Passover in the Land
Picture Labor Day or Memorial Day weekend on the east coast of the US where everyone heads towards either Atlantic City or Ocean City. That’s a description of the roads in Israel at the beginning of the Passover holiday. Schools close several days before Passover and do not reopen for a few weeks. Consequently, Israeli families vacation during this period. While there are many tourist places in Israel, there are limited numbers of places for Israeli families to vacation. Over 100,000 descended on the Sea of Galilee alone. Normally, families stay at home or join with extended families or friends for the 1st night of Passover and hold a Seder (the traditional Passover meal and service that celebrates the ancient Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt). The first day of Passover is a national holiday. Most Israelis do not drive on religious holidays. But on the 2nd day, oh Lord. Of course, not knowing this, I went to the office for a meeting, eventually straggling back home late after a painfully slow trip home.
Still being relatively new immigrants, it’s difficult to acclimate to the rhythms of life here. At least I figured out the shopping pandemonium prior to the holiday. As I’ve shared before, I try and avoid shopping on Thursdays and Fridays because everything shuts down early Friday, and then is closed until Sunday. Consequently, shopping on those days is challenging. However, when coupled with holidays, it gets very tricky. In addition, we were holding our own Seder, and then hosting services in our home yesterday. Thus, we needed to stock up on food, and then, the right food.
Celebrating Passover means restricting the types of foods one eats. The Biblical rule is to eat no leavening for the seven day holiday. The rabbis interpreted this to mean not eating anything comprised of five grains – wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt (whatever that is). Then depending upon whose traditions you follow, it can also mean not eating rice or beans or anything else that has taste. It also means removing all the leavening products from one’s home the day prior to Passover. We were planning to burn the leavened products, known as chametz, as is traditionally done in homes, but we were running late for the Seder, so I dumped it in the compost pile outside to the joy of the stray animals and vermin who feasted on leaven while we scrupulously avoided everything that tastes good – they must be Gentile vermin.
Anyway, we had a fun time together – two of our children and their families and Riki, our friend, the cantor. Riki adds a lot to the Seder, knowing many of the songs we don’t know and easily plowing through the Hebrew since she’s a native Israeli. We asked Lily, our grand-daughter, to recite the four questions (traditionally done by the youngest at the table who asks, “why is this night different from all other nights?”) At five months old, Lily only blinked at me but did like the wine. You’re supposed to drink four cups of wine during the meal, so by the end everyone is rejoicing, making the restrictions on food far more palatable. The next day, the first full day of Passover, we joined others at our new park on our street.
News from the Law Practice
When I was in college, I felt the Lord direct me to law school, but I didn’t know why. Shortly after I graduated from law school, I sought the Lord for what He would have me do for my life. It’s a long story, but the gist was to use the practice of law to minister to those in need. While serving as rabbi at Tikvat Israel for many years, I did use the law to assist and minister to many of the Russian immigrants to our city and felt it was part of God’s original calling on my life. Moving to Israel opened a new chapter for us. But struggling with the language and with assimilating into society clouded my perception as to how God could use me here. Even with the opening of the law practice, a monumental event, I still have felt foggy about God using me. Sure, we can practice law and make a living, but I’ve always felt there was more to life than survival and just managing life. Frankly, if we pushed our faith upon people, we’d have few, if any, clients because they would run for the hills.
But an interesting encounter this past week helped me to crystallize my thoughts about the future. I met with a client who wanted to open a business in the States. We went over the various options. He then asked if I handled immigration to the States. I thought that was a curious question because why would he have come in the first place. I said, absolutely. He then asked if I primarily handle immigration to Israel. I said, no; one of my partners does, but I can’t because I’m not licensed to practice in the Israeli legal system. He then told me he had googled my name and found the article written last summer by an anti-missionary who “outed me” for being a Messianic rabbi that surreptitiously immigrated to Israel under the guise of being a lawyer and whose firm was trying to sneak Messianic Jews into the country. I laughed and told him about my conversations with the so-called journalist, and then said that it’s true we’re Messianic Jews, but we are professionals and treat people accordingly.
It was an interesting because he approached me and will likely hire me, despite being an “infamous” Messianic Jewish leader. I reflected upon this encounter during our services yesterday and felt renewed in my vision for God’s plan for our lives. I still believe God has a significant plan for our firm, especially with the new law passing allowing any American to invest here and receive temporary residency. Our firm is perfectly positioned to handle such cases, and I believe it will give us a significant foothold in the country. Once we’re more established as a credible firm, making our faith known should not be an issue. Please pray for us as we attempt to move forward and gain more clients, and pray that we can be a good witness for Yeshua. Our firm’s website is www.lawoffice.org.il.