April 21, 2012
Last week I had an opportunity to put feet to some of my pro-Israel advocacy, and it centered on the “wall,” the Israeli security barrier, which has become an icon for everything wrong with Israel among those who can’t remember what everyone was complaining about before the barrier was built.
The University of New Mexico (my alma mater, by the way, so I’m not an outside agitator) was the scene of a “Mock Wall Campaign,” hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine and a bunch of other campus groups, which employs a model of an ugly wall to promote “building bridges by tearing down walls.” Of course, the wall metaphor turns out to be mostly about Israel and its security barrier–along with everything else they can toss in that’s wrong about Israel.
So, on the day before Yom Hashoah, I decided to join with the UNM Israel Alliance and help man the counter demonstration, a “Wall of Truth” that lists ten myths about Israel that are widely accepted on college campuses like UNM around the world. You can read the list at http://www.wall-of-truth.org/myths/.
Soon after I arrived, a bunch of students gathered in front of our Wall of Truth banner and spent a good amount of time reading and commenting–in Arabic! They didn’t seem convinced, but some of them did seem pretty thoughtful.
A little later, I had the chance to engage with a guy who said Israel just kept building this wall so it could steal Palestinian land, like it had been doing for decades. He retreated as soon as I mentioned that the wall was only started in 2003 and was already finished.
Then another man came along, a more sophisticated guy who had traveled extensively in the Middle East, had first-hand experience, and was troubled by things he’d actually seen in the West Bank.
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April 13, 2012
Over the past couple of months I’ve gotten drawn into the battle a lot of advocacy for Israel and the Jewish people. I helped draft and disseminate a statement on the crazy Ralph Messer-Eddie Long Torah ceremony that went viral on You Tube back in January, and a couple of statements concerning the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in March, with its underlying agenda of replacement theology. Now we’ve just issued a statement warning the United Methodist Church of the ramifications of their potential decision to divest from some companies doing business with Israel. You can read the background and download the statement here: http://umjc.org/home-mainmenu-1/advocacy/765-introducing-the-advocacy-blog.
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April 8, 2012
“On that night we were redeemed, and on that night we shall be redeemed.”
The Passover Seder is made up of two halves, roughly divided by the festive meal itself. The first part commemorates the redemption from Egypt as we retell the whole story of the departure from Egypt, starting with “Avadim hayinu, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and Hashem our God took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” The second half concludes with the famous line, “Next year in Jerusalem!” our declaration of hope for the final redemption, when Jerusalem will be restored as the holy city and the source of Torah for all the nations.
According to Rabbi Yitzchak Sender in The Commentators’ Haggadah, the second half of the Seder begins after the meal and the third cup of wine, when we pour another cup for Elijah the Prophet, and open the door to see if he’s arrived yet. (There’s lots of additional explanations for opening the door at this point, of course.)
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April 5, 2012
Whenever I read Rav Shaul’s account of Messiah’s last Seder, I always wonder at his concluding phrase: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Why “the Lord’s death”? Don’t we celebrate Messiah’s resurrection and his life among us when we partake of the Lord’s Seder? Yes, but apparently we need the reminder to pay full attention to his death at the beginning of Passover before we come to the resurrection on the third day.
What stands out the most about Messiah’s death as he describes it at his last Passover is that it’s for us: “This is my body that is for you. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Cor. 11: 24–25). Yeshua gives his body for us; he sheds his blood to bring us into covenant. That’s what we are to remember when we eat of the Lord’s Seder. (There’s a whole discussion about whether we share this remembrance meal only at Passover or throughout the year, which I’m not getting into here. Paul tells the Corinthians, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death,” and that should cover all cases.) In the context of 1 Corinthians. Paul is contrasting the right kind of Lord’s Supper with the Corinthians’ supper, which is clearly a matter of eating for self, with factions, social hierarchy, greed, and impatience.
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April 2, 2012
The tenth day of Nisan has just ended, four days before Passover, which is the day on which the Torah commanded every household to select a lamb to be sacrificed four days later on Passover. It’s also the day that Yeshua entered Jerusalem during his last Passover, riding on a donkey to fulfill the words of Zechariah the prophet: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Yeshua was making it clear what king he was. It’s often said that the Jews of his day rejected this kind of king, but there’s a crowd of Jews welcoming him on the 10th of Nisan:
And a very great crowd spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the crowds who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
So the crowds said, “This is Yeshua, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:8-11)
Matthew uses the word crowd(s) three times in this brief passage, and it will appear again later.
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