On several recent trips to Israel, I have watched with interest the construction of a high speed rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The rail, significantly, connects Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem via a non-stop, 28 minute luxury trip for just 11 NIS. Very, very convenient and nice. I can’t wait to ride this ‘magic carpet made of steel‘ at Shavuot.
The Jerusalem Post Magazine has a fantastic article about the rail line as well as a mild chiding of the Israeli media for their incessant negative reporting surrounding the line, inspite of excellent service, wonderful experiences and glowing reports from users. I read the article and it only increased my excitement to ride. You’ll have to check it out yourself…
But, the article had a few lines that jangled my thoughts. The author very nicely recounted aspects of Theodore Herzl’s vision and the fulfillment that even this high speed train is a part of. One quote that really caught my attention follows,
Herzl understood that mindsets are difficult to change. Jews in his time viewed Judaism through a particular prism that included a yearning to return to their homeland, but only in a theoretical, defeatist, “some day” dreamlike way. Even before he launched Zionism, Herzl understood that the Jews would not listen to him, given their sagging spirits and enslavement to such a mindset.
To make his case, Herzl resorted to trains! He argued that when railroads were first constructed, some people “were of the opinion that it was foolish to build certain lines because there were not even sufficient passengers to fill the mail coaches.”The Jerusalem Fast-Train vs. The Powerful Media
Railroads were an astonishing leap in human progress that occurred during Herzl’s century, replacing animals as the primary mode of transportation, radically shortening distances and facilitating expansion to new frontiers. And yet, far too many people were stuck in old mindsets that were shaped by journalists and others: if there are not many who people travel from Vienna to Paris, why invest a massive amount of money to build railroads?
“They did not realize the truth – which now seems obvious to us,” said Herzl. “Travelers do not produce railways, but conversely, railways produce travelers.”
Over the last five plus years, a constant theme, a recurring undercurrent on this blog has been the restoration of kol Israel and the regathering of the people to the Land. Anyone who spends time in conversation with me knows that it is a subject quickly divulged and long dwelled upon. It is, in a word, my heartbeat.
Recently, I have written multiple articles that detail some thoughts and admonitions regarding the need of the Hebrew roots community to take very seriously the command to present ourselves at the Feasts of the Lord in Jerusalem. I further shared ideas for how to get there or be represented if you have limited resources.
The above quoted comment, though, has a few very, very important and insightful thoughts.
First, much like the Jews of the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the idea of returning to the Land as the lost northern tribes is at the fore of our understanding of prophecy and eschatology, but ‘only in a theoretical, defeatist, “some day” dreamlike way.’ I hear many talk of desiring to live in the Land, but the tone, language and vocabulary exhibits more of a wish than a conviction that we are in the time of the Restoration! The daily problems, the cares of the world, the concerns about the political climate, etc, all seem to carry more weight than the covenantal promises of God. It is a ‘mindset [that is] difficult to change.’
Second, Herzl’s argument the railways that produced the travelers, the converse would have been true. Piles of individuals beginning to travel to Vienna would have forced the existing trains to begin adding passenger cars. While the existing political and national situation of Israel will not simply open the door and wait for us to get ready, we are not without recourse. We must be banging on the door before the nation will make room. We must be appearing at the feasts… in numbers. We must cease wistful talk and begin active open and intentional steps to be ready. Think of it this way, the rebirth of the whole nation, the restoration of the whole, is pictured as the birth of a child. During the birth, the woman’s body doesn’t open up and extend an invitation for the baby… rather, the baby starts to come and the woman’s body must respond.
12 “I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob,
I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.
I will put them together like sheep in the fold;
Like a flock in the midst of its pasture
They will be noisy with men.
13 “The breaker goes up before them;
They break out, pass through the gate and go out by it.
So their king goes on before them,
And the Lord at their head.”
“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent;
[a]Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
3 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your [b]descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.
What happens when we bring 500 to the feasts? Not much. What happens when 10,000 Torah-keeping non-Jews attend the feast? Serious attention. What happens when we bring 200,000? I can almost guarantee that major things begin to happen!!
