"This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek thy face, O G-d of Yaakov. Selah."
� Psalm 24:6
"Afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the L-rd their G-d, and David their king, and shall come trembling to the L-rd and His goodness in the latter days."
� Hos. 3:5
When we caused ourselves to be cast out of the Land 2700 years ago, G-d cast us into forgetfulness about our true identity as the tribes of the people of G-d, and about our relationship to the Torah, Yehudah and G-d, He turned his face from us, (Psalm 81:12, Deut. 31:17, Isa. 8:16, 54:8, 59:2, 64:7). Now, He is waking the first contingent up to our identity as the children of the long lost Northern House of Israel, Ephraim, the House of Joseph. Upon our awakening the G-d of Yaakov is also calling us to repentance from the idolatries of our fathers, and to return to the legacy of the fathers of old, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (Isa. 51:1-2, Mal. 3:22, [4:4]). Isaiah prophesied that the time would come, when our appointed time, i.e. the sentence of double punishment would be finished and G-d would comfort us with the news of his revelation and deliverance, (Isa. 40:2). For us, who are finding ourselves awakened early in the "work of G-d," that revelation of his work comes early. Through the Work of Elijah, He is calling us to "come near" and to offer prayers and supplications for forgiveness for our corporate and individual sins, as well as for instruction on what we are to do and how to obtain help for it. Through his prophets, G-d gives us the specifics we are to include in our initial prayers after our awakening in the "valley of dry bones," (Ez 37).
Hosea's last injunction for Israel is: "Take with you words and turn to the L-rd: say to Him, Forgive all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will we offer the words of our lips instead of calves." (Hos.14: 2). This idiomatic expression hints that we are to take the words, specific words, already prepared, and already specified, the summary of which carries the meaning: "we are seeking forgiveness, receive us graciously." Though we may use more words than these to express this essence in our individual prayers, the initial plea, like a "calf," is a specific form of prayer, with specific content that we have to bring to rectify our relationship with the G-d of Israel. It is to consist of words that have the very same meaning as the very words G-d has prepared for us in the book of Hosea and those of other prophets. We can always elaborate with our words on the initial patterns, like variations on a theme, but it is the G-d-given patterns that we are to use in prayer as we approach and come near to be heard after 2700 years of identity loss. These patterns G-d describes and prescribes for us in the Torah and the Prophets.
The ritual offerings commanded for Israel in the Torah were very specific. The items, their nature, amounts, and the exact methods of preparation were specifically described and prescribed by G-d. There were to be no deviations because these criteria had special specific meanings, all of which served a function to denote a specific part of G-d's plan for Israel and the rest of mankind. They all had to do with the specific lessons we were to learn in the school of this life on this earth. Many erroneously assume that sacrifices and offerings were for the expiation of sins. In the Torah, most "sacrifices" were not associated with transgressions or atonements. Exceptions were mostly for inadvertent errors. Rather, the offerings enabled people to show their disposition toward G-d. The overall purpose of the sacrifices was for us to show our intent to G-d that we want to rectify our relationship with Him. This was the first step in the divinely set protocol, and was always necessary in order to be allowed to come near Him for our prayers of forgiveness and other petitions to be heard. The Ramban's opinion affirms this saying: "the purpose of the sacrifices was to enable one to come close to G-d." Indeed, the Hebrew word "korbanot"/sacrifices is derived from the root k r v, meaning " karev / close," and thus alludes to this idea. It denotes "being or coming into the most near and intimate proximity of the subject," e.g. close enough to speak to it, (Lev. 9:6). In the adjective form it can indicate nearness in space, time or family ties. The word korban has no equivalent in English. It literally means, "that which has been brought close," i.e. something that is to enter into G-d's presence in the Sanctuary. To offer a sacrifice is termed le-hakriv korban, literally "to bring the offering close."
These meanings support the Biblical fact that korbanot were necessary to be offered, i.e. brought close, before one could approach to have one's petitions presented and accepted. A person does not "sacrifice" or "offer" a korban, but rather is
"makriv," i.e. is bringing close. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains that
"the makriv" signifies that he "desires that something of himself should come into closer relationship with G-d." From these definitions we can see that the offering of sacrifices had special training functions to shape our thinking and behaviors. These are especially significant for those currently called to wake up from the great spiritual death and exile of 2700 years' duration, (Hos.3: 4-5). We, the forerunners and pioneers of the great return, are to set the pace and offer the first prayers and the korbanot/offerings of repentant hearts, before the dawning of the day of redemption. (Psalm
51:17). Today G-d desires the calves of our lips, (Hos. 14:2). This is according to his original intent for Israel. G-d informs us that he did not want to tell us about sacrifices when He brought us out of Egypt, (Jer. 7:22). In a literal sense, the blood and flesh of animals does nothing for
Him For our human understanding, they are called "re'ach nikhoach," meaning "pleasing aroma," or "spiritual uplift."
