Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Appointment with G-d

The High Holy Days are upon us. Here in the Land there is much activity as we prepare for the first of these~ Rosh HaShanah or Yom Teruah. Of course there is always the menu planning and eternal grocery shopping. Lots of lovely celebration foods packed with memories and.... calories!  New clothing for the new year. Clean houses for a fresh start. But in the midst of all the hustle and bustle what may be difficult to maintain is the main reasons for this season~ not only of celebration~ but more appropriately~ reflection, repentance and restoration.

This past month, the shofar has been sounded every weekday morning in the shul. For those who have ears to hear, it is sounding to wake us up. The day is approaching when we will be called to make an assessment of our deeds this past year. How did we spend our time? On what did we spend our money? What words did we speak~ those that build or those that tear down? Do we hold hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness? Even though the general thought or feeling is one of celebration, this is actually a somber time of year as we approach the throne of the King to be called into account.

We do not need to be afraid or enter this time with trepidation. If G-d has instituted these Holy days, He has done so because He is making himself accessible. In essence, He has a calendar and your name is written on these coming days. You have, as it were, an appointment with G-d. As we participate with Him in His moedim (appointed days) He has made the way for true repentance, cleansing and rebuilding of relationships~ first with Him~ and then with those around us. We trust Him in this that He will be faithful to meet us on Yom Teruah. He will show us those we have offended and give us the courage to make things right~ to say 'I'm sorry'. He will remind us of vows not kept and give us the wisdom to keep the vows and to be careful about making future vows. He will prepare us for a life of fruitfulness and beauty with Him as our Guide.

As The 2 Spies are looking ahead, we are in hopes for an even more significant coming year filled with mitzvot (acts of loving-kindness) and a greater reality of the presence of the Living G-d and the Day in which we are living. We look forward, with joy, to the season ahead and are grateful to our G-d for providing a beautiful way to be in relationship with Him and each other.

Our wish for you, dear readers: May you  be written for a wonderful year full of Life!

PS We must of course share this that has inspired us. May it be a blessing to you as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Why Do the Nations Conspire?

 What an interesting time we are allowed to be living! What a responsibility to stay alert and correctly understand the signs of all that we see happening around us. This past few days in the UN have been quite an historic time with the potential for massive evil or massive good~ depending on the outcome.

The 2 Spies want to thank all our readers and friends for all your fervent prayers on behalf of Israel and for your notes to us with your concern about our welfare during this political attack. What can we say?

During the past few weeks as we pondered the possibilities of what 'may' happen at the UN meetings the L-rd gave us an overwhelming sense of peace. He spoke to our hearts to 'Be Still'. The message that we received over and over and over again.... 'Rest'. 'Do not be afraid.' 'You do not understand now what is happening.... but you will'

Why? None of what is happening is a surprise to Him. There is nothing in the hearts of the people that He does not already perceive. He has a plan and He is still in control~ no matter what.

What those that come against Israel do not understand~ and historically never did~ is that to come against Israel is to come against G-d himself. He is the One who has established the Jewish national homeland. He is the One who promised Avraham and made His covenant with him and his future generations. He is the One who does not lie nor break covenant. 

Psalm 2: Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? ...... The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

We think this cartoon is very appropriate to the situation:


So, what was the general feeling in Israel during this past couple of days while the UN Durban III conference against racism (re: anti-Israel) and Abbas' push for statehood was the center of attention~ what was happening? What The 2 Spies noticed was this:

Life went on. Like always. No matter what is happening in and to Israel~ life goes on. Like at other times~ whether it is war or terror attacks or external political craziness~ Israelis continue with 'LIFE'. Do the people not care? Are they apathetic? Do they not understand or perceive the danger? Not hardly. Actually, anything but. With continual threats to our existence, we are very well aware. But there are several continuing underlying thoughts or foundations that we all live with every day. We have MANY enemies and they want us dead. BUT we also have the Creator of the Universe who is our advocate and on Him we build our trust~ not the circumstances~ no matter how grim or painful. 

So, what happened in Israel this past few days?  These 2 Spies painted three rooms in their house and planted flowers for winter. Another 2 Spies kept going to their new kindergarten every day and joyfully taught the children. Another 2 Spies began preparations for the upcoming High Holy Days. Another 2 Spies went about their daily routine without missing a beat. What happened in Israel? Life!  A strong statement of continuing to establish our homes here and to fully Trust that G-d is a promise keeper and is totally in control. G-d has planted us in this Land~ never to be uprooted.

Shabbat Shalom dear Friends. Toda Raba for all your prayers and support. You encourage us and make life easier! 

PS If you want to hear Bibi's speech to the UN click here: Bibi at the UN

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where Will You Be Next Wednesday??

Thousands to Protest Durban 3 Conference at UN
For original article click here

Along with the Palestinian Authority's request to the UN to recognize an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, this coming week will see another major anti-Israel event – the Durban 3 Conference, set to open on September 22, one day before the PA is scheduled to submit its request to the Security Council.
Judging by the last two “Durbans” - officially known as the The Durban Declaration and Program of Action – the upcoming round will feature further virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda, likely to be exacerbated by the hoopla surrounding the PA's bid.
In response, an organization called the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) is organizing a protest outside the UN against the Conference, calling for nations to reject its anti-Israel agenda, and to walk out of the Conference as well – or at least to promise not to participate in any more Durbans.

