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Archive for May, 2011

 

Israeli Flag displayed for holiday

Lag B’Omer is somewhat of a lesser holiday in Israel. It occurs between Passover, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt via crossing the Red Sea as on dry land, and Shavuot, which commemorates Moses coming down Mt.Sinai with the Ten Commandments. The counting reminds us of the connection between Passover and Shavuot. According to the Torah, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks” (Leviticus 23:15). This period celebrates the counting of the Omer. On the second day of Passover, an Omer of barley is cut and brought to theTemple as a wave offering.

Lag B’Omer is celebrated in several different ways depending on the age, situation, and devoutness of the person. Some people celebrate by building huge bonfires. The younger folks enjoy this activity. Youngsters gather anything wood to burn. This means contractors throughout Israel must hire additional guards to protect wooden building supplies. Wooden planks and scaffolding make breathtaking bonfires! Fortunately, the traditional wood gathering begins only about 10 days before the holiday.

Every night from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavuot[1], Jews recite a blessing and state the count of the Omer in both weeks and days. For instance, on the 15th day you would say, “Today is 15 days, which is two weeks and one day of the Omer.” The counting reminds Jews that redemption didn’t just happen at theRed Sea. Completion hinged on their receiving the Ten Commandments.

In the second century, Rabbi Akiva developed the exegetical method that links each traditional Jewish practice back to a basis in a Biblical text. He is justly called the father of the Mishnah.[2] Rabbi Akiva taught “love your neighbor as yourself – this is the great principle of the entire Torah.” Sadly, in about 132 AD during the counting of the Omer, twenty four thousand of Rabbi Akiva’s students died in a divinely sent plague. Jews believe God sent the plague because the students did not show honor to one another. The plague ended on the 33rd day of counting the Omer. The Hebrew letters Lamed and Gimmel create the acronym “lag,” which has the numerical value of 33. Lag B’Omer became the holiday celebrating God’s grace in stopping the plague. Rabbi Akiva began teaching again with a few students who survived the plague and continued to have a great effect on Jewish Torah thinking.

RabbiAkiva’s students disagreed with each other about small details of Torah application. Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another (John13:34). Do our disagreements between Protestant denominations show honor to one another? We learn from Lag B’Omer that loving all denominations and the Jews is critical.


[1] Shavuot or Shavuos commemorates the dayMoses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mt.Sinai. It is also referred to as the Festival of Weeks, Day of the First Fruits, or Festival of Reaping.

[2] The Mishnah teaches the oral traditions by example, primarily using examples brought to judgment by rabbis.

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Obscure Mission

        My father left this planet in 1991. As we sorted through the things he left on earth we found this piece that he wrote. I love it and the fact that he wrote it. I would like to share it now and I hope you enjoy it.

Obscure Mission

By Delbert Myers 

          There is an operation taking place in this country which although not by any means secret is so obscure that it is virtually unnoticed by our fellow citizens.  In fact, this operation to some extent reaches the furthermost areas of the earth and for all practical purposes is undetected.  A team already in the field must sponsor an individual selected to participate in the venture.  In fact, the individual must learn his role from projects with others engaged on the mission.  In short, it is on the job training for the individual until he progresses to the higher levels of the operation. 

          When an individual is selected by headquarters to participate he (or she) is provided a very versatile vehicle to accomplish the objectives.  Today we use sophisticated vehicles to travel space to reach the moon and eventually perhaps the planets.  This particular vehicle is basically earth bound, however, and is engineered with regard to the type of operations anticipated and or the protection of the equipment contained within.  It’s versatility ranges from traversing sand, swamp, water, and rough rocky ground to negotiating steep vertical inclines.  Truly an all terrain vehicle it is also flexible in the fuel requirements, being able to operate on a wide range of liquid to solid fuel.  It’s an amazing vehicle running somewhat on the order of a diesel.  In the modern manner the interior is environmentally controlled to maintain a constant interior temperature in spite of wide variations in the ambient temperatures.  The exterior surface is impact resistant and designed so as to be self-sealing in the event of scratches, punctures and tears encountered in normal operation.  The mechanism is designed with a computerized control system.  It is also equipped with closed circuit TV and sensors, which constantly monitor the outside environment relaying data to the central control system.

