Rabbis in Judea Teaching the Nations About the Feast of the Tabernacles, Fulfilling Zechariah
Two rabbis located in Judea are spreading words of Torah to the nations, preparing the world for the Sukkoth feast described by the Prophet Zechariah in which all the nations will make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The month of Elul began on Wednesday night, ringing the alarm that one month remained to prepare for the intense holiday period of Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur. It seems that there is little time to build a Sukkah and acquire the four species necessary for the subsequent Biblical feast of Sukkoth. There is much to learn in order to observe the feasts in a meaningful manner and for most, it is a lifelong process. In recent years, many people from other nations have begun observing the feasts, each in their own way. In the case of Sukkoth, this most certainly reflects the observance of the feast in the days of the Temples when people from around the world would come to Jerusalem to praise Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’).
Though there are many institutions and traditions for Jews to learn about the Biblical feasts, no such framework exists to teach the nations about the feasts and knowledgable Orthodox rabbis are reluctant to do so. One notable exception is a program established by Rabbis Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel. Their online sessions bring together people of all religions from 24 different nations to pray and learn together, focusing on the most powerful thing in their lives that they all shared: the Holy Bible. The rabbis named their initiative The Land of Israel Fellowship as the focus of the online sessions is their home, the Arugot farm in the Judean Hills that the two rabbis established four years ago.
As the holidays approach, the focus of the sessions turns to the Biblical feasts, more specifically, Sukkoth.
Rabbi Ari Abramowitz of The Land of Israel Network explained the simple meaning of the feasts.
“The feasts of israel are primarily considered the “Shalosh Regalim” although some people refer to all the holidays as feasts,” Rabbi Abramowitz explained to Breaking Israel News. “The ‘shalosh regalim’, often referred to as the three pilgrimage festivals, are the primary holidays during which the entire nation of Israel would converge upon Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. The first is Passover, which celebrates the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt transforming us from being enslaved tribes to a nation Shavuot, known to Christians as Pentecost or, alternatively, ‘the festival of weeks’, is the holiday in which first fruits were offered in the temple. Sukkot, the feast of booths, the week-long holiday in which Jews throughout Israel and around the world build booths and live in them to remember the clouds of glory that hovered over Israel during the 40 years in the desert. When we dwell in our Sukkah, we are reminded that we are literally under divine providence and all earthly security is an illusion.”
Though these all relate to spiritual and historical events concerning Israel, they are incredibly relevant to the nations. A great example of this relevance is the holiday of Sukkot which the Prophet Zecharia described.
“Sukkoth is essential to the nations in the end-of-days,” Rabbi Abramowitz said. He noted that Chapter 14 in the Book of Ezekiel discusses an earthquake in which the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion will split and living waters will flow from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.”
“These waters will fill up the Augot valley which is right alongside our farm on the Judean frontier,” he said with enthusiasm, noting that in Jewish tradition, words of Torah are described as water, noting the verse in Isaiah.
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3
“It is amazing that just as the exiles Jews are being gathered from the four corners of the earth just as the prophets foretold, the technological innovations of the internet and communications are proliferating throughout the world. This is an amazing way for the highest level of the light of Torah to be projected around the world from the Holy Land.”
Rabbi Abramowitz has been actively reaching out to the nations for many years and hosting spiritual gatherings at the Arugot Farm. Through these experiences, has witnessed an unprecedented “stirring in the hearts” heralding a new era.
“On a deeper level after speaking to many Christians around the world, it seems that Hashem is stirring in the hearts of many the desire to delve deeper and connect with the original roots of their faith which is leading them to Jewish Rabbis for answers to many of their questions,” Rabbi Abramowitz said. “This engagement has not only been respectful and sincere, but also healing from centuries of distrust, ulterior motives, and even persecution.”
“But to really understand why so many Christians are seeking to learn from Jewish rabbis you would have to ask Christians,” he said. “I can share that my own passion to teach and learn with the nations of the world has been borne out of thousands of meaningful, uplifting, and inspiring dialogues with people who are truly and authentically seeking God.”
Rabbi Abramowitz cited Psalms to clarify this point.
Exult in His holy name; let all who seek Hashem rejoice. Psalm 105:3
“King David did not describe someone who finds God,” he noted. “He specified someone who truly seeks God. Because the relationship with the divine is a journey, not a destination. And in that way, the Jews and Christians in the fellowship can truly come together. We are all seeking God.”
Rabbi Abramowitz recognized that this mutual journey had its inherent difficulties.
“Obviously, as a Jew, there are fundamental aspects of Christianity that I will never agree with. Yet when I look at the way I understood God ten years ago, I see that half of what I thought I knew about God are things I now see as flawed and incorrect. I hope that ten years from now I will see that some of what I understand about God right now is wrong. No one can ever fully understand God. I truly believe that we need to come together with whole hearts, without seeking to change each other, seeking only to change ourselves and achieve a higher, more complete understanding of God. I believe that is beautiful in Hashem’s eye. “
Rabbi Abramowitz emphasized that the time for Zechariah’s vision of the nations coming to Jerusalem on Sukkoth is quickly approaching if it isn’t already here.
“We are approaching messianic times, Rabbi Abramowitz said unequivocally. “We all feel it in the air. And G-d is changing the hearts of those who are opening their hearts for Him to change. This is the final transformation the prophet spoke of as the catalyst for redemption.
I will give them one heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19
Rabbi Abramowitz explained that reconciliation between Jews and Christians will play an essential role in this prophetic process.
“While most Jews have spent the last two thousand years with a certain amount of fear of the nations of the world, steering clear of conflict in Hope’s of avoiding persecution, now that we have returned to our Land, G-d is strengthening our hearts and allowing us to replace this fear with love,” the rabbi said. “And now, rather than fear the nations, we can love them. And bless them. And teach them.”
“And all if this is leading up to the arrival of the Mashiach (Messiah) and the building of the temple. And when that great day comes, it will not only be Jews, but the righteous of the nations as well who will be seeking to behold the glory of Hashem and participate in the feasts.”
The rabbi explained that this reconciliation was most definitely described by the prophets as well.
In that day many nations will attach themselves to Hashem and become His people, and He will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that I was sent to you by the lord of Hosts. Zechariah 2:15
“The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that the Jewish people are entrusted to be a light unto the nations,” Rabbi Abramowitz said. “Many people justified the exile by claiming that the Jews must be dispersed among the nations to fulfill this mandate.”
The rabbi noted that just as the nations need Israel to spread the light of the Torah, the Jews need to spread the light in order to develop a deeper relationship with God.
“The transformation that occurs to the nation of israel when we return to the land of Israel allows for a deeper and more transcendent relationship with the G-d of Israel which in turn illuminates the world with a light of love, brotherhood, and redemption,” the rabbi said.
The Land of Israel Fellowship is interactive with questions and answer sessions. More information is available on the website.
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