While the United States and 11 other countries are already boycotting Durban 3, “it's a scandal that another 140 or so will be participating,” says JIJ director and protest organizer, Jerusalem attorney Calev Myers. “Our message will be a call to the UN to stop obsessively condemning the only democracy in the Middle East.”
The Durban Conference is the result of deliberations of the UN Human Rights Commission, which has dedicated over 40% of its resolutions to condemning Israel and has Israel automatically on every meeting's agenda – while ignoring true human rights crises, like the current violence by Syrian security officers who have killed thousands of Syrian citizens seeking regime change in the country.
“Based on events in a number of countries, it looks like the 'Arab Spring' has turned out to be a big failure,” says Myers. “But the UN has nothing to say about Syria, Egypt, Libya, or any other place where human rights are truly being violated – only about Israel.”
The fact that the Conference comes in advance of the PA's bid to the Security Council means that the protest will be even more important, says Myers. “We first applied for a permit for this protest six months ago, long before the PA made its decision on its statehood bid,” says Myers. “The rhetoric at the Conference is likely to be even more anti-Israel than in the past, so a strong presence protesting the proceedings is especially important this year.”
Myers expects anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 participants at the protest – most of them non-Jewish, thanks to the assistance of Eagles' Wings, a group of Evangelical Christians in the New York City area who are very pro-Israel.
“We've invited Jewish groups as well, of course,” says Myers. “But having a large group of Christians demonstrating for Israel on these days will make an important statement.”
And while many Eagles' Wings member churches have expressed a strong willingness to attend the protest, “the final number we expect is up in the air, because it's going to be very hard to navigate around New York City this week,” says Myers, adding that “in any event, we intend to uncover the face of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity at the UN, and express pride in the fact that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are You a Son of Issachar?

The Torah tells us that the sons of Issachar understood the times. They were alert. Discerning. Aware. Knowledgeable. The verse states : 
  And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, 
to know what Israel ought to do

Their knowledge was not just for knowledge's sake~ it was for guidance and direction for their country. Without correctly understanding the times, they may have made many erroneous decisions and lost many lives. They may have been blind and deceived and in grave danger.  

We are living in days when we need to have understanding of the times. Pick up any newspaper in any country and you will be hard pressed to find mediocre news much less any good news. Turmoil and troubles abound in all directions.Injustice, rampant evil, corruption, oppression ... In the midst of the swirling abyss that threatens to suck us down with it, are we aware? Are we like the sons of Issachar and understand the times?  Do we know what to do?

In order to make quality, mature and responsible decisions one must understand what is happening around them. There is a tendency to want to not notice and just let things 'be'. Return to the 'good ole days'. Hope it will all go away or that someone else will rush in and 'fix' everything.

Normally, The 2 Spies tries to be as positive as possible. When it comes to Israel, it is our policy to bring a good report. So, how does all the dark negative around the world fit into a good report about Israel. It can be a good report if you, Jewish reader, will adopt the stance of the sons of Issachar. It is time to awaken from a slumber and to take a fearless inventory of the situation around you. The time is coming, again, when you will no longer be able to live in your home country. We say 'again' because countless times in our history it has come to the point where our neighbors no longer saw us anything other than 'Jews' and undesirable.

Don't wait until you must run in haste. Do not believe the thought that tells you 'it won't happen here'. It WILL.

There is only one place for you to be able to fulfill your complete destiny. Eretz Israel. The place the G-d has carved out for His people.  Come now while you can come in leisure with your family and goods. Come now and enjoy the fruit of the Land. Come now while the doors are open. Whatever barriers you may think are in your way preventing your Aliyah they are only your personal Red Sea waiting to be parted. You will experience your own personal nes~ miracle~ as you say 'YES!'.

We do want to hear about your journey. We are interested in your struggle to let go and to come. Please feel free to write to us. We do care and look forward to the day we can greet you at the airport!
When He Brings Us Home
(Video by Bob Faulkner. Music~ Carolyn Hyde's CD "He Will Appear")

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you on 9/11?

Especially this time of year the question is "Where were you on 9/11?"  Every American knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when the news came....

I was in Moscow. Far from home. Far from my loved ones. The next day I was to fly home. I had been in Russia visiting orphanages and assessing how we could bring aid and help to their desperate situations. It had been an intense week and I was emotionally and physically drained. I was more than ready to go back to the States and my precious husband.  Our team was just rushing out the door to catch a ride to the train station when the phone rang. It was our translator's mother. "America is under siege!" That was all that she knew and we didn't have time to turn on the news. We ran to the bus with very heavy confused hearts. When we got to the train station the translator ran into the bar to see the news while we got our tickets and got on the train. She reported that New York had been bombed and that planes were headed to the White House.

