Gretchen, Andy, and I headed into the City today to check out what G and I (lovingly) call “the HinduJews” which is a stretch of neighborhood north of the Loop littered with Indian and Jewish markets, shops, and restaurants. Along with the above, we also spotted Russian, Ecuadorian, Pakistani, Uzbek, and plenty of Islamic storefronts from countries all over the world. It was fantastic being among so many cultures at once.
I got to shop at my very first official Judaica store! You should have seen my delight. I feel almost foolish for expressing how joyful I felt to be around objects with so much meaning and history and Biblical significance. Perhaps it is silly, but, I imagine a person who steps into their very first Christian bookstore after living in an area with little access to so many materials after just finding Messiah would feel a joy just like mine. We take so many things for granted. I could have spent my whole day there, but instead I spent a bunch of money on my very first mezuzah and the scroll** that goes with it. Gretchen and Andy browsed briefly and were kindly patient with my abounding excitement. If only I had written down the books I have on my wishlist! I could have bought them there. Never the less, it was completely worth the two hour commute to get there (which ended up being: train, bus, walk, subway, bus, walk).
As soon as I saw my mezuzah, I knew it was the perfect one for me. See the rest of this post for pictures. It’s almost the length of a normal pen and the trunk is just about as wide. That should give a bit more perspective. I love closeups and forgot to include a reference.
The best thing to happen all day was a five minute moment I had in the store. It started out as I walked by a woman with a Bible propped up in front of her. She was speaking to an older gentleman whose kippah was tilted a bit to the side as he dug through a Tanakh. They were deep into a discussion about a reference to Shem she thought she had seen in the book of Acts. Now, at this mention of Acts, I looked up and had to raise an eyebrow. I mean really, when do you hear that being discussed in Jewish company? Not often, I wager.
Anyway, while I was waiting in line the same woman stood behind me. I smiled and greeted her and she commented on how lovely my mezuzah looked. She also asked what it was. I explained that it was from the commandment to write on the doorposts of your house and on your gates–from the Shema. I realized at that moment that she wasn’t Jewish at all. And then when I saw the cross on her Bible that she had carried in, I whispered to her, “I’m Messianic. I believe in Yeshua as Messiah.” You could not have lit up her eyes any brighter. It was as if her entire face tried to rise up to heaven. Everything smilied, from her forehead to her chin. I winked at her and stepped aside. She said “Could you wait for me?” And I nodded. We stole a few glances at each other across the store as she paid for her brand new Hebrew/English Torah and when she came over we shook hands and introduced ourselves. We stood huddled on the sidewalk, talking about Messiah, how we loved the Lord, and our hearts for the Jewish people. I expressed my joy that she meets with rabbis and asks questions. I told her there is so much to learn–from both sides. I think it was her first time meeting a Christian who had moved towards Judaism while still keeping faith in the Messiah. Her passion for reaching the Jews with the gospel of their own Messiah warmed my heart. She said she had felt the leading of the Spirit for Israel as soon as she became a believer four years before. Her entire passion is for them. I just couldn’t help but hug her. We parted ways, regretfully, but I’m sure she’ll always be in my heart. Her name is Patty. If you think of her, pray that she is light and salt tot he earth. I so admire her heart. what a divine appointment. I thank God for the opportunity to see the gospel being spread in the city.
** The English translation of the text on the scroll reads:
4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one. 5. And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your means. 6. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart. 7. And you shall teach them to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes. 9. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
13. And it will be, if you hearken to My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord, your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14. I will give the rain of your land at its time, the early rain and the latter rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. 15. And I will give grass in your field for your livestock, and you will eat and be sated. 16. Beware, lest your heart be misled, and you turn away and worship strange gods and prostrate yourselves before them. 17. And the wrath of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will close off the heavens, and there will be no rain, and the ground will not give its produce, and you will perish quickly from upon the good land that the Lord gives you. 18. And you shall set these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand and they shall be a reminder between your eyes. 19. And you shall teach them to your sons to speak with them, when you sit in your house and when you walk on the way and when you lie down and when you rise. 20. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, 21. in order that your days may increase and the days of your children, on the land which the Lord swore to your forefathers to give them, as the days of heaven above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:13-21)