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Thread: My book of short stories

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    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    My book of short stories

    "My Book of Short Stories" contains the rest of the stories from my eBook "God Tales".

    You might have already read; Journey to Moriah, Goodman J, One Passover in Jerusalem, Testimonium Veritatis, A Meeting at the Well, The Wildman, The Short Route of the Long Route, which are posted in this sub-forum on "Short Story sharing" I also posted "My Book of Memories" and "My Book of Poetry" in the poetry sub-forum.

    This "My Book of Short Stories" contains the rest of the 14 stories which I wrote over a period of seven years
    So, enjoy the reading to the glory of God. It will take some time to post the rest of the 14 stories but read "Sarah" first, then come back another day and another story will be up. No one read a book in one sitting. It takes time, so, if you have time on your hand, good reading...

    __________________________________________________ ______________________________________


    Leah Holtz sat slumped in the dirty sofa in the living room of her dingy apartment; hair disheveled, eyes red from the effects of the previous night’s binge with alcohol. Out of her reddened eyes, she gazed around at the almost empty apartment. Around her were a sofa, a few chairs, and an old wooden table, all that remained of a short, failed marriage. She stared at a wedding picture on the wall where she stood beside her husband, who had recently run off with her best friend, leaving her only past bittersweet memories.

    Now, alone in the world she thought, she would try to drown out her sorrows with bottles of cheap wine. Her hopes for a long, happy marriage collapsed when she returned home from work one day and found half the furniture gone, an empty bedroom closet with only her clothes hanging, and a “good-bye” note left on the bed from her husband.

    What kind of “best friend” would steal your husband? She thought. Her best friend was now her bitter enemy, a home wrecker that deserved the worst.

    she suddenly screamed, hurtling the empty wine bottle she had in her hand toward the picture on the wall. The bottle exploded in a shower of broken glass against the picture on the wall; now shattered as well, lying on the floor amidst broken dreams of marital bliss.

    A sharp pain now came from her abdomen. It had been now a couple of days since the hospital clinic procedure, and she was still in pain, both physically and emotionally. Leah had taken upon herself to lash out at everyone. The hurt she felt would be felt by others. Anger and resentment overcame her being, and the world had better watch out.

    Her swollen, reddened eyes slowly closed as she slumped back into the old, worn sofa; the after-effects of the alcohol still swimming in her head. All of a sudden, she heard voices and a knocking on the front door.

    “Leah, are you there?” A woman’s voice was heard together with the soft knocking.

    “It’s Angela and Robert from church, are you OK?”

    “Please answer Leah, we’re concerned about you” the knocking continued.

    “We’re praying for you, we all are, we miss you at church, please talk to us”

    “Go away!” please just leave me alone” shouted Leah “go pray for someone else!”

    “Leah, we love you, we just want to talk to you and be with you at this time”

    “I don’t need anybody right now……. leave ……. just leave OK?” sobbed Leah.

    “God loves you Leah” responded the voice on the other side of the door “and he always will, you need him now, especially at a time like this”

    “Then why did he give my husband away to someone else, to my ex-best friend even?”

    “God didn’t do that Leah, remember your husband isn’t a Christian, you knew that when you married him. He did that all on his own because he doesn’t live by God’s holy standards” the voice behind the door continued softly “the lost live according to the world’s standards, not the LORD’s”

    Deep inside, Leah knew that. Her husband had never really accepted the LORD. He had been a high school football hero, with all the girls wanting to date him, and he dated a lot of them too. He always enjoyed flirting with Leah, even when he was with other girls.

    He finally asked her out. They went out a few times, then, after graduation, he popped the “will you marry me” question. Leah liked his body, his big muscles, the “Mr. Football” Look. He swore the “I’ll love you forever” oath. She brought him to church a few times. In the Sunday school class, he looked bored. He told her the “I believe in God, and that’s enough for me” line. They got married anyway. The pastor warned her against being “unequally yoked” but she thought she could change him. The ceremony was quick in the downtown courthouse.

    Three months into the marriage, she returned home from work to find an almost empty apartment and the “dear Leah” note on the bed. What hurt most was the “thanks for your hubby” note at the end of the letter, signed by “Cindy”. She had been her best friend in high school, so she thought.

    Now, Leah was alone in the one-bedroom apartment; her mind filled with ghosts of the past, haunting memories, hurt, pain, remorse, and bitterness toward the world, and toward God.

    “Come on Angela,” said a male voice outside the door “there’s nothing more we can do here. Let's go."

    “Leah, there’s a letter taped to the door, I’m pushing it under the door to you OK?”

    Leah heard the sounds of footsteps returning and she saw a small envelope being pushed under the front door.

    “remember, we’re praying for you Leah,” said the female voice,

    Leah then heard the footsteps fading away for the second time. She was alone again, but this time, her interest was aroused by this strange letter under the door. Slowly, she got up off the sofa and walked over to the door. She picked up the envelope which had the hospital clinic logo in the corner, but her name was handwritten on the front. It only had her first name “Leah” nothing more.

    She walked back to the sofa; her eyes glued to the envelope. Slowly, she opened the envelope and took out three handwritten pages of notebook paper. There was also a map drawn on a piece of white bond paper. She saw a signature on the third sheet of paper with the words, “nurse Becky”

    Slowly, Leah’s eyes ran across the words on the first page. As she read, her eyes filled with tears. She read the second page and finally the last. She read the letter over and over again, allowing the words to sink into her embittered soul. She looked at the hand-drawn map, and then looked back at the words of hope on the three pages of notebook paper.

    Little Sarah ran back and forth, marveling at the sights and sounds of this fascinating place of vivid colors, beautiful sounds, and fragrant smells. She ran through ankle-deep lush green grass, with multicolored flowers everywhere. There were blue, red, orange, green, and violet flowers blooming as far as the eye could see, and the fragrance of them all was in the air.

    In the distance was a vast forest of trees, fruit-bearing trees, and flowering trees. As she looked here and there, she spotted a river, a river of crystal -clear water that branched out into streams that lead to the grassy meadows. The main part of the river seemed to melt into the vast forest of trees.

    As Sarah continued to look at the river, she saw that it emanated from beneath the walls of a great city. She stared at the walls that surrounded the city, walls that seemed to have no end. A golden glow was all about the walls. She heard music, lovely music, the music of a multitude of choirs that came from the city. The beautiful singing voices filled the air and blended in with the fragrance of the flowers and the beauty of this wonderful place.

    Here and there, Sarah saw others like herself. They were all dressed in pure white tunics with golden belts around their waists, and feet shod with golden sandals. Sarah walked through the grass towards the river, she stopped before a bridge, a bridge made with vines entwined with flowers growing over the crystal-clear water. She looked down into the water and saw many pebbles and stones that shone with all sorts of vivid colors.
    All of a sudden, she felt a soft hand on her shoulder. She turned around and looked up into the smiling face of a tall, beautiful being that radiated a pure white light.

    “Hello Sarah,” said the being with a soft voice “welcome to your home”.

    “Who are you?” asked Sarah, “and how do you know my name?”

    “My name is Angel, replied the shining being, “and I know everyone’s name here, and so does the king who lives in that city over there.” as he pointed toward the walled city that had the golden glow to it.

    “Wow” cried Sarah in amazement, “is the king nice like you?” asked Sarah as she continued looking up into the smiling face of this beautiful being called Angel.

    “Yes” replied Angel “the king is nice and he loves you so very much. He wants to meet you, but first, do you want to go over the bridge?”

    “Oh yes, of course,” said Sarah taking a step forward to cross over the river. She looked down into the water to gaze at all the multicolored stones. The stones glittered with red, yellow, green, blue, and crystal transparencies. There were also multicolored fish that swam this way and that.

    “Would you like to see more?” asked Angel who was right behind her.

    “Oh yes” cried Sarah, clapping her hands together with glee.

    “fine,” said Angel, “just take my hand and off we’ll go”. Sarah grabbed Angel’s hand. Then, all of a sudden, two enormous snow-white wings opened up from Angel’s back. The two soared skyward. Sarah was enthralled seeing all the sites of this strange, wonderful place. The two soared above green meadows, spread out with multicolored flowers, above vast forests with all kinds of trees

    From a distance, they could even see into the city of the king. The city was full of people and shining beings all walking, talking, laughing, and singing. There were musicians playing on all sorts of stringed instruments. Some sounded shofars, others sounded long, silvers trumpets. There were hundreds of buildings, large mansions with the shining beings inlaying all sorts of precious stones in their foundations. The whole city was aglow with a radiant golden light which was everywhere.

    In the far away distance, there was a long wall made of transparent crystal. The wall stretched as far as the eye could see. Sarah was curious about the wall.

    “What’s that long wall?” she asked Angel with wide, wondering eyes.

    “Well, let’s go see, shall we?” replied Angel, and off they went towards the direction of the mysterious wall of crystal. As the two got closer, they could see many small children beside the wall, all dressed in white tunics with golden belts. All of them were accompanied by tall shining beings, standing by their side.

    Angel and Sarah landed in front of the wall, and she could see that there were moving images inside this very long wall of crystal. All the children and the shining beings were all observing the moving images that were inside the wall.

    Sarah stood wondering about all this. Angel seemed to know her thoughts.

    “This is the wall of sorrows,” he said sadly.

    “sorrows?” questioned Sarah. “what are sorrows?”

    “Sorrows are sad things that happen” replied Angel. “Would you like to have a closer look?”

    Sarah nodded her head, and the two approached a small area in front of the wall. Sarah looked back toward the city of the king, which was now just a tiny golden speck in the far away distance.

    “why is this wall so far away from the city of the king?” asked Sarah.

    “it is because there is no place for sorrows in the city, only happiness” replied Angel as he stepped forward and passed his hand in front of the crystal-clear wall. All of a sudden, an image appeared.

    Leah walked along Oakland Street, map in hand. It was a crisp autumn day and multicolored leaves were falling here and there. The letter had indeed aroused Leah. She pulled her worn jacket around her body as the autumn wind picked up.

    She finally came to Old Oak Road. There weren’t many houses on this road. She followed the directions on the hand-drawn map. In the far distance, she could see that the road dead-ended near a wooded area. She looked to her left and passed Old Oak church which had been abandoned for years. Next to the church, she saw the place marked by an “x” on the map.

    It was a small cemetery surrounded by a rusty, iron fence with the words “Old Oak Cemetery” above the entrance. She had heard about this cemetery from friends at school. It wasn’t in use anymore. There were old graves here, going back hundreds of years.

    Leah passed under the sign and walked through the rows of old gravestones. The autumn leaves carpeted the grass which was now overgrown with weeds. Leah looked around with curiosity, reading the words carved on a tombstone;

    “Joshua Rogers, beloved husband, born 1714, died 1784

    She went by some more grave markers, looking at the map and observing the old, worn words inscribed. She came to another one and read the inscription;

    “little Angelique Williams, beloved daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Williams
    Born August 9th, 1805 died of fever November 20th, 1805
    Departed but not forgotten, Comforted by Heaven's
    angels, in the presence of the LORD”

    Leah looked again at the map, the letter indicated to follow this grave marker to the end of the row of graves.

    Angel and Sarah both stared at the figure in the wall, going in and out among the tombstones as if looking for something, or someone.

    “What is that place Angel?” asked Sarah “What is that woman looking for?”

    Angel looked at Sarah with sort of a sad smile, “She’s……looking for someone” replied Angel, “someone she loves and misses.”

    “but there’s no one there,” said Sarah, still looking a bit confused.

    “that’s the land of the dead,” said Angel sadly. “People that are no longer alive lay under those stones with writing, even little people…. like you”.

    “like me?” asked Sarah “but I’m alive, I’m here with you,” said Sarah with a smile.

    “Yes,” said Angel, “you are alive indeed”

    “Are all those people who lie under those stones here too?” asked Sarah, looking up at Angel with wide, wondering eyes.

    “Not all” replied Angel sadly, “some are in the world of darkness, the netherworld, A place called Hades. A world absent of love, laughter, and peace. It is a world of pain, torment, and suffering. A place where the presence of the king is not known”

    “Why are they there, and not here?” questioned Sarah.

    “because they refused the love of the king” replied Angel sadly. “the king made a big sacrifice, and many people rejected it, so, they could not come here.”

    “That’s so sad” replied Sarah.

    “Yes, it is,” said Angel, “but it was their own choice.”

    Leah followed the row of grave markers from the one marked “little Angelique”

    At last, she found what she was looking for. There, in the corner of the cemetery, was a small mound of dirt covering a freshly dug grave. There were a few wildflowers on the mound and a small wooden cross with a wooden plaque nailed to the top of it.

    Slowly, Leah approached the grave. The autumn wind picked up again, blowing brown and yellow leaves here and there. Somewhere in the woods next to the graveyard a crow started to caw.

    Leah now stopped and stared at the grave marker. She held the hand-written letter in her hand, reading the inscription on the plaque, then read the letter. As she read the name on the little wooden cross, she dropped the letter and fell down to her knees in front of the grave marker.

    Angel and Sarah continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She suddenly broke down and started to cry, grabbing hold of the little wooden cross. She released words of sorrow and grief; tears now streaming down her cheeks.

    “Oh my daughter, my little daughter, I am so, so, sorry. What did I do? I robbed you of life”. “I robbed you of the life that God gave you through me”. “Those people at the clinic, they lied to me”. “They told me that you weren’t…were not really alive, fully human yet, that you weren’t a real person. but you ARE…or you were”. “Oh, please PLEASE forgive me.”

    Sarah and Angel watched as the woman continued to cry and let loose her feelings of sorrow and repentance.

    “Who is she,” asked Sarah with a sad countenance. Angel looked down at Sarah, who shared the same look of sadness on his face.

    “She’s your mother, Sarah”

    “My mother?” said Sarah with a bewildered look on her face.

    “Yes” replied Angel, “she listened to the wrong people, she received very bad counsel.

    “bad counsel?” asked Sarah looking up at Angel with a confused look on her face.

    “Sarah” replied Angel as he bent down and picked up little Sarah into his arms, “counselors are people who are supposed to speak the words of the King, speaking wisdom that promotes life, and not death, destruction, and the murder of the innocent. Some counselors serve and worship the King, and give wise and good counsel from his written WORD. But there are others that give bad and evil counsel. They do not serve or love the King. They serve the lord of darkness”.

    “The lord of darkness,” asked Sarah, “who is he?”

    “He has many names” replied Angel. “Some call him Beelzebub, the devil, the father of lies,
    Mephistopheles, the prince and power of the air, the dragon, and Satan”.

    “Ohhhhh” …. said Sarah slowly… “I don’t think I like him, he has scary names”

    “No one up here likes him” replied Angel, “once he lived up here with us, he was part of our family, but he rebelled against the King, and the King cast him out of here a long, long, Time ago. But you need not fear him, Sarah, you’re here with me and are part of the King’s family”

    “I am glad I’m part of the King’s family,” said Sarah smiling. Sarah and Angel continued to observe the woman inside the wall. She continued to sob and cry out, “forgive me”. There, prostrate on the ground, in front of the little grave marker she continued repeating; “forgive me daughter, forgive me, Oh God forgive me”. Sarah looked into the face of Angel.

    “What should I do?”

    “What would you like to do Sarah?” replied Angel.

    “Forgive my mother” replied Sarah.

    “Then tell her,” said Angel softly, “Talk to her and tell her that you forgive her”.

    Angel put Sarah down and she went up to the wall. She was now facing the image of her mother. Her mother, whose image was inside this long, long wall of sorrows was right next to her now. Sarah placed her little hands down to where Leah’s head was. The wall felt warm as if she was actually touching her mother’s head…. then she spoke.

    “Mommy, don’t cry, I forgive you, I love you and I really miss being with you. Don’t worry, I’m well., I’m alive here in this wonderful place. I'm with Angel and the King. The King forgives you too, and someday soon, you’ll be here with us and we’ll be together. I don’t feel pain anymore”.

    The mention of pain brought Sarah’s scant memory to a brief, short past. To a dark, watery place, a place of muffled sounds and voices, sometimes loud, sometimes soft. There was a sudden sharp pain, and then a burning sensation, then…. she opened her eyes and found herself in this wonderful place of awe, beauty, and peace.

    Leah continued to sob, lying prostrate on the ground; her body covering the little grave marked only by a small wooden cross and a plaque nailed to the top. All of a sudden, she felt something, something warm and soft touching her. A warmth that penetrated the cool autumn breeze that now blew across the old, forgotten cemetery.

    It was as if two tiny hands were touching Leah’s head. Then, a strange feeling overcame her, a feeling of calm, of peace, a feeling that she had never felt before. Somehow, she knew that God had forgiven her.

    “My mommy feels better now!” said Sarah, looking up at Angel with a broad smile.

    “Yes” responded Angel, “you did the right thing”

    “Can I send my mommy a gift?”

    “sure” replied Angel, “go ahead and send her something nice”.

    Sarah looked around, then something caught her eye and it seemed to be just the right gift to send down.
    Leah’s sobs subsided as she continued to hold the base of the small, wooden cross. For the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, she felt that the burden of resentment and guilt was taken away. All of sudden, she heard a flutter of wings and a soft cooing sound.

    Leah looked up with her tear-stained face to see a small, white dove cooing softly, perched on top of the cross. The dove looked down at her, continuing to coo ever so gently. Leah smiled.

    “Oh thank you for hearing me my precious, precious daughter”.

    “Nice touch,” said Angel smiling down at Sarah.

    “You sent that” replied Sarah smiling up at Angel.

    “No, you sent it,” said Angel smiling back.

    “We both did!” replied Sarah, grinning from ear to ear.

    “Yeah,” said Angel, “I guess we both did”. Sarah and Angel continued watching Leah as she finally closed her eyes, falling into a deep, restful sleep, holding the base of the little cross in a lonely, almost forgotten cemetery. A cemetery amidst autumn leaves, and a little white dove still perched on top of a small, crude, wooden cross cooing its heaven-sent lullaby.

    Sarah backed away from the wall, watching the image of Leah slowly vanishing away until only the crystal clarity of the wall was before her.

    “Well,” said Angel, “how would you like to go inside the city of the king and look around?”

    “Wow” replied Sarah, “that would be great. Can I meet the king too?”

    “Sure,” said Angel, “He wants to meet you too”. Angel then took Sarah by the hand and opening his snow-white wings the two started back towards the enormous golden city.

    “By the way,” asked Sarah, “what’s the king’s name?”
    “He has many names” replied Angel, “but he goes mostly by King Messiah Yeshua which means Salvation is from God”.

    “That’s a pretty name” replied Sarah. “I hope he likes my name”

    “Your name means ‘Princess’,” said Angel. “The king has built you a special mansion, fit for a princess like you.”

    “Nice” replied Sarah, “I can’t wait to see it.” Angel and Sarah came to rest on a road, a road made of transparent, pure gold. Hand in hand, they started their walk together towards the gates of the City of the King.

    The idea for this story came from "Focus on the Family" radio drama "Tilly" which was aired in the 1980s.

  2. #2
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    The next story is "Sarah, the Sequel" or "Sarah, the story continues" (whatever fits)

    scroll down, isn't there a delete option on this site?
    Last edited by JacobBenAvraham; 03-04-2021 at 01:19 AM.

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    Some stories are written in one sitting, others, like this one, continues. Perhaps an entire novel could be written about "Sarah" Eternity is a continuing aspect of God's existence, or it can be considered a dimension, another space/time aspect of what used to be emptiness until God stepped out of it and created all that we see and don't see.

    "Sarah" like many "Sarahs" in this world, continues to live throughout eternity, so, where would a book end if it is being written about eternity? well, it wouldn't, would it. So, "Sarah, The Story continues" is written about the first day of the rest of her...eternal existence. and it jumps down to planet earth and back to Heaven again. So, enjoy the rest of the story...a "never-ending story . This could be "every person's story" as well, since we are all going to live forever someplace.
    Last edited by JacobBenAvraham; 03-04-2021 at 01:37 AM.

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    Sarah (The story contiinues)

    Sarah (The Sequel)

    Sarah stood in awe as she marveled at the beautiful sights and wonders of the city of the King. Angel stood by her side and pointed to the brilliant array of colors.

    “You see all those colors, Sarah? They all emanate from the Throne of Grace of King Yeshua. They are all the colors of the rainbow”

    “How beautiful” replied Sarah looking here and there, completely enthralled with the marvelous sights and sounds of her new heavenly home.

    “This is your home Sarah” replied Angel with a happy smile, “and all these people are your family.”
    Sarah looked all around her. The city of the King was in constant activity. There were people all around her, big people and small, all dressed in flowing white tunics. They were girded with golden belts around their waists and wore golden sandals. There was a constant conversation with laughter; some were singing praises with uplifted hands.

    “These are the redeemed from all ages past,” said Angel. “These are the ones who accepted the free gift of life from King Yeshua. Through his shed blood, their sins were blotted out and their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

    “Wow” cried Sarah with joy, “Do they all have special names like me?”

    “Yes” replied Angel, “Their names are engraved on their golden headbands.”

    Sarah looked at all the redeemed that walked the streets of the Lamb’s holy city. She saw that everyone wore golden bands around their foreheads, engraved with special names.

    “But I don’t have one Angel!” said Sarah sadly, touching her own head, feeling only her soft, dark, curly hair.

    “Ah, but you will receive one. King Yeshua himself will give you your own headband with your name engraved,” replied Angel with a smile. “I’m going to take you to meet him right now. Are you ready to meet your king?”

    “Oh yes” exclaimed Sarah happily, “Let’s go!”

    “Alright,” said Angel, opening up his radiant white wings, “Hold my hand and up we'll go.

    Sarah held on Angel's hand as they both soared upward and flew high over the golden city of the king. Sarah gasped with wonder as she saw all the beautiful sights and sounds of Yeshua's kingdom.

    Fountains of pure, crystalline water shot high into the air, emanating from different geometric shapes of pure, transparent crystal. Above some fountains were suspended pyramids of crystal rotating around and around, reflecting the light that came from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace. The radiant light reflected by the prisms came forth in all sorts of dazzling colors.

    “What beautiful colors”, exclaimed Sarah. “Is the whole city like this?”

    “Yes” replied Angel. “The whole city reflects the beauty and majesty of King Yeshua, and look,” continued Angel, pointing ahead, “there’s the Lamb’s Throne of Grace and his holy temple.”

    Sarah looked ahead and saw a monumental throne of pure gold with a base of green emerald. The throne was aglow with radiant, golden light shining forth the glory of God in all directions. There was also a river of crystal clarity flowing from the base of the Throne of Grace. The river parted into four directions, flowing to the north, south, east, and west.

    “Let’s go up a little higher,” said Angel, “We can get a better view from far, far above.”

    With these words, Angel and Sarah flew up and up, higher and higher above the City of God. Sarah looked down to see the river that flowed from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace divide into canals.

    “You see Sarah” spoke Angel, “The River of Life flows to the north, south, east and west. In each direction, it splits up into more canals so that every dwelling on every street here in the New Jerusalem has a canal.”
    Sarah looked with excitement and awe at the canals which flowed alongside the streets of gold. On each street stood mansions, great and small. Behind the mansions lay lush, green vegetation and all kinds of fruit trees that lined the canals from the River of Life.

    “How beautiful is everything here” exclaimed Sarah. “Is all the Kingdom of Heaven like this?”
    “Yes” replied Angel with a smile, “and you have only begun to see everything that the LORD has in store for those who love him, and for those he loves.”

    Sarah was enthralled by the wonderful sights and sounds of the New Jerusalem. There were so many beautiful buildings, mansions, and so many people from all ages going here and there. Some were laughing and conversing one with another with smiles of joy. Others were singing praises to God, with uplifted hands with psalms of praise on their lips.

    “Come,” said Angel, “let’s go over there” as he pointed out a beautiful temple with a throne bathed in glowing, radiant light standing right in front of it.

    “Angel and Sarah flew down to where the holy temple and the throne were.

    They were both dwarfed by the majesty and splendor of God’s Throne of Glory, engulfed by the lamb’s
    Shekinah light.

    Angel pointed towards the temple entrance from which came a chorus of heavenly voices of the redeemed, singing psalms of praises with the sounds of all sorts of stringed instruments. At different intervals, the sounds of trumpets and shofars were heard.

    “Now little Sarah” began Angel, “you will meet your king.” With these words, Angel stepped forward and shouted, “My LORD and my God Adonai-Elohim, Yeshua Ben David, I present to you Sarah, Princess, and daughter of light.”

    At once, the whole entrance of the temple was filled with radiant, glowing light. The light was so bright that both Sarah and Angel fell to their knees and bowed their heads to the ground. All around them rang voices proclaiming;

    “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God of hosts, May all Heaven and earth be filled with your glory.”

    When Angel and Sarah looked up, they saw the figure of a man clothed in dazzling white array. He wore a golden belt around his waist and wore golden sandals. Around his head was a golden crown which read; “KING of kings and LORD of lords.”

    He looked down at Sarah and opened his arms saying, “Welcome my dearest daughter, welcome to your home.”

    Sarah looked up at the man in dazzling white, knowing that he was more than just a man, he was indeed the LORD.

    “Yeshua?” Exclaimed Sarah with wonder, “You’re King Yeshua, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, my dearest child” replied the king with a broad smile, “I AM who I AM, the KING of kings and LORD of lords, your father, and your God.”

    Sarah went up close to King Yeshua. He then reached down and with all tenderness, picked little Sarah up and held her to his breast. Sarah looked into his eyes and noticed a few teardrops. In spite of Yeshua’s radiant countenance, she noticed a touch of sadness.

    “Why are you sad King Yeshua?” asked Sarah curiously, pointing to the tears in his eyes.

    “I had so many plans for you my dearest daughter” replied Yeshua. “You would have been the pride and joy of your mother Leah, a special gift of life. You would have excelled in many things.”

    “You know my mother?” questioned Sarah, still gazing into his eyes.

    “Yes”, replied Yeshua, “she is also my daughter. For a while, she was very angry and confused.
    “Well wouldn’t you know it,” said Sarah, crossing her arms, “She sent me right back to you, guess she didn’t want me after all.”

    Yeshua looked at Sarah with eyes of te

    nderness, full of love and compassion

    “Like I said dearest one, your mother was angry and confused. She listened to bad and evil counsel.”
    “Yes, I know.” Sarah replied, “Angel told me all about counselors who follow this Beelzebub guy, he has other scary names too.”

    “Well,” said Yeshua with a smile, “You won’t have to worry about him here.
    There is no place for evil in my kingdom.”

    “That’s good,” said Sarah, “I wouldn’t want to meet him anyway. Oh by the way King Yeshua, do I get a place to live here?” asked Sarah with wondering eyes.

    “Indeed you do” replied Yeshua as he placed Sarah back on her feet. “But first, I must give you your little golden headband with your name.”

    “Wow “cried Sarah with glee, “my own headband, like all the others that are here have?”
    “Well” replied the LORD, “everyone has a distinct and unique headband.” And Yeshua reached into his long, white tunic and drew out a small, golden headband with the title “Sarah, little princess, daughter of Light”
    Yeshua reached down with all tenderness and gently placed the headband around Sarah’s head.
    “There,” he said with joy, “this is yours for all eternity.”

    “Like forever and ever” questioned, Sarah?

    “Yes” replied the king of glory, “forever and ever.” Sarah beamed with joy as she felt the golden headband around her head.

    “Angel,” said Yeshua, “I believe my daughter Angelique was looking for a roommate.”

    “Yes my LORD” replied Angel, bowing his head.

    “Sarah would you like to share a mansion with your sister Angelique?” ask Yeshua.

    “Oh yes” replied Sarah, beaming with joy. “I think I saw her name written on a flat rock when I was in front of the Wall of Sorrows.”

    “Yes” replied Yeshua, “You saw her tombstone, but she is alive and well here in the New Jerusalem. She is part of my holy choir, singing praises to my holy name while playing the ten-stringed lyre.”

    “I would love to meet her,” said Sarah with a broad smile.

    “You will indeed” replied Yeshua. At that, Yeshua turned towards the entrance of the holy temple and cried out with a loud voice, “Angelique, daughter of the Most High God, come forth.” The voice of Yeshua echoed like thunder. It seemed as though all of Heaven shook at the sound of His voice.

    At the sound of King Yeshua’s voice, a beautiful young woman came out of the temple arrayed in a dazzling white tunic with a golden belt around her waist. Her feet were shod with golden sandals and she also wore a golden headband with her name engraved in it.

    “Yes my LORD,” said Angelique, bowing her head and prostrating herself to the ground.

    “Arise my daughter of light,” said Yeshua, reaching down and taking Angelique by the hand. “This is my daughter and your sister Sarah. She will share your mansion.”

    “Hello Sarah,” said Angelique embracing her with heavenly love. “How do you like the Kingdom of Heaven, the New Jerusalem?”

    “It’s awesome” replied Sarah, looking around with wonder. “So many beautiful things to see and so many people.”

    “I’ll show Sarah around my LORD.”

    “Great, my daughter Angelique,” said Yeshua smiling, “I’ll see you later.”

    “I too must take my leave,” said Angel, “there are more children arriving here that I must meet. It was nice meeting, you Sarah.”

    “It was nice meeting you too Angel” replied Sarah, waving her hand goodbye to her nice celestial guide.
    “Well,” said Angelique, taking Sarah by the hand, “I’ll show you around. I’ll introduce you to some of the writers of the books.”

    “Books?” questioned Sarah, looking a bit confused.

    “Oh yes” replied Angelique, “King Yeshua has 66 books, and one special book called the ‘Book of Life’. That’s where all of our names are recorded.”

    “My name too?” questioned Sarah.

    “Your name too” answered Angelique with a smile.

    Angelique and Sarah walked along the streets of gold, stopping to speak with different people, people from different eras of time past on earth. Sarah was enthralled with all the different sights and sounds of the New Jerusalem. In just a short time, she met people from all time periods, some seemed young, and others a bit older. Then Angelique pointed out a man with an elderly face and a very long white beard.

    Angelique and Sarah walked over to this man who seemed to be deep in thought.

    “Shalom Moshe” greeted Angelique. The elderly man turned to look at Angelique and smiled.

    “Shalom to you too sister Angelique, and who is this pretty young lady?” asked Moshe, pointing to Sarah.
    “This is Sarah, she’s new here. I’m showing her around. Sarah, this is Moses who wrote the first five books of King Yeshua’s Torah.”

    “Nice to meet you Moses,” said Sarah.

    “Nice to meet you too” replied Moses, embracing little Sarah with a warm hug. “And here are some things for you,” said Moses, handing her 5 scrolls all rolled up and tied together with a scarlet-colored strap.

    “These scrolls contain the words that King Yeshua told me to write many, many earth years ago. Many of the words talk about Him.”

    “I’ll make sure to read these” responded Sarah as she tucked the scrolls under her arm. “It was nice meeting you Moses” smiled Sarah happily.

    “It was nice meeting you too Sarah” nodded Moses with a smile. “See you later Angelique.”
    “Shalom to you too” replied Angelique.

    Both Sarah and Angelique continued to walk along the many streets of gold of the celestial city of the king. Angelique introduced Sarah to many of the writers of the Bible. She was especially happy to meet Jeremiah, who gave Sarah a beautifully embroidered silk shoulder bag to put all the scrolls she received from the king’s prophets.

    Sarah and Angelique continued to walk along the streets of Heaven, enjoying and taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of Heaven’s bliss. Finally, Angelique pointed out a huge, golden mansion, embedded with all sorts of precious stones.

    “That’s our home, Sarah”

    “Wow” cried Sarah, “It’s so beautiful and so big!”

    “Yes” replied Angelique, “and I often invite people over. Moses has been my guest many times. Adam, Eve, and Enoch came over a while ago too. We really enjoy each others company” continued Angelique, walking towards the steps which lead to the mansion’s entrance. “They told what life was like when they lived on earth.”

    “Do you remember your life on earth?” asked Sarah.
    “Not really” replied Angelique sadly, “if you remember from my tombstone, I died when I was three months old.”

    “Oh,” said Sarah, nodding her head slowly, “I wasn’t even allowed to be born.” The two walked the remaining distance to the mansion’s front steps deep in thought.

    “Well,” said Angelique, stopping in front of the twelve red-marble steps that lead up to the mansion’s ornate mother-of-pearl entrance, “This is home!”

    ion with awe. It was made of solid gold bricks with twelve rectangular-shaped windows framed with pure silver.
    Embedded in the silver frames were rubies and sapphires. The entrance of the mansion was framed roundabout with mother of pearl.

    Sarah and Angelique together walked up the twelve marble steps and passed through the entrance. Inside the mansion were all kinds of geometrically shaped sculptures. Some were made of pure crystal and out of the crystal ran living water. The floor was made of red and black marble inlaid with twelve Lapis Lazuli stars of David.

    There was a large, marble table with twelve chairs of velvet cushions. On the table were dishes made of pure gold with crystal goblets by their side. In the center of the table were large plates also made of pure gold which held all kinds of nuts and fruit.

    There was a skylight made of pure, transparent crystal which allowed radiant light to come through. This light emanated from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace, which also illuminated the entire city of the king.

    “Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you our room,” said Angelique, pointing to a winding black marble and jasper staircase. The railing that was on either side of the staircase was made of pure gold embedded with rubies and emeralds.

    The two girls climbed the staircase and entered what appeared to be a large bedroom with two large beds made of ****tim wood overlaid with pure gold. The mattresses were made of pure satin, stuffed with lamb’s wool. Covering the mattresses lay dazzling white satin sheets with matching satin pillows. On the wall beside the beds were bookshelves divided into 66 squares. The bookshelves were also made of ****tim wood, overlaid with gold.

    “This is where you will put your scrolls Sarah,” said Angelique, pointing to the squares. “One scroll for every square. When you read the scrolls, you will remember every word as our memories here are perfect.”
    “Wow” exclaimed Sarah, “I’ll start to read right now.”

    She placed the scrolls she had received in the wooden squares on the wall beside her bed. Sarah kept the first one she received. Sitting on her ornate bed, untied the scroll and began to read.
    “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……..” after a while, she tied up the scroll and placed it in the first square.

    “Moshe wrote many wonderful things,” Sarah remarked, “Too bad about Adam and Eve, that they listened to the serpent and lost fellowship with King Yeshua,” said Sarah sadly.

    “Yes” replied Angelique, “but King Yeshua made it right again in that He loved the world so much that He went down to earth in human form. He died on a cross and His blood cleansed all mankind of sin. That is how we can all have a right fellowship with Him again. For all those that believe on Him, he has given everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

    Angelique’s face shone with radiant light as she explained the words of the Apostle John to Sarah. The girls embraced each other, overjoyed to be together forever in God’s holy eternal city.

    “Sarah” continued Angelique, “when people like us die as babies and young children, we don’t experience the spirit of rebellion caused by sin. This happens to older people, so the king looks on us as innocent and perfect in his eyes. When king Yeshua was on earth, he said once; ‘Let the little children come to me, for theirs is the Kingdom of God’ (Luke 18:16) He was talking about us.”

    “What’s out there?” asked Sarah, pointing to the doorway at the end of the bedroom.

    “That leads to the outside patio, come on, I’ll show you.”

    Angelique took Sarah by the hand and led her through the arched doorway which was also framed with mother of pearl. The two went out onto the patio which was supported by beautifully carved marble pillars. On the patio were flower pots made of red clay, from which grew many flowering plants giving the air a fragrance unlike anything on earth.

    “See out there?” said Angelique, pointing to the distance. “That is one of the tributaries of the River of Life which flows from the Lamb’s Throne of Grace. Those trees that grow next to the river give all manner of fruit.”
    Sarah was enthralled by the beautiful sight of the river and trees, the lush emerald green grass and flowering meadows all around. She was delighted with the aroma of flowers and the continuous music that was heard coming from the celestial temple.