The radio was broadcast over the train's loud speakers so we could learn all that was happening. We sat in our little sleeper car, thousands of miles away from home and loved ones and heard a minute-by-minute account of what was happening.

Numb. In shock. And very isolated. Not able to even pray. Not knowing when we would be able to return. The expectation in Europe and Russia was that the US would hit and hit hard~ some place. Everyone expected immediate retaliation. A beginning of World War 3. In spite of all of this~ I felt God very close. I could hear His very quiet, firm voice comforting me, instructing me and keeping me from going over the edge.

It was a full two weeks before I was able to fly into New York and return to my loved ones.

On this day of remembering we reflect on what happened, the great loss of life and the condition of our world. Something shifted that day for America. In one fell-swoop, we were rushed into the painful world that many have lived under for decades~ terror and hatred with no real purpose~ only destruction. A shaking that went into the very soul of the country. A stripping away of some of our naivete.

Where is our comfort? Where do we find perspective? We look heavenward. Seated on His throne, the Creator of the universe has all in His hands. He may not answer our 'Why?' but He will answer our 'What do you want me to learn?' 

 And as we sit before Him, our brokenness and pain offered to Him we can hear His voice quietly telling us:

"... I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world. 
May His peace fill our hearts today..... and always.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet the Bereaved Father's Choir

Terror attacks. Loss of life in military service. Untimely death of a young loved one.  How do people cope? How does a parent keep breathing and putting one foot in front of another when he has outlived his precious child?  Today The 2 Spies would like to share with you the solution that one group of fathers has found. May we find strength and encouragement in their story.  Shabbat Shalom.

Link to Story
The Bereaved Father’s Choir is made up of a group of bereaved fathers whose children fell during their military service or were killed in terrorist attacks.The group members cope with bereavement by getting together and performing Israeli songs.  They say that singing helps them to cope with the difficult loss.

Moshe Har Melekh lost his son, Shuli, eight years ago. One day after marking his son’s yahrzeit (anniversary of death), he joined his choir friends for their weekly meeting.

“I think I get the strength to sing from my son,” Har Melekh said, explaining how he gathered the strength to sing one day after remembering his fallen son. “He was a happy man, he believed in life, he believed that you have to continue. He believed in the land of Israel and in Israel’s Torah so I think that our being here today is exactly what he would have wanted.”

Har Melekh said that despite the great losses the men feel, the songs they sing are not sad.

“I think the songs are happy,” he said. “We sing together for the future: for our children, for our grandchildren. I think that singing together gives hope to all of us.”

The choir has already released one album and will soon release a second one. The choir recently recorded a song with the IDF’s Chief Cantor, Lt.-Col. Shai Abramson and, as Har Melekh explained, “We are getting together with the IDF to say that we are here despite what happened to us. We hope that our loss was not for nothing.”

One choir member, Cantor Moshe Keinan who lost his son Avihu, recently released a single put to the tune of Jewish Canadian singer Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah.” The words Keinan sang, however, were completely different and reflected his own personal loss.

From my soul to my G-d, I call you
I trust in You and shall not fear
G-d is my strength and stronghold,
and my song
Open a gate of repentance for me
And I will pass through it crying
All souls shall praise G-d, halleluya

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Shabbat in September

School started today. No big monumental words of wisdom or spiritual insights. Just~ school started today. Summer ~chofesh hagadol~ is over. Interesting that the weather seems to agree.... cloudy. Very cloudy and much cooler. More like Fall weather. Remember~ we don't get rain in the summer like many other countries, so the arrival of cloudy skies is a sign that the 'rainy season' is about to begin. The puffy white friends that we have missed all summer are back, changing our view. They are promising rain and we do pray that it is not just going to be one big tease!

But, school started today. The 2 Spies have 4 grandchildren that are in school. Three have attended for a while and are sailing along nicely. They are pleased with their teachers, new school building, and seeing their friends again. The big 'gossip' all summer was the swapping-of-the-school-buildings. One school enrollment had grown too big, the other too small. After a protest by some parents, teachers and principles (which didn't do anything to change the situation) the mass exodus began and all the equipment was switched out during the last part of summer. Hopefully, everyone has settled down and will allow the children to enjoy each other and their new environments!

The youngest, aged 4, is not a happy camper. She was not looking forward to going to gan ~ kindergarten~ and her first day was a bit shaky. She has a great teacher and a lot of little girls that want to be her friend. But language is a problem. And language is important to her. She is quite a talker! But....she will learn Hebrew this year~ one way or another.

Going to school 6 days a week ~ yes, I said 6 days~ can be rather tiring. The week may wax long but Shabbat becomes even more precious as a day of resting and being together with family. We all learn to treasure our times of prayer, rest, good food and just 'being'. After a busy week of keeping a fast moving schedule it becomes easier and more delightful to embrace the Shabbat and our times of reflection.

The following video has absolutely NOTHING to do with Israel~ except that we are sitting in a lovely village just outside Jerusalem~ watching it and smiling. We want to share the smile with you.

So, on that note~ we wish all our readers Shabbat Shalom!

Cute Boy & His Dog