I have been writing feature articles for Israel365 News for six years, covering the news from a prophetic perspective. The vast majority of my readers are evangelical, Israel-loving Christians who seem to enjoy my writing. This is a bit unexpected as I am a fairly mainstream guy in my community. My Jewish practices rarely fall outside of the norm and my theology is unsophisticated, coming closer to Tevye the milkman in Fiddler on the Roof than Spinoza.
Yet a few Orthodox Jews accuse me of being an undercover Christian missionary. My close buddies laugh at this accusation, insisting that I am not sophisticated enough to conceal any religious duplicity. But to answer these accusations, I will offer an explanation and my rabbi will be oh so proud when he sees that I am doing so by quoting the Talmud, more specifically, Brachot 30:a.
In this section of the Talmud, the sages warn against being overly happy. The Talmud describes the origins of the custom of shattering an expensive goblet at weddings as a safeguard against frivolity. In typical Talmudic fashion, the sages then ask, “So when can we be fully happy?”
The answer is brought in the form of a verse from Psalms:
Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is forbidden to fill his mouth with mirth in this world, as long as we are in exile (ge’onim), as it is stated: “When the Lord returns the captivity of Zion we will be as dreamers” (Psalms 126:1). Only “then will our mouths fill with laughter and our lips with song” (Psalms 126:2). When will that joyous era arrive? When “they will say among nations, the Lord has done great things with these” (Psalms 126:2).
When can Jews be fully happy? When the nations come to us and say that it is wonderful that God has ended the exile.
This scenario was unthinkable just a few short years ago but it is common today. Not only is it common, but many Jews from outside of Israel have become apathetic to the miraculous manifestation of prophecy that is the modern state of Israel. Kissing the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport used to be a common sight but now, too many Jews have become inured, feeling that the trip to Israel is just another vacation that is semi-obligatory and not nearly as engaging as Disney World. Perhaps it is just too easy. El Al lacks the panache of a 40-year trek through the wilderness accompanied by in-flight manna.
On my social media, the only people who truly long for a trip to Israel are Christians who want to see the ground Jesus walked on. Jews, who should have a much richer connection to the land and a powerful interest in actually settling the land God promised them personally, are rarely excited about a visit to the Holy Land. It has become stale, losing its special glow.
Very few Jewish tourists have made me smile. Perhaps they fear the imminent query: “So when are you making aliyah?” Perhaps they know their response will inevitably be inadequate.
But Christians always make me smile. Their un-Jewish enthusiasm is contagious. They are thrilled to witness what God has done for His people. They are even more thrilled to tell me about it.
This is what I call getting (Psalm) one-twenty-six’ed. The unbridled enthusiasm of these Christians has made me completely happy to a degree I never was nor never could be in the United States.
Also, there is a nasty child in me that is hoping that some of these enthusiastic Christians will corner the local Jew and press him with questions about the Holy Land. I hope he is embarrassed. Deeply ashamed that he has yet to take his place in the miraculous story of the Jews’ return from exile. I imagine the Christian mob surrounding him, grabbing him by his tzitzit, and dragging him to the airport.
In the meantime, I am happy. My mouth is filled with laughter and my lips with song. And when my joy gets a little subdued, I take a bus to Jerusalem and go to the center of town, where there is no lack of old men and women, some with staffs in hand but most without. And there are certainly a lot of children in the streets, playing joyfully. There can be no doubt that Israel is a happy place. And now you know why.