    Sarah looked down from the upstairs patio and saw something that intrigued her. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a rectangular crystal framed in pure silver.

    “Oh” replied Angelique, “that’s the crystal of images. Everyone up here has one of those. Would you like to see it?”

    “Sure,” said Sarah filled with curiosity.

    Angelique and Sarah went downstairs and out the back doorway which led to a ground-level patio. It was like the upstairs patio, but this one was surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs. Twelve marble columns supported the upstairs patio, all carved with intricate designs. The base of the downstairs patio was made of red marble inlaid with all sorts of precious stones. Seven steps led from the patio to the lush carpet of green grass and flowers. In the near distance was the River of Life, adorned with the fruit-bearing trees.

    Angelique and Sarah approached the crystal of images which made a soft humming noise.

    “This is powered by the Lamb’s Throne of Grace,” said Angelique, allowing Sarah to observe it closely. The crystal was attached to a curved block of sculpted quartz, allowing the crystal to hang vertically, facing the viewer.

    “What does it do?” questioned Sarah, now intrigued by this strange object.

    “This allows us to see what is happening on earth” responded Angelique “Would you like to try it?”

    “Oh yes” cried Sarah, clapping her hands full of joy. “I’d like to see my mother again.”

    “OK” replied Angelique, “Just stand in front of it and pass your hand close to the crystal.” Sarah went up and passed her little hand in front of the crystal, all the while, thinking of her beloved mother Leah.

    All of a sudden, multicolored lights appeared inside the crystal followed by an image. It was the image of a woman laying down in a graveyard in front of a newly dug grave.

    Leah Holtz woke up from a deep sleep. It had been the first time in weeks that she had slept so soundly. She slowly got up; her body covered by newly fallen autumn leaves. She had spent the night in the cemetery in front of her daughter’s little grave marker.

    The air was crisp and fresh. She got up and brushed off the leaves which clung to her worn sweater. Her eyes filled with tears as she looked once more at the little wooden cross with the words “Sarah” inscribed on a small plaque which was nailed to the cross. Leah had made her peace with God, with herself and above all, with her little daughter

    Leah pulled her sweater around her body as she left Old Oak cemetery and headed home. There would be a lot to do in her apartment. She could take her time as today was her day off from work.
    In spite of not having eaten anything since the day before, she felt full of energy. She walked home quickly, arriving at her apartment in a matter of minutes.

    She put the key in the door lock and walked in. The sight she saw caused her to gasp. “Oh my God Leah,” she said to herself out loud, “How could you have lived like this?”

    Looking around she saw a dirty apartment, with empty beer and wine bottles scattered here and there. Her wedding picture which once hung on the wall lay shattered on the floor amidst pieces of broken glass.
    There were piles of dirty dishes in the sink, and the carpet was dirty with bits and pieces of food particles everywhere.

    “Well”, Leah said to herself, “Time to clean up.”

    With those words, Leah went to work. She went to the closet and took out a vacuum cleaner, a mop, and a bucket. She went to the kitchen and looked for some liquid cleaner and rags. When she had gotten everything ready, she turned on the radio and looked for a Christian station that played popular praise and worship songs. After the music started playing, she began washing all the dirty dishes, pots, and pans.

    Little by little, the dirty, grubby-looking apartment came to life again. Leah opened the windows to allow the fresh, crisp autumn air in. She danced and sang the words to the different songs and praise hymns she heard on the radio.

    She started up the vacuum cleaner, passing it back and forth across the living room floor. She was so involved with her cleaning that she almost didn’t hear a soft knocking at the door. Leah turned off the vacuum for a moment to be sure of the noise. The knocking at the front door repeated a few times more.

    Leah wondered who it could be as she had not received many visitors since her husband had left her. She went and opened the door to find a rather large man with a duffel bag by his feet. He looked rather old and dirty with disheveled hair and a small amount of beard growth.

    He hung his head down, not even lifting it when Leah opened the door. He was a pitiful sight to lay eyes on, a symbol of depression and utter failure.

    “Yes, may I help you sir?” asked Leah, trying to look into this man’s face. In the past, she had seen many homeless people sleeping under bridges. They were usually by the highways with painted signs asking for pennies. From time to time she had given a dollar or two or some change. She thought that perhaps this man was a homeless guy, coming to ask for a bit of change.

    The man finally lifted his head and looked Leah in the eyes. “Hello Leah”,

    he said rather sheepishly. Leah looked deeply into his face, a face she had known for years.

    “Roger?” she asked, backing away a few feet. But yes, it was him, the husband who had left her for another woman. Now he was back, humbled it seemed a sight of defeat.

    “Yes Leah, it’s me” responded a very different Roger Holtz, no longer the proud, arrogant flirt as before, but now a very humbled and meek man.

    “May I come in?” he asked, looking hopefully into Leah’s eyes.

    “Your name is still on the lease, so it’s still your place,” said Leah rather quietly, turning her back to Roger. She went to the living room window leaving a rather meek Roger Holtz at the door. Roger entered and sat down on the living room sofa, leaving his duffel bag just inside the door.

    Leah continued to stare out the living room window, her mind being absorbed with memories, memories of a wedding day and a short-lived relationship ending with deceit and unfaithfulness.

    “You have no idea how much you hurt me Roger” shouted Leah as she whirled around and walked quickly to the sofa to confront her husband.

    “I know I was wrong,” said Roger, looking up at Leah, his eyes expressing sadness and remorse. “I can’t undo what I did, I can only ask for your forgiveness.”

    Leah looked at a very different Roger sitting there on the sofa. She knew in her heart that she had to forgive him since God forgave her for what she had done to her innocent unborn daughter. Was she any different than Roger? Roger had destroyed their marital relationship, but Leah had destroyed a life that was within her. Which was the worst sin? Leah knew what she had to do.

    “Roger” began Leah slowly, “I’ll forgive you for walking out on our relationship, but it isn’t easy. Wounds take time to heal, especially emotional wounds.”

    Leah now came over to the sofa and sat down beside her husband. Roger looked at Leah with all sincerity and tenderness. “Thank you Leah” he began,

    “I’m different than before, I know the LORD now, I really know Him. I accepted Jesus as my LORD and Savior.”
    “When did that happen?” asked Leah, looking at Roger with wonder and awe.

    “Just today” responded Roger. “Do you remember Eddie Williams from our high school football team?”

    “Sure” replied Leah, “Big Eddie the quarterback, all 250 pounds of him, who can forget all the touchdowns he made?”

    “Well” continued Roger, “I saw him on the football field at the city Bible college. I went to the college to look for work. I waved to him and we started talking about old times. I told him how I had left you and that I was with Cindy.”

    Roger paused and hung his head. “I still can’t believe I did that.”

    “Go on Roger,” said Leah, gently touching his hand, “Remember I forgive you.”

    “Well” continued Roger, “When he heard that I had left you for Cindy, he turned and walked away, then stopped and just turned around and charged me like a linebacker on the opposing team.” Roger paused for a few seconds, not knowing how to continue.

    “And then what happened,” asked Leah rather quietly, her interest now aroused. Her soft voice encouraged Roger to continue.

    Taking a deep breath, he continued. “He tackled me, knocking me off my feet and when I hit the ground, he sat on my chest and opened up a Bible and started reading it.”

    “Big Eddie with a Bible?” replied Leah with surprise. “I can’t believe it, but wow, that’s awesome.”

    “I tried to get up”, Roger continued, “but Eddie held me to the ground and told me that I was going to listen to him.” Roger paused and took another deep breath. “He told me that I did wrong in leaving you and that I should return to you and honor my commitment to our marriage.”

    “God works in mysterious ways Roger,” said Leah quietly.

    “Then he started reading from the New Testament” continued Roger, “and told me how Jesus had died for my sins and that I needed to have a real relationship with him. You know what Leah? What he was saying really made sense to me for the first time.”

    As Roger looked into Leah’s eyes, she saw something different in him. He had that sincere look, a ray of hope, a sincere desire for a new beginning.

    “And….what did you do Roger?” asked Leah, her voice ever so gentle.

    “I accepted Jesus as my LORD and Savior; really I did, with all my heart. I felt a real change come over me.”

    Leah reached out and took his hands in hers. “You’re born again now Roger, now we both have a home in Heaven.”

    “Wow Angelique,” said Sarah jumping up and down in front of the crystal of images, “did you hear that? Now both my mom and dad will be here someday with us and King Yeshua, and with all these people up here!”

    “Yes” replied Angelique with a smile, embracing Sarah, “It is so wonderful when the whole family is part of Yeshua’s family. We have so much reason to rejoice in the LORD.” Now the couple sat on the sofa, a couple now joined together in faith, through the covenant of the King.

    “As soon as Eddie let me up” Roger continued, “I embraced him and thanked him for sharing the love of God with me. I ran back to where I was living with Cindy. I didn’t even want to look at her. I just ran into the bedroom, threw all my clothes in this duffel bag and ran out the door.”

    “And Cindy?” asked Leah with questioning eyes, “What did she do?”

    “She just stood there with her mouth hanging open, wondering what was going on” replied Roger. “I told her quickly that I was going back to you.”

    “And what did she say?” asked Leah, now really intrigued.

    “Well” continued Roger, “she just threw out a string of cuss words and slammed the door behind me. I didn’t look back Leah, I just ran as fast as I could away from there. I belong here with you. Can I stay?”

    Leah looked into Roger’s pleading eyes. Yes, he had done wrong, but so had she. If the LORD had forgiven her, who was she to turn her husband away? The prodigal husband had returned, now, equally yoked.
    “Yes, Roger” replied Leah lovingly, “You can stay, it’s your home, and it’s our home. Now we’re a family united in Christ. He heals all hurts.”

    Roger embraced Leah with all tenderness. “

    We’re a reunited family Leah,” said Roger with tears in his eyes, “You, me, and the little one we’re expecting.”
    Roger gently touched Leah’s empty womb. At his touch, Leah recoiled and quickly got up from the sofa and went over to the window again. She tried to hold back the tears, but they still came.

    “I’m not pregnant anymore” cried Leah, her voice echoing both anger and sadness.

    Roger just sat there rather shocked, his eyes wandering from her womb to her eyes. “You had a miscarriage?” he asked. “That’s OK; we can always have another child.”

    “It was an abortion Roger!” shouted Leah, her eyes flashing with hurt. “An abortion! Did you hear? I was angry at you for leaving me. I hated you and I struck out at our precious, innocent daughter to get even!”

    Roger couldn’t respond. He didn’t know what to say. He just continued to stare at Leah’s now angry countenance.

    “She’s dead Roger, do you hear? Dead!” cried Leah, with tears streaming from her eyes. “I killed her, I killed our unborn daughter, and she’s dead!”

    “No mommy, I’m not dead. I’m alive up here in Yeshua’s kingdom” shouted Sarah, jumping up and down in front of the crystal of images, waving her hands in the air trying to get her mother’s attention. “I’m alive up here with my friend Angelique and…”

    “She can’t hear you Sarah” interrupted Angelique, embracing Sarah, looking deep into her eyes. “People on earth can’t hear or see us up here.”

    “I wish my mom and dad could hear and see me,” said Sarah, looking up at Angelique with wishful eyes.

    “I know that Sarah” replied Angelique lovingly, “but I think that deep in your mother’s heart she knows that you’re alive and well up here.” The two embraced each other with heavenly tenderness.

    Sarah and Angelique continued to gaze into the crystal of images observing the emotional scene back on earth. Husband and wife now reconciled, still needed to go through the healing process.

    Roger continued to look at Leah. Deep hurt now showed in his eyes, but amidst the hurt, there was the look of forgiveness and peace. He knew that he was partially to blame, but this would be a new beginning. There would have to be total forgiveness.

    “I forgive you Leah,” said Roger, now embracing his wife. “God forgives you too. You of all people ought to know that. You have been a believer for many years and know more about God’s love than I do.”

    Roger cupped Leah’s face in his hands. His words were like honey, sweetening her sorrowful soul. “One thing I know,” continued Roger, “Our little girl is alive in God’s kingdom, and I am sure she’s looking down at us right now.”

    At these words, both Roger and Leah looked up toward the ceiling of their small apartment.
    “Angelique, look!” cried Sarah all excited, pointing to the figures in the crystal of images, “they’re looking at us, see? They’re looking right up at us, they can really see us.”

    “Yes” smiled Angelique, “it seems that way doesn’t it?”

    “Let this be a new beginning for both of us,” said Roger, embracing his wife.

    Leah’s eyes filled with tears of joy as she accepted her husband’s embrace. Yes, she knew she had been forgiven. Her heart was filled with joy to know that both God and her husband had forgiven her. She would have to forgive herself now.

    “Pastor Anderson still needs a maintenance worker at the church, if you still need a job,” said Leah, knowing that a new beginning with only one paycheck would be a little tight.

    “Do you think he would accept me?” asked Roger hopefully.

    “Now that you are a genuine member of the family of God, I don’t think he would have any problem

    accepting you,” said Leah, knowing that her “new Roger” would put his whole heart and soul into their renewed relationship, new job included.

    “Well” replied Roger, “why don’t we go visit Pastor Anderson now, I’d like to share our new beginning with him.”

    “Great idea,” said Leah, her face aglow with joy. “It would be a great testimony and it’s almost time for the Wednesday evening service. The pastor will also be very surprised to see me again, after all this time away from church.”

    The two embraced each other again, two renewed hearts and lives ready to embrace a renewed relationship with the LORD’s guidance.

    Sarah and Angelique stood watching the couple in the crystal of images. Sarah sensed their love and renewed devotion to each other, and to King Yeshua.

    “I’m so happy that both my mom and dad will be with us here someday,” said Sarah, beaming with joy.

    “Yes” replied Angelique, “They are both children of God now. They will have a home here in Heaven too, just like we do.”

    Sarah and Angelique stepped back from the crystal of images. The embraced couple slowly faded away until the crystal returned to its former transparency.

    “I have an idea, let’s go over to the River of Life and pick some fruit from the trees,” said Angelique, pointing to the row of fruit trees that grew by the river’s edge. There were all kinds of fruit-bearing trees; including vines producing ripe green and purple grapes.

    Sarah looked around and found 3 wicker baskets at the foot of the mansion’s marble steps. She picked them up and handed two of them to Angelique.

    “Are we going to eat all the fruit ourselves?” questioned Sarah with wondering eyes.

    “Of course not,” laughed Angelique, “We’re going to invite Moses, Joshua, and Aaron over to enjoy the meal with us. Then they can tell you how life was like when they lived on earth.”

    “Wow!” exclaimed Sarah, full of excitement, “that would be great. I have so many questions to ask them.”
    “Well, shall we go?”

    “Yes,” said Sarah with a smile, “Let’s go!” So both Angelique and Sarah, baskets in hand, walked down one of the many flowering paths that lead to the River of Life.

    __________________________________________________ _________________

  5. #5
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
    Houston, TX
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    A strange journey


    The young man found himself in some sort of tunnel. It was a swirling tunnel that seemed to be made up of radiant light. This radiant tunnel of light seemed to revolve around and around, pointing to some kind of distant vortex which seemed to grow nearer and nearer.

    At first, he felt himself being pulled through this strange tunnel rather slowly, then, the speed picked up. He managed to see through the sides of the tunnel the blackness of the night sky filled with an array of heavenly stars. These were the same stars he saw night after night, now; they seemed closer, even closer still.

    He thought back to the warm, summer nights when he often lay down in the grassy hills near the olive groves. He would look up into the sky and imagine he was Father Abraham, seeing the same evening stars, those twinkling, tiny lamps that gave testimony to God’s splendid creation, the same God whose promise was fulfilled so many thousands of years ago, that through him, a nation would be born.

    Now, these same stars became a white blur as they rushed past him, or perhaps it was he who was rushing past them through this strange tunnel of light. As he looked to the far distant radiant vortex, he noticed a star which was brighter than all the others which were around him. The star grew in size as he moved through the tunnel, faster and faster.

    The star seemed to take on a certain shape as he got nearer. He saw that the shape took on the appearance took on the of a four-square city of a whitish-golden glow. He saw a wall, a wall that seemed to stretch for miles and miles and appeared to have no end.

    Beyond the walls lay the city itself in a dazzling array of multi-colors. The tunnel of light ended suddenly and the young man found himself suspended high above the city looking down.

    Gazing down upon the golden city he observed a multitude of heavenly hosts array in dazzling white tunics with golden belts around their waists. Their feet were shod with golden sandals encrusted with all sorts of precious stones. No doubt these beings were angels as they also had enormous white wings which were folded behind their backs.

    The angels were all busy at work, building and inlaying precious stones in mansions of all sorts and sizes. As far as his eyes could see, there was construction work going on. It seemed that this entire city was getting prepared, prepared for some event, a very special event.

    As the young man continued to look out over the golden celestial metropolis, he saw one of the angels looking up at him. The angel opened up his radiant white wings and flew upward towards him. In a matter of seconds, they were face to face, both suspended above the glowing city of golden-white light.

    “Peace and blessings to you son of Adam” spoke the angel with a resounding voice.

    “And to you, angel, blessings and peace” replied the young man at the wonder of this entire splendor.

    “Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven, the great city of the King” continued the angel.

    “I’ve heard that name before” replied the young man, “I’ve heard it mentioned by a dear friend of mine. To whom does this city belong?”

    “It is the city of the King” spoke the angel with pride, “The KING of kings and LORD of lords, the creator of the universe and all that is in it. It also belongs to all who are HIS and to all who believe on HIS name.”

    “I see” spoke the young man, “I see all the heavenly hosts down there busy building all those glorious mansions. Are they not for you who believe on HIS name, you, who indeed belong to HIM?”

    “Indeed” replied the angel, “we do belong to HIM and we believe on HIS name who is HOLY, but this city is built for all redeemed man, for all men and women, great and small who have trusted and who will trust in the complete work of redemption of the LAMB”

    “Redemption?” questioned the young man, “Redemption from what?”

    “From the curse of sin” replied the angel, “the sin which all mankind has inherited from Adam, who is the father of all who breathes the breath of life Oh Son of Man.”

    “And how” questioned the young man, “is this redemption to be fulfilled?”

    “The blood” replied the angel, “for without blood there can be no remission of sins.”

    “But that is the reason for the sacrifices” answered the young man, “We have daily sacrifices at the temple. The priests and Levites take bulls and goats and…”

    “They are but shadows, oh man” interrupted the angel.

    “Shadows?” questioned the young man.

    “Yes” replied the angel, “shadows of things to come, mere shadows of He who has come to fulfill all the prophecies of the Torah and the Prophets. It is He who walks among you this very day.”

    The young man stood there wondering, wondering, and marveling at the words of the angel. Just who could this be he thought? Did he know him? The angel seemed to know his thoughts.

    “It is He who teaches in the synagogues, the essence of the Torah and of the Prophets. It is He who makes the words of Moses come to life, gives sight to blinds eyes, and strengthens the legs of the lame. It is He who heals all sorts of infirmities. He is the one who comforts the sorrowful and who embraces the children.”

    The angel stood there gazing into the eyes of the young man, hoping that the words would enlighten his soul.
    The young man just stood there, suspended high above the holy city of God, thinking, contemplating over the words of the angel. As he was deep in thought, only one person came to mind. Only one person could meet that description.

    “Could it be my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man, looking deep into the eyes of the angel.

    “Indeed” replied the angel with joy, knowing now that understanding had reached and penetrated his soul.
    “Your heart has revealed the truth to you, and this same Yeshua will suffer at the hands of sinners. He will be mocked and stricken, he will be despised and chastised with whips, and by His stripes will all mankind receive healing.”

    “Those are the words of the Prophet Isaiah.” said the young man, still deep in thought.

    “Indeed” replied the angel, “and that prophecy will soon come to pass.”

    “But who would want to hurt my dear friend Yeshua?” asked the young man a little perplexed. “He has done no harm to anyone, only good has he done.”

    “Does a lamb offend so that a serpent will strike?” asked the angel, gazing intensely into the eyes of the young man. “Nay, yet the serpent will indeed strike the lamb and the shepherd will be slain, yet the shepherd-lamb will rise from the dead on the third day. Hear this oh man, the serpent’s head will then be crushed
    And only then will the captives that lie in Abraham’s bosom be set free. The Son of Man will take the key to life and open Heaven’s gate to receive the redeemed. All those who sleep in the dust of the earth, from righteous Abel to him that will be at the side of the lamb will inherit this same city which you now see.”

    The young man marveled at the angel’s words, taking in all this wonderful news.

    “And how do you come to know all this?” asked the young man

    “It has been revealed to me by the Father” answered the angel. “It is He who knows all that will come to pass, and as the Father thus wills all that is to come, so does the Son give testimony to the Father by His obedience, even unto death.”

    “When will all this occur?” asked the young man, his questioning eyes gazing into the eyes of the holy angel

    “Soon” answered the angel, “very soon, but I must now return unto my labors below as you must return to yours, as you are being called back. Soon, very soon we will meet again and this City of God will be your inheritance as one of the redeemed by the blood of the lamb.”

    The angel then opened his snow-white wings, aglow with the Shekinah light, and flew back down to the streets of the City of God. There he rejoined the rest of the multitude of heavenly hosts and continued to build inlaying precious stones in the mansions of the redeemed.

    The young man just stood there, hovering above the City of God. He watched the angel as he returned to his work with the others, becoming just a tiny speck amidst the vast multitude of heavenly beings. He stood in awe, taking in the glorious splendor of Heaven. How he wished he could stay, being a part of the heavenly host.

    All of a sudden, he heard a voice. It was a voice of thunder, a voice of command, of infinite authority. He felt the air vibrate around him; the resonating voice seemed to engulf him completely, seemingly to draw him away from this heavenly realm. Indeed, he felt now that he was being drawn away, entering the same tunnel of light which brought him to this city of peace.

    He felt himself being pulled away, faster and faster. As he looked back, he saw the Kingdom of Heaven growing smaller and smaller until it looked like just another one of the bright stars of the heavens.

    Around and around he traveled, feeling an unseen force which, he could not explain, a force which pulled him through this strange tunnel of glowing, pulsating light. He observed around him all the stars of heaven going past him, leaving behind them small tails of light.

    Up ahead, he noticed a small, round object of blue and white color. The object got bigger second by second. He then noticed brown and green mixed with the blue and white colors. The object then got so big that it seemed to engulf him completely. Then he noticed familiar objects; trees, hills, and mountains. He noticed a familiar countryside of green meadows and date palms. He finally saw something very familiar, it was his own house. Behind his house was a small, rocky hill. He felt himself being drawn into that hill, a hill that harbored an empty tomb.

    Suddenly, everything went dark. He felt confined, lying down on a hard, stone surface. He felt bound by cloth and a horrible stench of death permeated the pitch-dark atmosphere. Then suddenly, a voice rang out, a voice that he recognized the voice of a friend, his master, and teacher, the voice of God, saying...


  6. #6
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
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    Dreams of fire


    Antonius Flavius Aquila sat down to breakfast at the large ornate wooden table in his Pompeii Villa. It was a villa of luxury built with the many denarii and aureii gained during his tenure in the Senate of Rome. All, however, was not earned by honor, but by corruption and bribery, of turning a blind eye in the face of justice.

    For a few hundred denarii, another innocent Roman became another resident of the Mamertine (notorious prison in Rome), and the heart of Antonius was hardened even more. He was very much a part of the corruption of Rome, even though he tried to justify his actions with the desire to provide the best for his family. His wife and son, however, wanted none of it.

    He raised his hand and motioned for his household slaves to bring him his breakfast meal. They came to him with roasted fish, cereal, and some bread, with honey, figs, and dates. They also filled his silver goblet with wine and set it also before him on the table together with the breakfast food. The slaves then returned to do other household chores leaving Antonius to have breakfast alone.

    he lifted up his silver goblet and looked toward the mosaic image of his wife Julia. The tile image stared at him like a ghost from the past on the wall across from the table. The coal-black eyes of the image reminded him of his blackened soul.

    “Hail Julia, the love of my life, I miss you so” cried Antonius as he lifted his silver goblet toward the image, and then sipped some wine from the cup. Julia was indeed a woman of Rome, a patrician of a noble family whose voice cried out for the needy, the indigent, and for justice. Her noble ideals clashed with those of Antonius. Many times, she lifted up her voice in protest to the injustices of Antonius, his voice rose above that of Julia so as to silence her protests.

    In the last few years, she became a shell of her once robust being, a shadow in the darkness instead of light for justice. A light snuffed out by the injustices of Antonius, and others of the senate. Over the years, Antonius made a few enemies, so he thought the move to Pompeii would be good for his family. The villa and costly estate brought no change to Julia. Rome had taken its toll on Julia, wife of Antonius Flavius Aquila.

    She took refuge in the garden of the Villa, eating hardly anything. She just sat on one of the stone lectii lined with velvet cushions, surrounded by the beauty of flowers, a fountain, and a statue of the god Jupiter. Day by day she would look out toward the distant olive groves. Her eyes followed the birds, wishing that she too would have wings, to fly away from the memory of corruption. Her eyes would look past the olive groves to the mountain called Vesuvius, wishing she could somehow hide out in one of its many caves, never to be found.

    It was one March morning when Antonius came down to breakfast, that he went out into the garden. He found Julia lying down on the velvet cushions of a stone sofa, thinking her asleep, he went to awaken her only to find her cold corpse with a vial of poison in her outstretched hand.

    He would have to live with his “ides of March”, the price of Roman corruption had followed him to Pompeii. He would have rather faced an assassin’s dagger than see his beloved Julia dead, and by her own hand at that. Her once lively voice now silenced forever.

    Marcellus, son of Antonius lay asleep in his room on the second floor of his family’s Pompeian villa. Suddenly, the earth began to shake and rumble from below, there was a loud noise of an explosion of some sort. The sky turned dark and the air became hot, so hot that it was hard to breathe. Small white stones began to fall like heavy raindrops all around the villa; on the roof, in the garden, stones dropped and floated in the fountain. More stones began to fall, larger ones, stones glowing with red hot fire hit the roof, breaking off bits and pieces of tile.

    As the air became more and more heated, a hot white powder began to fall mixed with the falling stones. The hot air was now painful to breathe in, the smoke and fire seemed to come from the mountain called Vesuvius. Marcellus clutched his throat as breathing became more and more painful. The white-powdery substance burned his eyes. Finally, he passed out.

    When he opened his eyes, it was daylight. He was lying on his bed. The birds in the garden were chirping. He quickly got out of bed and ran to the window overlooking the garden. He gazed at the countryside beyond the garden and observed the mountain called Vesuvius in the distance.

    It was the same as ever, a tall monument of earth and stone overlooking the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A few clouds covered the peak but there was neither fire nor smoke. Marcellus realized it was a dream, yes, a dream. But what could the dream mean? All dreams had meanings. Just as the dream of Jacob and the ladder had a meaning, so did this one, but what was the meaning?

    Marcellus got up from his bed, put on his tunic and sandals, and went downstairs to the dining area where his father was having breakfast.

    “Good morning father” greeted Marcellus with his usual smile.

    “Good morning son,” replied his father rather coldly. Antonius had undergone a change since moving to Pompeii. Even though he retired from the senate of Rome, his thoughts still returned to the corrupt activities he had been a part of. He could not escape his own conscience, and it showed.

    “I am going to meet with Claudia ” replied Marcellus, “I would dine with you but she is waiting for me”.

    “Yes,” said Antonius, getting up from the table, “go and meet with your Claudia Do you really take me for a blind fool?” Antonius walked slowly toward his son. Marcellus was surprised at his father’s response.

    “What do you mean father? I don’t understand?”

    “There have been rumors about secret meetings of Christians, Marcellus,” said Antonius coldly, “you and Claudia have been seen with them”. Marcellus just stared at his father. So, he knew, somehow, he found out. He dare not deny his new-found faith in Israel’s Messiah, knowing that many had already sacrificed their lives at the mere sport of previous emperors.

    “Have you nothing to say Marcellus?” asked his father.

    “Yes father” replied Marcellus standing erect, “I am a Christian and Claudia too”

    “By the gods” roared Antonius “have you any idea how many denarii I’ve had to spend to keep certain people quiet by not sending a message to Rome saying; The son of Antonius Flavius Aquila is part of the sect known as Christians’ “Who knows” he continued “we might lose all this” waving his hands around looking at the villa.

    “It’s always money and everything material, isn’t it father?” replied Marcellus more boldly, “did you ever think, father, that there is more to life than just money and power?”

    “Everything you see here I built for you and your mother” replied Antonius, “but your mother didn’t appreciate it” pointing to her tile image on the wall.

    “How could she?” replied Marcellus, “knowing how this place was built with blood money of innocent Romans, money that closed your eyes to justice and truth. She couldn’t live with that”

    “It was hard on your mother,” said Antonius looking down at the ornate tile floor.

    “Rome took mother’s life” snapped Marcellus, “so many times she cried out for justice and your voice and actions always silenced hers. She couldn’t live with that anymore.

    “Your mother took her own life,” Antonius said quietly “You were still young”

    “But not too young as not to remember the look in her eyes, of anguish and sadness, you and Rome drove her to her death” replied Marcellus.

    “Remember son, you too are a Roman”

    “Don’t remind me father” cried Marcellus as he turned his back to his father, walking quickly to the entrance of the Villa. Antonius just stood there watching his son leave the house. Marcellus turned once more to his father. He still loved his father, and his heart went out to him.

    “Father, why don’t you come with me and Claudia to our meeting and listen to what is said about the master?” said Marcellus hoping for the best.

    “Just go”, yelled Antonius, “go follow your dead Jew and see where it gets you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in front of a gladiator’s sword. I can’t protect you forever”.

    Marcellus looked at his father sadly, if only he could understand the truth.

    “He isn’t dead father, he lives, he lives in the hearts of all those who follow him. His spirit lives in all who believe in him, even if it means facing the gladius (a roman short sword) or wild beasts. With those words, he left the house and went out into the street.

    He would look for Claudia in the usual place, at the forum in front of the temple of Apollo, right under the sundial. As he made his way to the busy forum, he continued to think about his mother. Oh, how he missed her, if only she had not taken her own life.

    The move to Pompeii was somewhat sudden. Antonius sought peace and safety from the life of Rome, as there were those who sought his life for his misdeeds. Pompeii would be like a city of refuge he thought, not only for him but for his family. But Rome had taken its toll on Julia. Unable to help those who fell to the fate of the Mamertine, or to the jaws of beasts, she decided to join them by her own hand.

    The Forum was just ahead. Marcellus looked toward the temple of Apollo and found the sundial, but Claudia wasn’t there. He noticed that there was a group of Pompeiians gathered in the middle of the forum. He heard the voice of one crying out as if giving a speech, a speech of warning. As Marcellus approached the crowd, he saw Claudia on the outskirts listening attentively. He approached her and put his hand on her shoulder.

    “Oh Marcellus, I’m glad you’re here,” she said with an anxious voice. “It’s Sosthenes, the Greek. He is going to speak to our group today but he chooses first to speak to this crowd of mockers”.

    “Indeed” replied Marcellus, “he has valor and courage like a gladiator”

    Both Claudia and Marcellus continued to listen. They now formed part of the crowd which now pressed closely around this old, bearded stranger from Greece.

    “Oh, people of Pompeii” continued the stranger, “Rome has sinned a great sin against the Almighty God. Rome has destroyed his holy temple in Jerusalem and has stolen its treasures”.

    “God, which god?” cried out one from the crowd.

    “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” answered the stranger. “The only one God who created the heavens and the earth. He has seen the corruption of Rome and the injustice toward man. He has seen the idolatry and sin of this city too. He will therefore come down and destroy Pompeii with fire, brimstone, smoke, and ash. Judgment will come from your mountain you call Vesuvius. Judgment will be swift for God will not be mocked. Your city will reap the whirlwind. Woe unto you people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, flee while you can, flee to the sea to escape judgment”.

    By this time, the people had started to laugh and mock the stranger. “Get out of here Greek,” said one; “This city has too much life to die,” said another. Just then, two burly gladiators pushed through the crowd grabbed the stranger by the arms, and pushed him to the ground.

    “Go preach doom to another city old man,” said one of the gladiators.

    “The gold, silver, wine, and women keep this city alive,” said the other as he gave the stranger a hard kick to his ribs.

    “Sosthenes” cried Claudia as she pushed through the crowd, falling by his side to protect him, “Leave him alone”.

    “A few rotten tomatoes and old fruit were cast a Sosthenes as he lay on the ground, staining his beard and clothing.

    “Ah, the lady Claudia to the rescue, eh?” remarked one of the gladiators, “then see to it that this old man stays out of trouble, we don’t need any prophets of doom here.”

    The two gladiators then left the crowd which then also dispersed, continuing their routine business in and around the forum. Marcellus then came near and helped Claudia get Sosthenes to his feet. After a few minutes they were alone, and no one else paid any attention to the three.

    “Sosthenes,” said Claudia somewhat upset, “Were you not told to go straight to the house of Gaius the fisherman?”

    “Ah yes” replied Sosthenes, shaking off the dust, dirt, and rotten fruit from his clothing, “but I couldn’t resist speaking to these Pompeiians. They must be warned just as Noah warned the people of his time.”

    “And no one paid any attention to Noah, did they?” replied Marcellus, helping the old man to remove the rest of the rotten fruit from his tunic.

    “This is my beloved Marcellus,” said Claudia, “he is also a believer in our Messiah from Nazareth.

    “I am glad to meet you Marcellus” replied Sosthenes, fully regaining his footing.

    “I am used to this my brother, these are the things one must endure for God. At least I have not been stoned like Paul”

    The three then made their way toward the house of Gaius the fisherman, whose house was near the seaport of Pompeii.

    “Sostenes, what happened to you” exclaimed Gaius as he opened the door to let the three in.

    “A little problem convincing the crowd of impending doom” replied Sosthenes, sitting down in a rustic wooden chair near the kitchen area. The ordeal with the crowd and the walk to the seaport wore him out.

    “What are you talking about?” replied Gaius, rather bewildered.

    “I will explain my dear friend,” said Sostenes rather calmly. “Will all the families arrive soon?”

    “Yes,” said Gaius, “I have sent word to all of them that you would be here with a special message.”

    “That’s good. Now I would like to wash and have a little something to eat and drink” replied Sostenes, as he pulled his chair next to the wooden kitchen table, in the humble house of Gaius the fisherman.

    Gaius and his wife went to the kitchen and brought back some food for Sostenes. He then washed his hands in a small wooden bowl and enjoyed a meal of figs, dates, and some roasted fish with bread. Gaius then poured some wine in a little wooden cup and handed it to Sosthenes. He broke the bread and lifted up the wine, reciting the blessing.

    As he was eating, the Christian families started to arrive. Before long, the humble house of Gaius was filled with men, women, and children who had placed their trust in the resurrected Yeshua, Messiah of Israel, and the hope of all mankind.

    As Sosthenes got up from the table, Gaius motioned to the people to sit down on the floor. All eyes were now on Sostenes, the old Greek believer from Athens. He made his way to the front of the large room, which now seemed small on account of all the people. Gaius set a chair for him to sit down. Once seated, Sosthenes started his discourse.

    “My dearly beloved brothers and sisters of Pompeii, I wish you peace and the believers of Athens also send greetings and peace”

    “Peace to you also, amen” replied the crowd in unison. There were about 50 gathered together in the house of Gaius.

