She got under my skin and I was getting angry. She didn’t mean to as she leaned across the table with pointed questions.
It was not her very direct interrogation that was more appropriate for cross examining a hostile witness, but the fact that she exposed an unarticulated question that has been boiling in my own frame.
We were in a restaurant in Jerusalem at the end of Unleavened and she asked,’where is _______?’ naming a prominent Torah teacher in the US.
I tried to smile, gave a light shrug and said nothing. I was about 99.9% sure the teacher she named was not at the feast.
‘Maybe he is at an Orthodox community. Do you think so?’
Again I just shrugged.
‘Where is ________?’ She named another.
I pursed my lips in a forced smile, but was feeling my temperature beginning to rise.
‘Maybe they just don’t want to meet with us, or they are too busy to come to the Park?’
I grimaced. Thinking through the last five feasts I’ve attended, I recall only seeing
two ‘big name Torah teachers.’ One wasn’t there for the feast so much as for a conference, the other was leading a tour that did celebrate the feast, but chose to do so 100 km outside Jerusalem.
‘Do they teach to come to the feasts?’
My mind drifted back to a weekend event I attended the summer of 2015 in Jacksonville FL when a host of big name teachers taught but not a single one that I heard encoraged the attentive sheep to go to Jerusalem for the feasts, but they all promoted each other’s CDs, DVDs and latest teachings… oh, one guy promoted his trip to Israel that was not at feast time because it was cheaper.
The dam broke. I leaned back across the table and growled, ‘they aren’t here. They rarely come and when they do it is to promote self. Sell CDs and DVDs. They don’t come at feast time, they do it before or after because it’s cheaper.‘
My interrogator leaned back and said, ‘they don’t come? None of them?’
‘One does. She’s here every feast. Kimberly Rogers.’
‘Ah yes, Kimberly. And and Efraim and Rimona, right?’
‘Yes, but they live in the Land. It’s a little easier, though they are older.’
Our conversation continued, less abbrasive, but by then I was seething underneath, feeling the betrayal of the ‘teachers’ who rarely if ever teach the flock to ‘go to the feasts as Scripture commands.’ When ny questioner asked why they don’t teach this I could only surmise that sending people is less profitable than taking them during the ‘cheaper’ windows, or teaching at Sukkot gatherings in the US. Jeroboam comes to mind. The house of Ephraim apparently still wants to do their own thing at their own time and place.
Earlier in the day we had fellowshipped in Independence Park. All those who frequent Jerusalem at the feasts knows that every Shabbat at 2 pm during the feasts there is a gathering in the park. This gathering was small, but incredibly diverse. Perhaps 75 to 100 representing 15 or 20 nationalities from the four corners of the globe. I saw the majority there last Sukkot and the Pesach before, and Sukkot two years ago. Most are the same dedicated pilgrims with a few new faces peppered in.
Some come to Jerusalem with nothing and camp, others may have more and stay in hotels or apartments. Those who come consistently are a well connected group sharing accommodations, travel tips, food and needs. Each has an incredible testimony and is battle hardened as a warrior, beholden to no particular teacher but truly seeking Elohim and His face at the moedim in Jerusalem. Some have been three tines a year for more than eight years and know Abba is faithful to provide when one commits to obedient ascent.
It was while I was in the park and Chris was talking about bones that I realized I was looking at the skeleton. Lots of Torah teachers and Torah organizations talk about being dry bones, but they are scattered. The real bones, the warriors who are the network I see Abba using, Gideon’s band, are the ones in Independence Park, the obedient watchmen making constant effort to get back to the next feast.
Now, it’s 4 a m somewhere, I’m 35,000 feet in the air flying toward Madrid. As the wheels left the tarmac in Tel Aviv I was already missing Jerusalem, Giv’at Ye’arim and my Ephramite family returning to the four winds. Maybe I’m a little salty right now, but I don’t know how better to articulate how disappointing that so few from the nations who claim to be part of kol Israel actually make the effort to be in Jerusalem even once a year at feast time. There should be thousands.
Congregations should be sending representatives at least once per year to one of the three pilgrim feasts. Stop paying for Torah teachers that don’t tell you to get your hindparts to the feasts. Stop attending or promoting tours that avoid the feasts because of cost*, congestion or other convenience issues. Start going! You need to be in Jerusalem for the feasts and Jerusalem needs to see you!
*Cost is a lie. Ani Yosef has proven that you can spend 13-16 days in the Jerusalem area for less than $950 that covers lodging, transportation and two meals per day. Airfare not included. Guided tour options extra… The unvarnished truth is, if you want to be there, you’ll be there. No excuses. (Elohim won’t accept your lame excuse any more than I will.)
If these dry bones are going to come together, it is going to be in the Land, at the appointed times. It simply ain’t gonna happen out in the diaspora. STOP kidding yourself. Become a part of the solution. Get to Jerusalem during the moedim as commanded.
See you in Independence Park, Jerusalem, at 2 pm on Shabbat during Sukkot.