This is the anniversary year of my bar mitzvah. Sixty-three years ago, I stood on the bimah to recite my bar mitzvah parasha, Nasso. Since then, fifty years of faith in HaShem has intervened and I am in a better position to appreciate what I did then. Today, I know much better the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of whom I had heard much about then, but did not know personally.
Gone are the days of 25 cent gas prices, 45 rpm plastic disks with donut holes, and “walking 25 miles in the snow to get to school.” The fall of Sputnik to the earth is laughable now. Where are those 9,235 scientists who published a plea to stop nuclear testing? What does the peace symbol designed in 1958 mean today? Back then, we all liked Ike but our parents voted for Adlai Stevenson. Back then, I read it all in the Junior Scholastic magazine. Now I hear it all on 24-hour cable news stations.
What is the meaning of life and our attempts to make a better world? The world you desire to live in can be the world of your choice. I have chosen to live in a world where God is dominant—a Messiah-centered world. It is not always rational here; it is not always clearly explainable to others. People get frustrated because they want you to join them in their worldly existence. You are an outcast in some circles, despised at times and marginalized by your own kinsmen. But this is the world where I move and have my being. This is the world where the kingdom has broken in for me for a glimpse of olam haba, the world to come, and heaven has come down to earth for a taste of Messiah’s reign.
This is God’s world, where right is left and up is down, a topsy-turvy place where your balance is usually off a bit and your gait often wobbly and your sight not always clear. That is where faith comes in and soothes the way.
The Torah portion, Nasso, speaks of the heads of the twelve tribes who brought offerings at the dedication of the tabernacle in the wilderness. It strikes me that the heads of the tribes inaugurate the dedication of the altar of the tabernacle with their own offerings of silver and gold, and oxen, rams, lambs and goats. These are the big shots – the mochers – and they are the first to give and to sacrifice. They are our example; you are never too big to give out of your abundance.
In the Haftorah portion in Judges, God spoke through an angel to Manoah and his wife who were told that, though infertile, she would nevertheless conceive and bear a child. These ordinary folks gave offerings to the Lord. They are our example; you are never too small to give out of your need. She conceived and the angel delivered on the promise. Samson was born. It seems that when there is obedience in giving of ourselves, we are better able to hear the Lord.
I give special recognition to my parents, Lillian and Samuel Klayman, and my grandparents, Jacob and Ethel, Israel and Rose, none of whom are living, but who insured I received a a Jewish heritage and a basic Jewish education nurtured with love and care. Most of all, I give thanks to Yeshua for bringing me back into Jewish space and imparting to me the gift of eternal life with God, day by day. In a day certain to come, when the Messiah returns to earth, what a shock the world of Christendom will undergo when it sees that the Messiah is actually Jewish, and what an epiphany our Jewish brethren will experience when they recognize that He is indeed Yeshua!
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