    “For those who don’t know me, my name is Sostenes” he began. “I am a devote Jew from Athens. I am also a follower of our Messiah Yeshua who was foretold by the prophets of old. It was during the feast of Passover that I and some other Jews from Greece went to Jerusalem for the event. We had heard when we got there that a certain man named Lazarus was raised from the dead, and that the man “Yeshua” was the one who gave life unto him again"

    “Now, we asked ourselves, if this man Yeshua could possibly be the Messiah that the Torah speaks of, we would have to seek him out and meet him personally. We found his followers and spoke to one called Phillip and asked him if we could see Yeshua. He then went and told another named Andrew. They went and returned to us with Yeshua, who was very happy to meet us.” (John 12:20)

    “He then confirmed our hopes and the miracle with Lazarus. He revealed to us the prophecies from the Torah concerning himself. He also told us that now, his time was at an end and that he would accomplish the purpose for which he came into the world. We could not understand his saying, but later we understood. It was when we saw this same Yeshua hanging from a Roman cross.”

    “Our souls were parted in pieces, but we also understood that the prophecies of the Torah concerning Him had to be fulfilled. “Now, almost 50 years later, Yeshua again spoke to me through his Holy Spirit. It was through a dream, a strange dream. It was a dream of fire, smoke, destruction, death, and judgment, the destruction, my dear brothers and sisters, of your city Pompeii and your neighbor Herculaneum. The fire of judgment will come from the mountain you call Vesuvius.”

    At that time, others from the group of believers stood up and spoke;

    “I too had a similar dream”. And another said “I too dreamed of fire coming from the mountain.” The Marcellus slowly stood up and said;

    “I have had that dream for the past three nights.”

    Claudia looked at him with wide, wondering eyes of awe. She pressed her hand in his and said; “I also had the dream”.

    Sostenes, with wide-open eyes, looked around the room slowly nodding his head. “Then it is confirmed among all of you. Judgment is indeed to fall upon this city. God is not mocked, for in destroying his holy house, now the house of Rome will fall.”

    “But when?” asked one, “When will this occur?”

    “The LORD has hidden this from me” answered Sostenes, “but I will enquire of the LORD right now.” Sostenes slowly turned and prostrated himself on the floor of the fisherman’s house. The believers in the room were all quiet and waiting. All eyes were on Sostenes. The lips of Sostenes moved but no sound came out.
    Then, he was quiet, deathly still. After what seemed to be an eternity of tension, he slowly got to his feet. His eyes showed a mixture of fear and awe. Then he spoke his oracle.

    “Thus, says the LORD of hosts, hear ye people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, thou hast lived a life of ease, pride, and arrogance, praying to gods that are not. By the hands of your emperor Titus, my holy house in Jerusalem was laid waste, burned with the fire of hate. Now, your houses will be laid waste with my fire of judgment that will proceed from my chosen mountain called Vesuvius. My fire and ashes will cover your cities and they will lay forgotten for a season.

    “For on this day, the twenty and fourth day of this month of Augustus, will judgment fall. Run my children, run to the sea and sail away to safety. Tarry not for judgment is here.”

    Sostenes dropped his hands to his side. All the people in the room were deathly quiet, deep in thought, in unbelief. Then they started to talk among themselves. One spoke out;

    “The twenty-fourth day of August, that’s today, we have no time to lose”

    Gaius the fisherman spoke next.

    “I have ready three fishing vessels outside tied to the docks; we need only water and provisions”
    Then yet another spoke;

    “I have two boats in the boathouses in Herculaneum. I will get them and bring them here; I need only a few men to help me.” At that, he left quickly followed by four other men of the group. Another spoke up;

    “I am a close friend of Pliny the Elder. He is at Misenum in charge of the Roman fleet. I believe he will lend me a few vessels.”

    “Go quickly” cried Gaius, “all of you return to your homes and gather some food and vessels of water. We shall all meet back here at the docks. Sostenes, you shall stay here with me.”

    Sostenes, the old Greek nodded and sat down.

    “May the LORD delay his judgment until we are all gathered back together again!”

    “I shall return home and warn my father and the household slaves,” said Marcellus as he embraced Claudia.

    “I too will return home and warn my parents.” replied Claudia, “But I know that they will take me as a fool.”

    “We shall meet back at the boat docks as Gaius directed,” said Marcellus as they broke their embrace and took to the streets of Pompeii.

    The group of believers was soon headed back to their homes as fast as their feet would carry them. Marcellus passed the Forum, heading toward the street that led up to his father’s villa. As he approached his home, he looked into the garden and saw that his father had some guests. The slaves were also busy serving some wine and food to them. He approached his father quietly and with due respect.

    “Salutat dear father,” said Marcellus as he bowed in reverence.

    “Ah Marcellus my son” replied Antonius lifting a silver cup with wine, “I am sure you know my two friends from the senate at Rome, ex-senators Quintus, and Marcus”. The two other men nodded at Marcellus, lifting their hands in greeting.

    “It is a pleasure to see you again, dear friends of my father” replied Marcellus.

    “The pleasure is ours” responded the two with a smile.

    “Father, I must warn you” began Marcellus, “we must leave Pompeii at once, there is danger.”

    “Danger?” questioned Antonius. “What sort of danger?”

    “The mountain called Vesuvius will rain down fire and ashes. This whole city will be covered. All will be destroyed, lost. This is the judgment of God.” ended Marcellus excitedly.

    Antonius just sat there on one of the garden’s stone lectii, hanging his head with a deep sigh. Marcus and Quintus looked at each other and then at Marcellus with looks of confusion and disbelief.

    “And just where did you hear that?” questioned Antonius, looking sternly at his son.

    “From Sostenes, an old man from Athens, and…”

    “A Greek” interrupted Marcus with a laugh, “so that was the commotion at the Forum early this morning.”
    “Those Greeks are all actors, always into drama” added Quintus, looking at Antonius and then to Marcellus. “But tell me dear son of Antonius” continued Quintus, “which god will bring this judgment?”

    With nerves of iron and a deep breath, Marcellus revealed his faith to the party of three there in the garden.

    “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who is also called Yeshua. The only One God who came to earth in human form to save all mankind from sin. It is he who will bring judgment to this city.”

    The three men just sat there at the ornate marble table in the middle of the garden, looking up a Marcellus. Their eyes spoke of wonder and disbelief, hearing the words that came out of the only son of Antonius.

    “Now my son speaks as a Jew as well as a Christian” responded Antonius rather angrily. “You see my dear friends” continued Antonius, “Marcellus my son belongs to this sect called “Christians.” Much to my disappointment, he has abandoned the gods of Rome to worship this “Jesus of Nazareth” or as the Jews called him, “Yeshua”

    “But didn’t Rome put him to death under Pontius Pilate?” questioned Quintus, “I believe I remember seeing that report which was sent to Tiberius so many years ago”

    “His followers claim he rose from the dead,” said Marcus quietly.

    “Nonsense” replied Antonius loudly, “these Christians have caused nothing but trouble in Rome with their ridiculous teachings.”

    “Trouble?” questioned Quintus, “how?”

    “Why they burned Rome to the ground” replied Antonius, “when Nero was emperor….

    “Oh Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “it was Nero himself who torched Rome, him and his praetorian guard. The Christians were only his scapegoats, quite impossible for them to have done such a thing, what with their teachings of peace and love.”

    “You speak treason” replied Antonius, now standing erect before his friends, “I could have you arrested for speaking so about an emperor.”

    “Sit down Antonius” replied Quintus rather annoyed. “I know several Romans who would pay many aureii to have some Cacius or Brutus place a dagger in your gut dear friend. Hail Caesar!” he said mockingly, raising his almost empty silver cup toward Antonius.

    Antonius glared down at his friend and then slowly sat down, his eyes still flashing anger toward his friend.

    “But come now Antonius, we are good friends, are we not?” replied Quintus smiling. “I would never do such a thing. What are a few hundred aureii between you and me?” “Now about these Christians” continued Quintus, “Why don’t you ask Marcus here about them?” why he would know more about them, wouldn’t you Marcus?” now looking intensely at his other friend.

    Up to now, Marcus had almost nothing to say. He just sat there with a silver wine cup in his hand. He seemed though to be deep in thought.

    “I have nothing to say” replied Marcus quietly, not even looking at Quintus.

    “I think you do my friend,” said Quintus, “your silence speaks for you. Tell Antonius about your son Flavius. Remember you are among friends.”

    Marcus finally looked up at his two friends, “My son Flavius is also a Christian” he said softly.

    “Flavius?” said Marcellus, “Yes, I believe I know him. He brings us the bread from the marketplace for our meetings. I deeply admire his devotion and his love for our LORD.”

    Marcus, upon hearing Marcellus, continued to speak, but now with more courage.

    “My son is a changed person since following the teachings of this Jesus. He is more helpful around the house. Why he even helps the slaves with their chores, something he never would have thought doing before…”

    “You see Antonius” interrupted Quintus, “many benefits could come from this sect called ‘Christianity’, or “the Way” as some of these people call themselves. Just imagine Rome with these Christians, more love, less corruption, more peace toward fellow man as they oftentimes say. Rome would be a very different place if these Christians had their way, wouldn’t you say so my dear Antonius?”

    Antonius just sat there looking at Quintus, then at his son, but said nothing.

    He seemed to be pondering the words of Quintus, and the testimony of Marcus concerning his son Flavius. A Christian Rome! What would the world make of it?

    “Please, I beg you all,” said Marcellus now with a worried look on his face, “We don’t have much time, we have boats at the docks and we are gathering provisions what with the city marked for destruction….”

    “Marcellus” interrupted Antonius, “My friends and I have business to discuss and we can’t be bothered with the tales of a fanatical old Greek.”

    “It was nice seeing you again Marcellus,” said Quintus with a broad smile, lifting his silver cup toward one of the slaves to have it refilled with wine.

    With tears in his eyes, Marcellus turned quickly and left the garden. He hurried through the streets of Pompeii forgetting all about gathering provisions from his house. The attitude and disbelief of his father and his friends saddened him, but what more could he do? Noah also announced judgment in the time of the flood,
    But no one believed him. He made his way through the Forum and hurried in the direction of the docks.

    As he approached, he saw that there was a great crowd already loading provisions aboard the boats, with Claudia among them. He would do his part with the loading as well. Suddenly, he felt a rumbling sound beneath his feet. The sound grew louder, now the ground started to shake. Then he heard a loud noise like an explosion. He looked toward Mt. Vesuvius and saw that black smoke and fire were coming from the top.

    He observed a column of black and white smoke reaching far into the sky and then breaking off into what seemed to be branches. The sky slowly turned dark, blotting out the sun. Small white pebbles mixed with blacked stones started to fall from the sky, hitting roofs of houses and buildings. The noise was like a violent rainstorm, but worse. The pebbles and rocks brought with them a smell like sulfur. The air all around grew hotter and hotter. Then he heard a voice calling his name, it was Claudia.

    “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now!” she shouted from the boat she was near. Marcellus looked back in the direction of his home. His thoughts went to his father. He must, he thought, save him from this now evident judgment of fire from Vesuvius.

    “I must go back for my father” shouted Marcellus.

    “We haven’t the time” cried Claudia, “Please; I don’t want to lose you!”

    Marcellus didn’t think twice, he turned and ran back toward the city. When he reached the Forum, people were crying out to each other, hardly able to see amidst the falling ash which now blanketed the city. The citizens of Pompeii were running to and fro in mass confusion. The air was now hot and suffocating, being almost impossible to breathe and see ahead. Marcellus took a piece of cloth and covered his mouth hoping to filter out the deadly sulfur fumes which now poisoned the air.

    The volcano continued to throw out burning rocks and ash. Lava bombs were everywhere. Only the LORD could protect him from the falling fire. As he ran toward the direction of his house, he saw Lucius, one of his household slaves running towards him.

    “Marcellus, where are you going?” cried Lucius amidst the cries of the crowd around them.

    “I must rescue my father” cried Marcellus, with eyes wide with fear.

    “It’s too late master Marcellus” replied the slave with tears in his eyes, “the ground opened up under the house and garden, and the walls fell in. Your father and his friends were buried under the walls. I am sorry master, only I was able to escape alive.”

    “Oh, father” cried Marcellus, burying his face in his hands, “why didn’t you listen? Oh, why did you not heed the warning? Now it’s too late.”

    “We must hurry Master Marcellus, to the boat docks!” said Lucius, grabbing Marcellus by the arms. The two ran through the streets in the direction of the boat docks.

    The volcano was now in full force. It seemed like all hell had come to the surface of the earth. Fire and smoke shot high into the sky. The air was thick with choking gases and sulfur fumes. All around them burning rocks were falling, red hot with glowing fire. The lava bombs were hitting buildings and people all around. Marcellus and Lucius passed a poor dog in the agony of death, being slowly covered with hot ash. Many people now lay still in the ash-covered streets, slowly being covered with the volcano’s blanket of death.

    As the two hurried along the streets towards the seaport, they passed a small girl about two years old crying and hugging her mother. The mother lay dead in the street, her head split open and a smoldering red-hot rock lay beside her.

    Marcellus didn’t think twice. He rushed over and picked up the whimpering little girl and continued to run toward the boat docks with the house slave Lucius. Finally, they could see the boats at the docks already sailing away. The air and wind were hot and there was a continuous rain of hot ash and burning rocks all around. People all around them were screaming and crying out for their loved ones.

    With each breath, the intense volcanic heat and ash scorched the throats of the dying citizens of Pompeii. It seemed like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was being repeated.

    One boat was still tied to the dock. The people on board were shouting to the two who were running towards them. Marcellus noticed that Claudia was there, standing near the mooring. She caught sight of Marcellus as he ran alongside Lucius

    “Marcellus, hurry, we need to leave now” cried Claudia.

    “Get in the boat,” shouted Marcellus, “I’ll untie the ropes.” and he handed the little girl to Claudia. Marcellus and Lucius both loosened the ropes that held the boat fast to the dock. They both pushed the boat away from the dock and jumped aboard.

    “Let’s go” cried Gaius the fisherman when he saw that the two were safe on board.

    A few men pulled hard on the oars while a few others pulled up the sail. The hot wind quickly filled the sail and the boat was off, sailing away from the docks of Pompeii. Burning rocks and ash continued to fall all around them. The water around the boat sizzled and boiled as the red-hot lava bombs hit the surface.

    The men in the boat strained at the oars, pulling hard against the waves to catch up with the other boats which carried the believers. Finally, the five boats were together. Gaius looked around at the boats, and when he saw that they were all together, began thinking about a destination. The five boats kept up a swift pace, making distance from the burning inferno of Pompeii. When they were a good distance away, Gaius called out to get the attention of all.

    The people aboard the boats were talking amongst themselves, wondering about their destination. Gaius could sense that, and they were quite right to wonder. They had to have someplace to go, but where to? With a loud voice which carried to all five sailing vessels, Gaius stood up and began to speak.

    “Dear brothers and sisters in the LORD, today our God has saved us from the fire of his wrath against the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Yes, we will miss our homes, but we will find new homes where we shall begin anew. Now, where will we go? There is the city of Paestum which is South by South East within a day’s sailing. With fair winds, we shall get there shortly.”

    Gaius then sat down and ordered the men at the oars to take the lead. He motioned with his hand for the other boats to follow him. All the people nodded their heads in agreement. Paestum would be their destination and their home for the time being.

    Sostenes got up and moved over to where Marcellus, Claudia, and Lucius were seated. “Paestum is a small city, but it does have some groups of believers. They will welcome us.” His voice was calm and assuring. The three sat there and smiled, embracing one another. Claudia now looked down at the little girl who was clinging tightly to her legs.

    “and this little girl?” she asked.

    “Her mother was dead” responded Marcellus. “I picked her up on the way to the docks. I believe I did the right thing. I think the Master would have done the same.”

    “Yes” replied Claudia who picked up the little girl, now holding her against her breasts. “You did the right thing; this little girl has a new family now.”

    “Well then,” said Marcellus, “since we are a family now, don’t you think it would be good to be united as man and wife, and receive the LORD’s blessing on our union?”

    Claudia looked up into the eyes of Marcellus, her own eyes filling with tears of joy. “With all my heart I will accept you, my dear Marcellus, as my husband.”

    The two then turned to Sostenes. “My dear brother Sostenes” began Marcellus, “Would you be willing to join us in marriage when we reach Paestum?”

    Sostenes nodded and smiled. “It would be an honor to join the two of you as man and wife.”

    Marcellus then turned to Lucius who was sitting by his side; “and you my dear Lucius, are no longer a slave, but a free man, so don’t call me master any longer.”

    Lucius looked up at Marcellus, a broad smile of joy appearing on his face. He slowly got up and embraced Marcellus. “I would still like to be by your side. You, Claudia, and this little girl could be my family.” He said with happiness.

    “Then” answered Marcellus, “By our side, you shall be, however, you shall receive wages for your services, we can discuss that later when we get to safety.”

    Upon mentioning wages, Lucius reached down and unrolled some clothing revealing a medium-sized leather bag. He untied the top showing the contents of several hundred silver denarii and gold aureii coins.

    “I took these from your father’s house just before it collapsed Marcellus, I thought this money might come in useful in the future,” said Lucius thoughtfully.

    Marcellus and Claudia looked into the bag. They could only imagine how many lives had been destroyed over the greed of silver and gold. But now, this silver and gold would have to be put to good use.

    “A heavy burden to bear,” said Marcellus, now deep in thought. “Yes, this money will be useful. All these people in the boats have lost everything they owned. When we get to Paestum, we shall divide up the money and give each family an equal share. They will then have a little something to start their lives over again”

    Marcellus looked into the eyes of Lucius and putting his hand on his shoulder he continued.

    “That will be your first duty as my accountant dear Lucius, to separate the silver and gold coins. Count all the coins and take a count of the people, then each family will receive an equal share of gold and silver.”

    “You are indeed generous Marcellus,” said Lucius, “so unlike your father.”

    “My father did not know our LORD and Savior” replied Marcellus sadly.

    “I would like you to tell me more about Jesus,” said Lucius, “I would so much like to be a part of this community of believers called “The Way”.

    “I will gladly tell you all that I know” replied Marcellus happily, “and Sostenes will tell you first hand of the Master of Nazareth.”

    “Yes” replied Sosthenes, as he put his hand on Lucius’ shoulder, “I met Jesus many years ago, and it seems like only yesterday. I will tell you about him.”

    Behind the boats lay the city of Pompeii, now being covered by lava and ash. The four looked behind one more time at the city of doom, now just a faint orange glow in the distance, the fire, smoke, and ashes, all a reminder of God’s fierce judgment against the empire of Rome.

  7. #7
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    ONE HANUKKAH IN AUSCHWITZ ( A tale from the Holocaust)


    It was a very cold and snowy late afternoon when the prisoners of barracks 9 returned from their work. The bitter cold frost made the scrap metal stick to the men’s hands as the job required the prisoners to move mountains of metal from one place to another.

    At times, it rained and the mud made it even harder to maintain a firm footing while pushing and pulling the giant scraps of iron that would be melted down to make more weapons for Hitler’s war machine. Some were sent to I.B. Farben’s factory to work, but even that meant slave labor.

    The men were marched through the icy wind and snow flurries, clad in striped uniforms, ill-fitting shoes, thin jackets, and caps while the bitter Polish cold numbed their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

    Rabbi Faerman thought back a few years prior to his fateful transport from Kiev to the hell hold of Auschwitz. He pondered on the memories of family around the Sabbath Table, the lighting of the Shabbos candles, the prayers, his wife’s borscht, cholent, or fish with rich farm butter with black bread and cheese.

    His old synagogue came to memory, with the rustic wooden benches, the wooden ark with the Torah scrolls, and the people who attended faithfully on the Sabbath and high holy days.

    All these were just memories now. He looked around at the men in this marching group from barracks 9 and recognized a few from his town near Kiev. They had also attended the synagogue faithfully, celebrating the high holy days, enjoying life as they could in spite of the war. Now, they were all together in this place of suffering and anguish, where future dreams went up in smoke, where thoughts of family turned to ashes and dust as many became in this camp of death called Auschwitz.

    The weary group of men passed under the iron gates with the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” above, with sneering guards and capos on the right and left. Those words just echoed another Nazi lie. Yes, work would indeed make them free, free from the land of the living, free to return to the dust of the earth from which they were made.

    As the men marched past the gates, Rabbi Faerman looked to the right at the railroad tracks that lead him and his family to this place of suffering and woe. He looked at the platform where he was separated from his dear wife and children, amidst growling, snarling dogs, and screaming guards.

    He looked toward the crematorium chimneys that belched black smoke, where so many lives and dreams soared upward toward heaven. If only the God in heaven would someday bring justice to this act of human slaughter.

    The group finally stopped in front of barracks 9. The guard counted the group and gave the report to the officer in charge. For rabbi Faerman and the others of barracks 9, it would be so easy to hate these monsters who called themselves “soldiers of the Reich” but hate would eat away at their hearts and souls, and in the end, they would be just like them. No better than a capo with a truncheon, or guards and officers with mousers and lugers, or Dr. Mengele in his clinic of horrors. Either hate would conquer love, or love would conquer hate. The choice was theirs.

    Rabbi Faerman remembered the teaching of Torah. After all, did not God love the children of Israel, even when they were rebellious after having received the law? God could have rejected his people, and selected another. But no, the God of the universe chose to both forgive and keep on loving his children. Yes, he knew that love was better than hate, in the end; justice would be in the hands of the Almighty one of Israel.

    The hard thing to do in a place like this would be to put love and forgiveness into action. He knew what he had to do. He would not allow hate to conquer his spirit. He was a rabbi and represented the Torah of Adonai, he had to remember that.

    The evening count was given to the commandant. After that, the men formed a line and their dinner of watery potato or turnip soup was poured into small bowls, together with a few ounces of stale bread and cold coffee. The lucky ones were in the back of the line. They would receive a bit more substance than liquid gruel, as the bottom of the pot revealed more potato or turnip substance which ended up in their bowls.

    Sometimes, the camp cooks would boil the rotten potatoes and turnips, making the soup somewhat rancid and bitter. Those who were “unlucky” to be at the end of the line got the rotten mush. Many who were hungry enough to eat it ended up getting sick. The sick could then report to the camp infirmary, thus skipping a day of work. At times, it was a fateful decision, because the sick many times received a very bitter medicine, a trip to the gas chamber and up the crematorium chimney in smoke.

    Yes, it was a hard life in camp, and many of those who would survive ended up with embittered souls in skeletal bodies. Others decided to end it all on the electric fence by their own hand.

    The men entered barracks 9. One by one they found their way to their bunks. The bunks were three high. Usually, three men slept in each bunk not to mention the lice that made their home in the men's flesh and hair. Fortunately, in barracks 9 there were only 50 men at that time, making the barracks less crowded than usual.
    The exhausted men sat down on their bunks. Some lay back and stared off into that seemed nothingness, trying to remember the pre-war years gone by, of family members gone by the way of ashes and dust. Some hoped for survival after this nightmare would be over. Others still held on to the hope of seeing loved ones again.

    Rabbi Faerman looked around at the men. Most were Russian Jews, but some were Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Polish Jews. In spite of the language difference, they all had Yiddish in common which made a common linguistic ground. The other common ground was the misery and suffering they all shared. They also shared the faint hope of survival. Would they survive this camp of hell and see an end to this war?

    “Where was God in a place like this?” they all seemed to wonder. The Spirit of God was indeed here, as it was in the brick and mortar pits in Egypt, as well as in the Babylonian captivity, and with each and every Jew in every corner of the world.

    Faerman turned to look out of one of the barrack’s dusty windows. He saw three stars in the now darkening sky. It was the first night of Hanukkah, the 24th of Kislev.

    He remembered many Hanukkah evenings at home. His wife would prepare a special dinner. His children, brothers, and sisters would sit around the old wooden table. They would then take turns lighting the candles of the special menorah. His wife would light the middle candle, the Shamash, and would then take the first candle and allow the flame of the Shamash to give it light. All would then say a prayer and a blessing. There would always be a “storyteller” who would retell the story of the Maccabees and how they drove out the Greek-Syrians from the land of Judea, and how the temple was cleansed and rededicated to the service of God.
    After dinner which always included potato latkes fried in schmaltz, the children would play games and search for pieces of chocolate hidden around the house. The special Hanukkah menorah was also lit in the synagogue. Families would often stop by in the evening to pray and read the Psalms. Some brought special gifts to the rabbi and his family. The eight days of Hanukkah were very special indeed.

    Now, barracks 9 was Faerman’s synagogue, with 50 men who lost all hope. Battered and torn, souls ripped to shreds, living skeletons which were once robust and full of joy. He would be the shepherd of these men, whose job would be to comfort and give hope to these 50 sheep in midst of the wolves of the third Reich. Somehow, he would have to restore their faith.

    Yes, Hanukkah would be celebrated, and tonight, somehow, some way. He looked at the table which sat in front of the window. It was a large, long, wooden table where the men often sat and talked about home. Some would just sit and stare into space, taking small bites out of small morsels of hard biscuits, which oftentimes they would have hidden inside their ragged clothing.

    The rabbi would often look out the window, his thoughts taking him back to Kiev, to his family, home, and humble synagogue. Auschwitz, however, was now a reality. He needed only to look at the numbered tattoo on his arm and at the men around him, the remnants of once strong, healthy children of Abraham.

    Rabbi Faerman once again looked up at the night sky, the few stars that were out seemed to look down upon the camp of doom, offering a spark of hope, hope to see an end of this madness and hell, an end to needless suffering and pain. Somehow, the lights of Hanukkah would offer hope and triumph over this darkness and evil. As the Maccabean army triumphed over the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes, they would triumph over the forces of the Third Reich and an end to the Antiochus of Germany.

    The re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem offered hope to the Judeans back then. It would be no different now, even now in this time of agony and strife under the iron cross of the Reich. Yes, thought the Rebbe, he would indeed celebrate Hanukkah, even here in barracks 9, in this hell hold called Auschwitz with these 50 men, but how? He had no menorah, no candles, and no matches. He would exercise his faith, and like the prophets of old, he would just pray and ask the Eternal Holy One (Blessed be his name) for a miracle. He slowly turned and faced the men.

    “Fellow Jews” he started, “Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. As Judah the Maccabee fought against the enemies of Israel, and achieved victory, so shall we, one day, be free of the Nazi yoke. Let us now celebrate this first night of Hanukkah.”

    “And how, dear Rebbe, do you intend to do that?” asked one man as he got off his bunk and walked over to where the rabbi was standing. “Do you intend to ask Herr Kommandant a holiday pass to go home to our families, if that is, they are still alive?”

    “No” replied a second man, “the Rebbe will ask Herr Kommandant for some candles, matches, and maybe even a golden menorah.” The men were just shaking their heads, murmuring if indeed the rabbi had lost his senses.

    “Where is your faith?” replied the Rebbe, “is there anything too difficult for God?”

    “Our faith,” said the man who had come over to where the rabbi was standing, “went up in smoke, like our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, wives and children did as soon as they passed through those gates out there” he was now pointing out the window in the direction of the iron gates which spelled out “Arbeit Macht Frei”.

    Rabbi Faerman looked into the face of the man who was now standing next to him. Something in him seemed familiar. Sometimes it was hard to recognize people as the toil and the hardship of labor camps had wasted human bodies. The man was also looking deep into the eyes of the Rebbe.

    “Avram?” said Faerman quietly, “is it you, who so faithfully attended the synagogue in Kiev for so many years?”

    “Yes” replied the man, “but I am just the shell of the man I used to be. Now I am alone, family gone, up the crematorium in smoke. Yours too I suppose.”

    Rabbi Faerman didn’t wish to ponder the fate of his family. Perhaps they too had joined Avram’s, victims of the Third Reich’s murderous plot to silence all Jewry through the “final solution”. As rabbi, however, he must at all cost, keep the faith, so that faith might overcome fear and hate. Faith must endure and overcome the walls of Auschwitz.

    “Avram”, the rabbi now grabbing his fellow prisoner’s hands, “for the sake and memory of our loved ones, for our faith, to honor tradition, we must celebrate Hanukkah like in times before dear friend”. Avram looked into the eyes of his Rebbe, he slowly nodded his head.

    “Let’s pray then rabbi” “and let’s invite the others too”.

    Slowly, both men turned to face the other men of barracks 9. All the men were standing now, all eyes glued on the Rebbe and Avram.

    “Fellow Jews,” said rabbi Faerman, “tonight we shall celebrate Hanukkah, yes, we need candles….so…we shall pray for candles, who will pray with us?” “Those who wish to also join us in prayer, step forward to join us at the table.”

    The rest of the men looked at each other, slowly, they nodded and walked over to the table, soon, there were about 30 men around the table. The rest stood by their bunks, but also in the spirit of prayer. All eyes were now glued on the Rebbe.

    “Let’s pray” said the Rebbe in a quiet but firm voice.

    “God Almighty, God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, praise your Holy Name
    We come to you now, your chosen people, to ask for a miracle in the midst of suffering and despair so that we might celebrate this time of the Festival of Lights that reminds us that you have not abandoned your people and that somehow, you will set us free from this place. Please send us some candles, just a few, to light and honor this time of Hanukah…. amen”

    “Amen” echoed the rest of the men, who up to now, followed along in silence slowly rocking back and forth in a steady motion. Now, they all returned to their bunks to settle down for the night.

    Rabbi Faerman returned to look out the barracks window. In the distance, he saw the faint outline of a man walking toward the barracks, illuminated by the searchlights of the camp. He knew it was time for the guards to come around and check the barracks.

    Sergeant Muller was the regular guard who would come. He was a fat, stout man with cruel lips who take pleasure in shouting “Juden Schweinen” (Jewish pigs). At times, he would call out the whole barracks into the cold night air, line every man up, and then punch every third man in the stomach. He would then take count and abruptly turn and walk away, leaving behind a faint smell of schnapps.

    But this figure was not sergeant Muller. As the figure got closer, the rebbe noticed that it was a tall, thin figure of a man walking slowly in the new-fallen snow. This Wehrmacht guard was obviously a new one.

    Rabbi Faerman watched through the window as the new guard stopped in front of barracks 9, looked around, and just stood there for a few minutes, kicking the snow with his boots. The searchlight in the guard tower passed over barracks 9 momentarily, then he called out;

    “Herr Rabiner, hier komt” (come here rabbi) He stood there in the cold evening night air, a soft wind blowing some snow around his boots.

    How strange, thought the Rebbe, never had a Nazi soldier called him by “Herr Rabiner”. He then saw that the guard had noticed him at the window. He motioned for him to come out with his gloved hand. The rabbi slowly opened the barracks door; a gust of wind swept inside followed by a flurry of snow. Slowly, the rebbe went outside to meet this strange new Wermacht guard.

    The Rebbe and the guard were now face to face. Clad only in his scant jacket, rabbi Faerman seemed to ignore the cold being intrigued by this new guard. Dressed in his heavy coat, helmet, belt, boots, and rifle, this guard had a serene look on his face. Somehow, his face did not reflect hatred of the chosen people. The new guard spoke in a quiet tone, but first looking right and left as if to be sure no one else was listening.

    “I’m Sergeant Kohler, Herr Rabiner. I’m replacing Sergeant Muller”

    “What happened to Muller?” asked the rabbi.

    “Sent to the front, for reasons that are not really important” replied Kohler.

    “Rabbi” continued Sergeant Kohler, “not all Germans love Hitler and hate the Jews, some like me, feel just the opposite.”

    Rabbi Faerman stood there in the icy wind and snow hardly believing what he had just heard. A Nazi soldier, a camp guard, a soldier of the Third Reich saying that he loved the Jews! It seemed strange that in this desolate place of misery, suffering forced labor, and human carnage that there could be a tiny bit of mercy, love, and understanding.

    But here, standing before him, was such a person, perhaps someone like Oskar Schindler, who also took a stand to help save Jews. Indeed, God had sent this Wehrmacht soldier to this camp, to these barracks to ease, maybe just a little, the suffering and misery of God’s chosen people. Sergeant Kohler continued to speak;

    “I too have suffered loss in this war,” he said slowly, “my mother, father, and two sisters died in an allied bombing.” “We all suffer in this war, both your people and mine.” “Wars are to be fought between armed soldiers, not innocent people whose only crime is to be part of a culture rich in the knowledge of science, art, history, and a profound knowledge of God.”

    “I am sorry for your loss” replied the Rebbe, still shocked at these words coming out of this guard’s mouth. The sergeant slowly nodded his head.

    Then, the sergeant reached into his heavy coat pocket and took out a small cloth sack. He stepped back a few steps as the tower searchlight passed momentarily over the two figures standing there in the snow and wind. He looked around to be sure no one was watching, he threw the sack down into the snow and kicked it with his boot toward rabbi Faerman.

    “I too know of your holidays,” he said.

    With these words, he nodded to the Rebbe, turned, and walked away. Rabbi Faerman stood there in the wind and snow, looking down at the small cloth sack which was by his feet. He picked it up and quickly returned to the barracks.

    Inside, the men had now gathered around wondering what had happened outside. The rebbe was still in a daze, marveling at this encounter with the new guard, a guard with compassion toward the chosen people. He went to the long table by the window and untied the sack, emptying the contents onto the table. Out of the sack fell 9 semi-burned candles of different sizes. There was also a small box of matches.

    The men of barracks 9 were now all gathered around the table. No one said a word. They just looked at the candles and the sack. Rabbi Faerman finally broke the silence.

    “Let’s thank Our LORD God of Israel for answering our prayer”

    The rest of the men nodded some now smiling for the first time in months. The men joined together in the spirit of prayer.

    “O God of our Fathers, Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we thank you for answering our prayer, for sending us these candles, for sending us this guard with compassion toward your people, so that together, we might celebrate this Festival of Lights, bringing light to this place of darkness and gloom”

    The Rebbe paused for a few seconds, then he continued.

    “We also ask for protection for Sergeant Kohler, allow him to survive this war, and to start life anew…as we also will do.... amen”

    The rest of the men also echoed their “amen” in unison. Avram looked at Faerman
    then looked at the candles. Tears came to his eyes, to think that in this place of grief, there was a tiny bit of humanity.

    Rabbi Faerman then lined up the candles on the table, putting the tallest candle in the middle, and the 8 smaller ones, 4 on each side of the middle Shamash. He then lit the middle Shamash. The Rebbe proceeded to pick up the end candle and handed it to Avram. Avram nodded, and then lit the end candle with the Shamash, thus welcoming the first night of Hanukkah, a Hanukkah in Auschwitz, a light of hope in a camp of death.

    Slowly, the men returned to their bunks. No one talked, they just wondered in awe at this moment of bliss, amidst death, dying, and misery, the two lit candles gave hope to the barracks of men who had lost all hope. The seemingly hopeless future was now changed by the first lights of Hanukkah.

    The Maccabean Jews had won their struggle against their cruel and ruthless enemy, Antiochus Epiphanes. Adolf Hitler was just another Antiochus who, in time, would fall. England, Russia, and the United States were closing in on the armies of the Third Reich. Very soon, the time of Jewish suffering would be over. Liberation was near.

    Rabbi Faerman looked out the barracks window again. The evening sky was now lit with the stars of heaven. He watched as the tall, thin figure of sergeant Kohler walked away into the distance.

    “May the LORD God of Israel bless and keep you Sergeant Kohler,” said the Rebbe quietly. “And may you live to see the end of this war.”

    Rabbi Faerman watched as the figure of this new Wermacht soldier slowly disappeared in a swirling gust of wind amidst the flurries of snow.


    Many people say, especially those who were there, that one can never know the suffering of those in Auschwitz, and the rest of the camps of death unless you were there for real. The “Final Solution” and all the “killing ways” did not silence the Children of Jacob. Israel outlived the Reich, Hitler, Goebels, Eichmann, and all those who wanted to see the end of Jews. This was just another way that Satan came up with to try to rid the world of God's chosen. One would like to think that there might have been such a guard as Sgt. Kohler, just a tiny bit of humanity among all the demonic guards from hell. Only those who were actually there would know for sure.

