed and the people exiled for seventy years because of worshipping other gods and sacrificing their children to Molech, did it make sense to her that the zealots’ hatred for each other was cause for the destruction of the Temple and a two-thousand year exile? She did not know what to say. “Seenat Cheenam” (baseless hatred) was the reason the rabbis had given her. What other reason could there be?
If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason ’
In the Hebrew translation of this verse, Yeshua says: seenat cheenam sanuni, quoting Psalms 35 and 69. Yeshua did in fact agree with the assessment of future rabbis that “seenat cheenam” (baseless hatred) was the reason that the Temple was destroyed and the Jews exiled—but with one key difference: it was the rabbis’ “baseless hatred” of Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, that led to the Temple’s destruction and a two-thousand-year exile. Not the hatred of rival zealot factions.
Beauty for Ashes
As we observe the solemn date of the 9th of Av, a divine date on which my nation has suffered so much, I feel the same sense of sadness and heaviness that I feel on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The holocaust of Jerusalem in 70 AD was brutal and desolating, and it marked the beginning of the end of Jewish rule in the Land and the beginning of a two-thousand year exile. In Israel today, we are living a miracle: there is Jewish rule in the Land of Israel for the first time since 70 AD. And just like during that time, there are also Jewish followers of Yeshua living in the Land today. So while there is sadness in remembering how much suffering there has been, there is joy remembering God’s faithfulness to His promises in His Word to relent from His anger, to return us to our Land, and to pour out His Spirit upon us!
by Tamar Afriat
Shavuot – Harvest, Heavenly Fire and the Great Commission
This year on the evening of May 16th begins the biblical holiday of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew). Shavuot is a little known but important biblical holiday which is filled with significance for all believers! By looking at the different aspects and traditions from this holiday, we get a clearer picture of God’s wonderful redemptive plan for Israel and for all the nations.
Weeks is the festival that marks the start of the wheat harvest in Israel:
“And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest…” -Exodus 34:22
God commanded Israel to observe this holy day by going up to Jerusalem to bring a sheaf from their wheat harvest to the Temple:
“When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” -Leviticus 23:10
All biblical holidays have a literal and agricultural meaning for the ancient Israelites, and they also have a future symbolic\prophetic meaning. In John 4 Yeshua says to His disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” The harvest He spoke about was the harvest of people into the kingdom of God.
Weeks is also known as the holiday that the ancient Israelites would offer the first fruits in temple before the Lord as described in Deuteronomy 26. This aspect of the holiday reminds us to always give back to God the first fruits of the abundance He has given us as a sign of thanksgiving and worship.
Today Israel’s modern agricultural communities (kibbutz) make great celebrations during the festival of Weeks with dancing, singing and special ceremonies to present the first fruits of their crops, including the babies who were born in the year before.
Giving of the Law – Mount Sinai
According to rabbinic sages, Moses received the law on Mount Sinai on the festival of Weeks which falls on the 6th of the Hebrew month Sivan. While the Bible makes no mention of the specific day on which the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, it does state that it happened in the month of Sivan.
In Hebrews 12, the Apostle Paul describes Mount Sinai burning with fire when Moses received the law, a sight which terrified the great mixed multitude gathered there and even Moses himself. Paul then points to another mountain and a new covenant, to another divine moment that is filled with joy for all nations (Hebrew 12:22-24)
Giving of the Holy Spirit – Mount Zion
According to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first believers in Yeshua when they were gathered on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Weeks:
“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” -Acts 2:2-3
Immediately after receiving the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Peter began proclaiming the gospel to the many Jews who were gathered for the feast of Weeks in the Temple, and a great many believed—becoming the “first fruits” of the harvest that Yeshua had declared was ripe and plentiful (John 4:32). The festival of Weeks jump-started the great commission!
Shavuot Heart Focus Today
Each year we celebrate this holiday as believers in Yeshua with thankfulness in our hearts for the gift of God’s provision and for the gift of His Holy Spirit. We also celebrate this holiday with longing for and prayers focused on the end-time out outpouring of the Holy Spirit which will lead to the completion of harvest.
by Tamar Afriat
Several weeks ago, Israel honored Holocaust Memorial Day, a solemn day of radio and television broadcasts devoted to holocaust survivor stories, difficult and chilling documentaries, and deeply touching memorials to the survivors. It is a national day of mourning. Israel was born out of the ashes of the holocaust: even if your parents or grandparents are not holocaust survivors, you know someone who is the child or grandchild of survivors. At this point you may be wondering, “What does the holocaust have to do with Israel’s green passport system?” The answer is: absolutely nothing. But that is precisely the issue: recently some believers abroad and even a few here in Israel have begun comparing the Israeli government’s vaccination campaign to Nazi medical experimentation and the green passport system to the Nazi use of the yellow star.
When I first became aware of this fact, I was shocked. Israel-supporting Christians were comparing Israel’s government to the Nazis because of its vaccination campaign? Criticizing Israel’s government is fair— we Israelis have plenty of criticism of the government and the way it has handled this pandemic. Expressing concern about the covid-19 vaccine and criticizing the way the government is dealing with the pandemic is one thing. Comparing Israel’s attempt to deal with the pandemic (an unprecedented health and economic crisis) to the tactics of the fascist, racist National Socialists who instituted one of the world’s most brutal and murderous totalitarian regimes ever and perpetrated genocide and torture on an unprecedented scale against Jews and other undesirables…is way beyond the pale. It is wrong and dangerous.