They were added to train us in the protocols of how to return to Him, on how to approach Him in the process of repentance. The G-d of Israel desires the sacrifices and offerings of repentant hearts and the knowledge of G-d,
(I Sam. 15:22, Psalm 40:6, 51:16-17, Hos. 6:6). These are also intended to train, shape,
pattern and "form" us according to his will, (Zech. 12:1). It is pleasing to G-d when we,
His children, express our desires to to
remake ourselves according to our Father's instructions: to be "G-dly."
Learn from Yehudah's prayers.
Before any specifics for returnees, a foundational principle for prayers in general is to be considered. Zechariah tells us that the time will come when "ten men shall take hold out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold and seize the "canaf"/skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you," (Zech. 8: 23). Gentiles, and those of Israel who
were accounted as gentiles, will go to Yehudah for instruction and not the other way around. "Canaf" is a term meaning "wing," "end," "corner" or "extremity," and when used to denote clothing, has been translated as "skirt." It is significant that this is the precise article of clothing to which Israel was commanded to affix the fringes with the blue threads, for reminders of the commandments she was to live by. It is this garment, still worn today only by the devout in
Yehudah, that the gentiles, having realized they have inherited lies from their fathers, are prophesied to grab, looking for instruction on how to seek the G-d of Truth, (Jer. 16:19, Isa. 45:24, 65:16). Through the centuries while
(northern) Israel was spiritually dead, Yehudah, (who also had her troubles for a
while), prevailed with G-d (Hos.11: 12). She has been inspired to assemble prayers for all occasions. While Yehudah's prayers may not have all the specifics prescribed for the exiles of Israel's return, they do have a vast assemblage of prayers based on Biblical passages for all Israel. We can turn to and learn from these prayers, and
use these prayers to format our minds to give ourselves Biblical means of expression for what we are to consider and say in general. The prayers are rich in Biblical concepts and are to be pondered and meditated on, so we say the words intelligently and elaborate on
them in particular.
Offer Thanksgiving and Praise First.
All our prayers need to prefaced with thanksgiving, for the sake of protocol to enter access to the divine Presence. It behooves Ephraim to give thanks at every opportunity for being resurrected from the congregation of the dead. King David instructs us:
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name!"
"He sent forth his word and healed them and delivered them from destruction. Let them thank the L-rd for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!"
"O L-rd I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast loosened my bonds. I will offer thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving."
(Psalm 116: 16-17).
A number of prophesied specifics of what we, the returnees of the House of Israel are to say upon our awakening, are found in the Prophets, and the Psalms. Many carry implications of great gravity. G-d through Jeremiah gives us the very words we will say: "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the L-RD my G-d, (Jer. 31:18). The verse specifies the two most important points for returning Ephraim to include in their prayers: acknowledgment plus confession, and request for Divine help.
1.) Acknowledgment and confession: To confess our corporate and national sins of rejecting the Covenant with the G-d of Israel for the last 2700 years and choosing idolatry instead.
While in the above verse Jeremiah may refer to a great national mass repentance movement to come, it behooves the early returnees to acknowledge now why we were chastised:
"They kept not the covenant of G-d and refused to walk in his Torah."
This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the Torah of the L-rd."
"Because they have forsaken my Torah which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein. But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them."
"We acknowledge O L-rd our wickedness and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against thee."
At the time of Yehudah's conquest and scattering into the world, Jeremiah wished that the words of the last citation above would be spoken by more than just himself and perhaps a handful few. Yet they hold the pattern of essential concepts for us: Confessions of our sins and those of our fathers. This is not to ask for forgiveness for our fathers, but to acknowledge that our idolatrous sins are ingrained for we learned and inherited them from our fathers through lines of transmissions many generations long. The people of Ephraim are especially charged with following in the idolatries of their fathers, (Psalm 78:57). We need to stop whitewashing them and ourselves and admit that we did not obey G-d from our [collective] youth, (Jer. 3:25). G-d says that Israel was exiled among the nations "Because they had not executed G-d's judgments, but despised my statutes and polluted my Sabbaths and their eyes were after their idols, (Ez. 20:24). Truly, this has been our "tradition" for millennia, in which we have taken great pride, (Hos. 13:1,6, Isa. 9:9, 28:3). The end product of the generational idolatries and contemptuous casting away of the Torah has resulted in etching the name of the Baal of our past's tradition in the collective unconscious, (Jer. 23: 27). Our traditions have made us spiritually blind, deaf, mute and lame, (Psalm 115:4-8). The implication of this point that G-d repeatedly shows us, is that we need to do some intensive rooting out from our individual and collective consciousness the religious beliefs, i.e. the Baalim / lords we have been bonded / wedded to for centuries. G-d charges Ephraim with idolatry and unfaithfulness to the Covenant and commands us to acknowledge it: "Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the L-rd your G-d, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the L-rd." (Jer.3:13). If we do so, we will not only return "early" to the G-d of our fathers with our whole [not split] hearts, but will also be spared great calamities to come: "Seek the Lord and you shall live; lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel." ( Amos 5:6).