  8. #8
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    A SCRIBE'S STORY (a tale from Ancient Egypt)


    My name is Nakhti Ankh Yah, a scribe to Pharaoh, king of Upper and Lower Egypt. I’m old now, and Pharaoh does not call upon me as much as before to do his writings, yet I still receive gifts of gold and silver in appreciation of my years of service in the House of Pharaoh.

    I sit here on the patio of my house observing the Nile as it flows, bringing the life-giving waters to my fields. My sons and their sons work and plow the fields to prepare them for future harvests of corn and wheat.

    I have decided to write down the events of the past on this scroll of papyrus, so with quill and ink, I will begin this legacy which I will leave for my sons and their sons as a testimony of the power of YAH, the true God whom we worship and render homage.

    Now, my name was not always Nakhti Ankh Yah. My father and mother named me at birth some 80 years ago; Nakhti Ankh Amun, which means “the god Amun gives life and strength.” How my name was changed to “Ankh Yah” has roots that go back hundreds of years, even before the time of my mother and father, and even before their parents were born. It all began with the arrival of the Hapiru (ancient Egyptian name for ‘Hebrews’), a people from the north, from the land of Canaan.

    The first to arrive was a young man named Joseph. He was a son of a great man named Jacob, also of the land of Canaan. It is said that his own brothers sold him as a slave because of jealousy and family strife. He was bought by Potiphar, a high-ranking officer in the House of Pharaoh. Joseph was a good slave and served the House of Potiphar with honor and integrity as his God YAH the God of the Hapiru instructed him.

    This was the first time I had heard of this God, a God without an image, unheard of in the land of Egypt. How could a god without image be strong? I asked myself this question many times. Little did I know that I would soon find out how powerful this god of the Hapiru really was.

    The House of Potiphar was blessed and prospered under Joseph. All went well until the wife of Potiphar cast her eyes upon him. Joseph, however, being a young man of integrity and honor, would not succumb to the wiles of Potiphar’s wife. This angered her intensely, so much that she laid false accusations against Joseph. Potiphar, so as not to lose face and bring dishonor upon his household had Joseph imprisoned. But even in prison, the god of Joseph did not abandon him.

    It came to pass that Senoset, Pharaoh of Egypt at that time, had disturbing dreams. So much did these dreams disturb Pharaoh that he called upon his priests and magicians to interpret these dreams. None, however, could do so. I asked myself why the gods of Egypt couldn’t give the power of interpretation to their priests.

    Then it was told to Pharaoh that this Joseph, the Hapiru from the land of Canaan, did indeed have the gift of interpretations of these visions of the night. He had interpreted the dreams of two men who were also in prison with him, and the dreams were fulfilled as he had predicted. This fact reached the ears of Pharaoh by one of those same men. Pharaoh had Joseph called before him and he indeed interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. Joseph gave the credit to his God, the Great El Shaddai, as this god was also called.

    The Pharaoh Senoset was so pleased with Joseph that he made him visor of all the land of Egypt. Because of the interpretations of Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph saved all of Egypt from starvation. Not only was Egypt saved but other lands were also saved from famine as well. In time, Joseph sent for his father Jacob.

    Jacob came to the land of Egypt with 70 members of his family, thus, the arrival of the first Hapiru. The descendants of Jacob settled in the land of Goshen and multiplied throughout the land. The land of Egypt prospered under the hand of the Hapiru. It prospered in livestock, agriculture, and trade in animal hides and wool.

    But there arose a king over Egypt that knew not Joseph, nor recognized his accomplishments. This Pharaoh was Ahmose, king of Upper and Lower Egypt. He feared the Hapiru. He feared their numbers and thought that they would rise up against him with Egypt’s enemies.

    Pharaoh talked with his counselors and advisers and said; “This people from the North is mightier than our own people. Let us put them to work that they might serve us with vigor and hard labor, and let their labor prosper us!”

    So, Pharaoh took away their businesses and set them to work in the fields and in the brick pits. They set harsh taskmasters over them to set the children of Jacob to hard labor and bondage. They built large edifices and storehouses for Egypt’s weapons of war

    For many years, the children of Jacob, also known as Israel, were slaves to Pharaoh. It was during the time of my grandfather who was also a scribe in the House of Pharaoh, that there was born a special man-child of the Hapiru. This child would be raised by the daughter of Pharaoh himself. He would be a prince in Egypt, and later, the liberator of the Hapiru.

    This man-child was born in the house of Am-ram and Yochabed. They named him Moshe. He was given to the daughter of Pharaoh in exchange for saving his life from this evil Pharaoh’s edict of death. So, for the first forty years in the life of Moshe, he was a prince over the land of Egypt. He was an officer in Pharaoh’s army and lead Egypt’s armies to victories in the land of Nubia.

    But Moshe did not forget his people. He knew in his heart that he was a Hapiru. He was appalled at their treatment under the hands of the taskmasters. One day, he rose up against one of the taskmasters and killed him. When Pharaoh heard this, he gave the order to have Moshe put to death.

    Moshe hid under the cover of darkness fled from the presence of Pharaoh. It was during the time of his absence that I was born. My father as his father before him was a scribe in the palace of Pharaoh. My mother played the harp and lyre for the wife and concubines of Pharaoh. My father and mother were also devoted to the god Amun. They both went every day to the temple of Amun to offer incense. My parents prayed to Amun for a child, and then I was born, the firstborn of my family. To honor the god Amun my father and mother named me Nakhti Ankh Amun.
    Like my father and his father, I was taught the writing of Egypt so that one day, I too would be a scribe in the House of Pharaoh. However, in accordance with our family’s tradition and in accordance with the laws of Egypt, I would have to serve in the army of Pharaoh first.

    The idea of being a soldier intrigued me. I was twenty years old, a strong young man, and I was taught to use the sword, spear, the sling, and the bow and arrow. I excelled in all areas of fighting. Every day the commanders of the army of Pharaoh would drill us in exercises and in the uses of our weapons of war. It was during the time of one of our training exercises that the streets near the palace of Pharaoh became alive with excitement.

    Our commander went to find out what was going on. He returned to tell us that this Moshe, who had disappeared some forty years ago, had now returned. The Pharaoh who had sought his life had been dead for many years, and a new Pharaoh was on the throne of Egypt. This new Pharaoh now became the supreme General in control of the military forces of Egypt.

    As our commander was speaking to us, I caught a glimpse of this Moshe who was now walking slowly up the street to the House of Pharaoh. He was old with a long, gray beard. His face was darkened by the desert sun. He was accompanied by another old man, later I found out that it was his older brother Aaron. Despite his old age, this Moshe walked with pride. His face did not show any kind of fear, but sternness. After all, he was raised in the House of Pharaoh. I observed as both walked up the steps that lead to the entrance to Pharaoh’s house.

    All of us soldiers wondered how this meeting would turn out. For what purpose did Moshe and Aaron want a meeting with Pharaoh? Finally, our commander ordered us to resume our training exercises. Little did I know then how this fateful meeting with Pharaoh would be the beginning of the end of Egypt’s greatness and power.

    In the days and weeks that followed, plague after plague struck the land of Egypt. The Nile River turned to blood, there were plagues of frogs, flies, gnats, and locusts. The locusts ate the standing grain in the fields. The face of Ra was hidden by darkness. This was a war between the gods, the gods of Egypt against the one invisible God of the Hapiru. Never once did I think that the power of Israel’s God would overcome the power of all the gods of Egypt.

    It was at this time that I began to doubt the power of Egypt’s gods. I asked my father and my mother why the great and powerful Amun did not do anything. Why was he silent? Did he not see Egypt’s doom and destruction? Was he not stronger and more powerful than the God of the Hapiru, the children of Jacob called Israel?

    My father and mother could not answer my questions. Did they not offer incense to Amun? Surely Amun would speak to them in either visions or dreams. But Amun remained silent. He did not strike back against the God of the children of Israel.

    At this point, the people of Egypt no longer wanted the Hapiru in their land. Oh, how they wanted Pharaoh to release them and send them away so that the plagues would cease. But Pharaoh was stubborn, his hardened heart refused to let the Hapiru go.

    Then the children of Israel came to our doors, and to the houses of all the Egyptians. The families of Egypt gave them items of gold and silver, fine linen, precious oils and spices, incense, and precious stones. The children of Jacob received the wages of their labor for all the years of service that they had rendered in Egypt.

    In my heart, I knew that something was about to happen. Because of Pharaoh’s hard heart and stubbornness, we would soon live the worst night in all the history of Egypt. This would be a night of remembrance, a night of sorrow, a night of wailing and tears for all of Egypt’s families. It was the night of death for all of Egypt’s firstborn.

    Would there be no escape from death for the people of Egypt I asked myself? The answer was ‘yes’. There would be only one way to escape death. There would be only one way for the Spirit of death to pass us over, and that way was by the blood of a sacrificed lamb.

    Now, how did I come to know this the reader of this scroll might ask? It was through a childhood friend of mine that I came to know this. He was a Hapiru by the name of Jacob. He bore the same name as his ancestor Jacob who was brought to Egypt by his son Yosef. My friend Jacob also worked in the brick pits, but he would visit me as time permitted. We became good friends. He showed me the writing of the Hapiru, and I showed him the writing of Egypt.

    He also told me about the invisible God known as “El Shaddai” The all-sufficient God of the universe. He told me that it was He who made all things on earth as well as above in the heavens. I wondered how this God could exist without form or image. My friend Jacob told me that long ago, he appeared to his ancestor Jacob in the form of an angel. It was this same God who changed his name to Israel.

    It was on this night of death that my friend Jacob came to me again. He told me what Moses had told all of his people in the land of Goshen. This same God known as El Shaddai had appeared to Moses in the land of Midian in the form of fire in a burning desert bush. He introduced himself to Moses as “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” meaning that “he was, is, and will be, that He is the great I AM. He told Moses to take his people out of Egypt at whatever cost, and that HE would be with him and all of the children of Israel.

    I could not fathom nor understand this strange name. Even Jacob did not understand his name completely. Then Jacob told me that this night would be the night that our Pharaoh would finally let the people of Israel go but at the cost of the firstborn of Egypt. Fear came upon me at that moment, for I was indeed the firstborn of my family. Jacob put his hand on my shoulder and comforted me and told me that I could be saved from this final plague.

    He told me that I must coat the doorposts of our house with the blood of a lamb, of a sacrificed lamb without blemish and that I must stay inside the doors until morning. Then, and only then would the angel of death pass me over and allow the spirit of life to remain in me.

    As Jacob was talking to me, my father came to the door to call me in. Jacob then told my father about the blood and the lamb, but my father would not hear of it. He still preferred to trust in Amun and offer incense to save my life. My father was angry at Jacob for coming to me and told him that his God was a cruel God for planning to kill all of Egypt’s firstborn.

    My friend Jacob went away saddened, hearing that my father had rejected the blood. He looked back at me once more with tears in his eyes before returning to his own house in Goshen. My father closed the door behind us and went back inside.

    “Don’t worry”, I remember my father saying, “The gods of Egypt will protect you, my son!”

    But deep in my heart, I knew I was doomed without the blood of a sacrificed lamb on our doorposts. I knew by then that the gods of Egypt were powerless against the God of the Hapiru. It was around midnight when the Spirit of death came to visit the houses of Egypt. There went out cries of agony and pain from almost all the households of Egypt.

    In our house, I was made to lie down on my bed. My father and mother had placed around my bed clay idols of the gods of Egypt; idols of Ra, Osiris, Horus, and Anubis as well as the idol of Amun. My father and mother burned incense to these gods, lifting up their hands, imploring protection on my behalf. The prayers of supplication went on throughout the night. Outside of our house, the families of Egypt wailed and bemoaned their dead and dying, but in my house, I was still alive. My parents finally fell asleep, exhausted by their prayers to the gods. I too, fell asleep.

    It was midday when I awoke, and finding myself still with life, I cried out with joy. This awoke my parents and my other brothers and sisters. We were all overjoyed that the gods had heard our prayers, so we all thought.

    I got up out of bed, happy to be alive. I opened the door of our house to let in the fresh morning air, and then I saw it. I opened my eyes wide and stared at the blood. There was blood smeared on the doorposts of our house.

    Indeed, the blood was lamb’s blood. I could only imagine that my friend Jacob had returned during the night and applied this lamb’s blood on our door. I realized then that it was not the power of the gods that preserved me with life during the night, but the power of the God of the Hapiru. This blood of a sacrificed lamb was what saved me. How the blood was connected to this God I will never know, but all I know that through the blood, I was saved from death, allowing me to see another day.

    I just stood there, staring at the blood-stained doorposts. When my father came out, I pointed to the doorposts. He also just stood there by my side, staring at the bloodstain on our doorposts. I don’t know how long we stood there, just staring in wonder at the blood. When we turned around, our mother, sisters, and brothers were also there. Their eyes were wide open and just stared at the blood.

    Finally, my father, my mother, and all my sisters and brothers embraced me and wept tears of joy. We then knew that the gods of Egypt were powerless against this God of the children of Israel. My father and mother gathered together all the clay idols of Egypt’s gods, taking them behind our house they crushed them all with a rock and buried them in the sand. My father and mother never again entered the House of Amun to offer incense.

    We spent the day visiting the families of Egypt, consoling them for their dead. In all the houses in Egypt, there was a dead firstborn son or daughter. Only in our house was there not found a dead firstborn. This was because the blood of a lamb was placed on our door by a dear friend who cared. Pharaoh also mourned for his firstborn son, the young prince who would have been Pharaoh over Egypt. Oh, how Pharaoh mourned and wept for his son. It was then that Pharaoh called for Moshe and let the Hapiru leave Egypt.

    It was then that the Rams’ horns blew throughout the land of Goshen. The children of Jacob called Israel gathered together their belongings and made ready their cattle. There went up a cry of joy among the children of Israel as they gathered themselves together. Moshe and Aaron led them out of Egypt, heading towards the east. My dear friend Jacob came by my house to say goodbye. We embraced and wept. Yes, it was he who came by during the night and applied the lamb’s blood on our doorposts.

    He pronounced a blessing on me in the name of the God of Israel. It was a blessing of extended life. Little did I understand the magnitude of that blessing until a few days later. As he was leaving, he told me again the name of his God so that I would remember the name. He came back and wrote some symbols in the sand. Those symbols were of the language of the Hapiru. They were the symbols Yod, Hey, Vav, and again the symbol of Hey. I looked at the symbols and learned them. Jacob told me that it was the holiest name of their God. Moshe himself had shown the symbols to him. Then we said our goodbyes for the last time.

    It was the third day after the Hapiru had left that Pharaoh called his army together. They would pick up the trail of the Hapiru and bring them back to Egypt. They would pay dearly for the suffering they had caused the Egyptians. Our commanders were shocked at this announcement. Didn’t Egypt suffer enough afflictions by this God? But none would go against the command of Pharaoh.

    Pharaoh summoned his chariots, his foot soldiers, his archers, and all the officers of his army. We gathered together outside the House of Pharaoh. I saw Pharaoh as he left his great house. He wore the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt; his gold-plated armor glistened in the sunlight reflecting the rays of Ra. With his war sword strapped to his side and spear in hand, he mounted his chariot and raising his spear, gave the word to commence the pursuit.

    I was placed near the front of the lines, just behind the chariot of Pharaoh. This was a position of honor. Pharaoh and his generals led the way, following close behind the scouts who quickly picked up the trail of the Hapiru. We followed the dung droppings of their cattle heading east, across the wilderness of Egypt’s Sinai region.

    We moved at a fast pace onward toward the east. Our commanders talked among themselves saying that the Hapiru would not be able to go any further than the sea that separated the land of Midian from Great Egypt. For two days we marched through the wilderness, following the path that led between the mountain range of Sinai. When we neared the east coast of Egypt’s Sinai, we sent ahead our scouts to find out the position of the Hapiru. They returned the following day to tell us that at the fortress of Migdal, the soldiers there said that the Hapiru were encamped by the sea, between Migdal and Pi-HaHiroth.

    Pharaoh smiled and said that the Hapiru had met their end, that there would be no escape for them. Pharaoh gave the command to pursue, and our army moved forward toward the great beach that lay between the Fortress of Migdal and Pi-HaHiroth. Then, a strange thing happened. A great dark cloud covered our army. It seemed to come out of nowhere. In my heart I knew that it was the work of the God of Jacob, fighting for his people. The dark cloud was so intense that it blocked out the rays from the face of Ra. This reminded me of one of the plagues that stuck Great Egypt.

    I heard many of the soldiers whispering among each other that the God of the Hapiru was still fighting Great Egypt, even out here in the Sinai. Fear gripped our soldiers. None moved from his place in awe of Israel’s God who fought for them. Indeed, it was He who stopped our advance. I knew in my heart that it would go bad for us and that none of us would return to Great Egypt.

    I do not know how long we remained in that area. We were so close, yet so far, being in the middle of this darkness. Finally, the cloud of darkness lifted and we saw that it was evening, as the moon and stars shone above us. The moon gave us light to advance forward once more, moving ever closer to the sea. Finally, as the sun appeared over the horizon of the east, we reached the sea.

    There at the seashore, we saw something we had never before seen. We all stood there in our ranks looking at this strange sight before our eyes. None of us moved. Pharaoh in his chariot together with his commanders gazed at this strange event. I could sense that fear overcame them all, for the LORD God of the Hapiru was leading his people away from Egypt’s Sinai, onward toward the land of Midian.

    We all gazed in wonder as the sea which divided Egypt from Midian had split in two. There were two giant walls of water, and the sea was now parted in two, one part toward the North and the other toward the South. In the middle was a stretch of dry land along the sea bottom. We all felt a fierce East wind blowing from East to West along this dry pathway. I looked into the distance and saw the children of Israel almost reaching the other side, walking along the pathway to the land of Midian.

    I saw Pharaoh consulting with his commanders and officers; they were pointing at the sea and shaking their heads. No, they no longer wished to challenge the God of Israel, but Pharaoh’s heart was again hardened. His wrath was again kindled against the Hapiru and against his officers. He turned to us, with anger in his eyes, and raised his spear to indicate pursuit.

    I knew then that this would be the end of all of us, to follow Israel through these waters of judgment, as this would be the final judgment to end the power and glory of Egypt, alas, Great Egypt would fall and be no more. At this point, I lifted up my voice for the first time to the God of the Hapiru.

    “Oh God of Jacob” I remember myself praying, “I ask you to save me this one time more, as you saved me by blood from the god of death, so I ask you to save me from death by the waters of your judgment”

    My lips moved yet my voice was low so my fellow soldiers would not hear me. No sooner did I say these words, that my name was called by my immediate commanding officer;

    “Nakhti Ankh Amun, come here at once” I heard him say. I then ran over to where he was, and he gave me these instructions, and I remember his words well.

    “You will stay here by the food wagons and the horses until we return. Keep guard over them.” and he pointed to the three wagons and teams of horses which kept the food supplies for our army; many sacks of bread, jars of water, and beer.

    I could hardly believe my ears. No sooner had I prayed and lifted up my voice to this God who I knew not, that he answered me. Never had all the gods of Egypt answered prayers in such a way as this God of the Hapiru. I watched as my commander rejoined the ranks of the army. I knew in my heart that I would never see the army of Egypt again.

    I went over to where the teams of horses and the food wagons were, and I watched as Pharaoh gave the order to advance. Forward went our army to meet its doom. The army entered the pathway through the sea in pursuit of the Hapiru, with the walls of water on either side just waiting to collapse over the enemy. Then I saw how the God of the Hapiru stopped the army of Great Egypt.

    The dry pathway turned to mud. The chariots got stuck and the horses struggled to pull them out of the muck. They pulled so hard that the wheels came off, and the soldiers’ feet also sank in the mud. I saw fear and confusion overtake the soldiers of Pharaoh.

    I said to myself, “The God of Israel is fighting against Egypt, and He will prevail”. Then it happened. The events of that day will live forever in my mind’s eyes. I saw how the walls of the sea that were on either side of that pathway collapse on top of our army. Mighty Egypt disappeared under the waves of judgment, never to be seen again. The roar of the sea was deafening, and I heard the cries of our soldiers as they were buried under its waves as the sea became one once again. The pathway vanished and the only sound now came from the waves breaking on the beach.

    I just stood there looking at the sea, for how long I do not remember. I cast my eyes toward the land of Midian, thinking once more of my friend Jacob and the rest of the Hapiru. Yes, they had at last found freedom from slavery in Egypt. They would never again fear Pharaoh as their God had fought against Egypt and won. This God had also saved me from death these two times.

    Then I dropped to my knees and lifted up my hands towards the heavens and just cried. I cried and I cried, thanking this God for my salvation, for his mercy on this soldier-scribe of Egypt. I praised and thanked this God. I tried to remember his name as my friend Jacob wrote his name in the sand. He mentioned the great I AM, so I cried out to I AM thanking him for preserving me with life. I also mourned the loss of my fellow soldiers, some of whom were my good friends. Before this day, I had only prayed to Amun and to the other gods of Egypt. But now I realized that I was alive not because it was the will of the gods, but because of the mercy of I AM, this strange God with no image, who bore the letters of his most sacred name YHVH.

    I remained on my knees, crying for joy that I would return to Egypt and see my family again. I cried until I was exhausted by my tears and by the heat of the day. I fell into a deep sleep, awakening to see the stars of the night. The moon was high in the sky, illuminating the beach and the waves breaking on the shore. I climbed into one of the food wagons and lay down on top of the sacks of bread. I closed my eyes and thought about my family, and then I fell asleep again.

    When I awoke, it was morning. The sun was rising in the eastern sky illuminating the mountains of Midian. I hitched together the food wagons and the teams of horses and started the trip back home to Memphis. I looked back once more toward the sea and the land of Midian. I thought about my comrades in the army who now lay at the bottom of the sea. I thought about my friend Jacob who told me about the great I AM, the God of the Hapiru, and who saved me these two times from death.

    I drove the wagons westward through the Sinai region of Egypt. For three days and three nights, I drove the wagons ever westward towards home. I stopped each night to sleep and feed the horses, looking upward to the starry sky. I lay on top of the bags of bread, thinking of what I was taught by the priests. They taught us all that the goddess Hathor made the lights of the heavens to illuminate the earth by night, but I could no longer believe in Hathor or in any of the other deities of Egypt. I could only believe that there was only one God, the God of all heaven and earth, this invisible God who had no image who had heard my prayer.

    This same God saved me from death these two times. This God who had conquered mighty Egypt by the might of his outstretched arm now deserved my homage and gratitude. This God of the Hapiru, who had brought down all the gods of Egypt, would now be my God.

    On the fourth day, I arrived back in my city. Goshen lay to the north, now empty and void of life. As I entered the city, the inhabitants stopped to stare at me and the food wagons. They looked behind me hoping to see Egypt’s army leading the children of Israel back, but alas, there was no army. I was the only one left to tell this story.

    As I passed the great house of Pharaoh, the queen came out on the terrace. Our eyes met and she knew what had happened. I stopped the horses and slowly looked up at her. She knew by my sad countenance that the army was no more, that she was now a widow that had to rule a conquered Egypt. The queen covered her eyes and ran back inside the great house. I stopped in front of the now-empty army barracks and unhitched the wagons. After giving the horses provender, my thoughts turned to my house and family.

    When I reached my own house, my father, mother, sisters, and brothers were overwhelmed with joy to see me alive. They embraced me and wept tears of joy. I told them of the events that happened by the sea. They listened carefully to all that I said, and they too came to accept the great I AM of the Hapiru as their only God. My father never again entered the temple of Amun, nor were there any more images of gods in our house.

    Three days passed and the queen called upon me to give an account of the events that happened by the sea. She listened carefully and she asked me to write down the events as they happened on a scroll of papyrus. I did so and it was placed among the archives in the House of Pharaoh. The queen mourned for her husband and for her first-born son many days. My mother was called upon to play the harp and lyre before the queen to comfort her grieving soul. Indeed, the music that my dear mother played gave her peace.

    That very same day, I was invited to be the official scribe in the House of Pharaoh. Years past and the queen married again. This time, a wiser pharaoh came to the throne. Egypt again has an army, a smaller one, as the might and power of Egypt is no more.

    Sixty years have passed since that time of judgment on the land of Egypt. During these years, I trained many scribes to do the writings in the House of Pharaoh. Now I rest from my labors of writing and have let others take my place.

    As I make an end of this writing, I look out over my fields of grain. My sons and their sons are cutting and gathering the grain to take to the market. God has been good to us and the Nile floods every year, bringing the rich soil from its bounty. In our household, we worship and honor only one God. It is the God who saved me from death, whose mighty hand brought righteous judgment over this land, to humble a once-proud people.

    My children have grown into men and women, my wife and I are now old, yet our strength has not departed from our bodies. In our house, no idols are worshiped nor do we mention the false gods of Egypt. Since the day that death passed me over by the blood on the doorposts of this house, and by escaping the waves of death by sea, no other god has been worshiped in our house save the God of Jacob. This is the God without image whose name is I AM.

    Also, in the fields behind our house, there is an altar made of stones. On this altar, I and my family sacrifice a lamb, every year at this same time during the setting of the sun. We all eat of this lamb which is roasted in the fire. As my friend Jacob did together with his family, so we do as well to commemorate this passing over of death.

    The same lamb's blood that saved me some 60 years ago is still on the doorposts of our house, put there by my friend Jacob. He will always be in my heart and mind as my dearest friend among the Hapiru. Because of him, I learned of the true God, the God of creation who rules and governs all things, both visible and invisible.

    Now I will finish this writing with the sacred, holy name of this God who is I AM. When people read this scroll of papyrus after I have crossed over the River of Death, they will ask “what are these strange symbols that are unlike the symbols of Egypt?” I will have them know that these symbols are of the Great I AM. They are the Yod, the Hey, the Vav, and the Hey. They are the symbols of the God of the Hapiru, who saved this humble scribe of Egypt from certain death. My friend Jacob drew these symbols in the sand so that I too might know of them.

    To honor and revere this God, I have used only two of these symbols in my new name which has been 'Nakhti Ankh Yah' for YAH has given life to the strong. He has given me strength all these years to write this account. From the time of my rescue from death, I have worshiped only this God. It is this God who my family worships as well as there are no images of the gods of Egypt in our house. For HE is the God who made all, both visible and invisible, the God who was, is, and always will be.

    Nakhti Ankh Yah
    scribe to the House of Pharaoh


    The names “Hapiru” or “Habiru” mean “Hebrew” in the ancient Egyptian language. No one knows for sure who the Pharaoh of the Exodus was, many think it was Amenhemet III or Meremptah. Many place the date of the Exodus at 1450 B.C. The real crossing site of the Hebrews is at Nuweiba Beach on the East coast of the Sinai Peninsula, crossing the Gulf of Aqaba, leading into what is now Saudi Arabia. Evidence has been found of the crossing under the waters of the Red Sea, in form of coral-encrusted chariot wheels. Just as God chose Moshe (Moses) to lead his people out of Egyptian slavery and bondage, Yeshua leads us out of the bondage of sin through His shed blood on Calvary's cross. The blood of the sacrificed lambs on the first Passover night symbolizes the blood of Yeshua, whose blood was and is all-sufficient for the blotting out of all of our sins, past, present, and future, to all who believe and trust in his one-time-only sacrifice.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2015
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    Old shem the storyteller


    Old Shem, the son of Noach, Son of Methuselah, slowly made his way up the grassy hill that overlooked the wide expanse of the plains of Shinar. He would make this trip every day, after all, he had a lot to tell the youths.

    At the top, he would make his way over to the Tamarisk trees and sit down on a large rock which rested in the cool shade of the trees. This was the ideal place for his school for the young men of the area. Some would even come from far away cities and towns, just to hear the wisdom of this old man, a survivor of the great flood which wiped away humanity from the face of the earth.

    The hilltop offered a refreshing place to sit down and hear the stories of old, a place where the cool breeze blew, contrasting the dry, hot air of the plain. At times, Shem would offer water to weary travelers as they passed by his tents, as the hot air brought on so much thirst and weariness.

    Shem, like his father Noah, was still strong and full of life, even after so many years after the flood. He had seen a lot in his days, the destruction of the world by water, the repopulation of the same, the construction of the Tower of Babel, and the continued violence and hatred of mankind. The floodwaters had taught man nothing.

    Shem often prayed that the Holy God of all the earth would permit him to live 600 years and still have the strength his father had at that age. It was still a long way off, he would live day by day and continue to be faithful to his calling.

    Shem finally reached the top of the rise; the cool breeze blew through his long gray beard which reached down to his waist. His skin was burnt brown by the hot sun, and a bit wrinkled from the years of living on this earth. He continued to work the vineyards which his father Noah had planted so many years ago, taking care not to give himself over to strong drink of the vine, which had been his father's folly.

    Shem made his way over to the large rock. Placing his staff next to the rock, he sat down under the shade of the trees and waited. It was still morning so the air all around was still cool from the previous night. The sun was just peaking over the eastern horizon when the youths started to arrive.

    They made their way to the top of the hill. Sometimes there would be just 10 or 12, other times there would be as many as 50 young men that would come to and sit at the feet of old Shem and listen to his stories.
    He would teach them the lessons from the past; the sin of Adam and Eve and being cast out of the Garden of Eden; the rebellion of the murderous Cain, who slew his own brother Abel. He would tell them of the righteous Enoch who loved the God of creation so much that, one day while walking, God just “took” him. He just simply disappeared, he was never seen again.

    Today, he would tell them of the great flood, of the building of the Ark, and how God destroyed mankind from off the face of the earth, save himself and his family. He would tell the young men about the folly of Nimrod, grandson of his brother Ham, and how arrogance and pride caused him to enslave men’s souls and bodies to build a large edifice. With this tower, the foolish men worshiped the stars, and had not the God of all creation divided their language, they would have continued in their foolishness.

    At noon, when the sun would reach its zenith, they would eat lunch consisting of small barley loaves, with goat cheese and freshwater. The young men would be dismissed to go home and tend to their family chores, working in the fields, tending flocks, or other family businesses.

    The lessons that Shem taught from the events of the past drew many to his school on the hill. The word spread and many came from all over, some from so far away that he would invite them home to stay with his family until the next session of teaching.

    There were many today, about 40 in number. The young men had all arrived. They were sitting in the still moist grass, wet with the morning dew. Shem got off the rock and walked up to the youthful gathering. The young men all got up in honor of the aged Shem. He motioned to them with his hand to sit back down, and the teaching began.

    “It was in the 600th year of my father's life when God spoke to him. He told him about the imminent destruction of mankind, because of so much evil. A vessel would be built, an ark, it would float on water, since the destruction of mankind would come as a flood of waters upon the whole earth. “This ark” Shem continued, “would save our family and representatives of the animal kingdom, it would also offer salvation to whosoever that would place trust in the God of creation, and take heed of his warning.”

    Shem continued to tell the young men about the ark, the dimensions, and the animals that came in two by two and by sevens. Shem walked back and forth, gesturing with his hands while speaking. Sometimes he would raise his voice, and at times it was solemn. The young men listened with awe, at times whispering between themselves.

    “The day came” continued Shem, “when God shut the great door of the ark. For our family of 8, salvation was sealed and assured since we were inside. For those outside, fate was also sealed, a fate of death and utter destruction.” Shem paused for a few minutes, the youths were still listening, wondering what would come next. Shem continued.

    “The LORD God waited 7 days after shutting the door, then the rains began. Higher and higher the waters rose, for 40 days and nights did the rains continue” cried out Shem with all enthusiasm. “The waters washed away the human chaff until man was no more upon the earth. Only the 8 of us survived because we were inside the ark of salvation.” The young men listened with awe, no one talked, and Shem continued to tell the tale of judgment;

    “The LORD did not forget us, after a year riding the waters he brought us to rest on a mountain range north of here.” pointing his finger to the north.

    “After letting the animals loose, we moved south to this same area, however,” continued Shem, “man learned nothing from the flood and continued his worship of false deities. Man continued to be arrogant, filled with self-pride.”

    Shem stopped for a while, paced back and forth, thinking of the next words to say, finally, continuing his speech to the young men.

    “Nimrod, my brother Ham's grandson, built a tower to his pride and arrogance, enslaved men, ruled over them, yet the LORD God of all creation divided them all up by giving them new languages, and thus He sent them to all directions in the earth.”

    Old Shem cast his eyes upward. The sun was directly overhead. He turned his eyes to the bottom of the hill to see his wife and two female servants coming up towards the group of students. Shem's wife carried a large basket of barley loaves while one of the servants carried a basket of goat's cheese, and the other carried skins of fresh water and milk.

    When the women got to the top of the hill, Shem called his students over to the shade of the large tree under which he sat. The students sat down and took out their small wooden dishes and bowls which they carried in small cloth sacks. The women then served Shem and the students the barley loaves, cheese, milk, and fresh water from a nearby well.

    The students sat quietly and ate. Some talked quietly among themselves about the lessons learned that morning from old Shem. Others talked about the chores that would be waiting for them upon returning to their homes. When the students finished eating, they put their bowls and dishes back inside their sacks. Shem's wife and the servants waited until Shem and the young men finished their lunch. The women would also eat, but sat apart from the men.

    Shem went over to his wife and kissed her softly. She then spoke to the servants indicating that they were done, and together, they went back down the hill to Shem's tents. Shem's wife knew the importance of her husband's teachings, and that these young men would learn about the Almighty God of the universe. She hoped that they would understand the error of man's ways, and to seek after the ways of God, following Him in obedience.

    After lunch, the young men sat around for a while to ask Shem questions. Afterward, they headed back towards their homes to resume their chores and family duties.

    On this day, one young man remained behind after the rest had left. He remained seated under the shade of the Tamarisk tree, being deep in thought. Shem approached the youth quietly and spoke;

    “I see you are thinking deeply, perhaps meditating on what I spoke of today”

    “Yes” replied the youth, “How I wish that the God of the universe and of all creation would talk to me personally someday.”

    “He just might to that,” said Shem, sitting down beside the young man. “The LORD God knows the hearts of all men. He knows that you are searching to know Him in a deeper way, in a personal way. It is a good thing to know the LORD and to follow in His ways.”

    The youth nodded in agreement, then he looked into the eyes of Old Shem;

    “I thank you for telling me about God, the real and true God of the universe, the God you say created the heavens and the earth.”

    “What is your name and where are you from?” asked Shem inquisitively.

    “My name is Abram, Son of Terah, from the city of Ur.”

    “Ah” replied Shem, nodding his head. “So, you're a Chaldean.”

    “Yes,” said Abram sadly, “Ur is a city of idols, of false gods. I am sorry to say that making clay idols and selling them is my father's business.

    “That is not a good business to be in,” said Shem seriously. “All those who bowed down and worshiped false gods were destroyed in the great flood.”

    “Yes”, replied Abram quietly, “it is just as you have taught, yet I am still a youth and must obey the voice of my father. At times, I must attend his shop while he looks for new customers.”

    “Yes Abram” replied Shem, “It is important to obey your parents. They raise you and care for you, even though your father does not what is right in the eyes of God. One day, however, you will be old enough to have a family of your own, to make your own decisions, to even move away from your father's house, to follow God with a true and whole heart.” the voice of Shem was kind, yet firm.

    Abram agreed. He would await that day, but until then, he would have to assist his father in the idol shop.

    “I must leave now and return to my father's shop,” said Abram sadly.

    He got up slowly from under the shade of the Tamarisk tree. He would have preferred to stay there and listen to more of what Old Shem had to say, whose wisdom and knowledge enlightened the mind and soul of young Abram.

    Old Shem gave Abram two small barley loaves and some cheese for his trip back to Ur. “Take care of yourself during your trip back home young Abram” upon saying that, Shem placed his hands on Abram's head and voiced a small prayer of protection.