          Like any other machine this vehicle performs best handling a normal workload.  Too heavy a load will naturally subject it to stress and failure occurs.  Conversely if not utilized, parts deteriorate and the machine may fail although the outside appearance is perfect.  The vehicle as produced and assigned is produced in five basic colors.  Although the individual doesn’t choose his vehicle he becomes particularly partial to the one assigned.  Imagine his frustration however when upon entering he finds that like the “kamikaze” pilot of WW ll he cannot get out!  Then he discovers the computerized control system is programmed with only the very basic functions and the instruction manuals are missing.  His only option now is to set up his own computer programs by trial and error and observing the results.  Of course he has the assistance of his sponsors and the rest of the team, however it won’t be easy and will take a lot of effort by all of them.  The vehicle is equipped with a two-way communication system linked to headquarters, however even if finally recognized the operator seldom takes advantage of it except in occasional situations of extreme stress.  Then he doesn’t know how to use it.  It’s pretty much up to the individual to recognize the need for and to provide periodic maintenance.  To assure optimum performance he must periodically “charge batteries”, assure systems are not overworked for extended periods, and monitor to see that all systems are go and will function when called upon.  Frequent overload and abuse naturally results in breakdown necessitating minor tune-ups, major repairs or a trip to the body shop when structural damage occurs.

          Strangely enough, the operator does not receive clear orders on the objectives of his assignment, however he will usually perceive definite objectives as time progresses in his association with fellow operators.  He probably would have gotten more direct answers had he made an effort to talk to headquarters.  Person to person communication is rather rare.  Although tone signals are frequently used, they must be both encoded and decoded to convey the true meanings.  Usually the operators signal intentions by their actions and maneuvers.  Quite often the signs and actions are hostile – a signal of warning for others to maintain distance – thus insuring the personal security.  Only on rare occasions will an occupant risk opening the port of his vehicle leaving himself vulnerable and revealing himself to another as he really is.  Most prefer to guard their security throughout the mission and lose many of the benefits accordingly.

          I haven’t said too much about purposes and you’re probably wondering at this point about the duration and object of the mission.  When will it end?  This mission will continue as long as the driver can continue to accomplish his purposes.  It must necessarily terminate when the vehicle is damaged beyond repair or is worn out to the extent that repairs are no longer effective and it can no longer perform the functions demanded by the driver.  The driver is then committed to return to his base of operations from whence he came.  Now you will see that the riddle becomes startlingly clear. 

          The vehicle as you have probably guessed by now is your wonderful body – carefully engineered so you can accomplish those actions necessary to your existence and development.

          You are the driver – the personality within the vehicle.

          The Mission is Life.  Yours alone to live, to learn by experience, to enjoy, to relate to others and to assist your teammates so that all will develop and grow to the benefit of all.

          Why?  Doesn’t it follow that with such order there must be purpose therefore more – all beyond our comprehension?  In this light the message of the Bible becomes clear.  Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ lived that men might know how to live.  Look at these words in a new light.  “Thou shalt not kill.”  “Greater love hath no man.”  “Love thy neighbor.”  “He who seeks shall find, and he who asks shall receive.”  There are many others.

          We ponder over the past and wonder about the future, but what is really important?  We can’t totally and accurately reconstruct the past and really why should we want to?  Nor can we foresee the future with any certainty and why would we desire to?  This then leaves the now as the only area of concern over which we have any control.

          A sign over the entrance to a museum says, “The past is a clue to the present and a guide to the future.”  The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  It does not amplify.  It does not invite discussion, but in effect, it is none of our concern and beyond our comprehension.  Today is the most important of all, as it really is the first day of the rest of your life.

 (Thanks, Dad.)

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