I have always believed that this world, along with all of the experiences we have, is far from black and white. So seldom are people all good or all bad, and so rarely do we make the best decision possible, as hard as we may try. Very often things seem crystal clear, until we see a different perspective. There are many layers to every situation, and our job is to uncover them as far as possible.
There is a mystical Jewish teaching which says that in this physical world there is the surface definition of truth, and within that, there is always a deeper truth which we can find if we search for it. For years I have been praying to understand this teaching, and this past week I finally received clarity in two unexpected places: my daughter’s birthday party, and my work with Christian Zionists.
Around a month ago, my eldest daughter turned eight years old. For months before her much-anticipated birthday, she was planning every detail of her party. The cake would be pink, balloons would be hanging on our front door so that everyone would go to the right house, we would do an art project, and play fun games. At the end of the party she would open up all of her presents, and then her friends would go home with goody bags of stickers and rub-off tattoos.
With lots of excitement and fun we planned and then celebrated my daughter’s meticulously organized party, and only one part didn’t go as planned – most of the children came without birthday presents.
The truth is, my daughter didn’t mind at all. Just having her friends over, and having fun in her house in honor of her birthday, was enough to keep her on cloud nine for the next year. Together we cleaned the house, took down the balloons, and put away the remaining cake. It was a real success, and after weeks of planning, it was finally behind us. Or so I thought.
Just a few days later I dropped my daughter off at a friend’s birthday party. I didn’t send her with a gift, because apparently that is not the norm in my small, modest community.
But as I went to go pick her up from the party, something just didn’t feel right. “My daughter would have been so happy if her friends brought her a present,” I thought, so instead of doing what everyone else did, I turned my car around, bought a birthday present and delivered it with a smile to the ecstatic eightyear- old child.
As I went over what happened, I realized that the mystical teaching I have been pondering for so long finally made sense.
It’s true that going to the birthday party empty-handed would have been completely acceptable. But the deeper truth is that I know birthday presents make children feel happy, and I have the ability to give the most beautiful gift of joy. How could I possibly turn that down, just because the other children didn’t bring my daughter a birthday gift? With this uplifting revelation, I made a decision to try to see the world through two sets of eyes simultaneously: through the eyes of truth, and through the eyes of a deeper truth.
Facing the world with this newfound thought was like experiencing a rebirth. Suddenly, every-day experiences felt new and exciting. With this fresh perspective, I finally felt equipped with the tools to uncover meaning and faith in every thought, situation and decision.
Then, sitting at my Shabbat table last week, my guests asked me a very familiar question. “Why do Christians support Israel?” they said, in the skeptical voice I have become all too familiar with. And as always, my first emotion was frustration.
I had knots of emotion in my stomach as I thought about the middle- aged woman in Arizona who had been saving up money to renovate her kitchen for five years, and gave every last penny to The Fellowship during Operation Protective Edge last summer in order to build a bomb shelter for the people of Beersheba instead. Visions of righteous pastors telling their congregations to support Israel unconditionally went through my mind, along with memories of hundreds of old, poor women I’ve met in America who send tithes from their meager social security checks to help the children of Israel with basic needs.
Taking a deep breath, I organized the thoughts running through my head, and put my new way of thinking to the test.
“I understand that it’s hard to believe that Christians really love the Jewish people, unconditionally, exactly as we are,” I told them. “But try look at the deeper truth, and you will understand the authenticity of their support, and why they do it.”
I explained to my dear friends that Christian Zionists support Israel because the Torah tells them to. Period.
It’s just that simple.
In Genesis 12, God says to Abraham that “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Gentiles take this as their direction on how to tap into receiving blessings from God. And besides, Israel is the only place in the world God Himself gave a name to, and gave to a specific people.
It may seem to make little sense that Christians who have never been to Israel would love the Land and its people so much. But the deeper truth is that it makes perfect sense. Christian Zionists are people of faith, with belief in the Torah and God, and they want to play a positive role in the awesome prophetic times we are living in today, when Jewish people are coming home to Israel from all four corners of the world, resettling our biblical homeland, and reconvening as a unified people.
The world is far from black and white, but when we use ancient teachings to inspire us and guide our ways, we suddenly have the tools to open our eyes to the beautiful colors of depth and meaning which surround us everywhere we go. And, inevitably, positive action will follow.
The writer is senior vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
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