    The two departed, and when Old Shem started back down the hill, he paused, eyes lifted up towards Heaven, slowly nodded, as if hearing a special message, a word of prophecy from above. He turned and called out to young Abram saying;

    “Abram, son of Terah” Abram turned and faced Old Shem.

    “Indeed”, continued Shem, “The LORD God of the universe has heard your voice, and indeed, He will call upon you someday, to leave your father's house to go to a land which He will show you, to worship Him only, and to follow Him in his ways, and lo, He will raise up descendants from your seed, they will be like the stars of heaven and the dust of the earth, and in your seed, all the nations of the world will be blessed!”

    Young Abram just stood there, amazed at the words of Old Shem.

    “How do you know all this?” asked Abram with wonder.

    “The LORD God of all creation just revealed this to me, and it shall come to pass!” replied Shem, with the voice of authority and command.

    “I will await His call, and I will obey,” said Abram, full of hope and joy.

    So, the two departed. Shem returned to his tents, and Abram returned to his family's house in Ur, to await the calling of the LORD.

  10. #10
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
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    Zvi, the storyteller


    Old Zvi left Prospect Park, walking now with a slow gait since he was advanced in years, yet he was happy even in his old age. Slowly but surely, he walked on three legs, two of flesh and blood and the third made of hard-wood. He had spent the day telling stories from the Bible to both the young people as well as adults, who oftentimes would pause to listen. He would do this every day, and even on the Sabbath.

    As he had his days free, he would go to the park in Brooklyn, and tell his stories to all who would listen. On the Sabbaths he would teach God’s Word to his Torah study group at his small “Kehilah”, then he would go to the park and find the kids.

    They were used to seeing him now for many years. This had been his life, his passion, his calling, to make God’s word come alive through storytelling. This he had inherited from his grandfather who he loving called “Saba” which was passed down to his own father “Abba” and now he was the Story Teller, to all who would listen.

    He had his little place in the park just in front of the wooded area. People would come to listen to him, sometimes being as few as five or six, at other times perhaps ten or fifteen. They would listen and ask questions, both the little ones as well as adults. Zvi would answer as best as he could.

    Today was a bit cold and Hanukkah was just around the corner. Mr. and Mrs. Wong, a kindly Chinese couple from one of the upstairs apartments in Zvi’s building helped Zvi as he walked, giving him support and company. They would come with him to the park every day so he wouldn’t be alone. When the Wongs couldn’t make it, Good-Neighbor Bailey, who lived in the apartment across from his, would walk with him.

    Once out of the park, Zvi and the Wongs walked along Lincoln Road until they came to Zvi’s old four-story apartment building which stood across the street from a Jewish Deli. The building hadn’t changed much in the past years, yet Zvi kept it in good condition just like Abba and Saba had done in years past. He preferred it that way, old but in good condition.

    “I need to sit for a while,” said Zvi quietly to the Wongs. The Wongs understood this routine. He would stop, rest, sit, think, and ponder for a while, then he would get up and cross the street to his apartment building. This was home since birth, oh so long ago, ages ago.

    Zvi wrapped his long, black “Bekishe” around his body more tightly, with his raggedy grey beard blowing softly in the cold New York City wind. He reached for his wide-rimmed black hat, pushing it more firmly on his hoary head. Mr. Wong opened the portable canvas chair and put it in front of “Stein’s Deli” which was directly across from his apartment building. Zvi sat down, ever so slowly. He looked at his place and slowly nodded. Yes, it brought back memories, memories of Saba, Abba, mama, and of course, Zvi’s wife who had given up the ghost so many years ago.

    God had been good to him, many blessings, not so many hardships, or perhaps just a few since life is not one-hundred percent a bed of roses. A year ago, a black cat appeared at his doorstep. Zvi adopted it and called it “Nunu”. Well, at least the mice were scarce now.

    Zvi closed his eyes imagining himself going back, back in time, a time when he was young, oh so young, a boy even, sitting at the feet of grandfather Saba. He enjoyed listening to the stories that Saba told from the old country and also, from the Torah. It was always after the lighting of the candles by grandma, who he lovingly called Sav’ta, that Saba told stories from the Torah. He would make it come to life, sometimes shouting, sometimes whispering, waving of his hands, and gesturing.

    During the weekdays, he would tell stories from the old country, but would always include some teaching from the Torah, many times it would be a Midrash from Psalms or Proverbs. Sometimes he would mention the rabbis from the old country, some were even distant relatives, maybe fourth or fifth cousins as he would say. He would always say something like; “That rabbi was similar to Father Abraham, do you know why?” well, remember that Abraham….” Then he would retell the calling of Abraham. He would also tell the story of how Abraham sat at the feet of “Old Shem” the storyteller, of how “Old Shem” son of Noah, told the story of the flood to youths that lived near the Plain of Shinar. He sat under the shade of a large Tamarisk tree with all the youths around him, but then Abraham was just a youth himself. Well, at least that was how Saba told the story.

    Now Saba was from Germany, from an area called Holstein, but his ancestors moved to that area from Russia centuries ago.

    “Well,” he would begin, “my father bought a small farm near Holstein back in 1850, and he taught me how to plow with a horse and…” Then he would come to the exciting part of how he’d found some buried treasure on his property.

    “Well,” he would say, “After Abba died, I managed the farm myself, caring for the small flock of sheep and goats and tending the rows of standing corn. Then, one day, the plow hit something and I heard the sound of something breaking. What did I do you ask? I stopped to see what it was!”

    Then Saba would come to the best part, he would raise his hands shouting; “Baruch HaShem (Praise the LORD) it was an ancient clay pot that contained ancient Roman silver and gold coins, plus three uncut emeralds and five uncut rubies!

    Zvi had learned later on in school that at one time, Rome had conquered “Germania” which later was called Germany. Perhaps some Roman soldier had buried his loot for safekeeping, but never returned for it. Then Saba would continue his story.

    “Now with Elohim’s blessing, I decided to move to America” he would say, “I sold the farm, booked passage on a ship bound for Ellis Island. Before I left, however, I took the coins to Count Ludwig Von Graff.”

    Now Ludwig Von Graff was a wealthy man who lived in Holstein, and just by chance, well…nothing happens by chance, not with God in charge…he happened to be a coin collector. Saba showed the coins to the man and he was overjoyed at the prospect of owning a “piece of Rome” as he stated.

    “Ludwig paid me well for those coins” he would say, nodding his head. Then he would go on to tell how he booked first-class passage to New York City and got the royal treatment to boot. Then when he got to New York, he bought a newspaper and looked for the “for sale” section in the classified. Even though Saba spoke and understood just a little bit of English, since his primary languages were German, Hebrew, and Yiddish, he did understand the words; “For Sale” and “Apartment Building”. He figured that out with a small English-German dictionary he had brought with him.

    “Well Zvi”, he would continue, “I just had to buy our building, and I did just that.” Then he would tell how he found the owner and asked about the price. Then he showed the owner seven gold aurei, and seven silver denarii, two rubies, and two emeralds. Saba was smart, he didn’t sell all the coins to Count Von Graff, he kept some for his new life in America.

    The owner’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw the coins and the jewels. Then both of them went to a jewelry store in Brooklyn. Saba waited outside while the apartment building owner spoke to the jeweler. When the owner left the shop, he shook hands with saba and said: “Sold!” Well, to make a long story short, the coins and the jewels remained with the owner, and Saba signed the deed for the apartment building.

    “And that’s how we got this place my dear Zvi” Saba would say. Now since Saba was up in years, he became mindfully forgetful and he had repeated this story quite a few times. He never found out if the coins and the jewels were worth more than the apartment building, but at that time, all he wanted was a place for him, his wife, his future children, and grandchildren.

    Now the four-story apartment building had 4 large apartments on each floor, Saba, of course, choose the largest of them all, the one with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. His family would get the best, that went without saying. The other apartments in the building were of two bedrooms and a few with one single bedroom.

    Now at that time, almost all the apartments were already rented to families from Italy, Ireland, and even a few Jewish families who had immigrated from Russia and Poland. Now when the Jewish families saw Saba with his black hat, his long black coat, and beard, they immediately felt a bond of kinship as far as the faith went. They brought Saba and his wife to the local synagogue which was just a few blocks away. Saba and his wife felt immediately at home. So, to make a long story short which is the gist of every short-storyteller and writer, a few years passed, and then Abba was born. He also grew up in the local synagogue and there too, he met his wife. Soon afterward, their son Zvi was born.

    And so, we have it. Zvi was raised listening to all of Saba’s stories from the Torah, stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samson, and many more characters from the Bible. But oh, Saba knew so much, and all that learned sunk little by little into Zvi’s head. But the years passed and as Saba got older, he slept more. The stories ended but Abba continued the tradition. Both Zvi and his father learned a lot about the Torah, and they continued the tradition of story-telling, just as the rabbis of old did.

    Now it came to pass that one Autumn morning, Saba’s dear wife gave up the ghost, and he lamented dearly crying;

    “Oh Adonai-Elohim, creator of life, you gave me jewels but you have taken from me the most precious one of all, so much that I have become so attached to it, ‘Ana Elohim’ I plead to you my God, take me also, so that where she is, there I will be too!”

    They buried grandfather’s precious jewel in the cemetery the next day. Grandfather and the rabbi from the local synagogue both said the kaddish over grandmother’s grave. Zvi was there too, standing between his Abba and Ima, holding on to their hands. Two months later, Saba also gave up the ghost and was buried beside his jewel. Elohim had honored his prayer.

    So, the years went by and Zvi grew into a fine young man. Zvi’s mama and papa thought it good to send him to public school as well as Hebrew school at the synagogue. This way, he would get to know the ‘two worlds of thought’ as Abba once said to Ima. He had come to this decision remembering the schools of Shammai and Hillel. Some students would consult both schools and their teachers concerning life and Torah issues. They would hear both sides and then come to their own conclusions.

    So Zvi went to public school during the day and three times a week in the evenings, he went to Hebrew school where he learned the Holy Language and Torah. He loved both places as he enjoyed learning new things. Now it was Abba’s turn to tell the stories that his father had told. Zvi was, as always, all ears. His father told him of the race of the Nephilim, the fallen angels from heaven who produced giants when they joined with human women. He retold the story of Noah and the flood, about the ark which he called the “Beit HaBrit” the House of Covenant, and the destruction of mankind. He even told the story of “Old Shem” the son of Noah who taught many youths the story of the creation and of the flood.

    Most of the stories Zvi had already heard from grandfather, but Abba gave them a new appeal, a sort of different flavor. His father didn’t have any stories from the “old country” since he was a “Brooklynite” so he concentrated on the Torah. The years went by and towards high school graduation time, Zvi came to his father with an intriguing question, a question that had been on his mind for some time now.

    “Abba” he began one evening after dinner, “a kid at school told me of a man in the Bible called “Jesus” and he told me that He was the promised Messiah, not only of Israel but of the whole world. He told me that his name in Hebrew is Yeshua and that he died for the sins of the whole world, is this true?”

    At these words, Abba put his arm around his son saying;

    “Son, I will not tell you to believe or not to believe that claim, only to investigate all claims that the Torah is supposed to contain. If you can prove from the Torah and find evidence that Yeshua is indeed our promised Messiah, then it is your job to embrace and believe just that. If it is false, then do not entertain that idea anymore. Our rabbis don’t believe that claim, but you are who you are, and you must do your own study and come to your own conclusion, do you understand?”

    “Yes, Abba” replied Zvi slowly, “I understand and I will indeed investigate this claim.”

    So Zvi entertained the idea of investigating for himself the claim of Yeshua being the Jewish Messiah. The kid at school gave Zvi a Bible and also some scripture references to read, and Zvi began his search for the truth. He read and compared both the Old and the New Testament scriptures. He read and re-read the prophecies of Daniel and Isaiah. Little by little, he learned more and more. The light of the scriptures was shining brightly in his soul, the truth was nigh, so close. One day he smiled, yes, he had found the answer, his soul rejoiced, he was re-born inside with new life. He had found Mashiach.

    The years went by and both mama and papa grew old, his beard grew grey and his skin became wrinkled. He slowed down a bit, mama too. It was Zvi’s turn now to collect the rent from the tenants and order repairs for things that broke in the building. He made the meals for mama and papa both leaving them to rest. They were nearing their eternal Sabbath’s rest and would soon be part of the World to Come.

    Now there came a year that winter’s frost came a bit early and the air outside was quite cold, yet mama, Abba, and young Zvi stilled walked to the synagogue to worship and pray. But morning came when Abba started to cough and wheeze something awful and it seemed like mama too came down with the same ailment, so they both stuck to their bed.

    “Zvi” old Abba said one morning, “you must continue to take charge of this building as you have been doing, collecting the rent, maintenance, and the other things, remember that the tenants are precious in our eyes, treat them as Mishpochah, as extended family members, for they are precious in the eyes of Almighty God. I believe that HaShem is calling us both home.”

    Yes, Zvi understood, but Abba would recover, wouldn’t he? And mama too, they would soon be on their feet once again. All they needed was a bit of medicine. The doctor was called. In a few minutes, he was at the door.

    “Your father and mother are both ill…strange,” said the doctor and he paused for a few seconds to ponder. “It is almost as if they are in this together, getting sick together, growing weak together and perhaps…” but the doctor didn’t finish his thought, he preferred not to.

    “Here,” said the doctor as he handed Zvi some medicine,” give this to them, it may help, and yet it may not make any difference, I’ve seen this before with old people”. The doctor just stood there looking down at the weak, sickly couple, wishing he could do more.

    “Time will tell” were the doctor’s last words as he left the room and returned home to his small clinic only a few blocks away.

    Zvi returned to the bedroom where his parents lay, resting peacefully. They didn’t even seem sick, yet there was that look in their eyes that saw much beyond the earthly realm. Mama and Papa looked at their son smiling as if waiting for his first words.

    “Abba, Ima,” began Zvi slowly, “I just wanted to say that I have investigated the Torah and the Prophets, and about Yeshua being the promised Messiah…” then he paused to await his parents’ reaction.

    “Go on son,” said Abba smiling, “we’re listening.”

    “I am convinced that Yeshua IS our promised Messiah as Daniel prophesied, Isaiah also speaks of Him, even the prophet Zechariah wrote of Him in Hebrew with the words “Yeshua Shmi” which means “Yeshua is my name”. “So many prophecies fulfilled …well…I have accepted Him as such, as my Messiah and LORD.”

    Zvi’s parents just looked at each other and a strange look overcame their faces, they nodded to each other holding each other's hands.

    “Son” began Zvi’s father, “If you have studied and have come to that realization, then hold on to that, we also will accept that. Both of us have had similar feelings toward that subject for many years, but you, son, have opened our eyes, and yes, we will also accept Him as our Messiah as well.”

    Then, both Abba and Mama closed their eyes. Mama rested her head on Abba’s bosom, her grey hair matching with Abba’s beard. Zvi left them for a while and soon, the day turned into evening. As the sun went down behind the many buildings in New York City, Zvi heard the voice of his father, a voice of bereavement, of anguish;

    “Oh Adonai, you have taken my jewel, my precious, so precious jewel! Oh, that you might take me now also so that I might join her for all eternity!”

    He wept and hugged his dear wife who now lay ever so still on his bosom, her ghost had departed. Abba continued to weep and implore the God of all creation to take him as well, then he too closed his eyes…for the last time. God had granted his request and now they were together for all eternity. Now, all of a sudden, Zvi found himself alone, alone in his large apartment which had been his home since birth.

    Adonai had answered Abba’s prayer. The loving couple, Zvi’s mother and father had lived together, loved together, and gave up their ghosts together. The synagogue held a service and afterward, the members went to the cemetery. There, the rabbi said the Kaddish. Zvi’s mother and father were returned to the ground from which they were made. Then the rabbi asked Zvi to say a few words. Zvi thought and thought hard over what he might say. Finally, he got up in front of the mourners and started his discourse.

    “I loved my father and mother very much” he began, “and they loved each other so much, but now, they are gone, their bodies have returned to the earth yet their souls…are now with Adonai. I’ll join them too someday because where they are, I will be also.”

    The synagogue members nodded their heads, some were also weeping. Yet Zvi had not finished speaking;

    “We will be together with our Messiah, who is Yeshua HaMashiach, who was foretold by the prophet Daniel and Isaiah. He is the Messiah of Israel and of all mankind.”

    He stopped and looked at the synagogue members who were now murmuring and shaking their heads.

    “Rabbi” started one old man who was as old as Zvi’s father, “Talk some sense into Zvi, he’s confused, he’s speaking as a “Goy”.

    Slowly, the old bearded rabbi stood up and put his arm around Zvi; “Son” he began, “I know you’re sad, losing both parents at the same time, it is rather unusual but it was the will of HaShem. Don’t let that cloud your judgment. About Messiah, no one knows who he is, and about this Yeshua, “Jesus” as the Christians call him, well…”

    “He IS Messiah” stated Zvi boldly, “I’ve studied the Torah and the Prophets, and they all point to HIM, especially Daniel, why in chapter 8…”

    “That’s enough” growled the old rabbi, now very much annoyed. “As long as you think and speak like that, you are no longer welcome in our synagogue. You shame us all, especially your mother and father who…”

    “They also accepted Yeshua before their deaths” replied Zvi in a soft but firm voice. “That’s why I know that they are with God in his Kingdom, where I will be too, and where ALL will be who accept Yeshua and his gift of salvation.”

    The rabbi did not respond, but just turned his back to Zvi and walked away from the gravesite. The whole congregation followed, some looking back, shaking their heads. Now he was really alone. He had no more mother and father, no more synagogue family, just an apartment building with its occupants. He had his faith though, it would be enough. A few of the apartment building neighbors had accompanied him, and they consoled him on the way back.

    “We’re all here for you my friend,” said “Good-neighbor Bailey” as he put his arm around Zvi, “you’ll never really be alone. You have us, and you have Jesus, and you spoke well. They might reject you, but we will never abandon you.”

    Zvi thanked his good neighbor for his words. All his tenants loved him dearly as they had loved his mother and father. There was “good-neighbor Bailey” and his wife who lived across the hallway, the “Wongs” from Hong Kong who lived on the third floor. A young couple from Haiti, Claude, and Claudette, who lived on the second floor. These were just a few, but all would be his family now.

    Zvi was blessed indeed since all twelve apartments, being four on each floor, were never without tenants. They were very good neighbors and hardly ever caused serious problems. So Zvi assumed the responsibility of collecting the rent and maintenance of the apartment building. Soon, the Sabbath came and Zvi began to set the table with a white tablecloth, and a pair of silver candlesticks. These were the candlesticks that Saba had brought from the “old country”. All was set in place when Zvi remembered the Challah bread.

    He put on his black coat and hat and headed for the door when he heard a soft knocking. He opened the door and was surprised to find seven of his old synagogue members standing there. One of them even held two loaves of Challah bread.

    “Shalom Aleichem,” they all said in perfect harmony, greeting him with warm smiles.

    “Aleichem shalom” responded Zvi, very much surprised to see them, especially since after the old rabbi had dismissed him from fellowship. Then one of them, Saul Stein, spoke up saying;

    “We all heard what you said at your parents’ funeral, about Yeshua being the Messiah, well, we’re interested in knowing more, can you tell us more?”

    Zvi was overwhelmed with joy, this was indeed unexpected but he was relieved that there was at least a small remnant that sought-after Messiah.

    “Yes, yes, come in all of you. I will indeed tell you all that I know.”

    He would indeed tell them all that had learned from the Torah, the Prophets, and from the New Testament. Thus, started a new Sabbath fellowship in his own apartment building. It started with these seven Torah students, and soon the word got out that there was a new Messianic Torah-study group in the neighborhood. As the weeks passed, more and more came over to study. Some came Friday evening and others came Saturday morning. The group grew to twenty, and then twenty-five. Some of the tenants in Zvi’s building even came to study, including good-neighbor Bailey and his wife.

    One Sabbath, a name was suggested to put to their study group. All thought it was a good idea to give a name to their small congregation.

    “Here in this house, we study about Yeshua. What about “Beth Yeshua?” questioned Saul Stein, looking around to see if others agreed with him. All nodded in agreement.

    “Good idea” responded Zvi, “we will be congregation “Beth Yeshua” the house of Yeshua our Messiah, and all will be welcomed, those who wish to study Torah and learn about Messiah.”

    The group picked some Sabbath prayers and they started singing songs from the Psalms, then studied the scriptures from the Torah, from the Prophets, and from the New Testament. Soon, all had professed Yeshua as their LORD and Messiah.

    Now it came to pass that one Sabbath, a young Hispanic woman came to the Torah study group, as she had heard from neighbors about the knowledge of Zvi concerning the scriptures. Her name was Judith, and she was very beautiful to look upon.

    “Yes,” said Zvi, taken in by her beauty, “come in and join us in our study, may this home be your home.”

    To make a long story short, Zvi’s apartment soon would become her home. The two grew to love each other deeply and they expressed their desires to be part of each other’s lives. A year after they had met, they were married right there in the apartment. A pastor from a local church performed the wedding. All the neighbors came by and wished the couple “mazeltov” They took their honeymoon trip to the “Isla del Encanto” namely Puerto Rico since there was a special deal that week on flights to the “Isle of Enchantment”.

    After their honeymoon, Zvi and Judith organized their life together which was centered around the chores of running an apartment building, maintenance, collecting the rent, and their small Sabbath Bible study group. When Friday evening approached, Zvi would buy the challah bread while Judith would make dinner and get the white Sabbath tablecloth ready with the candles to be lit. The guests would come and bring their covered-dishes of food which would complement the dinner.

    Zvi thought it a good idea to share the Bible stories in the park, so, after Sabbath service, as well as during the weekday afternoons, Zvi and Judith would go to the park, sometimes it would be Prospect Park, at other times, they would take the bus to Central Park. Zvi found a place to sit and call out to those who would pass by. At times, the people would stop and listen. Soon, many young folks and even the kids would come and sit down near Zvi and listen to the stories from God’s Word.

    At times, both Judith and Zvi would act out Bible stories doing “two-person” dramas. After a while, other residents of Zvi’s apartment building would accompany the couple and share parts in the dramas. Years passed and the fame of Zvi’s storytelling spread, even as far as New Jersey. Churches would come to either Prospect Park or Central Park to invite Zvi to come to their churches and tell the stories from the Bible.

    To make a long story short, which is the gist of every short-story writer, Zvi and Judith enjoyed many years of marriage together, their Torah study group grew to about 30 members. Judith, however, was barren and bore no children to Zvi. Zvi still loved her in spite of the fact. They had each other and they had their ministry, both their Bible study and their storytelling in the parks and in churches. Most of all, they had their Heavenly Father who loved them deeply and watched over them day and night.

    During those years of togetherness, a few neighbors stayed put but most apartments changed occupants every two or three years. Good-neighbor Bailey and his wife, however, stayed faithful renters. They even attended the Sabbath Bible study and even made a profession of faith in Yeshua. The years went by and they turned old and gray just as Zvi and Judith did.

    So, the years passed and the youthful years of sunrise turned to mid-day and mid-day to twilight. The love between Zvi and Judith grew as the years passed. They were husband and wife, two friends, two lovers, and lovers of God. Now it came to pass that Judith began to tire easily, she felt a little strange like her body was shutting down, slowly but surely. It happened then that early one sunny morning, Judith embraced her husband and lifting up her voice said;

    “My dearest husband, you have been with me for all these years, and you have been a faithful husband, a friend, a lover, and a teacher sent by God to teach his word to me and to those around us. But I must tell you that the LORD is calling me home. Soon I shall leave you but only for a season.”

    Zvi was surprised by her words, and a bit of anguish filled his soul. “Nay wife” began Zvi, “you must live on, for many years await you and me together. You are my precious jewel given to me by the master jeweler himself.”

    “Indeed” replied Judith softly with a few tears in her eyes, “yet the jewels that are given by the master jeweler are only given on loan, and when he wishes, he will take them back.”

    “Let us not speak anymore of this” answered Zvi, with tenderness and a bit of anguish in his voice. “We have this day ahead of us and many more.”

    Yet Zvi’s demeanor changed that day. He began to meditate on his wife’s words, wondering why she would say such things. Was there something she knew and he didn’t? Did God reveal something to her? He would care for her even more so that nothing would happen to her. The days passed and also the weeks. Zvi and Judith continued their trips to the parks with their storytelling to those who would hear.

    Autumn passed and soon the winter season was upon them. The days grew colder and the New York wind was bitter. Zvi noticed that Judith no longer walked quickly as before. She tired more easily and she went to bed earlier. Zvi took his wife to the doctor, but the doctor could not find anything wrong.

    “Just old age catching up with her,” he said a little puzzled, what else could he say?

    Yet Zvi sensed that something was indeed wrong. he was saddened to see his wife so, yet they loved each other even the more in those years of twilight. Zvi sensed that the sun was indeed setting on his beloved, but he didn’t want to admit it. They would go to sleep each night wrapped in each other’s arms.

    Now it came to pass that Zvi and Judith went to sleep one winter’s night, a night of much wind and frost. Judith lay on Zvi’s bosom, the grey hairs of her head matching the grey of his beard. The two were embraced as always during their evening slumber. Morning came and the sun peeked through the bedroom window, melting a bit of the prior evening’s frost. Zvi awoke and stroked his wife’s hair.

    “Tis morning my love, it is time to arise, pray, and eat. Time to visit the tenants and make sure all is well.”

    Yet Judith did not awake. She lay there on Zvi’s bosom, cold and lifeless, asleep in an eternal slumber, gone from the present world yet alive in other.

    “Oh God,” cried out Zvi with the anguish of soul, “You have taken from me my precious jewel, my gem, if you had only taken me Oh God, how can I go on without her, how?” and he wept and wept, cradling his wife’s body in his arms.

    His cries reached the ears of good-neighbor Bailey who lived across the hall. Bailey came and knocked on the door.

    “Zvi? Are you OK? What’s happening?” Bailey waited a few minutes, finally, a very distraught and red-eyed Zvi came to the door.

    “She’s gone my good friend,” sobbed Zvi, “My dearest and most precious jewel has departed from this world. She has returned to her maker and redeemer, never to return to me. If only the LORD had taken me instead of her!”

    Good-neighbor Bailey embraced old Zvi tenderly. What words could he say? Enough was his company. In a few minutes, all the tenants had come down to pay their respects and to console old Zvi. Yet like Jacob of old, who refused to be consoled when he thought he had lost his precious Joseph, Zvi continued to weep and cry for the loss of his dearest Judith.

    The tenants brought Judith to the cemetery, and together with Zvi’s Torah study group, they held a memorial service. Zvi’s voice cracked as he recited the Kadish, weeping between the lines. They took turns with the shovel and filled the grave with dirt. Finally, they left and returned home. Good-neighbor Bailey and his wife, now showing the signs of old age, walked with Zvi, slowly, ever so slowly, back to the apartment building.

    The week passed and the sabbath came around. The members of the small Messianic congregation arrived at Zvi’s large apartment for the weekly service. By this time, many of the apartment building’s tenants had been attending the Sabbath Eve and morning services. Some attended out of curiosity, others out of the conviction of faith. There, in that unique New York City apartment building in the midst of Brooklyn, many did find the answers to their faith through Zvi’s Bible reading, explaining, and storytelling.

    Zvi had always left the apartment door unlocked during the Eve of the Sabbath, in that way, the people would come in and sit down. Some brought covered food dishes to the kitchen and others just sat down and waited for Zvi and Judith to start the service by lighting the Sabbath candles. There would be a small table with a white tablecloth and two silver candle holders with a candle in each one.

    But on this Sabbath, nothing was ready. The folding chairs were still folded up in one corner of the apartment, the white cloth and candlesticks were still in the wooden cabinet with the glass doors. Good-neighbor Baily together with his wife and a few others decided that they would set up for Sabbath. They went about and unfolded the chairs, set the white table-cloth on the table, and placed the two silver candlesticks in the middle. Now, all was ready. The congregation sat down and waited for Zvi, their rabbi.

    Good-neighbor Bailey looked around and found the master bedroom. He knocked on the door ever so softly, then he opened it and quietly walked in. Zvi lay on his bed sobbing into a pillow, a picture of his wife by his side. Zvi lifted up his head and turned to Bailey.

    “Oh, had I been taken instead of her, how I miss her so, my precious jewel. How can I continue life without her? The LORD has dealt harshly with me! Oh, how can I bear this suffering? How can I continue in the land of the living, with her in the world to come?” and he thus wept so and sobbed the loss of his wife.

    Now Good-neighbor Bailey had known Zvi for all these years, they had grown old together. Now both were grey-haired and wrinkled. Bailey had always respected Zvi and had always spoken kindly to him. This time though, Zvi needed a sort of “wake-up call.

    “Rabbi” began Bailey with a stern voice, “We have all mourned with you and feel your sorrow but you will indeed see your wife again. Just as the son of David could not return to the king, the king would go to him one day. This is just a temporary separation, as you yourself have taught us. We should have our loved ones in an open hand so that when the day comes for departure, it will hurt less to return our loved ones into the hands of our creator. Now you must listen to your own words, my friend. Now, will you stay in this room and wallow in sorrow, while the rest of us are outside waiting to learn Torah from you?”

    “Remember how Aaron was bereaved of his sons Nadab and Abihu, yet he continued to minister in the Tabernacle. Will you continue to minister to us, friend? Do you think that Judith would want to see you like this? She would have you on your feet and out in the living room to teach God’s Word. Or would you have us go elsewhere to learn Torah from whoever and learn whatever, be it truth or lies? I think you are being rather selfish my friend and rabbi, but it’s your choice! Only you can decide what to do now!”

    With those words, Baily left the room and closed the door softly. He returned to the spacious living room where everyone was seated. All eyes were on Bailey. He just shrugged and sat down. The congregation waited silently…and waited…ten minutes passed…then fifteen. Then the bedroom door opened and Zvi walked out dressed in his usual black and white raiment. He went to the sink and washed his face and then put on his tallit and went up to the table. Good-neighbor Bailey nodded to him as he approached.

    “Mrs. Bailey” replied Zvi, as he looked at the now aged couple, would you be so kind as to light the Sabbath candles?”

    Good-neighbor Bailey’s wife got up and smiled, nodding her head. She went up to the table with matches in her hand. A prayer was said and she lit the Sabbath candles, a job that up to then, only Judith had done.

    “Good to have you back rabbi,” said Bailey cheerfully, and the rest of the congregation replied with “Amen”.

    Since that Sabbath, Zvi was never really alone. When he went to the parks to tell his Bible stories, someone always went with him. Sometimes Mr. and Mrs. Wong from upstairs went with him. At other times, the young couple from Haiti, Claude and Claudette Duvall, and their little daughter Angelique accompanied him. Then there was the Ramos family from Puerto Rico, the Hernandez family from Cuba, and also a few Jewish families had moved into the building; Such as the Horowitz family, and the Goldsteins, they also walked with Zvi in the parks.

    Zvi also never had to cook for himself. He was either invited out to eat, or families would bring him lunch or dinner. As the years went by, the fame of Zvi and his storytelling spread, even as far as New Jersey. Churches got word of his talent and he was invited to tell Bible stories to Sunday School classes, to both the young and the old. Zvi learned how to act out the stories in the form of drama. At times, even some of his apartment building tenants played roles in his dramas.

    Now, to make a long story short which is the gist of every story writer, old Zvi continued his ministry of teaching the Word of God on the Sabbaths and through story-telling during the week. He continued to visit the parks and churches. He did not, however, neglect his job as apartment building owner and manager. He fixed things as needed, and even trained a few tenants to do some repair jobs themselves.

    The years went by, and Zvi got older. It came to pass that his bones began to ache and his muscles grew tired, yet he continued to be faithful to his calling. He continued his routine, day by day, month by month, and year by year. Time continued to pass and Zvi grew older.

    He was suddenly awakened by a strong gust of winter wind. Perhaps he had fallen asleep for a few minutes, so it seemed, there on the corner across from his old apartment building. With his hands resting on top of his cane, and with his chin on his hands, he slowly lifted his head. For just a few minutes, his entire life passed before him in his mind’s eyes.

    “Rabbi, are you ready to cross the street to our apartment building?” asked the now elderly Mr. Wong as he gently helped old Zvi to his feet. Mrs. Wong folded up the canvass folding chair and put it under her arm, then the three crossed the street, ever so slowly to their old apartment building.

    They stopped in front of the concrete steps that lead up to the front door of the building. They were old and worn now, but they were the same steps that Zvi had walked up and down ever since he was a child, the same steps that “Abba” had used, the same that “Saba” had used. They were almost a hundred years old now, give or take a year or two.

    Slowly but steadily, Zvi climbed the 5 concrete steps with the Wongs beside him. They opened the front door and allowed Zvi to go in first. He turned left towards the door of his large apartment which was right across the hall from Bailey’s. He turned the key slowly and pushed open the door and went in.

    “Nunu” the stray black cat was just outside the door meowing, so old Zvi scooped up some dry cat food and put it in a small dish that was just outside the door. The cat appeared there about three years ago and Zvi kind of adopted it as his own. He placed a medium-sized cardboard box just under the stairwell going up to the floors above. Inside the box, he placed a small blanket and the cat felt right at home.

    Zvi usually locked the door at night except on the Sabbath, but this evening, he forgot. He headed towards the spacious living room and sat down in an overstuffed easy chair. The big living room brought back memories, memories of his father and grandfather telling the stories from the Torah, of famous rabbis from the “old country”. He lay his head back and smiled, ‘yes’ he thought, ‘they had taught him many things, many truths from God’s Word, the love of God, and his Holy Torah.

    Besides the easy chair was a hard-wood table with a lamp. The lamp had a ceramic “tiffany type” shade made of different colored glass. Right under that lamp were two precious objects. An old Bible and a framed photograph of his wife when they had first met. Zvi reached over and took the Bible in one hand and the picture of his wife in the other. He opened the Bible to Psalms and started reading. Now and then he took the picture of his wife, kissed it, and pressed it to his heart. After a while, he fell into a deep sleep.

    The morning arrived with a cold breeze blowing across New York City which left a slight frost on the windows of the apartment building. “Nunu” walked back and forth in front of old Zvi’s apartment meowing rather nervously. It didn’t seem like the sound of hunger, rather of worry. The cat sensed that something was wrong. It didn’t let up meowing until Good-neighbor Bailey opened his door.

    “What’s wrong with you Nunu?” asked Bailey who was still half asleep, “hasn’t Zvi fed you yet?” The cat paused to stare at Bailey for a few seconds, then continued its pacing and meowing.

    “Honey, maybe something IS wrong, better check on Zvi," replied Bailey's wife who joined her husband at the door.

    He went over to his old neighbor’s apartment and noticed that the doorknob was a little loose, turning it, he found to his surprise that the door was unlocked. He opened the door and went in. He saw the back of Old Zvi’s head which rested peacefully against the back of the over-stuffed antique arm-chair.

    “Hey Zvi. Are you OK, you forgot to lock your door!” said Bailey a bit surprised. At that moment, Nunu ran inside the apartment and went straight to the chair, jumped up onto the head-cushion, and began to lick Zvi’s old hoary head ever so tenderly, yet Zvi did not awake.

    “Zvi?” said Bailey quietly, as he went over and took Zvi’s still hand into his, yet there was no sign of life. The old storyteller’s hand was cold and limp for he was fast asleep in an eternal slumber.

    The whole apartment building mourned the passing of their beloved landlord, rabbi, teacher, friend, and story-teller. He had touched so many lives and now, he was enjoying his eternal “shalom”. He had gone the way of all men, a precious jewel, product of the master jewelry maker, a loving soul that now returned to the creator of all souls.

