Pope to visit Middle East May 8-15

Discussion in 'The Signs of the Times' started by Rain, Mar 8, 2009.

  1. Rain

    Rain Powers

    see entire article here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03 ... deast.html
  2. padraig

    padraig New Member

    I am surprised the Israeli's are so glad he's coming, the Vatican and themselves have not been getting on.

    It's good of Benedict to make the effort, I hear he's a very shy man.
  3. Mario

    Mario Powers


    It is no accident that the Holy Land remains the focal point of man's attention. We need to pray for the disipation of hatred, the increase of mercy, and the triumph of love in this hotspot. May God's angels prepare the way for the Pope's visit and guide him safely home to Rome!

    Safe in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary!
  4. padraig

    padraig New Member

    I just got a letter from my friend Shimon Z'evi ,an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, which I will post here:

    Saturday, March 07, 2009; Jerusalem

    Dear Padraig,

    It is strange, the difficulties of using our time well. I just looked at my mail box, and saw your letter from april 20th of last year, and realized that I still hadn't answered it. But I had marked it in such a way that it wouldn't be archived or left in storage… I had wanted to answer it till now, and hadn't. but then, yesterday, I wanted to look at what sort of pictures you had on Flicker. I had the impression that the Padraig who had commented on some or one of my pictures was you, and when I looked at your site, it said that there were no pictures for me to see. So maybe you had marked them all private or something like that. I wanted to ask you about that, and then remembered there was still a letter from you that I hadn't answered. I remembered that you had sent a Christmas greeting too, that I hadn't answered.

    I am like you regarding the politicians and the authorities. I don't really trust them. But I guess there is something naïve about me, that I keep hoping for some leadership that is really for the good of man. I had the opportunity to spend a few years in the US, when I studied in college. It was very impressive. I felt that I could see real progress from the time of the ancient Athena democracy. More people know how to read. More people can make choices regarding the way their life is lived. Women are able to vote. It is considered evil in most of the world, to keep slaves.

    You mentioned in your letter that the people came to the Prophet Samuel and asked him to appoint a King. Samuel did not want to do this and said that for Israel , it was better to carry on with the Judges and prophets ruling over them. It was not that the Lord did not want a King. It is not a thing that was forbidden to the Israelites. But as a prophet, Samuel realized that it was not for the good of Israel. He realized that the Israelites were just trying to copy the gentiles… and feared that a king would have too much power. In this, I think he was right. But after trying a number of other systems, I don't know if it wouldn't be better than what we have… though basically, I am against having a king here in Israel.

    You mention the outlawing of usury in the bible. This is so, but there are different thoughts on what is usury. Some people believe that a small amount of interest is really a service charge and doesn't subjugate the poor, but rather allows him to deal with the market place in a better manner. But I can tell you that I agree with your point of view completely that it is best to lead a poor and humble life, and not borrow money if it can be helped in any way. I have never owed money, all my life, and when I was newly married, I told my wife that I would prefer to live on bread and margarine that live well and owe money, if just for a week. This has been very important for me.

    You said that when you were young, you had an answer for everything. Yes, I can say the same. The more I learned, and the older I got, the more I realized the difficulty of living a good life in this world, and I became a little more modest about my opinions. You mention that you believe that our creator and Father is so full of Love and Compassion, full of mercy and ready to relent. I am not so sure about that. It is hard for me to know our creator. And it is not so important for me. I accept the torah as his will on earth, but see it as interpreted by human beings, and even the best of human beings are influenced by prejudice and limited understanding. When I look at "acts of God", and even acts of man in this world… I get the impression that God can be very cruel too, by our standards. If you look at a tsunami or a storm that invades a continent, or an earthquake, or a volcano spilling lava on the local population, it does not look like great mercy. But I accept this too as being part of the reality. The Talmud says that having compassion for a cruel man, leads in the end to cruelty towards the compassionate. That is part of our argument with the Christians.

    You mention the prophesy of the lion lying down with the lamb. I have thought of this prophesy a lot in my life. In the beginning, I took it literally. When I saw a cat and dog, playing together as friends, when I was visiting a friend of mine, I thought that this is what it must be like. But then, when I saw Jewish people coming back to Israel from the four corners of the world, I realized that the Jews from each different country and nation, resembled in some ways the nation that they came from. And I remembered that the tribes of Judah, and the nations of the world were referred sometimes as bearing an animal similarity. And that many peoples of the world, carry the image of their national animal, whether it be an eagle or a bear or a wolf, as a symbol of their people. And then it seemed to me that perhaps this was an analogy, meant to describe people who were like lions, and people who were like lambs. That is closer to what I believe in today. But I don't pretend to really understand what the world will be like when the messiah is here. I already feel that the world we live in has changed very much since I was a child.

    Though there are many things that have changed my world, from TV to the cell phone, nothing has had as radical an influence on the world as I know it, as much as the computer. I think that has really changed everything, as electricity changed the life of my father in his time. When he was a child, people used to sit up at night to the light of oil and gas lamps. And he remembered the use of electricity as something that had changed the world. For me it was the computer, and it happened when I was much older.

    I thank you for your Christmas wishes, and beg you to forgive me for not answering sooner. It is always a pleasure for me to converse with you. I wish you all the best. Like yourself, I don't thing our thinking is very far apart.


