The Jerusalem Prayer List – March 26 2009

There is an intersting story in the Talmud.  The Talmud is a collection of materials that record the discussions and arguments of the Rabbis over issues of Torah and practices.  Here is the story:

I.    When R. Eliezer was arrested on charges of Minut [being a Christian], they brought him up to the judge’s tribunal to be judged. The hegemon (the judge) said to him, “Should a sage such as yourself get involved in such nonsense as this?”
II.    He said to him,

“I acknowledge the [Righteous] Judge.”
III.    The hegemon [the Roman Judge] supposed that he was referring [complimenting] to him, but he referred only to his father who is in Heaven. He said to him, “Since I have been accepted by you as an honorable [righteous]  judge, demos! You are acquitted.”
IV.    When he got to his household, his disciples came to him to console him, but he did not accept consolation. Said to him R. Aqiba, “My lord, will you let me say something to you from among the things that you have taught me?”
V.    He said to him, “Speak.”
VI.    He said to him, “Perhaps some matter pertaining to Minut [sectarianism / Christianity] has come into your domain [17A] and given you some sort of satisfaction, and on that account you were arrested?”
VII.    He said to him, “Aqiba, you remind me! Once I was going in the upper market of Sepphoris, and I found a certain person, named Jacob of Kefar Sakhnayya, who said to me, ‘It is written in your Torah, “You shall not bring the hire of a harlot…into the house of the Lord your God” (Deu. 23:19). What is the law as to building with such funds a privy for the high priest?” Now I did not say a thing to him.  “‘So he said to me, “This is what I have been taught [by Jesus of Nazareth], ‘“For the hire of a harlot has she gathered them, and to the hire of a harlot they shall return” (Pro. 5:8). They have come from a filthy place and to a filthy place they may return.’ And that statement gave me a good bit of pleasure, and on that account I was arrested on the charge of being a Christian, so I violated what is written in the Torah: “Remove your way far from her” — this refers to Minut; “and do not come near to the door of her house” (Pro. 5:8) — this refers to the government’” [T. Hul. 2:24].

This text tells of story dated to somewhere in the beginning of the second century A.D. when Rabbi Eliezer was once arrested and charged with minuth (becoming a Christian in this context).  When the chief judge (hegemon) interrogated him, the rabbi answered that he “righteous judge.”  Although Rabbi Eliezer was referring to God, the judge interpreted him to be referring to the judge himself, and freed the Rabbi. The remainder of the account concerns why Rabbi Eliezer was arrested in the first place. Rabbi Akiva suggests that perhaps one of the minim had spoken a word of minuth ( Christian / sectarian) to him and that it had pleased him. Rabbi Eliezer recalls that this was indeed the case, he had met Jacob of the town of Sechania in the streets of Sepphoris who spoke to him a word of minuth in the name of Yeshu (Jesus) ben Pandera, which had pleased him. (A variant reading used by Herford has Pantiri instead of Pandera.)

This of course is a fictitious story that the Rabbis of the Talmud might have used this story to aggrandize Rabbi Akiva and show that he even corrected Rabbi Eliezer and show that he is greater.  The story uses the teaching of Yeshua to point out what attracted Rabbi Eliezer into the faith immediately.

The thing that really interested me is the first part of the text.  Rabbi Eliezer speaking to the Roman judge, “I acknowledge the [Righteous] Judge.” The Roman Judge actually believed that Rabbi Eliezer was speaking of him and in reality Rabbi Eliezer spoke of God Himself being the “Righteous.”  I really believe that Israel has one of the very best legal system and that court can be trusted to do good in balancing the cases.  We had yesterday our day in court.  All I am going to say to all of you who prayed for us – is that we will se that prayer does bring the voice of the poor and sick and those who suffer from un-righteousness before the ultimate judge of the whole World, the Lord Almighty of Israel. The judge now is reading all the materials that have been submitted to him and he will give the judgment after Passover.  We need to continue praying and asking to see the goodness and justice of the Lord God of Israel.

We continue to pray for all the sick and for all the needy.  Passover is coming and we are getting ready to bless some 300 people and more with special gifts for Passover.  The soup-kitchen will be closed during Passover but before the feast we will bless those people with enough of God’s provisions and goodness that they will not go hungry all through the feast of Passover.  The number of the needy people is increasing and we are doing our best to keep blessing the poor of Jerusalem with food.

The list of people who need specific prayers for healing is the same as last week.  Please pray for the following brothers and sisters who are ill and need your prayer for healing:  Agi and Sally are two very fine Israeli women who both have cancer.  We need to pray for their healing.  These two fine women need to see the hand of God move in their lives and the healing physically is going to be much more than just a physical healing of their bodies but will also bring healing to their souls.  We continue to pray for Sarit, and Zvi and Sara, and Miriam, Lea, Ahuva, Ilana, all these dear sisters from our congregation in Jerusalem.  We have to continue to pray for Paulo in Brazil, and Ruby in Oklahoma, and Liz’s sister in Tennessee.  I ask you to also continue to pray for the Lord to heal Marcia my wife and Danah my daughter and all the other people in my family who need strength and stamina to continue doing what is right and good and holy in God’s will.  I would like to add a very special sister in Jerusalem who is suffering from Tinnitus a problem with the internal ear.  This sister is more than 80 years old and she has been faithful and coming to the worship on food every week and has been a beacon of light to all those who have passed through.  The name of this sister is Ilana – please carry her name before God’s throne of mercy and ask for healing just like you do for Marcia my wife and for all those others on this list.

Our congregation has been going through some hardship and we need your prayer to turn our sorrows into joy and our struggles into victory.  I see these struggles as Passover spring cleaning of our lives and our relationships.  Please keep the Roeh Israel and Netivyah in your prayers.

Continue to pray for the State of Israel and for the Financial breakdown in the whole world.

Joseph Shulam

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