The Shabbat (or Sabbath – day of rest) lasts for 25 hours. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, plus one hour to bring it into the coming week. This last ceremonial prayer is called the Havdalah (the close of Shabbat) which includes seven blessings from Scripture and is symbolized with a cup of wine that deliberately overflows its capacity; spices (myrrh) releasing a sweet fragrance; and a blue and white, six-stranded, wicked candle that turns into a torch of fire. I believe it was this Havdalah that kept me awake all last night mulling over and taking in all that happened over the previous 24 hours...
Gil and Lea’s oldest son Tzur, aged 9, had emergency surgery to remove his inflamed appendix. Lea, Gil’s wife, was to join us at the hotel, along with their close friends, Machal and Nanaand and their four children, as they led us and shared with us their Shabbat celebrations. Instead, because Lea was at the hospital with Tzur, Gil’s mom and dad came to help him out with his and Lea’s four other children (ranging from 16 months to 7 years). Gil’s parents have been concerned about his involvement with Ruth Fazal and her Christian friends, and never would have come to us voluntarily. God made a way.
After our Shabbat meal, which included much singing, prayers, and proclamations of blessings, all 36 adults and energetic children went back to our meeting room, and it was there that we fell in love with one another. Gil – who was translating – and his mother and father, Machal and Nanaand (who was single-handedly managing all the children, as men do on the Sabbath!), allowed us the privilege of asking them anything we wanted to ask. It wasn’t long before they all felt comfortable and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how seriously we take our love for Israel, the People –– that we stand with them, and that we are called to encourage and comfort them.
One thing in particular stood out to me. Machal, who is a beautiful woman – expecting her fifth child in April – shared how she and her best friend, Lea, are acutely aware that the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah) is very near. As they have been commiserating on that a lot (as Nanaand pointed out!) they were, by God’s Spirit, very aware of the importance of the Woman in these last days. Once again, God confirmed to me that His instruction to me to write my book, The Woman, over this past summer, was indeed from Him. God is at work in both His Chosen People and their siblings through adoption.
On Saturday, Gil and Nanaand led us into the Hotel Yehuda’s Synagogue, where Nanaand, a trained cantor, sang a portion of scripture from the Torah. He was shocked and nicely surprised when we asked him to sing more! Later that evening, just before our guests were leaving for home, Nanaand – who is shy by nature – got on the microphone and thanked us for receiving him and his family. He expressed that he could hardly believe the love and acceptance that he was experiencing from Gentiles.
I was also able to look Gil’s mom straight in the eyes and thank her for sharing her dear son with us. I was able to hold her for a bit and tell her we love her, stand with her and her people, and that we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Today, (Sunday) the adventure continues…