    I always get the strangest feeling talking to Jewish folks about matters of faith. Especially when the subject matter of the Messiah. Shimon believes along with many Jewish people that when the Messiah finally comes it will be really obvious. I believe one very famous Talmudic scholar, I think it may have been Maiamonaides that when the Messiah comes it will be like the sun rising, the light of His coming will be like the sun rising from the East to the West.

    On this I think they make the mistake of conflating the two coming of Jesus, first as He came as a man and second as He will come at the end of times. But I can't help thinking when I write pr talk to them, especially when they live in the Holy Land I am stepping back in a time machine and conducting discussions the apostles might have made.

    In so many ways when I talk to Shimon I can't get over the feeling I am touching the historic face of Jesus. They remind me so much of the dear Lord in so many ways. For instance, Shimon is so very immersed in Scripture, his points of view are like whole beautiful tapestries of texts.

    Also their deep love for parables. Here is one referring to the coming of the Messiah, whom they still await and with great longing, they will not be disappointed as Christ, as we know will come again. Marana' tha, Come Lord Jesus:

    Hear now this story with a truth I pray will touch your souls.

    Once there was a famous yeshivah, an academy for training rabbis, which had fallen on very hard times. Formerly its study halls were filled with young scholars and its big synagogue resounded with the chanting of the prayers and the Torah. But now it was avoided by the young seeking wisdom. Students no longer came there to be nourished by prayer and talmudic study. A handful of old rabbis, members of the faculty who had settled in the town with their families, remained but they shuffled through the halls and praised God with heavy hearts.

    On the edge of the town where the yeshivah was located, there was a woodsy area, where an old tzaddik, a miracle-working rebbe, had built a little hut. He would come there from time to time to fast and pray. No one ever spoke with him, but whenever he appeared, the word would be passed from Talmud scholar to Talmud scholar. "The tzaddik walks in the woods." And, for as long as he was there, the scholars would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.

    One day, the Rosh Yeshivah, the head of the yeshivah, the chief rabbi himself, decided to visit the tzaddik and to open his heart to him. So after shachris, the morning prayers, the Rosh Yeshivah set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the Rosh Yeshivah saw the tzaddik standing in the doorway, his arms outstretched in welcome. It was as if the tzaddik had been waiting there for some time for the Rosh Yeshivah to come to see him. The two embraced like long-lost brothers. Then they stepped back and just stood there, smiling at one another with smiles their faces could hardly contain.

    After a while the tzaddik motioned the Rosh Yeshivah to enter the hut. In the middle of the room was a wooden table, on which was set a Torah Scroll, opened to the Book of Deuteronomy. The tzaddik took the pointer and read, "Remember the long way that the Eternal your God caused you to travel in the wilderness these past forty years to test you by hardships to learn what was in your hearts ... in order to teach you that a human being does not live on bread alone, but on all that goes forth from the mouth of the Eternal."

    The tzaddik and the Rosh Yeshivah stood there for a moment in the presence of the Torah. When the tzaddik began to cry, the Rosh Yeshivah could not contain himself. He covered his face with his tallis and began to cry too. For the first time in his life, he cried his heart out. The two men stood there like lost children, filling the hut with their sobs.

    After the tears ceased to flow and all was quiet again, the tzaddik lifted his head. "You and your rabbonim, your rabbis, are serving God with heavy hearts," he said. "You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again."

    The tzaddik looked straight at the Rosh Yeshivah and said, "The Messiah is among you." For a while all was silent. Then the tzaddik said, "Now you must go."

    The Rosh Yeshivah left without a word and without ever looking back.

    The next morning the Rosh Yeshivah called his faculty together in the bes hamidrash, the House of Study. He told them he had received a teaching from the tzaddik who walks in the woods. He would tell them this teaching but it was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at each of his colleagues and said, "The tzaddik said one of us is the Messiah."

    The Talmud scholars were startled by this teaching. "What could it mean?" they asked themselves privately. Is Dov Baer the Messiah? Could it be Hershel Tsvi? Duvid Lieb? Aryeh Leib? Am I the hidden Messiah? What can this mean?

    They were all deeply puzzled by the tzaddik's teaching. But no one ever mentioned it again.

    As time went by, the scholars began to treat one another with a very special reverence. There was a gentle, wholehearted, human quality about them now, which was easy to notice. They stopped complaining about every little thing.

    They conducted their arguments over points of law in the Talmud with respect for each other's opinion. They ceased their derogatory comments about their friends. They acknowledged their faults and mistakes and apologized. They lived and studied with one another as men who had finally found something. Occasional visitors found themselves deeply moved by the life of these scholars. Before long, Jews were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer and study of the scholars and young men were once again coming to the yeshivah for rabbinical study.

    In those days, the tzaddik no longer walked in the woods. His hut had fallen into ruins. But, somehow or other, the old scholars who had taken his teaching to heart felt sustained by his prayerful presence.

    When the Rosh Yeshivah had first told them the tzaddik's teaching, they put their minds to work trying to figure out who the tzaddik was. But they came up with no suitable answer. Over time, after the tzaddik's teaching had worked its miracle in bringing new life to the yeshivah, they finally figured out that the tzaddik had been none other than the Prophet Elijah, who always comes in disguise to teach us an important lesson: The Messiah will come when we listen to God's words, take them into our hearts and put them into our actions. We do not live on bread alone but on all that goes forth from the mouth of the Eternal.

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