Using the Holocaust-Hyperbole as a Political Weapon in the US
When I started researching the covid-19\holocaust comparisons, I quickly discovered that they were already surfacing last summer: like when a Kansas newspaper published a cartoon comparing its state’s mask-mandate to the yellow star. In reaction to that cartoon, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted: “To compare COVID-19 rules to the slaughter of millions in the Holocaust is disgusting, wrong and has no place in our society.” But that was just the beginning.
A March 29th Fox News article quotes Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina stating that proposals for vaccine passports in the US “smack of 1940’s Nazi Germany.” On the same day, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky tweeted: “Are the vaccine passports going to be yellow, shaped like a star, and sewn on our clothes?” That tweet caused a wave of condemnation, including from the spokesman of the Kentucky Republican Party who publicly responded by saying that their state’s party members “will always condemn this kind of hateful and extreme rhetoric.”
However, the trend of March 29th continued unabated, with the former US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell tweeting a meme comparing vaccine passport with Nazism. Ironically, in 2019 Grenell, who is a member of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, tweeted: “Never compare the Holocaust to anything. Ever.” Back then he raised that standard as a response to liberal Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who was then labeling immigrant detention camps on the Mexican border “concentration camps” and using the phrase never again—which is the byword of holocaust remembrance—in connection to the border situation.
Christians Focus the Holocaust Rhetoric on Israel
For some months, the vaccine passport-holocaust canard circulated in social media, making itself acceptable speech in the anti-vaccine camp. It was particularly upsetting, however, when Christian leaders began using this speech specifically to describe Israel’s vaccine campaign. Prominent Christian leaders called the Israeli vaccine campaign “a war crime” and compared it to the barbarous medical experiments performed by Nazi doctors on Jews and other “undesirables” without their consent, without anesthesia, in de-humanizing conditions. What the Nazis did can only be labeled torture.
These leaders also likened Israel’s green passport to the yellow star which the Nazis made Jews wear as they began systematically removing them from all spheres in society in preparation to annihilate them. Note: their reason behind making Jews wear the yellow star was to systematically remove them from society and annihilate them because they hated them and viewed them as racially inferior. To label Israel’s vaccine campaign a gross human rights violation on par with Nazi medical experimentation and to call the green passport system the yellow star and a slippery-slope to totalitarianism, is simply insane—but what is mind-boggling is that there are many people, many believers, who do not bat an eye at this comparison.
A Quick Reality Check
In case we have forgotten, there is a global pandemic on, and every nation around the world (perhaps with the exception of Brazil which has largely adopted personal freedom over quarantine and vaccine, to unfortunately disastrous effect) is trying to get covid-19 vaccines to its citizens and re-open its economy. Therefore, Israel is not special or extraordinary in that regard. The Nazi regime, on the other hand, was advancing a campaign to conquer the world with its radical, racist cultural theory in a brutally violent war. They were not trying to stop a global pandemic – that is, to save lives and livelihoods.
It is interesting to note that in his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February of this year, former President Trump took personal credit for the swift production of the covid-19 vaccines in the US, saying: “I Pushed the FDA like they have never been pushed before…What the Trump administration has done with vaccines has in many respects perhaps saved large portions of the world. Not only our country, but large portions of the world.” I have yet to see anyone compare former President Trump to the Nazis for what he did concerning the covid vaccine. Sadly, some Christians and a few believers here focused on Israel for that instead.
A Lesson from the Holocaust
Viktor Klemperer, a Jew who survived Nazi Germany in the city of Dresden, risked his life by keeping meticulous diaries of daily life during the Rise of the Third Reich and throughout the war. He was also a linguistic professor and offered insights about the powerful role extremist language played in the Nazi’s take-over of German society. Klemperer observed: “Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic…they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in.” Right now, many are using reckless language and exaggeration to express their opinions and alarm about government handling of the coronavirus without taking into consideration how powerful their words are: unwittingly they are sewing fear and confusion. A natural reaction in the human heart to fear and confusion is anger and hate. Antisemitism has seen a dramatic rise during the last four years, particularly during the pandemic, even among Christians. The Nazi comparisons used by some Christian leaders recently to criticize the Israeli government is deeply troubling and should be a red flag to us all.
A note on the use of the Nazi epithet in Israel
In Israel, the ultra-orthodox community makes regular use of the “Nazi” epithet or put on the yellow star in protest when they feel persecuted or oppressed by the secular government. Whenever the Israeli police has to engage with ultra-orthodox communities, they are called “Nazis”. Most Israelis shrug their shoulders at this because the ultra-orthodox communities are viewed as “fringe” or extreme to begin with.
This year, Israeli anti-vaccination protests began using the holocaust comparison, with protestors donning yellow stars. In response, Israel’s Yad V’Shem issued a warning against “the demagogic abuse of Holocaust imagery and language which distorts the past as well as the current reality for political purposes.” Further they added, “Exploiting these terms from the Holocaust, in order to incite and inflame hatred, desecrates the memory of the Holocaust.”