    The apartment building tenants carried Zvi to the cemetery and buried him in a coffin made of sweet-smelling cedar. When the word got around that the old storyteller had passed, the cemetery was filled with hundreds of visitors from all over New York City and New Jersey. They all came to mourn and pay their respects to the old rabbi who brought God’s Holy Writ to life through stories and dramas for so, so many years.

    But Zvi was no longer concerned about Nunu the cat, nor about Good-neighbor Bailey, nor about the neighbors and the apartment building for he found himself walking along a street which glowed of pure gold. He followed the street which led to an immense celestial city. As he approached one of the gates of the city he beheld a pool of crystal clear water alongside the street. When he looked down into the water he saw a very young man with a soft brown beard looking up at him.

    He noticed that he wore a dazzling white tunic with golden sandals, there was also a golden belt which was tied around his waist. As he approached the gates made of mother-of-pearl, he noticed two giant cherubs that stood at the entrance. The two cherubs motioned him to go through, pointing to a golden throne. When Zvi went through, he noticed that the throne was encircled by a rainbow of dazzling colors, and at the foot of the throne was a sea of glass likened unto the color of emerald.

    Upon the throne sat a figure liked unto the Son of Man who was shining like a thousand suns. Zvi was awed at this sight and fell flat before the figure. In his heart, he knew who He was. He cried out with a voice of joy and happiness;

    “Holy, Holy, Holy art thou my LORD and my God. Thou art Yeshua my Messiah and Redeemer!”

    The figure then arose from the throne. Zvi looked up and saw the face of Him who was before him. The face was one of love and kindness, yet a face of authority over all things of the earth and the heavens.

    “Zvi, my beloved son, and servant enter into the joy of thy LORD. Thou hast been a faithful servant all these years, like a glowing jewel, the pride of its maker. Thou hast brought my WORD to life through thy stories. Thousands upon thousands have been blessed through thy words. Many awards await thee in my kingdom, for my kingdom is your home, now, and forevermore.” Thus, spoke the KING of kings and LORD of lords.

    “Oh, my LORD and my God!” replied Zvi, “for you are my Messiah Yeshua, the one who IS, WAS, and always WILL BE. I tried to serve you well and with love, revealed your Torah to all who would listen. I thank you, my LORD and Savior, for the years you gave me on earth, but Oh, how I long to see my precious jewel who you gave to me to be my beloved helpmeet for all those years.”

    “Ah, yes” replied King Yeshua with a voice so tender and understanding, a voice which reflected pure love, “Judith, who served thee as a wife, companion, friend, and helpmeet is here and awaits thee as we speak.”

    At those words, an angel touched Zvi on his shoulder saying; “Arise Oh servant of the Most High God, I will take thee to thy beloved.”

    Then the angel took Zvi by the hand and led him through the many streets which glowed of the purest gold. There were canals of clear, flowing water which ran behind the great mansions that were along the streets. Along the canals grew fruit trees that flowered and produced all goodly fruit. The mansions were made of bricks of gold embedded with all sorts of precious stones.

    “This is yours forever,” said the angel, pointing to a mansion that was now before them. “Judith awaits you in the backyard.” And with those words, the angel disappeared.

    The mansion was seated on a large parcel of green grass and surrounded by flowering bushes. It was the most beautiful sight to behold. Zvi ran across the flowering lawn towards the backyard of the mansion. In the back, he was a very large flowering tree with many overhanging branches. Attached to one branch were two flowering vines which connected to a swing made of acacia wood.

    Seated on the swing was a very young-looking woman, who appeared to be in her twenties or thirties. She wore a long flowing white dress with a golden sash tied around her waist. Zvi looked and looked at the woman who appeared to be in such peace. She smiled and hummed a sweet melody with a small blue bird perched on one of her fingers. Yes, it was her, his Judith, his beloved wife on earth, now they were together again. He ran towards her with all happiness and joy.

    “Judith, my love, my precious jewel” cried out Zvi with all the joy of his heart and soul, “at last we are together again.” Upon hearing Zvi’s voice, Judith looked up at this young man running towards her.

    “Zvi” she cried out with complete recognition of who this young man was, yes, he was her beloved from earth. She got up from the swing and ran to her beloved and the two embraced and kissed each other tenderly.

    “May you have peace and may your soul prosper my dearly beloved from the earth” responded Judith with all joy.

    “and to you as well, may you have peace in this wonderful place, the place of our LORD and Messiah Yeshua” replied Zvi, who still held her in his arms.

    “Oh, my beloved” continued Zvi, “it has been so long, so many years have passed without you, ten, no, fifteen years, Yes, fifteen years since you departed and came to this wonderful place. Now I finally have you back and we are also in the presence of our God.

    “Fifteen years?” questioned Judith, a little bewildered, “that can’t be so. I just got here myself, just a few minutes ago. An angel walked me down the road and showed me this wonderful mansion and said; ‘this is yours forever'

    “Yes…just a few minutes ago…so it seems.”

    Abba…Father, in Hebrew
    Saba…Grandfather, in Hebrew
    Bekishe…a long black coat
    Midrash…a commentary on the Bible
    Baruch HaShem…Praise the Name (of the LORD)
    Mishpochah…Family (Hebrew)

  11. #11
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
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    The British soldiers slowly made their way across no-man's land. It was the first time in a year that the Germans weren't shooting at them. It was an eerie silence, so unlike warfare. It all started eight hours ago, the Christmas Eve Truce. It was accepted by the top brass that all units on both sides, would respect Christmas. Both German and allied forces would cease-fire for 24 hours, so for 24 hours, enemies would be friends. Carols would be sung, games would be played, smiles and greetings would be exchanged. The next day, they would blow each other apart with bombs, rockets, rifles, bayonets, and machine guns. Mortars would be launched, machine guns would rattle, and men would continue to die. Some would return home whole, others minus arms or legs, or both, or blinded by poison gas.

    But for now, a little bit of peace would be enjoyed, just for one day. Just for a day, the bullets wouldn't whistle through the air. Just for a day, the screaming of the dying and wounded would cease, at least, just for a day.

    During the night, the German troops could be heard singing “Silent Night” in German, even though the words were different, the melody was the same. The British soldiers responded as well. They also sang “Silent Night” perhaps trying to out-do the other side. The night of singing ended, and now the soldiers were emerging from their trenches. Both sides met in the middle of No-Man's-Land.

    Private Michael Stafford walked slowly along with his buddies, rifle slung over his shoulder.
    They were just ahead, those Heinies, those bloody Huns. They were just in front of their own trenches having a game of football. It seemed so strange to have some fun in the midst of war, to relax, if not just for a day.
    Michael observed a few German soldiers as they stopped their game and looked towards him and his companions. They waved and shouted something in German.

    “Well” said one of the Brits, “seems like they want us to join them in their game, how about it chaps?”

    “Let's show those Heinies that the British are just as tough in football as on the battlefield!” replied another soldier, pausing to light-up a cigarette.

    Michael chose to stay behind as his companions ran to the German soldiers. It seemed odd to face the enemy on friendly terms. Was there really inbred hatred towards England, France, and the other allied countries who fought this war against Germany? Or were these soldiers just following orders? Orders to aim and shoot at a soldier in a different uniform, who spoke a different language? Was there really hate involved?

    As Michael stood there pondering these thoughts, he saw a young German soldier pop his head out of a nearby bomb crater. The soldier was probably in his early twenties. His face looked gentle, his short dirty blonde hair blowing softly in the cold December wind.

    The German looked at Michael and motioned for him to come over to where he was. “Well,” thought Private Stafford, “What did he have to lose? It was a 24-hour truce, might as well enjoy it.” Michael walked over to where the German was. The bomb crater was shallow, the German was sitting on a rock, helmet by his side, and there was a small fire going with a smoking tin pot with some boiling liquid.

    “Kaffe?” offered the smiling young German soldier, lifting up a small cup of coffee towards Michael.

    Michael thought back to his pre-combat training. He had taken a crash course in basic German just in case he was taken, prisoner. His whole company had to go through language training. He found out he had a mind for languages. He thought about the phrases he had learned, might as well put them to good use now, and he wasn't even a prisoner.

    “Danke Schon” replied Michael, as he sat down next to the young German soldier. Michael took the tin cup from the German's extended hand, nodded to him, and smiled.

    “Bitte” nodded the young German. The German moved over a bit towards Michael and introduced himself to him.

    “Ich heisse Hans, Hans Muller”.

    Michael understood that. So, his name was Hans Muller. So, what? Everyone had names.

    “Michael, Ich heisse Michael” replied Private Stafford, happy that he could express himself in the language of the Kaiser. The German smiled and nodded as he heard the British soldier's name. He thought it rather interesting that a British soldier would know German.

    “Du kanst deutsche sprechen, dast ist gut!” replied Hans, smiling at Michael.

    Michael thought a minute about the phrase, then he understood. Yes, it was good that he spoke German, even if it was just a little bit, enough to get him by as a POW or as a 24-hour friend. Hans reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small book. He showed it proudly to Michael.

    “Mein Bibel” begun Hans, “Jesus Christus ist mein Herr”

    Michael looked a little puzzled. He had never learned those words, but he had recognized “Jesus Christus” “Bibel” and “Herr”. He put those words together and finally figured out what the young German was saying. That was his Bible, and that Jesus Christ was his LORD and Savior.

    “Ja” replied Michael, and he thought about his answer in German. “Das ist gut. Jesus Christus ist mein Herr auch” (Jesus Christ is my LORD and Savior too).

    Suddenly, Michael felt a special bond with Hans. Hans was a born-again Christian and so was he. Michael thought back to his childhood in Kent, the small country church near his home. It was nestled among a few farms. He remembered walking to church on Sundays with his mother and father. The kind elderly Pastor Lewis taught him God's Word in Sunday school, and the lessons intensified during the Sunday sermons.

    He remembered back to that special Sunday. It was in May 1909, when he was 12 years old. He went forward and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and LORD. The pastor gave him a small Bible and signed it, writing “John 3:16” after his signature.

    Somehow, since he joined up with the army a year ago, he had lost focus on his faith. He joined in with the other soldiers in drinking ale and laughing at dirty jokes. As he watched Hans open his small Bible, he felt a little embarrassed about losing sight of his own relationship with God.

    “Habense dein Bibel?” asked Hans, looking intensely at Michael.

    Michael understood that Hans was asking about his Bible if he had one. Michael looked down at the ground, shook his head sadly, and replied;

    “Nein, Ich Habe nicht Bibel.” No, he didn't have his Bible with him.

    “Warum nicht?” asked Hans, looking a bit confused. “Warum habensie nicht Bibel?” Michael understood, why didn't he have a bible with him?

    Michael responded quickly in English. “It's like this Hans, I've bloody well fallen away a bit, you know, from the faith, but not on purpose, the war you know, My Bible, well, I left it at home.”

    He remembered packing his gear at home, ready to get on the train for the trip to the docks. When he was on the train, he remembered seeing his bible on the kitchen table, he had just forgotten to pack it in his rucksack.

    Hans just looked at him a bit confused. Of course, he didn't understand. Then he opened his little pocket-sized Bible and started to read. He read out loud, yet quietly. Then he took a photograph from the bible and showed it to Michael.

    “Meine Familie Michael,” said Hans proudly, “Meine Frau, Helga und meine Tauchter, Gretchen.”

    Michael looked at the photograph. There was a young-looking lady with reddish hair tied in braids holding a little baby. Michael understood, this was Hans' wife and daughter.

    “Nice,” replied Michael, as he took out his wallet from his jacket pocket and took out a small, stained photograph of a young woman with a small boy standing by her side.

    “Meine Frau Michelle, und mein Sohn, Michael Jr.” said Michael with a broad smile.

    Hans looked at the photograph and nodded. Hans put his photograph back in his bible and continued to read it out loud. He showed Michael the page, it was the gospel of John. Michael looked on although he really didn't understand all the words in German. He had read the gospel of John a few times, so he understood, more or less, the content.

    Time went by, the afternoon shadows grew long, the two soldiers, enemies yet brothers in Christ, sat together in the bomb crater. Hans continued to read his bible. Michael looked on as if understanding all the words. From time to time, Hans looked up from his reading and smiled at Michael. Finally, the whistles blew, first from the German trenches, and then from the British side. The officers from both sides barked orders through bull horns. Both sides received orders to return to their respective trenches. Hans returned his Bible to his jacket pocket. With a sad look, Hans said his goodbye to Michael;

    “Auf Wiedersehen Bruder Michael” shaking his hand and then embracing Michael.

    “Auf Wiedersehen Bruder Hans” replied Michael, trying to maintain a serious look.

    He didn't want to show his sadness, after all, Hans was his brother in the faith even though he was the enemy. Now they were departing. There was a war to be fought. In a few minutes, they would be in their own trenches, and they would be enemies once again. Michael tried to concentrate on that. Both soldiers got up and left the bomb crater. After a few minutes had passed, they were both back in their own trenches.

    “Alright, listen up chaps” barked a sergeant once the troops had gathered around in the British trench, “At 19:00 hours, we're going over the top, but not before getting some covering fire from our artillery in the rear. That should put a bunch of those bloody Huns out of their misery” The sergeant lit up a cigarette, looked around at the men, and nodded. “Looks like you chaps are ready for a fight, in the meanwhile, rest at ease.”

    At that, the sergeant walked off down the trench. The men seemed excited. They all seemed to be relaxed. They talked among themselves quietly, some of them tried to get some sleep. Michael sat down on some sandbags by himself. His thoughts went to his wife Michelle and his son. He thought about his encounter with Hans. He didn't want to think about the unavoidable battle which he would face soon enough. He would try and get some rest, maybe a little sleep. He imagined himself back in Kent, the countryside, the church, picnics with his family and church members, the walks along the quaint country road. He was holding Michelle tenderly in his arms, they were at grandma and grandpa's dairy farm, the milk, the cheese, and..... suddenly, he was awakened by a shout.

    “All soldiers stand to, get ready, fix bayonets”.

    An officer walked by, kicking a few sleeping soldiers on the bottoms of their boots to arouse them. The “Stand to” order was echoed down the trench and the soldiers lined up alongside the trench walls. They fixed their bayonets to their rifle muzzles, put the ladders in place against the walls. Some just stared into nothingness, others nervously lit up cigarettes with trembling fingers, others kissed crucifixes, others seemed calm and just awaited the order, the sound of the whistle to “go over the top”.

    “Stand by for artillery cover fire” shouted an officer at the extreme end of the trench.

    A few minutes passed, and then suddenly, the barrage of British artillery boomed overhead. The soldiers heard the whistle of the artillery shells and then the explosion around the German side. After ten minutes, the shelling subsided. Then, an officer blew a whistle and shouted the words;

    “Over the top chaps,” The soldiers shouted a war cry, climbed up the wooden ladders, and went “over the top” of the trench. No sooner had the soldiers cleared the top of the trench that a barrage of German machine-gun fire let loose with full fury against the Brits. Dozens of British soldiers fell in their tracks. Some were killed instantly, others went down wounded, crying out in pain, clutching their arms, legs, and abdomens.

    Michael ran in zig-zag movements, making his way towards the German lines. He caught sight of the machine gun nest, and as the machine gunners turned their weapon of death towards his path, he fell prone to the earth, awaiting the bullets to pass over his head. He got up again and made his way towards the German trenches. So far so good, he hadn't be hit. He knew that somehow, the machine gun nest had to be taken out, otherwise, hundreds of British soldiers would be slaughtered.

    “Might as well be me” thought Michael, as he inched his way towards the target. He caught sight of one of the many bomb craters up ahead, really close to the machine gun nest. He threw himself to the ground and low-crawled up to the shallow hole, then with a burst of speed, he threw himself into the pit. He crawled up to the edge and peered over the top. He could see the two German machine gunners behind some sandbags about 10 meters away. He was in a good position. He could take them out with a good aim. He had a full clip of bullets as he hadn't fired his rifle yet, being that before now, he didn't have any German soldier in plain line of sight.

    There were two German machine gunners, he would have to take both of them out in a matter of seconds. He took careful aim, then fired his rifle twice. The bullets hit their mark. The German soldiers dropped their heads to the sandbags and the machine gun was silenced.

    But just then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a movement from another small bomb crater, just in front of him and slightly to his left. He noticed that a German soldier had him in sight, his rifle aimed straight at him, but the German hesitated, doing something surprisingly strange. He lowered his rifle a few inches and strained his head forward just a bit as if looking for something...or someone.

    That was all that Michael needed. He quickly swung his rifle around and pulled the trigger. He saw the German soldier's head recoil backward as the bullet found its mark. Then, at almost the same time, a German artillery shell exploded almost beside him. The shock shook the ground and Michael felt a sharp pain as an object hit his helmet. The explosion and painful impact caused Private Michael Stafford to lose consciousness.

    When he came to, the morning sun was peaking over the horizon. He felt a hand gently touching his body. He slowly lifted his head in response to that soft touch.

    “This one's alive sergeant” shouted the medic who came across Michael. The sergeant came over to where Michael lay.

    “Are you badly hurt Private? Can you get up?” asked the sergeant rather curtly.

    The medic removed Michael’s helmet, passing it to the sergeant. The side of Michael's head was stained with blood.

    “Lucky you had your helmet on soldier, or you'd be bloody well dead” the sergeant said, kneeling down to get a better look at Michael's head wound.

    Michael sat up slowly, the side of his head was throbbing with pain. The medic rubbed some iodine solution on the head wound and tied a bandage with a gauze pad to Michael's head.

    “look,” said the sergeant as he handed Michael back his combat helmet, “a little bit more and you wouldn't be sitting up “.

    Michael looked at his helmet and saw a sharp piece of German shrapnel imbedded into the side, a little bit had penetrated through and that was the cause of his slight head wound. Michael pulled out the shrapnel and placed his helmet on his head again.

    “I'll be OK sergeant”

    “Good” replied the sergeant, as he got up and started moving away, “I hear you took out that machine gun nest” continued the sergeant, pointing to the remains of the German machine-gun position. “You'll be getting a medal of valor for that, you saved hundreds of lives”.

    “Give that medal to those guys over there” replied Michael, pointing to all the British dead on the battlefield.

    The sergeant didn't reply, he and the medic just walked off towards the now empty German trenches. The sergeant turned back once more and looked at Michael, who was now on his feet.

    “War is hell,” he said, shaking his head, then the sergeant and the medic departed, following the other survivors of last night's battle.

    Michael shouldered his rifle and walked forward, following the lead of the sergeant, the medic, and the other soldiers who were blessed to see another day. As Michael continued walking forward, he caught sight of the machine gun nest and the dead machine gunners. Yes, he had indeed saved many lives. Then his eye caught sight of the German who had emerged from the bomb crater just in front of him. He stopped in his tracks, he just starred at the dead soldier. Something was familiar about that particular soldier, but what?

    The German was lying face down in the shallow bomb crater, his dirty blonde hair blew softly in the wind. Michael's heart skipped a beat, no, it can't be, not him, not.... he couldn't continue his thought. Michael then jumped down into the bomb crater, and turned the body of the dead German soldier over, and looked into the face of his brother.... brother Hans Muller. his brother in the faith.

    Michael just sat there staring into the face of Hans, he seemed so peaceful, even in death, with a small red hole in his forehead where the bullet found its mark.

    “Why didn't you stay down Hans, why?” cried out Michael, as he shook the body of Hans. Yes, they were brothers in the faith, yet enemies on the battlefield. He thought back to last night's battle,

    “You… You recognized me, didn't you? That's why you lowered your weapon, you didn't fire, you made me... made me fire first”

    Michael lifted his brother's head gently and put the German's helmet back on his head.

    “Rest now, rest, my brother in the faith, enjoy eternity, walk with the LORD. Now what shall I tell your wife and child?” whispered Michael, almost in tears. “Dear Helga and Gretchen, Your Hans is dead because of me, you are now a widow and your daughter fatherless.” no, he couldn't write that, he couldn't, how could he? he didn't have the nerve, nor was his German that good.

    He then reached into Hans' jacket pocket and removed the small Bible. He found the photograph of the young woman with a baby girl, there was an address, in Bremerhaven, a seaport in the north of Germany. Yes, he would send the bible back to his wife, no note, he would just send it back once he was on leave if he survived until then. Michael knew that Hans was happy in the Kingdom of God. No more war, hate, bombs, poison gas, trench rats, nor bullets to worry about.

    He also knew that one day, he too would meet Hans again in Heaven. Together, he and Hans, his wife and Hans' wife, and both their children would walk in the city of the King, enjoying eternal life and bliss. He imagined themselves sitting under one of the fruit trees that lined the River of Life, enjoying the fruit, with uplifted hands singing praises to the Most High God.

    The war would be just a memory, perhaps not even that. Perhaps the LORD would wipe their minds free from memories of sin, greed, hate, pain, strife, and war. With the thought of war, he suddenly returned to reality, his reality. For the time being, there was a war to be fought, for king and country, against the Kaiser and his army. Michael's thoughts were interrupted by the voice of an officer.

    “Get a souvenir and be off with you private, we have a war to fight, and a long way to go, but we have those bloody Huns on the run thank God!”

    Michael turned around to look up into the face of an infantry officer who stood there gazing down upon Michael and the dead German soldier.

    “He was my brother” shouted Michael, his eyes glistening with a couple of tears.

    “If that Hun was your brother, then I'm the Kaiser” retorted the officer, taking a puff from his cigarette. “Hurry up and get moving, we're going to follow those Heinies and give them more hell!” with those words, the officer left to follow the other British soldiers, now advancing towards the next German stronghold.

    “I have to go now brother Hans,” said Michael, looking into the peaceful face of his German brother in the faith. It seemed as though he was just asleep, waiting to be resurrected from the dead. But Michael knew where Hans was. He remembered the words of King David upon losing his first son of Bathsheba, that his son would not be able to return to him, yet David would see him again someday, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    “We'll see each other again in Heaven, but I have to return to my wife and son, they need me...” Michael stopped his words cold as if Hans' wife and daughter didn't need the warmth and comfort of a husband and a father.

    Michael climbed out of the bomb crater where the body of Hans Muller lay. Yes, there was a war to be fought, an enemy to defeat, and he was a soldier of the crown. He turned back one last time to look upon the body of an enemy soldier, yet his brother in Christ, and spoke his last words;

    “Auf Wiedersehen mein Bruder, Auf Wiedersehen”

  12. #12
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
    Houston, TX
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    Goldilocks and the Three Bears "From a Jewish Perspective"


    It was around noon time when Goldilocks left her Brooklyn apartment on the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Ave. She would finally spend a Sabbath Eve with her grandma “Zaide” Sarah who lived in a small retirement village apartment on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Ave. She was in her late 80s now, and really didn’t get around much anymore, at least that was what Goldilocks thought. So she thought it might be a good idea to visit her and spend a Sabbath Eve with her. Mamma thought it was a good idea too.

    So, Mamma baked a fresh loaf of Challah, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and placed it inside of Goldilocks’ back-pack. She went to the corner of 9th and 7th and waited for the bus. Once she boarded, Goldilocks settled down in a seat in the middle of the bus, leaned her head against the window, and closed her eyes. Her memories took her back to the times when grandma and grandpa had spent more time together with her.

    In past years, they had taken her to Prospect Park which was near the grandparent’s place. They would walk together, throw nuts to the squirrels, and breadcrumbs to the birds. Goldilocks would swing on one of the many swing-sets in the park. A few years ago, grandpa had given up the ghost, and now it was only grandma “Zaide” Sarah. These thoughts had slowly lulled Goldilocks to sleep. She wasn’t planning a nap on the bus, it just happened that way.

    When she awoke, the bus had stopped for a few minutes because the bus driver had gone into a store for a snack and a restroom break. She looked around and saw the street sign, “New York Ave”, a little far from where she had planned to get off. She had plainly slept through her stop at 7th and 9th Ave.

    ” Have a nice day.” said the driver as he got back on.

    ” Yeah, you too” replied Goldilocks as she rushed down the aisle and jumped down the steps, and through the open door. A few more passengers got on and the driver closed the door and drove away.

    So, there she stood there at the corner of Midwood and New York Ave thinking that, ‘somehow, I have to get back to where Grandma lives. She opened her purse and fumbled around looking for another bus token, but all she found was some loose change, an old grocery receipt, some paperclips, and an old folded up homework assignment from Mr. Stein’s Social Studies class.

    ’Great’ she thought, ‘so this is where it was, two weeks too late. I’ll turn it in any way, better late than never.’ She knew that Mr. Stein was kind of cool and that he wrote: "zeros" in his grade book in pencil, so that if a student turned in a late assignment, he would change the "zero" to a late grade, like a 70. Now the loose change amounted to twenty-two cents, not even enough for a cup of coffee.

    ’Well, she thought, I could “schnor” myself back to grandma’s place.’

    She remembered the stories that grandma and grandpa had told her about “schnorrers” back in the old country, destitute beggars asking pedestrians for a few Kopeks or even a Ruble or two near the great city of Kiev.

    But, ‘No’ she thought, ‘there’s no way I’m going to schnor for bus fare, I’ll just walk it out.’

    So, Goldilocks began her trek back towards grandma’s place at 9th and 7th. Sure, it was a long way off, but if she walked fast, she ought to be there in time for Sabbath. With the loaf of challah in her backpack, she hurried along New York Ave as fast as she could walk. A little way up ahead she noticed a sign that pointed to Prospect Park.

    ’Well,’ she thought, ‘I could go around the park or cut through it. If I cut through it, I’ll save some time, yeah, cut through it.’ she decided finally. So, Goldilocks started through Prospect Park with backpack and challah loaf inside. Soon she noticed a trail that led to Brooklyn’s only forest.

    This somewhat intrigued her. She remembered grandma “Zaide” telling her about this small forest in Brooklyn, yet she never took her along one of these quaint forest paths.

    ’Guess I can make a detour’ thought Goldilocks, ‘ten or fifteen minutes won’t matter. I’ll still make it back to grandmas before the Sabbath begins.’

    So, Goldilocks started to walk along the main trail that led to towering trees and bushes. She was enthralled by such greenery in the middle of the city, she was captivated by the tweeting of the birds, and the scurrying squirrels that paused for a second to stare at her before disappearing into the thickets and trees.

    Soon, she came upon a small log cabin house that was nestled between a clump of trees. It was off the beaten trail but nevertheless, curiosity got the better of her. She went over to investigate. She made her way to this small, strange house in the middle of this vast Brooklyn forest. She read the sign that was nailed to the front of the door which read; “BEARkowitz Family”. There were also three mailboxes near the front door with the names; Papa BEARkowitz, Mama BEARkowitz, and Baby BEARkowitz. Goldilocks went closer for a better look and noticed that the front door was opened a crack, so she went up and knocked.

    ” Hello, anyone at home?”

    Her knocking opened the door a bit more. No one answered, so she pushed open the door and went inside the BEARkowitz residence. Upon entering she noticed a small, cozy kitchen to the left, and around the corner were a combination dining and living room. On the dining room table, she noticed three bowls of porridge. The aroma of the porridge stirred up her appetite, so she went over and sat down in a large chair in front of the larger bowl of porridge. She tasted it but, alas, it was much too hot.

    She moved over to the medium-sized chair in front of a smaller bowl and tasted the porridge. But “oi” it was too cold and bland. Then she saw the smallest bowl of porridge in front of the smallest chair. The chair looked comfortable so she sat down and tasted the porridge.

    ” Yes,” she exclaimed, “just right”

    So, she ate it all up. After eating, Goldilocks felt a little tired so she went into the living room and saw two cushioned chairs and a small rocking chair. She sat down in the first chair, but it was much too hard for her comfort. She then tried the next chair, but the cushion was too soft for her comfort. Finally, she sat down in the rocking chair and started rocking back and forth. Yes, it seemed just right.

    After about ten minutes of rocking back and forth in the small rocking chair, Goldilocks began to feel sleepy so she went into the master bedroom and found two beds. She lay down in the first bed which was pretty large, but the mattress was too hard and firm. She went to the other bed and lay down, but the mattress was much too soft. Then she went into the adjoining bedroom and found baby bear’s bed, (who wasn’t really a baby anymore on account that he was already 13 and Bar-mitzvahed). She lay down on the bed and she felt that it was just right. Soon, she fell fast asleep.

    In the meanwhile, Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear (who wasn’t a baby anymore since he was already 13 and bar-mitzvahed) returned home from shopping. They saw that the door was already open a jar, so Papa Bear said;

    ” Honey, did you forget to lock the door again?”

    “Oi Vey,” responded Mama Bear, “Seems like I am getting to be a bit absent-minded these days, my bad!”

    ” That’s OK,” replied Papa Bear, “We don’t have anything worth stealing anyway.”

    So, the three BEARkowitz bears entered and Mama Bear put the groceries on the kitchen table for the Sabbath Eve dinner. It was then that Papa Bear noticed the bowls of porridge on the table.

    ” Someone has been eating my porridge!” said Papa bear a little annoyed.

    Mama Bear went over to the table and looked at her bowl of porridge and exclaimed;

    ” Oi, someone has been eating from my bowl of porridge too!”

    Then Baby Bear (who wasn’t such a baby anymore since…. well…you know) went over to his bowl of porridge and cried out;

    ” Someone ate all of my porridge, and I am really hungry now!”

    ” Do you suppose that someone came in here while we were out shopping?” asked Mama Bear a bit surprised.

    ” Well”, replied Papa Bear, “you did leave the door unlocked, didn’t you? We’ll just look around and see. If someone is here, we’ll soon find out.” So, the three bears went into the living room and went over to their chairs.

    ” Someone has been sitting in my chair” exclaimed Papa Bear, noticing that his chair had been moved slightly.

    ” Someone has been sitting in my chair too” exclaimed Mama Bear, noticing that the cushion had been moved. Then Baby Bear (who wasn’t a baby…. you know the rest) went over to his rocking chair and said;

    ” Someone has been rocking in my chair, look, my comic book that was on my chair is on the floor!” and he went over and placed the comic book on the rocking chair seat again.

    ” Good observation son” replied Papa Bear, nodding his head. “we’re getting closer to the truth of the matter, let’s check out the bedrooms.”

    So, the BEARkowitz bears went into the master bedroom. Papa Bear noticed that the bedspreads were a bit out of place.

    ” Someone has been sleeping in my bed” he exclaimed, shaking his head!’

    ” Someone has also been sleeping in my bed” replied Mama bear, noticing that the sheets were pulled back a bit.

    ” Mama, Papa” cried out Baby (well, you know the story) Bear, “someone is sleeping in my bed, and here she is!”

    Mama and Papa Bear rushed into their son’s bedroom and were very much surprised to see the young girl asleep in the bed. For a minute, they just stood there staring at Goldilocks.

    ” Is she one of your friends' son?” asked Papa Bear.

    ” Never seen her in my life Papa!” replied (well, we have to call baby Bear something else).

    Then Mama Bear, very gently, reached over and shook Goldilocks’ feet. ” wake up, wake up little girl,” she said softly.

    Goldilocks stirred a little and awoke from her sleep. She rubbed her eyes a bit and sat up. When she opened her eyes and saw the three bears standing at her bedside, out of her mouth came;

    Ayyyyy! Yahhh, Yahhh, Yahhh…. screaming at the top of her lungs, terrified to see the bears.

    ” Oi, little girl, stop screaming so, you act as though we’re going to eat you alive,” responded Mama Bear, a little surprised to see the girl act so.

    ” Well bears are bad, and evil” replied Goldilocks still a little distraught, “They attack and eat people and tear them limb from limb!”

    ” I think wolves do that,” said baby bear, “it was a big bad wolf that ate Little Red Riding Hood’s grannie!”

    ” Oi Vey,” groaned Papa Bear shaking his head, “She must have gotten a hold of last month’s Field and Stream magazine, you know, the one that had the article about the hikers in the Rockies getting attacked by a grizzly.”

    Mama Bear just smiled at Goldilocks and sat down in the bed beside her. “Not all bears are bad dear,” she said, trying to calm the young girl, “but grizzlies, well, they’re bears with an attitude”

    ” So what kind of bears are you?” asked Goldilocks, now a bit more composed.

    ” Well,” began Papa Bear, “To be perfectly honest, we do have some grizzlies in our family. My great, great aunt and uncle; Sasha and Tatyana BEARkovich lived in the forests of Siberia near Yakutsk. Now those were two bears with an attitude, why they took on 4 Cossacks at once and tore them apart. But the Cossacks were the ones looking for trouble mind you!”

    ” Yeah, but they’re probably a pair of rugs in the Tsar’s palace by now,” responded Baby (but not so baby anymore) Bear, a little excited to join the conversation.

    ” Son,” growled Papa Bear, “what did I tell you about saying that kind of thing? They aren’t rugs, they just...well… vanished one day.

    ” Sorry,” sighed baby Bear, a little embarrassed now, especially in front of this unexpected visitor.

    ” Well dear,” replied Mama Bear, remembering the question, “What kind of bears are we? Well? We’re…ah…” Brooklyn bears!” Mama bear didn’t quite know what else to say.

    ” Yeah” added baby Bear, “like the Brooklyn Dodgers”

    Goldilocks just looked at the three bears wide-eyed, just looking for a chance to escape. She still had her backpack on and she slowly got off the bed. “Weeell,” she began, “I’m not really into baseball, I’m a tennis fan…soooo…. gotta go now…bye…” and she quickly headed toward the bedroom door. Papa Bear, though, moved quickly in front of her.

    ” Just a minute young lady, you haven’t told us why you’re here,” he said, standing in front of the door blocking Goldilocks’ getaway. Goldilocks stopped, threw the backpack on the bed, and sat down again.

    ” First of all, my name is Goldilocks, and well…this is how it went.” So, she told the story of how she left her apartment and headed towards grandma “Zaide” Sarah’s place, fell asleep on the bus, got off at the wrong stop, ran out of bus tokens, head back to grandma’s place, took a shortcut through the park and then…ended up at the Bear’s house. Now, the Bear family’s interest was really sparked,

    ”So you see sir...” continued Goldilocks.

    ” I’m Mr. BEARkowitz, and this is my family” interrupted Papa bear.

    ” OK, nice to meet you…as I was saying…I came across your house, the door was open a crack, I came in, I was a bit hungry and I still am, and well…I saw your porridge and well…you know the rest.” Goldilocks stopped talking and waited for the Bear’s response.

    ” So, you say you’re on your way back to your grandma’s place near 9th and 7th Street, right?”
    Asked Papa Bear. “what’s her name if I may ask?”

    ” Sarah” answered Goldilocks, “Zaide” Sarah.

    ” Grandma “Zaide” Sarah is YOUR grandmother?” questioned papa Bear a bit surprised. “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein?”

    ” You know her?” questioned Goldilocks, wondering how in the world he could know her grandma.

    ” Why everyone around here knows Grandma “Zaide” Sarah Goldstein” replied Mama Bear, “She is so friendly, always comes to the park, feeds the birds, the squirrels, tells the children in the park Bible stories, why, we just saw her today when we were on our way home from shopping. She was at Temple Beth Shalom. I believe that Rabbi Stein and his wife invited her to their place to spend Sabbath Eve, such a nice old lady” smiled Mama Bear looking at Goldilocks with all serenity.

    ” You mean to tell me that I came all this way and she isn’t even home!? Answered Goldilocks, quite annoyed now, upon hearing this unexpected news.

    ” Well, you could have called her on the phone” replied Mama Bear quietly.

    ” She never answers the stupid phone!” cried Goldilocks, "and I don't leave answers on answering machines neither because I don't talk to machines, I talk to real live people...and now bears, and mama baked this Challah especially for her!” she added, taking the paper wrapped loaf of Challah bread out of her backpack, showing it to the bears.

