Sometimes shopping leads to unexpected surprises.
Yesterday afternoon was one of our free times here in Jerusalem. The bus dropped us off at Ben Yehuda street, which is a popular Jewish shopping area. It is similar to State Street in Redlands, but larger and without cars. Vera, Yehdua’s wife, had recommended this area as a good place to find jewelry, so my daughter and I set out, criss crossing the street from shop to shop.
Soon we came into a small shop on a corner. Inside an older gentlemen welcomed us. We started looking at some artwork he had on the counter. He explained that these reprints were by a famous artist who painted these pictures to illustrate the Song of Songs. He also had other art by a man who wrote and illustrated a beautiful Haggadah, which he pulled out and showed us. “Oh, yes,” I said, “the Haggadah for Pesach.” Next, he showed us a small piece of paper on which this artist hand written the Shema in tiny Hebrew letters.” Oh, yes, the Shema,” I affirmed. He told us, “These tiny parchments go inside your Mezzuzah on the doorpost, similar to the phylacteries worn by the Orthodox Jews.” We continued talking about these things, by which time he recognized that I knew a little something about the Bible. He told us that the the Bible is too hard for regular people to understand so the rabbis explain it in them, but not just one rabbi. There must be two rabbis who discuss it and decide what the Bible means. Otherwise people just make the Bible mean what they want it to mean. In addition, they have the Mishna, which is the explanation of the Bible and the Talmud, which is the explanation of the Mishna. “Why can’t you pray and ask for God’s spirit to teach you.?” I asked. “I am not a fancy rabbi or highly educated, but God lets me understand it.” At some point, I asked what his name was. “It is Mahar, which means light.” “Oh,” I said, “like’Let their be light!”
Our conversation continued as he told me that to really understand the Bible you have to know Hebrew, that translations are not always accurate. (I am quite aware of inaccurate Biblical translations, I thought to myself…) Then he began to explain ish/isha to us, the Hebrew words for married man and married woman. He wrote the Hebrew letters on a piece of paper and explained that one of the letters in ish is one of the letters of God’s name (the letter yod). Similarly, in isha, there is another letter from God’s name (the letter hey). When a man and woman marry and become one, there is ish, isha and God because God is in each one. If they get divorced, the letters of God go away and all you have left are two letters meaning fire. Then he said, with some delight, “Oh, let me show you something.” He left his counter and pulled a small bookmark from another display cabinet. “I have this friend who translated this for me.” As he was talking I looked down at the bookmark and could not believer my eyes. Written on the paper in both Hebrew and English was familiar Messianic verse. He continued. “My friend wanted to translate this word as ‘refused’ but that is not the correct word. ‘Rejected’ is the correct word. ‘The stone the builder has rejected has become the cornerstone.'” I asked him what this verse referred to. He explained that it can be anything you want it to mean. Something that has been rejected by others you can use to build yourself up or to build God up. I changed my approach. “Who does this verse refer to?” “Who?” he said. “No one.” I told him that we believe this refers to the Messiah. “Don’t worry about Mashiach,” he said. “They say that if you are planting a tree and someone says Mashiach is here, keep planting your tree. Don’t worry about Mashiach. You see, you really have to understand Hebrew to know this.” I couldn’t quite get another word in to say that we do have a a good teacher who teaches us the Hebrew words so we do understand these things. More importantly God has given us the Holy Spirit, who has shone his Mahar into our hearts and has removed the blinders from our eyes so we could recognize that “the stone the builders rejected” is our Cornerstone, our Mashiach, the true Mahar of the world…
In gratitude to Dr. Walter Bramson for his faithful teaching of God’s Word
Sent from my iPad, Jerusalem, Israel, April 10, 5am