Sanctified in the midst
Sunday morning in Israel is much like a Monday morning in America. It’s the first day of the work week and most of us come dragging in after a short weekend. After a light work day on Friday, most Israelis are only able to take Saturday off completely. So we arrived Sunday morning with plenty of work to do. We joked that it was a mitzvah to not work on Shabbat. And, although we were joking, it seemed to us people took our statement seriously.
Larry Mitchell and I have been working in logistics. We have been cleaning shelves and bins and stocking them with medical supplies that will then be taken to other areas of the hospital. We enjoy the work and it's been fun to organize things and make the warehouse neat and clean. As the workers come in to fill the orders they are very happy to see things getting organized and they praise us for the work that we're doing.
I think Larry has become addicted to organizing, counting, and bagging/rubber-banding the medical supplies into units of ten. Every time we find a bin with loose parts, he gets a big smile on his face, we stop cleaning for a bit, and form them into groups of ten called a minyan. This has been strange to us as we are used to counting things by dozens, and we have to count and recount sometimes to make sure we get it right.
If you ask the workers why we only count by tens they don’t have an answer. Maybe it's just “tradition.” Actually
, the source for the requirement of a minyan (10) is recorded in the Talmud. The word minyan itself comes from the Hebrew root maneh (מנה) meaning to count or to number, and is related to the Aramaic word mene (numbered), which appeared in the writing on the wall in Daniel 5:25.
The Babylonian Talmud (Megillah 23b) derives the requirement of a minyan by combining three scriptural verses:
The word "midst" in these two verses:
"And I shall be sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel" (Leviticus 22:32). "Separate yourselves from the midst of the congregation" (Numbers 16:21).
And the term "congregation" in another verse that describes the ten spies who brought back a negative report of the Land of Israel: "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?" (Numbers 14:27).
From this combination, the Talmud concludes that "sanctification" should occur in the "midst" of a "congregation" of ten. And they believe they cannot conduct a prayer service without at least ten men present.
Larry and I have been having a lot of fun with the play on words between minyan (10) and Minion, as in the Disney characters. One of the reasons Larry likes to talk about “Minions” is that it has been an icebreaker that allows him to talk about prayer. He has a shirt with 9 Minions on it and he is the tenth! He is ready to pray with anyone anywhere, as long as he has his Minions!
For my part I have found that one of the best ways for me to break the ice is by relating stories from home, or about our stay in Israel thus far. I struck up a conversation with someone I know from previous trips who was taking a break and having a smoke. We asked each other a few questions just to catch up and then he asked me what I did for Purim, the feast of Esther.
Since we arrived just before Purim, we were able to attend a party with a local congregation. Several of our team brought costumes with them and participated in a costume contest, and we all enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship with Israeli believers in Yeshua.
So, in the course of our conversation, I responded naturally to his questions of who, what, when, where and why of our night’s festivities. I could see him visibly curious about these people we know, and especially how we could enjoy such a good time together without alcohol. It was rewarding to open his eyes to the kind of loving fellowship that believers can and should have.
I hope to continue our good relationship and I hope that he continues being curious.
Well, that’s all for now, time for some sleep, so we’ll be ready to head into another day of working together.
Los Angeles, CA