    ” The challah,” cried out Mama Bear slapping herself on the side of her head, “That’s what we forgot dear husband, the Challah bread at Aaron’s bakery!”

    Papa bear just stood there, stroking his chin, deep in thought. “You know” he began, “This is a very interesting situation. We have a Sabbath Eve chicken dinner in the oven, and Goldilocks here has the Challah. Young lady, how would you like to be our Sabbath Eve dinner guest this evening?”

    ” Yes,” added Mama Bear, “it would be an honor to have you!”

    Goldilocks didn’t quite know how to respond. Then she smiled a big smile and nodded

    “Thank you so much, I accept, I’m as hungry as a bear…. Oh…sorry, no pun intended, my bad.”

    ” Well” replied Mama Bear, “It’s settled, let’s go into the dining room and wash up, the Sabbath is almost upon us”. So, the three bears and Goldilocks left baby bear’s bedroom and went into the dining room.

    ” Now, you two go to the sink and wash your hands, and don’t forget the hand washing blessing. Papa Bear and I will get the dinner on the table, and get the candles and wine out to greet the Sabbath.

    So, baby bear and Goldilocks washed their hands, recited the blessing, and went over to the dining room table.

    ” Goldilocks, you sit over there,” said Mama Bear, pointing to one of the chairs, “and Baby bear, you sit next to Goldilocks.”

    ” Come on Mama,” cried out the baby bear, “Cut it out with the Baby Bear bit’ I’m already 13 years old, remember my Bar mitzvah last month?”

    ” Well” began Mama Bear, “You know how the story goes, the author named you…”

    ” I know, I know,” interrupted baby bear, “but you can change my name…Pleeeeeaase!! He cried.

    ” Go ahead, change the name,” responded Papa Bear as he set the candles in place on the table.

    ” How about, YOUNG BEAR?” asked Mama, looking inquisitively at her son.

    ” Sounds native American,” replied her son bluntly.

    ” I like it,” replied Goldilocks, smiling from ear to ear.

    ” YES.” shouted Young Bear pumping his fist in the air, “Young Bear, Young Bear, Yes, Yes!”

    ”OK, it’s settled, YOUNG BEAR, you sit with Goldilocks, the Sabbath is almost among us” replied Mama Bear as she put on her white scarf.

    Papa Bear put the roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn in the middle of the table. The table already had a beautiful white linen tablecloth, especially for the Sabbath. He poured some wine in the four wine glasses which were in front of each family member and the surprise visitor. He then set the Challah bread next to the chicken and sprinkled some salt on it. Papa put on his Yarmulke and looked at his wife and nodded to her to begin.

    Mama Bear lit the candles and waved her hands, as if drawing in the light of the Sabbath candles, then recited the prayer;

    ” Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam…….” Then Papa Bear took the Challah and cut it, and recited the Sabbath prayer for the bread, then gave a piece of Challah to those at the table. Then came the blessing over the wine, and the wine was shared as well.

    After all, had partaken of the bread and the wine, Papa Bear said, “Amen” and the rest responded, “Amen”
    ” OK, so let’s eat” replied Mama Bear, as she served the chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the corn to everyone at the table.

    ” Gut Shabbos everyone,” said Papa Bear, nodding at Goldilocks.

    ” Gut Shabbos” replied Goldilocks, “Gut Shabbos to all of you and thank you.”

    ” You are so welcome young lady,” said Mama Bear, very happy to have a Shabbos guest.

    Goldilocks was really enjoying the BEARkowitz’ Shabbos meal, and then she noticed that “Young Bear” was looking at her, and seemed to have something on his mind. He finally got enough nerve and lifted up his voice saying;

    “Uh…uh…Goldilocks? uh…I wanted to, kinda, like, ask you something?”

    ” Yeah, what?” replied Goldilocks, a bit curious as to the nature of the question.

    Young bear swallowed a piece of chicken with a bit more wine and then responded;

    ” OK, are you…well…kinda like…uh…going with someone? I mean…do you…like have a boyfriend?”

    Goldilocks just smiled and rolled her eyes; “Oi” she said, “what next?”

    Now it came to pass that an old rabbi with a long white beard, a Bekishe, and a black hat just happened to come across this story written on several sheets of lined notebook paper. He just happened to be walking in Prospect Park in early Spring. He sat down on one of the park benches to meditate on the creation of HaShem. He looked and saw the 5 pieces of notebook paper stapled together and folded. They were right at the end of the bench weighted down by a small rock.

    He read through the story, smiled, and said within himself; ‘Yes, this would be perfect for next Sabbath’s message.’ So, the rabbi went home and made some notes with the help of the rebbetzin.
    Upon the arrival of the next Sabbath, the rabbi went up to the Bema and began his discourse.

    God has given us all the spirit of curiosity, began the Rebbe, We are curious about new things, new situations, our nature is to be inquisitive, so we venture off-course a bit to explore new terrains. What lies behind closed doors you might ask? Sometimes, the doors are open just a bit to invite you to ‘push it open and take a look inside.’

    Life is full of new experiences and opportunities that we might wish to tackle. Some of them might be just “too hot” to handle. We might not be prepared just yet. Other tasks may be, in our opinion, “too cold” “too bland” or just “too boring” for us to handle, or accept. However, if there is a job that needs to be done, a “mitzvah” needing to be performed, a person in need of your help, no matter how “bland” or “how boring” it may seem to you, God has put you there for a reason. Never think that a “mitzvah” is beneath your dignity, God will bless and reward many “humble floor sweepers.”

    Then there are the situations and “mitzvoth” that seem “just right” right up your alley you may think. “This is just what I was hoping for.” Or “expecting” or “waiting for.” Then there is “sit down” time, “downtime” time for a rest, a personal “Shabbos” time. You may rest in an easy chair, or take a long snooze in a “b.b.b.” (baby-bear bed).

    Many will take their long-awaited summer vacation, some will just be satisfied with a weekend Sabbath rest. Some will take a yearlong “sabbatical” that is if it can be afforded. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He worked and then rested. We should take his example. There is a time for work, to do mitzvoth (good deeds), and a time for rest. There is a time and a season for everything and everything has its time and its season.

    There is a time and a season to repent of wrongdoing, time for Teshuvah, to get right with God, that time is now. There is a time, a place, a season just right for you. Take advantage of it, because there is no promise of tomorrow. As the Prophet, Isaiah said; “Seek the L-RD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!” (55:6)

    Schnorrer A beggar (Yiddish)
    Schnor to beg (Yiddish)
    Zaide grandmother (Yiddish)
    Bekishe A long, black suit-coat
    Rebbetzin A rabbi’s wife
    Teshuvah repentance
    Mitzvah A good deed
    Mitzvoth Good needs (plural)

  13. #13
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    Jan 2015
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    THE FALL (A tale of Adam and Eve)


    The man opened his eyes and looked up at the deep blue sky that his creator had made. It was blue like a sparkling sapphire that reflected the bright, warm rays of the sun which the creator had put there in the midst. The bright sunlight warmed the skin of the man. It felt so good. It was all part of the creation that the God of all beings had put into place.

    The man sat up. He looked upon his arms, legs, and torso which were coated with reddish-brown dust, the dust of the earth from which he was made. Then the man stood up upon his feet and looked around at his surroundings. He looked towards the North, the South, towards the East, and the West. All around him was a vast, green forest-garden with all kinds of fruit-bearing trees, bushes of berries, and fields of all sorts of grains. There were also trees and shrubs with no fruit, but instead, had multi-colored flowers which emitted a variety of different, sweet fragrances which perfumed the air around the man.

    The cool, green grass under his feet felt refreshing, as there was the presence of a cool mist which came up from the earth to water the whole garden-forest (1). The man observed a high hill which was near the center of the garden. Alongside the hill, he saw a crystal-clear river that watered the garden. At a little distance away, it parted into four separate rivers that flowed away from the garden forest.

    The man approached the river in the midst of the garden and found a small, quiet pool. When he looked down into the pool, he saw a man looking up at him. The man that looked up at him glowed with a soft, glowing light. The man looked at himself carefully. He looked at his arms, legs, and torso, and indeed, he did shine with his creator’s shekinah glory. The very essence of Elohim was upon his body.

    The man marveled at the garden-forest which Elohim had created. He desired all the goodly fruit which hung from the branches of the diverse fruit-trees. Then Elohim spoke to the man out of the heavens and said;

    “Of every tree of the garden ye may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for, in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (2)

    So, the man went in among the trees of the garden and partook of all the goodly fruit that the trees produced. He ate from the trees that produced pears, apples, oranges, kiwi, mangos, bananas, and cherries. He also took from the vines that produced both green and purple grapes. He ate of the trees until his hunger was satisfied.

    As he wandered throughout his paradise home, he came to a clearing in the midst of the garden. There in the clearing grew the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree was a bit taller than the other trees of the garden-forest. It was lovely to look upon and it emitted a fragrance that perfumed the whole area around it. Its fruit was like tiny clusters of grapes hanging from its many branches. But the man heeded the warning of his creator and continued to explore the rest of the garden, leaving behind the forbidden tree.

    Now the man was not alone in the garden, for he saw many varieties and kinds of beasts, beasts that walked on all four legs, some that walked on two legs with long tails behind them. He also observed the beasts that flew through the air, both great and small. He bent down to observe the tiny insects that scurried along the ground from which he was made. He saw that some beasts were of one color, others, such as the flying beasts, were of many colors.

    Then the man decided to follow one of the rivers that flowed from the garden. As he gazed into the crystal clarity of the waters, he noticed all kinds of fish, some of one only color, others of many colors. There were both large and small fish, all swimming up and down the rivers. He went to observe the other three rivers and saw also, a multitude of fish that swam up and down the flowing waters.

    So, God brought all the beasts of the field, and fowls of the air to the man to see what he would call them. (3) As the man observed each and every beast, he gave them names according to their size and characteristics. To all he gave names, according to their kinds and species, from the tiny field mouse that ran in the fields, to the giant Behemoth, whose legs were like iron and whose tail was like a Cedar and with its long neck, would drink up the waters of the rivers. He named also the fowls of the air, from the tiny Titmouse that could fit in the palm of a hand, to the giant Pterosaurs, whose wingspan was three times the height of a man, and whose flapping of wings would stir up whirlwinds. The man also gave names to the fish of the rivers, according to their species and kinds.

    The man continued to explore, even beyond the boundaries of his garden home. He traveled westward even unto the great Sea. There he called forth the great beasts of the sea and they came forth, even unto the shore where the man stood. To them he also gave names. He gave names to the great whales, sharks, and to the swarming creatures, even the great Leviathan, whose massive size towered above the mightiest of the whales.

    Now the man noticed that in naming and observing all the beasts of the earth, the fowls of the air, and the fish of the waters, every beast was either male or female and that every beast had its mate. The man was saddened that there was no mate for him, a counterpart liked unto himself. So, the man returned to his garden paradise with a fallen countenance. Then Elohim looked down upon the man and said;

    “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (4) So, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. Then he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which he had taken from the man and brought her to the man. (5)

    Then the man awoke from his sleep and looked up into the face of the woman. She was beautiful to look upon, the perfect help-meet for the man. He stood up and embraced the woman, kissing her tenderly saying:
    “This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of the Man.” (6)

    Adam and Eve gazed into each other’s eyes and knew they had been made one for the other. Adam also noticed that Eve’s body also had a soft covering of light that came from the presence of the LORD God of all creation. It was like a skin of light, that covered their flesh.

    So, Adam showed Eve the garden-forest that the LORD God had given them. He showed her all the vast array of fruit and nut trees, the flowering bushes and shrubs. He also took her to the midst of the garden and showed her the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He also explained to her the warning that the LORD God of creation had given him concerning the tree. He took her to see the beasts of the earth and pointed to the fowls of the air. Eve learned their names and they called them by their names and by their kinds. When they called to the animals, they came to the man and the woman as there was no fear in their hearts.

    Adam then took his wife to see the rivers that flowed from their garden paradise. Adam showed Eve the different fish that swam in the flowing waters and told her their names. Adam and Eve then traveled together westward toward the great sea. On their way, they saw the immense variety of animals, both great and small. Adam also called them by their names and Eve learned their names. When they arrived at the great sea, Adam called out to the marine beasts, both great and small. They all came to the water’s edge when he called the names.

    Eve stood in awe at the size of some of the beasts, the great whales, the long-necked beasts with long tails and flippers. She marveled at the schools of flying fish that glided over the waves of the waters. The great Leviathan also came at the bidding of the man and woman.

    Adam and Eve finally made their way back to their garden home. They lay down together in the soft green grass under one of the many fruit trees of their paradise dwelling. Exhausted from their trip, they soon fell fast asleep. The woman awoke at first light, and seeing that her husband was still asleep, went off to explore the garden paradise alone. When she reached the center of the garden, she saw the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She gazed with desire at its lovely fruit which hung from the branches. The sweet fragrance of the tree brought her even closer, but she remembered the warning of her husband concerning the tree.

    As she came even closer, even to stand under the tree she noticed some movement among the many flowering branches. Then the serpent that rested among the leaves spoke to the woman saying;

    “Eve, hath Elohim indeed said ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” and Eve said unto the serpent;

    “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Elohim hath said ‘You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it lest you die!”

    “Ye shall not surely die” replied the serpent with utmost deceit, “for Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like Elohim, knowing both good and evil!” (7)

    So, Eve confided in the words of the lying serpent, and seeing that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes and that it would increase her wisdom in all things, she reached up and picked some of its fruit and ate of it. Adam, in the meantime, had awakened from his deep sleep and seeing that Eve was not by his side, got up and called out to her.

    “Here am I husband” cried out Eve from the midst of the garden, “I am by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

    So, Adam went to the midst of the garden and found his wife under the forbidden tree with some of its fruit in her hand. When he saw his wife with the fruit, his countenance fell, and was greatly dismayed thinking that indeed, she had partaken of the fruit.

    “Wife” began the man, “Did ye not remember the words which I spoke unto thee? That the LORD God of all creation gave us free choice of all the trees of the garden, save this one which is here in the midst of the garden. Only this tree was prohibited to us so why did ye disobey? Why did ye eat of it so foolishly?”

    Adam dropped to his knees, covering his face with his hands. He cried tears of sadness and anguish concerning his wife.

    “Be ye comforted husband” replied Eve, trying to reassure her husband. “As you can see, I am not dead, but quite alive and well. The serpent said it would be good to eat of the fruit of this tree and become just as our creator is, knowing both good and evil.”

    But the voice of Eve trembled as she spoke, and the look of fear and guilt overcame her being. Even the aura of light which covered her body had begun to fade.

    “My dear wife” began Adam as he went near Eve, “did not Elohim create us both in His perfect image? Did he not create us both to know what He wanted us to know? Then why didst thou wish to know more” can anyone be exactly like Elohim?”

    Adam looked into the eyes of his wife with love and tenderness. He could not bear the thought of living without her. Alas, he would indeed share in her suffering and guilt. Adam then extended his hand and took some of the fruit from the hand of Eve and he did eat of it as well. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and saw to their distress that the soft covering of light which glowed upon their bodies was fading away, finally, disappearing completely. It was then that they realized that they were naked.

    The couple ran as fast as they could from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and hid elsewhere in the vast forest garden called Eden. They found a fig tree and with its leaves, made two aprons to cover their nakedness. Yet the aprons could not hide their shame, they lay down and wept in each other’s arms. Perhaps, just perhaps, they could hide from the presence of the LORD.

    Then they heard the sound of the LORD God as he passed through the garden. They remained hidden, fearing the wrath of their creator for their disobedience, yet the creator called out to them in a still, soft voice, a voice of love yet tinted with sadness and disappointment.

    “Adam, where art thou?” said the LORD God of all creation.

    “I heard your voice in the garden and was afraid. I was naked and therefore, hid myself”. Adam tried to speak boldly, yet his voice reflected fear and shame.

    “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” responded the creator, “Didst thou eat of the tree which I commanded thee not to eat?”

    Yet the voice of God was still soft, like a father reaching out to his disobedient children, searching for an admission of guilt and repentance.

    Then Adam and Eve stood up and walked towards the voice of their God and creator. They told Elohim what had happened, of the serpent’s deceitful advice, of their eating of the forbidden fruit. When they had finished their confession, they awaited the verdict from God. There was a short pause, then the voice of God rang out like thunder with the words like bolts of lightning;

    “Serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. Upon thy belly, thou shalt go, and dust thou shalt eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” To the woman God said;

    “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In pain thou shalt bring forth children. Thy desire shalt be for thy husband and he shalt rule over thee.” A loud clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning followed each sentence that came forth from the mouth of God. Then the LORD God of all creation said unto the man;

    “Because thou hast listened to the voice of thy wife and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, ‘thou shalt not eat of it’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt, thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread til thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (8)

    Adam and Eve were greatly saddened at the fact that because of their disobedience to the command of their creator, they had brought forth the curse of sin into the world. No longer could they live in their garden paradise, but were cast out of the garden.

    Cherubs, with a flaming sword, were stationed at the east of the garden to guard the way to the Tree of Life. Now, the couple had to seek out another place to live, outside of the garden.

    Once outside the garden, the LORD God Elohim brought Adam and Eve to a high hill and showed them two lumps of bloodied flesh. The flesh stank and flies were all around it. Adam and Eve were deeply saddened at seeing the two lifeless corpses.

    “Why, O LORD, have you brought us here, and what is the meaning behind these two lifeless beasts of the field?” asked Adam, distraught over the sight of death.

    “The LORD spoke out of a cloud which pulsated with a glowing light saying; “I want thee and thy wife to see the cost of sin. Because of thy disobedience to my commandment that prohibited thee from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, these two perfect lambs had to die. Their blood will cover and atone for your sin. Now, look behind where thou art standing!”

    The man and his wife then looked and behold, there were two aprons made of the skins of the lambs that were slain.

    “Put them on,” said the LORD God of all creation, “and be ye both reminded forever of the cost of sin. Now harken ye unto the voice of thy God. At dusk, at the beginning of each new day, take ye two goodly and perfect lambs, one for each of thee, and sacrifice them upon an altar made of unhewn stones. Ye shalt put wood thereupon, and when ye call upon my name, I will hear thy voice from my glory cloud and will send forth fire to consume the sacrifices, thus ye shalt do all the days of your life. Be ye comforted, for one day, a lamb will come who will take away the sin of the world forever.” Thus, the LORD finished speaking.

    Both Adam and Eve wondered at the words of Elohim as they dressed themselves in the skins of the lambs. When they descended the hill, they saw that one of the rivers that flowed from the garden was near. They followed the river for a short distance and found a small cave that was at the base of another hill. They made that cave their new home.

    But the LORD God of all creation did not forget Adam and Eve, for he sent an angel to teach them many things. The angel taught them how to make fire from rocks of flint and iron, how to mix clay and water, and shape them into vessels for cooking. He also taught them to sow seed and reap in due time, how to care for the animals, milk the cows, and goats, and how to make cheese from the milk. The angel taught them to sheer the sheep and make clothing for their bodies.

    So, Adam and Eve learned much from the angel and soon learned how to make bread from crushing the grains of wheat and barley, adding water, and cooking them in the fire. All these things the angel taught them and much more. The angel spoke kindly to them and reminded them of the promise of Elohim, that the head of the serpent would someday be crushed by the future seed of the woman. Adam and Eve were thus comforted by the words of the angel.

    Yet Eve was still distraught with the fact that she had brought the curse of sin into the world. Yes, she knew that through her seed the curse of sin would come to end, but when? Who would it be? So, Adam comforted her and reassured her that it would be soon. Now Adam loved his wife dearly, with all of his heart, and he knew her, and she conceived and bore a man-child. Adam and Eve named their son Cain. She conceived again and they named their second son Abel.

    Adam and Eve loved their two sons, and they taught them all that the angel had taught them. They taught them how to make fire with stones of flint and iron, how to form vessels from clay, they showed them the fields of grain and the pastures where the sheep and goats grazed. Cain was fascinated by the fields of wheat, barley, and corn. He became a farmer and cared for the fields of grain, sowing and reaping in due season. Elohim blessed the ground for his sake. He learned how to reap the fields of wheat and barley, fanning them to extract the grains, then crushing the grains to make bread. The bread he brought to their cave home.

    Abel loved the sheep and the goats, and he became a shepherd and cared for them all. He learned how to milk the goats and make cheese. He brought the milk and the cheese to the cave for his father, mother, and his brother Cain. Now the LORD God of creation was gracious to Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. There was an abundance of fruit and nut trees, bushes of berries, and vines of grapes that were outside of the forbidden garden of Eden. So, every morning, the family would go gather the fruits of the earth and bring them back to their cave. Cain would bring the bread and Abel would bring milk and cheese. Together as a family, they would eat their meals on the luscious green grass in front of their cave home.

    The years passed, and the children grew in the knowledge of good and evil. Abel’s eyes always reflected the love and passion towards his parents and towards the animals of the field, but Cain, as he grew, his eyes reflected pride and arrogance. And it came to pass that the day came that the sons of Adam and Eve arrived at the age of accountability, understanding, and wisdom. Then their father called them to his side and lifted up his voice saying;

    “Harken now my sons unto my voice, and take heed to the counsel of thy mother, for today, ye have both arrived at the age of accountability. Ye have both observed since the time and thy births, how thy father and thy mother have sacrificed four lambs at dusk, one for each of us. The LORD God Elohim of creation commanded us to do so as a reminder of our sin. The blood of the lambs is a covering and atonement for the same. This we have done since the time of our expulsion from our garden home. Now my sons, go ye both into thy fields and build ye each an altar of stone and put wood thereon. Abel, take ye of the flocks of sheep two goodly lambs, one for thyself, and the other for thy brother. Take ye the lamb and sacrifice it on the altar in thy pastures, and Cain, take ye the other lamb and sacrifice it on the altar in thy fields of grain. The LORD God of all creation will then look down upon thy sacrifices and will send fire from heaven to consume the sacrificial lambs. This thy sins will be covered and atoned for. Thus, thee shalt do every day at dusk, for all the days of thy lives.”

    When Adam had finished talking with his two sons, he sent them out to their fields. Abel went to his pastures where the sheep and goats grazed, and Cain went to his fields of wheat, barley, and corn. Both brothers went to work building their altars of stone.

    Abel then selected a goodly lamb from the flocks, tied its legs together, and placed it on the altar that he had built. He then took a knife of flint, and looking towards heaven lifted up his voice saying;

    “Oh LORD God of all creation, look now upon thy servant and upon this sacrifice. Accept it now as a reminder of my sin. May its blood cover and atone for my sin which was inherited through my father and mother.”

    As he finished speaking these words, Abel slew the lamb and awaited the response of God. Then the LORD God appeared in a cloud of glory which hovered above the altar of stone. There was a sharp clap of thunder and fire came forth from the cloud and consumed the sacrifice. Then Abel went to his flocks and selected another goodly lamb, young, and without blemish. He then carried it in his arms to his brother Cain who was in his fields of grain. Cain had also built an altar of stone and had put wood thereon.

    “Brother” cried out Abel from a short distance, “behold the lamb which I carry to thee, for thy sacrifice to the LORD.”

    But Cain did not respond to his brother. He paused for a moment and looked towards his brother, but spoke not a word in response. Abel then walked over to where his brother was and just observed him. Cain was carrying bundles of wheat and barley and was placing them on the altar of stone. Abel was a bit puzzled by the action of his brother and said to him;

    “Brother, what meanest thou by placing wheat and barley on thine altar?” Cain paused and turned to Abel saying;

    “Seeth thou all this good wheat and barley which I have grown in my fields? Sown and cared for with my own hands and with the sweat of my brow? For certain, the LORD God of heaven will be pleased with this sacrifice of grain which I will now offer up to Him.”

    But Abel was saddened by the words of his brother, as there was also a tone of pride and arrogance in his voice. So Abel responded to the words of his brother saying;

    “Brother, thou knowest well that it is the LORD God of creation who givest thee the goodly produce from the earth. It is He that maketh rise the dew from the earth to water and nourish the crops. It is He who maketh the sun to shine down on thy fields to make grow all that thou hast sown. It is by His mighty hand that thou hast all that is in thy fields of grain. Yea, all that thou hast in thy fields is good, yet the LORD God requireth of thee a sacrifice of blood to cover and atone for thy sin. Do not, I beg thee, do so foolishly. Bringeth thou thy goodly grain to our cave for bread, and taketh from my hands this goodly and perfect lamb. This the LORD God will accept from thee as a sacrifice!”

    “Nay brother” replied Cain with a voice filled with arrogance, “keepeth for thyself the lamb, for the LORD will indeed accept my sacrifice. Behold my altar and the grain thereupon, it is for the LORD!”

    After placing the grains of wheat and barley upon the altar, Cain lifted up his hands toward heaven and cried out with a loud voice;

    “O LORD God of all creation, accept now this sacrifice of grains which I have grown in my fields, by the labor of my hands and by the sweat of my brow I have produced all that thou seeth. Accept it now from me!”

    But the voice of Cain was not a voice of humbleness, rather it reflected a sense of self-pride and arrogance. Then the glory cloud of Elohim moved from the pastures of Abel to the fields of Cain, it hovered above the altar which Cain had built, yet no thunder nor fire came forth. Then Cain lifted up his voice a second time saying;

    “Didst thou not hear me, LORD? Accept now this, my sacrifice, like thou didst unto my brother Abel. My sacrifice is just as good as his! Accept it now Oh LORD!”

    The voice of Cain was now tinted with anger. He dropped his hands to his side and just glared up at the glory cloud of his creator. Abel stood by in silence, and still holding the lamb in his arms he spoke yet again to his brother.

    “Did I not say unto thee that the LORD God would not accept thy sacrifice, seeing that it is not a sacrifice of blood? So, accept this lamb from my hands and the LORD God will indeed honor it, and will send his fire to consume it.”

    Cain did not reply to the words of Abel. He just stood there and glared at his brother with eyes of hatred, contempt, and jealousy. Just then, a whirlwind came forth from the glory cloud and blew away the grain that was upon the altar of Cain. Shaking his fists in the air towards the cloud of glory, Cain was filled with rage. He turned on his heels and headed toward the standing wheat in his fields. Then the voice of the LORD God came forth from the glory cloud saying;

    “Cain, why art thou angry? And why hast thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, will not thy countenance be lifted up? And if thou doest not well, sin is at the door, and its desire is for thee, but thou must master it!” (9)

    But Cain responded not to the voice of God, but instead, went to his brother Abel deceitfully saying;

    “Abel my brother, sayeth thou that God desireth a sacrifice of blood? And yea, a sacrifice of blood will he thus receive.”

    Abel, confident that Cain had a change of mind and would accept the lamb, extended forth the lamb towards his brother. Cain received the lamb from the hands of his brother. He held it in his arms for a few seconds, then, throwing it to the ground he said;

    “Indeed, the LORD will receive a sacrifice of blood, thine own blood will be required of thee, my good and righteous brother!”

    And with those words of jealousy and spite, Cain took Abel by the throat and with his other hand, slew him with his knife. Abel fell down and died by the feet of Cain, his blood, soaking into the ground. Now Cain, realizing what he had just done, was filled with fear. He hurriedly threw sheaves of wheat on top of his brother’s body and quickly walked away. Then the LORD said unto Cain;

    “Cain, where art thy brother Abel?” to which Cain responded; “I know not, am I my brother’s keeper?” Then God said;

    “Cain, what hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth out to me from the ground. Now, art thou cursed from the ground which hath opened its mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand. Now, when thou goest forth to cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield to thee its strength. Thou shalt be a vagabond, a wanderer on the earth!” (10)

    At the cave, Adam and Eve wondered about their sons, since they tarried too long in their sacrifices.

    “Wife” began Adam, “Our sons should have returned to us by now, perhaps some mischief hath befallen them. Come, let us go forth into their fields to see what hast become of them!”

    With those words, Adam and Eve left their cave home and went towards the fields of their two sons.

    “Go ye now wife, unto the fields of Cain, and I will go unto the pastures of Abel,” said Adam as they arrived at their sons’ fields.

    When Adam arrived at the pastures of Abel, he noticed the sheep and the goats wandering to and fro, bleating without ceasing. It seemed that the flocks sensed that their shepherd had been slain. All of a sudden, he heard the voice of his beloved Eve, a cry of anguish rang through the air. Adam left the sheep and ran to his wife. She was standing, weeping bitterly next to some sheaves of wheat in the fields of Cain.

    He joined her at her side, and both looked down at the bloodied corpse of their son Abel. He lay there, still, a slain shepherd, a righteous son, murdered by the hands of his brother. Adam and Eve knelt down and touched his face, it seemed as though he was just asleep. A trickle of blood still ran from his throat into the ground where he lay. Adam could no longer contain himself and cried out with all the power of his soul;

    “CAIN, CAIN, what hast thou done CAIN? Where art thou my son? Where art thou CAIN?”

    But Cain was on the run. He heard not the voice of his father, nor the anguish of his mother, for he had left the presence of his creator, running with fear in his heart. Thus, Cain became a vagabond in the land of Nod, a land of wandering, living off the fruit and nuts of the trees which grew in the wild. He could no longer be a farmer since Elohim had cursed the land because of his great sin. He had murdered his only brother, out of anger, jealousy, and pride. Had he only accepted the lamb from his brother’s hands, the outcome might have been different.

    Adam and Eve wept in each other’s arms over their son Abel. They wept for their son Cain, who they would never see again.

    “Oh, Adam” sobbed Eve, “Is this the price of sin? Is this the cost of disobedience? Is this the fate of those who will come after us? Murder? Rebellion?”

    “Yes, wife.” sobbed Adam, looking into his beloved’s eyes, “The wages of sin is indeed death” (11). “Yet be ye comforted wife, that the LORD God of all creation has promised to crush the head of the serpent so as to put an end to the curse of sin.”

    “Oh Adam,” cried Eve, “May that day come soon, very soon.” *

    (1) Gen 2:6
    (2) Gen 2:16,17
    (3) Gen 2:19
    (4) Gen 2:18
    (5) Gen 2:21,22
    (6) Gen 3:1-5
    (7) Gen 3:7-11
    (8) Gen 3:14-19
    (9) Gen 4:6
    (10) Gen 4:9-12
    (11) Rom 6:23

    *That day DID come. The day that our Messiah Yeshua was taken to Calvary’s Hill and nailed to the tree. That day He took upon himself all the sins of the world. From Cain’s murder to our disobedience even to this very day. The serpent’s head was crushed at Calvary, once and for all time. All the animal sacrifices, from Abel’s lamb to the last animal sacrifice on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem, all pointed to the Cross of Calvary. For God so loved the world that He opened his arms and hands to receive the nails. (John 3:16)

  14. #14
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    The thanksgiving invitation


    Rabbi Jacob Groshen left his humble house on West 3rd Street, He had accepted a Thanksgiving dinner invitation from the Smith family just a few streets up. He had never met the Smiths, but old pastor Williams from First Baptist had mentioned the rabbi's name to them, so, even without meeting him, they invited him to dinner. Now that's the Thanksgiving spirit.

    The rabbi's family had come to America many years ago, some left Russia and Poland and moved to Germany, later they immigrated to the states via Ellis Island. Grandfather (Saba) had started Beth Shalom, an orthodox synagogue back in the early 20s in their little town of Andersville.

    Most of the town's folk were Baptist or Lutherans, just a few families were Jewish. Rabbi Groshen's demeanor was friendly, always saying hello or "shalom" to all who met him. He would go for his daily walks around the town's not-so-busy streets, with his black hat and grayish beard, his black suit jacket, and white shirt.

    He would sometimes visit the Baptist church, enjoy the services. He read and studied the Torah, and especially liked Isaiah 53. He knew its meaning, even being Orthodox, he knew, in his heart, who his Messiah was, yes, he had the peace of heart. He lived a biblically kosher lifestyle, celebrated the Moedim, the High Holy days, with their true meanings at heart.

    Near Christmas time, cars would slow down and the drivers would say a few words like; "Hey Rabbi, the season is near, very near, so... "Merry Hanukkah" the rabbi would shout back, even before the drivers could finish their little greetings. The drivers would smile and shake their heads and drive on. The rabbi knew the history of December 25th, of Saturnalia, when the Emperor of Rome added Jesus to the list of his pagan gods, to be celebrated on that day. No, thought rabbi Groshen, December 25th would be just one more day of the year. He knew and studied Messiah's birth, during the time of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, yet he was still polite to all, he respected their customs and belief, but if someone asked him what he thought, they would have to be prepared for a long encounter.

    But now it was Thanksgiving time, a time of saying thanks to God for blessings received throughout the year. His family had adopted the Thanksgiving custom, Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, pumpkin pie, eggnog with a shot of Schnapps. Grandpa Saba had adapted first to the custom, and soon, everyone followed.

    The years passed, the trees had turned shades of red, brown, and yellow many times over, his advanced age slowed him down. Most of his family had gone the way of all mankind, with the exception of Enoch and Elijah. He was grateful for this Thanksgiving invitation, even though he had never met the Smiths.

    He walked a few blocks up, found a red-brick house with a white door at 25 Elm Street. The name "Smith" was painted on the rustic-looking mailbox to the left of the driveway. He walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell. The ding-dong rang out softly. A few seconds passed and a young woman in her forties opened the door;

    "You must be Rabbi Groshen" she smiled, extending her hand.

    "Yes" replied the rabbi, "Thank you for inviting me to Thanksgiving dinner"

    "Oh, it's a pleasure, won't you come in?" said Mrs. Smith, opening the door all the way and standing aside. The rabbi walked into a nice, cozy home, with the Thanksgiving decors all around; pumpkins, Indian corn, Pilgrims and Indian cut-outs, and a long wooden table with all sorts of food items of the Thanksgiving season. There were 5 people at the table, Mr. Smith, who got up smiling and lead the rabbi to a vacant seat.

    "It's an honor to have you, rabbi," Mr. Smith said joyfully. "The pastor told me about you".

    "Well" replied the rabbi, "I have only spoken to him a few times, and I have visited your church just a few times as well. It seems that some people just don't seem to be comfortable around us, even though some of us, have recognized Yeshua as Messiah.

    "Well" replied Mr. Smith, "You're welcome here, have a seat, my wife Belinda is coming in with the dinner."

    Rabbi Groshen sat down, yes, he was hungry, and thought about the oven-roasted Turkey that would come through the kitchen door at any minute. finally, the swinging doors parted and Belinda Smith came through with a covered platter. The other members of the household looked at the rabbi with a sort of uncomfortable smile, as if, something was amiss.

    "Happy Thanksgiving," said Belinda Smith uncovering the platter.

    The rabbi looked at the platter and his heart seemed to have skipped a beat. He felt a little nervous, the others were watching him. No, it wasn't a turkey, in the middle of the table, in a silver platter was an oven-baked ham, with cloves and all.

    He was really in a predicament, He had always led a kosher lifestyle, only eating Biblically kosher foods, you know, chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, goat, etc., in accordance to the Torah's Leviticus 11. Now here lay a ham, a real-deal, porky-pig, oink, oink, ham. He stared at it, it was kind of oval-shaped, with a bit of glaze.

    Now, he thought, I could do one of two things, I could say, "I can't eat this, this is unclean food, and just have some salad.” But then, he would embarrass his hosts, make them feel bad, why didn't they know that Jews didn't eat pork, or ham, or whatever you wanted to call swine flesh?

    But then he remembered something he had read, to accept whatever that was put in front of him, and give thanks, after all, he wouldn't die for eating ham, he wouldn't be cursed. It would only be this one time. Yes, he would accept the Smith's Thanksgiving ham dinner with all the trimmings. Just one little slice would be enough, he could stuff himself with stuffing, cornbread, and cranberry sauce and enjoy the pitcher of spiced apple cider.
    "Thank you, I'll just have one slice of ham…I’m…ehh…not very hungry"

    "Just one slice?" questioned Mr. Smith, sort of smiling...."Oh"...he continued...."It's turkey ham, not ham-ham". Now he was really smiling, the whole Smith house-hold was smiling, the younger kids were giggling.