Where does it start? With each of us making a commitment to cease wistful dreaming and instead begin to take measurable action. The first part is to insure you or someone from your fellowship is at at least one feast per year. Then, two. Then additional people from your fellowship. etc. Larger fellowships can send more. Now.
Does our Father see our plight here in the diaspora? Sure. Will He be more attentive when we are shedding a river of tears in the Kotel? I absolutely believe so.
Mindsets are difficult to change… But, it is time we change ours.
Scriptures seem to say the reason to go to Jerusalem is to go to the temple, where God will be, and present a sacrifice/offering. It was not a sin not to go to Jerusalem before the temple existed. If Yeshua had stayed on earth and the temple had not been destroyed, then things may of been different. But Yeshua left the earth so He could could be in more places by sending the Holy Spirit to be inside of us. We are now a temple of YHVH and His Spirit is there when two or more gather. We need not be in Jerusalem for this to happen. Is His Spirit not present when we gather for the Holy Days in a faraway country? Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for the feasts while the temple was there, but I never read of him admonishing any of his congregations to join him. So I do not believe at this time it is a sin to not go to Jerusalem, especially without a temple.
Yes, I believe there will be a time after Yeshua returns and many will gather again in Jerusalem for the Feasts. Yes, I believe all of Israel will reunite. But I’m not too sure getting a lot of believers to gather in Jerusalem NOW will bring that about. Have you seen fruits of this? How many Jews have opened their homes and sukkots to you, or their hearts to Yeshua, because you went to Jerusalem for a feast? If so, please write about these encouraging experiences.
(Now if you believe a great gathering of believers in Jerusalem at the same time may bring about a Spiritual temple in Jerusalem before Yeshua returns, I’m all ears, but I don’t see scripture saying that will happen.)
Thanks for your stimulating ideas and considering mine!
Krissy, thanks for your questions and thoughts.
As previously explained, Deuteronomy 30:1-4ff indicates that ‘obeying Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons’ must begin in the scattering. We can’t keep everything now. But, that shouldn’t keep us from doing everything that we can do.
Further, as previously explained, Deut. 16:16 says, ‘appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses…’ I understand that to be Jerusalem. Maybe it is the Temple, but have you ever turned to face Jerusalem to say the Shema? If so, why? There is no Temple…. We would probably agree that He is still there with His eye on that place and honoring His promise to Solomon that ‘My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.’ I Chr. 7:15.
This does not negate the fact that we are a spiritual Temple according to Peter, but that will continue to exist even when the physical Temple returns, therefore it is not a reasonable excuse now for not going if it will not be an excuse then,
I, and many, are of the understanding that even without a Temple, we need to be appearing before Him. We choose not to look for the loop hole, but to draw near.
Now, nowhere have I said it is sin not to go… In fact, I have been clear that I know we can’t all get there every time because it is expensive and requires a good bit of leave/travel/vacation time. My mediatorial position that I think is very pleasing to the Father and takes into account our hardships is representation and trying hard to get there as often as possible.
With regard to rubbing shoulders with our brothers, yes. I have sat in many sukkahs and in homes for long deep conversations and warm discussions. A rare few I have shared on this blog and on the Ani Yosef blog. aniyosef.com I can simply share, that each trip is precious and I wouldn’t trade the interactions for anything. Among the regulars that go up, the experience is the same.
Bottom line, we need to be going up and Judah needs to see us coming up.
While participating in my first Jerusalem March during the 2005 Sukkot and again in 2009, I felt like there were thousands attending, both those that lived “near” and those from “afar” were present. Most that came from afar (most likely Ephraimites) were walking the parade route while most in attendance watching the “parade of nations” were Yehudim living in The Land….. in my opinion.
I’m not good at deciphering how many thousands I’m actually seeing when I see hordes of people, but I sure have enjoyed that particular event of “Judah and Ephraim” coming together.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Agreed. And that is an interesting event that, while Christian based, dabbles at the fringes of what I’m asking for here… what if that same crowd were all Torah keeping? How might that alter the dynamic and enliven the conversation?
I hear ya…. I think that is the vision…
BTW, I marched in that in 2017. Depending on scheduling, the Ani Yosef team may join the fun this year.
LikeLiked by 1 person