    “Yes", Mrs. Smith said, "we try to eat kosher too, according to Leviticus 11, so, let's enjoy this boneless turkey that looks like ham."

    The rabbi let out a sigh of relief, "In that case, giving me four slices" he said, lifting his plate toward the platter of oven-roasted turkey ham.

    “With pleasure” replied Mr. Smith, cutting him four slices. “Happy Thanksgiving to us all!”

  15. #15
    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    LA MACCHIA (The Stain) "A Tale from New York City's "Little Italy"

    "LA MACCHIA" (The Stain)

    Hey, my name is Francesco Petronelli, I'm an Italian-American, and everyone calls me "Frankie". Yeah, even Mamma and Pappa. I live in a nice, quiet place called "Little Italy", or at least what's left of it, here in New York City.

    We live a couple of blocks from Mulberry Street, pretty close to Columbus Park. Little Italy used to be a lot bigger in the days of grandma and grandpa, at least when they were younger. Today, there are a lot of oriental businesses here and the Italian families have moved away. But hey, we're still here! Yeah, buddy! And we aren't going anywhere. We just like it here, and we don't mind the culture mix. I am beginning to like Chinese food as much as Italian food.

    For Mamma and Pappa, they were born here too, but the grandparents, well, they're from a place called "Calabria" which is about a hop, skip, and a jump from Sicily. I mean, get in a motorboat and start up the engine, point it Westward, and in about a half-hour, you're in Sicily.

    Now I'm pretty cool with mom and pop. They both helped me with my homework when I was in high-school. They even put up with three of my friends; "Big Al", "Lou", and "Tony Rizzo". They used to come over to our place a lot, just to hang out. Sometimes they would get a bit loud and mom would make some delicious spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. With that and a deck of cards, they'd quiet down.

    I was pretty serious in high school and I kept my nose in the books. Now Big Al, Lou, and Tony Rizzo, well, they almost lived in detention, I mean skipping class, mouthing off to teachers and stuff like that.

    Now I'm almost six feet tall, a little dark with black, curly hair. Sometimes people mistake me for Sicilian. One day I was walking down Mulberry Street and a couple stopped me and asked me something in Sicilian.

    "No parlo Siciliano" I responded

    "No Siciliano?" they asked.

    "No, I'm Calabrese, I mean Calabrese from here"

    So, when I got home, I decided to have some fun. When I walked through the door, I saw that the grandparents were relaxing in the living room and I said;

    "Hey, Siciliano!" pointing to myself, grinning from ear to ear. I thought I was pretty funny saying that, at least that's what I thought.

    "NO, NO, Calabresi, Calabresi!!" they shouted, jumping up from the sofa. Then they started speaking Italian a mile a minute. Momma came in from the kitchen saying;

    "Mama, Papa, qual e la cosa? Calmatevi!" In other words, she was asking them what was the matter and for them to calm down a bit.

    "Thanks a lot, Frankie," mama told me crossly, "you got them wound up again!"

    Then she took them into their bedroom and sat them down on their bed to relax. After a while, they slowed their Italian down a bit and started talking about times in the "Old Country." Well, that was the last time I did that. Now pop was cool and thought it was kinda funny. He was in the easy chair smoking a Toscani cigar and he said;

    "So? Frankie looks Sicilian, so what? Maybe we do have some Sicilian blood after all."

    I remember that story pop told me once about a great ancestor of ours who used to live in Sicily. Well, as the story goes, he fell in love with the servant girl of a mafia chief's aunt. The aunt didn't think much of him hanging around the house and hiding out in the olive groves with her servant. Long story short, she told her nephew, Don Antolini…so…the two had to high-tail it out of there right quick. They headed East, took a boat ride to Calabria, and, well, they lived there, hopefully ever after, at least that was pop's version of the story.

    When I graduated high school, I got a job at "Sal's Italian Deli." Now, the origin of the name "Sal" is kinda interesting. It wasn't always "Sal's", it used to be called "Salerno Deli." Back during WWII, a guy named Giuseppe Castagnoli owned it. Now Giuseppe was from Salerno, about 200 miles North of Calabria the way the crow flies. Well, anyway, one day during a fierce windstorm, half the sign fell down leaving only the letters S-A-L, and D-E-L-I. Giuseppe never fixed the sign. Then he sold the place to his nephew Angelo. Well, customers started calling Angelo, "Sal". He tried to tell them that he wasn't "Sal" that there wasn't any "Sal", and that his name was "Angelo"

    For a while, they called him "Angelo" but then, those customers moved away, and new ones came in and called him "Sal", and referred to his place as "Sal's Deli". After a while, he just threw up his arms and said;

    "I give up, guess my name is Sal now, as long as it brings in the customers, I guess it's a good name too."

    Now people ask me if I want to work at Sal's forever. Well, not forever, maybe for a few more years. I was kinda thinking of joining the Army and go to OCS (Officer's Candidate School) after a few years, but for now, Sal's is OK.

    I just walk about five blocks from our place to Sal's. I always pass a pool room where Big Al, Lou, and Tony Rizzo hang out who work some odd jobs here and there. I really hope that they make something out of their lives, but at least we all graduated high school together. Now at Sal's, I do a little bit of everything, like unpack boxes, put stuff on the shelves, make some salads, slice meats and cheese for customers. I like Sal and Sal likes me, (or rather Angelo). I would say that he and me, well, we get along just fine. I do my job and help him out any way I can. That is what life is all about, doing your job and helping others too.

    Now I work together with a young Puerto Rican girl named Ana Ramos. She's about five inches shorter than me, but let me tell you something, she can do any job a guy can do as far as work is concerned. She'll open boxes with a swift pass of a box-cutter knife, stock the shelves with cans and bags of this and that, empty the trash cans into the dumpsters, cut meats and cheeses just like me. She's calm, but don't cross her mind you, or else, she'll speak her mind a bit loudly. Now you ask me, would I want to marry her? Well, maybe not, but who knows the future. Mom and pop I think have their minds set on some nice Italian girl where ever and whoever she might be.

    Ana Ramos and I are just good friends and we work well together. I already told you that she can be a little fire-cracker if you cross her or say something ugly. I remember the time we left Sal's together after work and as we were on our way home, a young blonde chick came up behind me with an unlit cigarette in her hand and said;

    "Hey…you there…Papa Cheppetto…Mr. Spaghetti man…meatball guy…hey…Italiannnnooooo maaaan…got a light?"

    Now I am not the kind of person that is going to start stuff over name-calling, I mean, I've heard Italians called worse names, and well…this girl was just being a "wise-gal" making fun of us using Italian related names. Now, she could have just said,

    "Sir, excuse me, can you give me a light?"

    But no, she had to go the extreme, but not to the max if you know what I mean. Well, I just turned around and said to her;

    "I don't smoke" and kept on going.

    But Ana Ramos, she didn't take too kindly to those words, even if they weren't directed against her, they were directed towards me, her good friend and work companion. She stopped me and grabbed me by that arm saying;

    "Hey Frankie, are you going to take that from that chic? Stand up for your people!" And with that, she turned to that blonde chic and said;

    "Hey blondie, I'll light you up!"

    then she threw her fist like a hammer, right across that blonde girl's chin. Knocked that blonde chic out knocked her right into the middle of next week! Now there was another girl standing by, maybe she was a friend of Ms. Blondie. She just stood there with her mouth wide open. Ana turned to her and said;

    "You better shut your mouth or a fly will get in!"

    Then Ana grabbed me by the arm and said, "let's go". We continued walking and after a few minutes she turned to me and said;

    "Ya know Frankie, ya gotta stand up for your people! Your people are my people too ya know, we're all "Latinos" even though we speak different languages!"

    The very next day everyone was talking about how a Puerto Rican chic knocked out blondie right in the middle of Little Italy! When we got to work the next day, Sal pulled Ana over to the side to have a stern lecture about violence in the "barrio" but when he found out the details of "why the knock-out?" he congratulated her.

    "Hey Frankie" Sal started, "Ana stood up for our people, did you see that?"

    "Yes Sal" I answered, "I was right there, I saw the whole thing."

    "Oh yeah, right, you were there, well…nice going Ana" Sal replied, patting her on the back.

    With that, we went to work stocking some shelves with some canned pesto. Now one thing about Sal, at the end of each day, he gives me any left-over pizza that doesn't sell. It's pretty good, good ol New York-style pizza made fresh in the morning by Sal himself. If you've ever seen those pizza guys that stand in the windows of pizzerias that throw pizza dough up in the air, and then it comes down and it gets even bigger and flatter, then you'd know what Sal does every morning. Yes, he makes them with double mozzarella cheese and pepperoni, some he makes with sausage and anchovies. He pops those pizzas in the oven and out they come, ready to eat.

    By the end of the day, there are usually 4 or 5 slices of pizza left. Well, he gives them to me wrapped up in plastic and puts them in a paper bag. I usually share one or two slices with Ana. She likes Italian food just as much as I do, but I'll have to say that pizza with Spaghetti and meatballs are my favorites, and of course, a glass of Chianti to wash it all down with.

    Well, one day at the end of the day as Ana and I were leaving to go home, Sal called me over and sadly told me that he had sold all the pizza he had made, but not to worry, he'd "fix me up". Then he wrapped up in paper wrapping some sausage and ground beef, and along with some Italian spices saying;

    "Go home and make some spaghetti and meatballs, my treat!"

    That was very nice of Sal. I didn't get any pizza, but both mom and Sal taught me some trade secrets on making Italian meatballs. The recipes vary a bit from Sicily, Calabria, and Salerno, but they all taste great. Well, Ana went home and I went home. When I got to our apartment building, I found a note on the kitchen table from mom. They had gone walking in Columbus Park, her, pop, and the grandparents, and that they'd be home later. Well, now it would be up to me to make dinner. OK, that I'd do. I decided to make some Sicilian-style meatballs with "salsa d'tomate Calabrese" the best of both worlds.

    I began to prepare the stuff, chopping up the garlic and onions, then adding the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs with the Italian spices. When I threw in the ground beef mixed with an egg to the whole mixture, the phone rang. That phone call, you could say, changed my whole life. I wiped my hands off on a kitchen towel and answered the phone.


    "Hello, is this Frankie Petronelli?" came a voice on the other end.

    "Yes, this is Frankie, who is this?"

    "This is Mr. "G". Now I just stood there with the phone to my ear. Did I hear correctly? I mean really, I thought?

    "Mr. G?'

    "Yes Frankie, Mr. "G". I know you heard correctly, there isn't any static on the line. We're coming through clear as crystal!"

    "The real Mr. "G"? I asked, still dumbfounded.

    "Yes Frankie" continued the voice, "I'm the real "G". I mean, there are a lot of phonies out there that claim to be me, and people follow them, but I am the real "G", I AM WHO I AM (1) Look, I go by a lot of names like Mr. "E", Mr. "A", Mr. "Y", Mr. "J", the list could go on and on, but in time, you'll learn all of my names, that is if you accept my invitation since that is why I am calling you Frankie. Are you interested?"

    Now, I still didn't know how to respond. I mean, Mr. "G" makes the Pope look like a little kid. Mr. "G" well, he's the max, when he calls you, he means business! He never fools around, no joke. I just stood there with the receiver stuck to my ear.

    "Heeeelllooo? Frankieeee? Are you still there?" came the voice.

    "Yes Mr. "G", I'm still here," I said hurriedly, "but why would you want to call me?" I asked, a little confused and at the same time, surprised.

    "Why not Frankie?"

    "Well", I responded, "I'm not really important, I'm just a simple Italian-American guy who works at a Deli."

    "You're important to me Frankie" replied Mr. "G", "I mean, I made you in my image, I have plans for you, big plans that is if you're interested. However, if not, I'll call someone else and let you go."

    "YES", I shouted, "I'M INTERESTED!"

    "Great Frankie", but I'm not deaf, no need to shout."

    "OK", I replied, calming down a bit, "So what can I do for you Mr. "G", I asked.

    "Well Frankie, there's nothing you can do for me, it's what I can do for you. The truth is, it's been done already. It was done a long, long, time ago. All you have to do is accept what I did for you. What I am trying to say is that I am giving a family membership party at my mansion and I want to invite you to join my family. So, what do you say to that?"

    I stood there amazed, flabbergasted, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Mr. "G" wanted ME as a family member, really? I thought.

    "Heeeelllooo? Fraaankkiee?"

    "Me, a member of your family, for real?" I asked.

    "Yes Frankie, for real, no joke, I never joke around that. I do have a sense of humor though, I made a donkey talk once."

    "Really? What did it say?"

    "Let's just say that it complained to its master about some ill-treatment… now… your answer?"

    "Yes, Mr. "G", I finally said, "It would be a real honor to become a member of your family."

    "Great Frankie, glad to hear that, then you'll be able to call me "Abba". For now, listen carefully to what I am about to say, OK?"

    "OK, Mr. "G", go ahead, I'm listening."

    "All right, first of all, put away the meatball mix and the spaghetti sauce. Stick them in the frig because I have some prepared at my place, especially for you Frankie. In my opinion, what's cooking at my place is "out of this world". I know you'll love it!"

    "How did you know I was preparing Spaghetti and meatballs Mr. "G?"

    "Frankie, I know everything, I know what everyone is doing all the time, everywhere, now can I continue please?"

    "Sure, I'm listening."

    "OK, now you need to come to my celebration dressed for the occasion. You need to be all in white, no stains, all white, from head to toe, all white, got it?"

    "Sure Mr. "G", I responded a bit surprised, "but I don't have any white suits here in my closet."

    "Sure, you do Frankie, just look way in the back of your closet."

    "But Mr. "G", I know what's in my closet, and I don't have any white suits."

    "You see Frankie," sighed Mr. "G", "that's the problem with people, no one believes what I say. There is such a lack of faith these days, even before these days. I remember a son of mine named Thomas…well…that's another story. Frankie, trust me, I just put a white suit in the back of your closet right now, go check for yourself and I'll hang on."

    "OK, Mr. "G", I'll be right back."

    So, I rushed to my bedroom and opened the door of my clothing closet which had a poster of Calabria on it. I pushed aside my clothing and lo and behold, right in the back was a pure-white suit of clothes covered by a plastic bag on a wooden hanger. I took it out of the closet and lay it down on my bed. I took the plastic bag off and saw that it consisted of a white suit jacket, a pair of white pants, a white shirt with a white silk tie. On the tie was a gold tie-clasp. I thought I saw some white shoes and I rushed back inside the closet, Yes, there was also a pair of white shoes with white socks. I rushed back to the phone and continued my conversation.

    "Mr. "G", there's a white suit in my closet! I can hardly believe it!"

    "Just like I said, Frankie. You see, most people believe when they see, but blessed are those who believe without seeing. I even had that written down in a book. OK, now listen, put the suit on and remember, do NOT let it get STAINED! Go to the nearest subway entrance, the one three blocks from Mulberry Street in front of the small oriental supermarket. You know where that is right?"

    "Right, I know where it is."

    "OK, go down and get a token and take the "A" train going South to Main Street Park. Get off there and go up and look for the bus that says "Flatbush". Get on and be prepared for a long ride all the way to Rockaway Point Blvd. Get off there and change buses and get on the one that says "222nd Street "Beach". Get off and you'll see "Epstein's Bait and Tackle" on the right. Go in and ask for Abraham Epstein, he's one of my sons. He'll point out my place which is right on the beach. Follow his directions and stay on the beach path. Now, pay attention because this is very important, there's a creepy-looking guy named Mr. "S" dressed all in black, He hangs out along the beach path and stops people before they get to my place. He's caused a lot of trouble ever since…well…since a long time ago. Don't pay any attention to him. You'll see my place, you can't miss it, follow the path marked "to Judah Gate" and I'll see you there."

    "OK, Mr. "G", I've written everything down." I was lucky that there was a pad of paper and pencil by the phone.

    "One more thing Frankie" continued Mr. "G", people will look at you kinda funny like, I mean, all dressed in white. Some will make fun of you. The world pokes fun of my family members. It's always been like that since we're not very popular. We are like a few fish swimming against a huge school of fish going the opposite way. Quite a few of my children here were fishermen back then, that's why I relate to the ocean and fish a lot."

    "OK, Mr. "G", I understand and I'll be there as soon as I can, bye."

    "Bye Frankie, I'll see you soon."

    As soon as I hung up the phone, I went to the kitchen and put the meatballs and sauce in the frig. Then I went to my bedroom and put on that sparkling white suit. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was almost blinded by the white glare. I checked the suit pocket and I found some money with a note on the bills that read; "bus fare". The suit fit perfectly, even the shoes were a perfect size 10 W. I guess Mr. "G" knew what he was doing, he even knew my clothing size, well, like he said, he knows everything about everybody.

    I left a note for Mom and Pop, "going to a celebration" then left for the subway entrance a few blocks from Mulberry Street. Now, as soon as I hit the street, people were giving me that "look". I got on the subway and sat down. Some passengers started making comments. One old lady looked at me smiling and said;

    "Hey, where are YOU going SUGAR?"

    A blonde girl who looked like the one Ana Ramos knocked out sat down next to me and said;

    "Hey SNOWBALL, you're BLINDING ME!" looking me up and down.

    I just ignored them both. I didn't want to start anything over words. Mr. "G," told me that would happen on the way. But then, a young couple who were sitting across from me said;

    "Looks like you're going to "Abba's" party. We went there quite a few years ago."

    "Yes", I answered, "I'm on my way right now."

    "Well", they replied, "just be careful of Mr. "S", He can't be trusted and everything he says is a lie, don't believe anything he says."

    "Thanks for warning me", I said, "I'll keep my wits about me."

    I finally got to Main Street Park. I paid my fare and boarded the "Flatbush" bus and sat down, people were looking at me and laughing a bit. Even the bus driver looked at me and shook his head smiling.

    "A "G" man, eh?"

    "Yes sir" I replied quietly. This was getting a bit on my nerves now, but I was almost there.

    The trip was long, some passengers exchanged a few comments about my suit, but I pretended not to hear them. The bus finally got to Rockaway Point Blvd. I got off and waited for the "222nd Street" bus. It came within a few minutes. I got on and paid the fare and when I got to 222nd Street, I saw "Epstein's Bait and Tackle" right where Mr. "G" told me it would be. I went in and there was Abraham Epstein, behind the counter.

    "Shalom my friend", he said with a broad smile, "On your way to Abba's place, right?"

    "Yes", I answered with a smile, "He invited me."

    "He invited me more than 20 years ago," continued Mr. Epstein, "and I've been directing people to his place ever since.

    So then, he took me outside and we headed on a path towards the beach. Then he pointed to a long, long path that seemed to have no end, but, I could just make out an image of a huge mansion in the distance, it had a golden glow to it.

    "That's Abba's mansion" he pointed, "just stay on the path, and don't get distracted by "S". and with that, he turned and went back to his bait and tackle shop, leaving me on the beach path.

    So, I walked along the beach path. I hadn't visited many beaches in my life, only Coney Island a few times. This beach seemed so serene, so peaceful with the waves splashing against the beach with a rhythmic sound of peace and tranquility. As I got nearer to Abba's mansion, I saw just to the left of me and a small table with a tarp over it. Under the tarp was a figure dressed entirely in black. I couldn't make out his face because he had a hoody partially covering it. The thought then hit me, this must be Mr. "S", the guy that "G" warned me about.

    As I passed by, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that this guy had his eyes glued on me. He reminded me a little of Dracula, you know, from the movies. I was just passing him when he called out to me, not shouting but with a normal voice.

    "Hey, Frankie, come over here for a sec!"

    I stopped momentarily to respond to him; "Don't have time, I have a meeting with Mr. "G" at his mansion. I've been invited…"

    "Yeah, yeah, I know, I know" he interrupted, sounding a bit annoyed. "but I know you're a bit hungry, right?"

    Now how did he know that I thought? and I was looking forward to those Sicilian meatballs with Calabrese sauce and some spaghetti.

    "I'm hungry but Mr. "G" has something already prepared at his place," I answered, trying to get on my way again.

    "Yes, yes, I know that Mr. "G" is always entertaining guests, new family members and such, but I just wanted you to try someone of my specialties, Italian meatballs with some spicy Calabrese sauce." Then he reached under the table and brought out a silver platter with a dish of meatballs. In the middle of the dish was a small bowl with some spicy tomato sauce. On the side of the platter, there was a napkin with a pile of plastic swords.

    "I know you're going to "G" s party, but just try one of these delicious meatballs, you won't regret it, I promise," he said, placing the silver platter on top of the table.

    I knew I shouldn't have stopped, but my hunger got the best of me, and those meatballs and sauce were really tempting. I mean, I could smell the garlic and the parmesan cheese together with the other Italian spices. "OK", I said, "I'll try just one."

    So I went to the table and that creepy guy pushed the silver platter towards me. I took one of the plastic swords and speared one of the meatballs, then dipping it in the sauce. But just when I brought it to my mouth, the meatball slipped off the plastic sword and hit my sparkling white shirt. I watched in horror as the meatball slid down the front of my shirt and hit the sandy ground, leaving a horrible tomato sauce stain on my shirt. Then, Mr. "S" just burst out laughing. He laughed so hard that he had to hold his sides.

    "Look what you made me do, just look!" I shouted, pointing to my now stained shirt and tie.

    "What I MADE YOU do Frankie?" sneered Mr. "S". Why Frankie, I didn't MAKE you DO anything. You didn't HAVE TO take the meatball. You could have said NO, but…you didn't. Let's admit it, you couldn't resist my offer."

    Sorry to say but Mr. "S" was right, it was my fault. I could have said NO, but I didn't. I should have listened to Mr. "G". I noticed that "S" was still laughing and shaking his head, then he turned to me again and said,

    "Here Frankie", handing me a napkin, "Wipe your shirt with this, it'll come off, I promise!" then he shoved a little dish with water in my direction.

    Well, I thought, maybe it would come off, so I dipped the napkin in the water and started rubbing the stain on my shirt, but it just got worse, in fact, it spread even more.

    "Oh no Frankie", laughed "S", "Seems like that didn't work either…in fact…it's worse", and he just continued to laugh, pointing his finger at my shirt.

    I didn't know quite what to say or do. I just looked at my shirt with horror. Mr. "G," told me specifically not to stop and talk with "S", but that's exactly what I did, all because of something to eat.

    "OK, Frankie" continued Mr. "S", "here's another white napkin, just tuck it under your chin and let it cover your shirt. That way, the stain's covered. That'll be OK with "G".

    With that, he handed me a large white napkin and I tucked it under my chin and spread it across the front of my shirt. Then I took off running the rest of the distance to Mr. "G" s mansion. I heard "S" shouting to me his last words;

    "Have a nice time at "G" s place Frankie" and I heard him still laughing.

    I finally got away from the sound of his hideous laughter and I saw up ahead a sign that pointed to the right; "Judah Gate" I really felt bad, but maybe, he'd understand. I mean, it wasn't ALL my shirt, just in front, and I did have this covering. Well, I followed the sign and found myself walking on a long road that seemed to glow with the color gold. Ahead, I saw a huge gate made of what seemed to be Mother-of-Pearl.

    When I got to the gate, I saw two giant beings standing guard at the gate, they were also wearing apparel of pure, dazzling white. Their eyes bore down upon me, they were looking at my shirt as if they already knew that it was stained. They looked at each other and just shook their heads. They moved aside and pointed to a long corridor that ended at a pair of double-doors.

    As soon as I approached the doors, they automatically opened. I stepped into another long corridor. I saw another set of double doors at the end of this corridor. I heard a lot of laughter and conversation coming from whatever was beyond those set of doors.

    I also noticed that to the side of me there was a winding staircase going up, and just in front, there was a closet, kind of wide if you ask me. To the side of the closet was an ornate arm-chair. All of a sudden, the double doors opened and I finally saw, well, who else could it be but; "Mr. G".

    He was glowing with a brilliant white haze, his hair was white like wool, and he had on an all-white linen garment, tied with a belt of gold. The glow around him was so bright that I could not look directly at him. Then he called my name from the doors;

    "Frankie, you made it welcome to my home!"

    Then he made his way to where I was standing. I was a little nervous, yet my eyes adjusted to his figure as he approached me. I saw that his feet were like burnished bronze, and his face reflected love and compassion. He stopped a few feet from me and opened his arms.

    "Frankie, I love you, I have been expecting you!"

    But just then, he noticed my shirt and the white napkin that covered the nasty stain. The expression on his face suddenly changed from gladness to sadness with a touch of bitter disappointment. Then he went up to me and pulled away the napkin that covered the stain, revealing the ugly spot of disobedience

    "Frankie, what happened?", he started, "didn't I tell you that to become a member of my family you'd have to come without a stain?"

    "Yes Mr. "G", I answered with big-time nervousness, "But you see, I ran into Mr. "S" on the way here, and, well, he stopped me and…well…offered me a snack…and…well…I was a bit hungry…"

    "and you couldn't resist the temptation, right?" interrupted Mr. "G". "Didn't I tell you that I had everything here prepared for you, Frankie? yet you disobeyed my voice and fell into the enemy's trap!" Mr. "G" s voice rang out with all sternness and authority.

    "I'm sorry Frankie, I can't let you in, you're stained!"

    And at those words, Mr. "G" just turned and walked away, just like that. He was headed back to the double-doors. This couldn't be the end, could it? I thought. I had to do something, something quick.

    "It was an accident Mr. "G", I really didn't mean it," I said in a loud voice.

    "It wasn't an accident Frankie, you chose to disobey!" he answered without turning around, but he did stop walking away.

    "Isn't there anything I can do about it?" I asked pleadingly.

    "No Frankie" he answered quietly, "there is nothing YOU can do about it."

    "Please Mr. "G" I cried, and I really don't cry that much, but this was really a dire crisis, "Isn't there anything YOU can do to help me out?"

    When I said those words, Mr. "G" turned around and looked at me with eyes so filled with love and compassion. He turned around and came back to me. He embraced me with his two loving arms saying;

    "I was hoping that you'd say that Frankie. Yes, there is something I can do for you. Actually, I already did it many, many years ago. I gave up my own life to pay for your disobedience, for you and for the whole world. The problem is Frankie, that not everyone accepts what I did for them, only those who ask for forgiveness will receive it. Now, give me your stained shirt."

    I took off the stained shirt and I handed it to Mr. "G". Then he went to the closet that was next to the easy-chair. He opened the closet and threw the shirt into a pile that consisted of other stained shirts. I took a quick look, and I saw what looked like thousands upon thousands of shirts, skirts, and dresses that were all stained with different food stains. As far as my eyes could see, there were stained clothing, yet the closet looked so small from the outside.

    Mr. "G" then shut the door. "It's the same story over and over again Frankie, if it's not spaghetti sauce, it's taco sauce, if not that, it's soy sauce. In the end, disobedience is disobedience, sin is sin, no matter what. Now, you sit and wait here until I return."

    Then Mr. "G" went up the staircase and in a few minutes, he returned with another white shirt in his hands. He handed it to me saying;

    "Here, put this one on, it's my own brand, it even has my initials on the upper-right side, just above your heart Frankie."

    I took a look at the shirt. It was like the one that was stained, but this one had the initials Y-A-H on it, embroidered with scarlet thread just to the right of my heart. I quickly put the shirt on. It was a perfect fit.

    "Frankie" continued Mr. "G" now you can call me "Abba" because you accepted my shirt, you accepted what I did for you so long ago to pay for your sins. The initials YAH have a special meaning. They mean; "Behold the hand". I held out my hands and I received the nails to pay for your sins, past, present, and future. The scarlet initials symbolize the blood that I shed for you. They also mean "Yeshuah" which means "Salvation is from YAH. Now that you are one of my sons, come with me to the party."

    With that, I followed Abba to the double-doors. He opened them and everyone in there looked in our direction. Then he announced; "Sons and daughters, meet your new brother, brother Frankie"

    I saw that the room was a great banquet hall, with rows and rows of tables with all kinds of food on them. There were people from all over New York City. Some were oriental, some were Hispanics, and others probably Italians like me. There were African-Americans, and well, people of every nationality. All the men were wearing shirts like the one Abba gave me, and the women wore blouses with ankle-length dresses. They ALL had the same initials "Y-A-H" embroidered on the upper right-hand side. There was also a stage to one side of the room with a large, ornate throne with a small table in front of it.

    On the other side of the room were shining beings all dressed in white. They were all playing different musical instruments like harps, lyres, flutes, some had cymbals, and others had long silver trumpets. All were playing soft and soothing melodies for us guests.

    Everyone clapped and smiled and welcomed me. They embraced me with hugs and hand-shakes. Then one of the tall beings invited me over to a table. There I saw all sorts of Italian foods; spaghetti and meatballs with sauce, lasagna, salad with olive oil, stuffed Sicilian olives with spices, and there was cannoli, lots of cannoli. The tall being took a plate and served me up some spaghetti and meatballs and topped it off with a lot of parmesan cheese and two slices of toasted garlic bread. This guy seemed to know exactly what I wanted, I didn't even have to tell him.

    I ate some of that spaghetti and meatballs and let me tell you, that meal was ‘out-of-this-world good. I would say, it was ‘heaven sent'. Well, I sat down at one of the tables, all decorated with gold and silver ornaments on top of a white linen tablecloth. In the middle of each table was a seven-branched candlestick made of pure gold. A few more of my new "brothers" sat down with me. Some were Italians, others were Puerto Ricans, and there was even an elderly "sister" whose named was "Ms. Wong" she was from Taiwan as she told me. Now, we were all brothers and sisters in Abba's family, what could be better.

    As I was eating and enjoying the company of my newly found brothers and sisters, I heard someone tapping a crystal wine glass. I looked up and saw that Abba was sitting on the throne and in his hand, he had the crystal glass and a spoon. He was calling us all to attention. The musicians stopped playing and all awaited his speech. Then the discourse began.

    "My dearest sons and daughters of light" began Abba. His whole demeanor reflected love and compassion, his countenance shone like the stars of heaven. "I would like to welcome all of you to my extended family. All of you were stained, stained with disobedience. But I paid the price for your disobedience, the price of sin cost me my life, but I gave it up willingly. I paid the price of sin with my own blood. I called all of you and you answered my call and came here to me, to accept my invitation to be part of my family. You wear my name on your bodies which is Yeshua, which means "salvation". Now you are all my precious sons and daughters. My kingdom is your kingdom. It shall be your inheritance throughout eternity."

    I looked around, and there was a feeling of awe, many had tears in their eyes. All of a sudden, the whole banquet hall burst out with praises to the LORD with uplifted hands. My hands went up too, I also started praising Him who sat on the throne of grace. The one who took a common, ordinary Italian-American and brought me into His family.

    Then Abba lifted up his hands for silence, and I noticed two marks on his wrists, the mark of nails that at one time in the past, held him fast to an old, rugged cross on a hill that stood so far, far, away from New York City. I suppose it is still there. Then Abba continued his oracle;

    "My dearest family members, I am sending you back into the world again to be my witnesses, to proclaim this generation of faith and salvation. One day I will call you back here again and you will go beyond these doors behind me."

    With those words, he turned around and pointed to still another pair of double-doors, made of mother-of-pearl and decorated with all sorts of precious stones.

    "Many of my children have gone past these doors and are enjoying the perfect peace of eternity even now. For the time being, each and every one of you has a job to do, I will equip you with spiritual gifts. Share this experience with your friends, neighbors, and work companions starting right here in New York City, going to the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and to all the places beyond. I will give to each and every one of you my book. Read it, study it, it has my words all written down. The words written down in this book are the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. It will be your guide for the rest of your life."

    When he finished his discourse, he lifted a medium-sized black book with the words "Holy Bible" engraved on the cover. I remember Mom and Pop had one of those years ago. I remember seeing it once tucked away on a bookshelf, yet they hardly ever took it down to read, I mean, it was just "there" wedged between "History of Calabria" and "Mama Rosa's Italian Cuisine".

    We all lined up and he passed out a copy of His book to everyone. When it was my turn, I still had more questions, so I asked.

    "Hey, Abba?"

    "Yes, Frankie?"

    "I was just thinking, what if you called someone in Italy, I mean, does that person have to come over here to become a member of your family? That's quite a distance to travel, some people don't have the funds to…

    "Frankie" interrupted Abba, with a broad smile, "This place is one of those mysteries which are hard to explain. This place where you are now is everywhere, the Kingdom of God is everywhere, it is available to those who answer the call as you did. To those who reject my calling, they can't find this place…but… if they have a change of heart, then…it will be within sight."

    "Do you think that Big Al, Lou, and Tony Rizzo will be able to find this place Abba?" I asked.

    "Well Frankie" began Abba a bit sadly, "Right now if Big Al, Lou, and Tony Rizzo would walk down the beach, all they would see would be sand, shells, driftwood, and a few beach houses here and there. But…if they would open their minds and hearts and accept my calling, then, they would walk along the same road you came on and would see this place. That's why you need to tell them about me, Frankie."

    "But Abba," I asked, "How do I get in touch with you if they change their minds? I mean, I don't have your phone number."

    "You don't need to call me by phone Frankie, just talk to me, just like you would talk to your mom and pop, to Ana Ramos, to "Sal" and to your other friends. I'll hear you. That's the problem with many of my children, they leave here and then never talk to me, or when they do, they only talk to me when they need something or when they are in trouble. Please don't do that, OK Frankie?"

    And I saw a few tears in Abba's eyes. Yes, I could understand that. Just talking to someone when you needed something would be kind of rude.

    "OK, Abba" I responded, "I'll talk to you every day. If I have questions about this book, I'll ask you for understanding, OK?"

    "That's great," said Abba, embracing me, "You now have my spirit inside you, my spirit will help you understand my words."

    So I said goodbye to Abba and left his mansion with the others, those "others" who were now my brothers and sisters in the faith. I felt very honored to be part of Abba's family. As I was leaving, Abba called after me one more time.

    "Hey Frankie, son, don't forget to call me, remember, you don't need a phone, only call out to me, "Abba", and I'll hear, OK?"

    "OK", I answered, "I'll call on you, and talk with you…and you'll answer, right?"

    "Yes", replied Abba, "I'll always answer, my answers are already written down in my book, just read and study it. Don't forget to tell others about me, and what I have to offer. One day I'll call you back home, but for now, just do your job as a faithful son!"

    With those words, Abba turned and went back inside his mansion again. I thought about his words. Yes, I'll tell my three friends; "Big Al", "Lou", and "Tony Rizzo" all about Abba. I'll tell Ana Ramos, Mama, and Papa too. Well, who knows, maybe they'll get a call from Abba someday. Well, what else can I say, only that this was the first day of the rest of my life.

    The end

    Author's end comments:

    I lived in Queens until I was five years old. One of our neighbors in Elmhurst was the "Petronelli" family. As my memory serves me, I called Mrs. Petronelli "Aunt Gelsie" and she had a daughter named "Gina" who was about 2 years older than me. I remember sharing my little inflatable swimming pool with her. Once we went to Coney Island where Gina and I went on some of the rides together. This was, well, way back in 1959. I named the main character "Frankie Petronelli" to honor this family.

    My adoptive grandparents on my adoptive mother's side of the family came from Italy, from Napoli. They were Giuseppe and Giuseppina Nappi. I also have both mainland Italian and Sicilian ancestry from my biological parents according to the genealogical DNA investigation through Family Tree DNA, although the major part of my family is East European Ashkenazi and Turkish Armenian. It is nice to know that I share a bit of Identity with Italy.

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