Though Jeremiah's prophecy in 24:7 about receiving a new heart with which to know G-d, was written to Yehudah, we, the returning Tribes from the northern kingdom of Israel can learn from it. It behooves us to also ask for a new heart. Imagine that someone is physically resurrected after 2700 years of being dead. That person would need some guidance upon coming to consciousness again in a new world. That is where we are in a way, for we have been spiritually dead these last 2700 years. We are in need of Divine Guidance to orient us to the what and where of the theological world we need to be restored to. This is similar to the needs of a physically resurrected person, who would need orientation to the new thechnological world he would find himself in. For this reason alone we need new [whole] hearts with which to cling to G-d as we have promised at Mt. Sinai.
2) Request for Divine help: To Ask God to cause us to repent because we cannot do it on our own.
This is a Biblical concept. This paradigm is incorporated in Yehudah's prayers in many places, e.g.
"Restore us our Father to thy Torah, draw us near our King, to thy service; cause us to return to thee in perfect repentance. Blessed art thou L-rd, who art pleased with repentance."
� The Amidah
For Ephraim the emphasis to note here is on asking G-d to "Cause us to return in perfect repentance." David, our master teacher of prayers, teaches the House of Joseph through his prophetic psalms. He writes prophetically to the flock of Joseph, in a time when they will have fulfilled the prophecies of our father Yaakov, having become a "fruitful vine that was to overflow its original bounds and spread out, i.e. "branch out" across the seas, (Gen. 49:22, Psalm 80:14). He tells us that at a specific time, at a time of calamity, we are to use G-d's specific concepts in our prayers. David tells us three times in a row, indicating that this injunction from the Shepherd of Israel is of supreme importance. Our spiritual life, the peaceful manner of our continued "resurrection," i.e. speedy quickening depends on it:
"Turn us again O G-d, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,"
"Quicken us and we will call upon thy name,"
All the prophets reinforce the injunctions of king David, our commander in chief. Jeremiah prophesies what we will say after we will have realized that we were chastised for refusing the Torah. We will ask G-d:
"Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the L-rd my G-d."
We are to lament our past wrong doings and ask G-d:
"Turn us unto thee, O L-rd, and let us return; renew our days as of old,"
One of the most fitting Psalms, that has the many appropriate words and concepts in it for members of the awakening Ten Tribes to use is Palm 116. As we awaken to consciousness, and as we study the Tanakh on where we have been and what is happening to us now, we can contemplate the words and concepts in Psalm 116. We are struck by its seeming custom made qualities for the House of Joseph. Its allegorical language can express the emotional states of our heart as we wake up in the spiritual graves of the Valley of Dry Bones:
:1-2 expresses our thanks for G-d hearing us, (for our sufferings cry out to G-d, Ex. 2:23-24);
:3-4 as we are enlightened to the curses of our "graves" that held us fast, we call out to G-d to set us completely
:4-5 we acknowledge the causes of our exile, and we thank G-d for His mercies;
:5-8 we keep beseeching G-d to set us free further, unbind us from the effects of our graves, and restore us fully;
:9-10 we promise to walk in the land of the living, i.e. keep the commandments;
:11-14 we contemplate how we can react appropriately to this "resurrection," and we decide to pay our vows,
(see above on sacrifices and vows);
:15 we can meditate on how much G-d, our Father, has felt the pain our "death" in exile, for He was exiled with us;
:15-16 we acknowledge our "servant" status as members of the nation of priests, and decide to "wash, and
come clean" as our father Yaakov has prophetically instructed us, (Hos. 12:3, Gen. 32:2);
:17-19 we praise G-d with offerings of thanksgiving for setting us free of our "bonds," as we return to our
original vows, [The Covenant] we made at Mt. Sinai, where we promised to live by every word of the
The prophesied words are given to us to use especially upon waking to our identity. They speak of G-d's mercy toward us and give us directives to follow, e.g. to ask G-d to turn us. How can this be, to ask G-d to turn us if we are dead? Besides for all Israelites to ask G-d to continue to turn to us, and to enable us to turn to Him, these are words for the first contingent to awaken to use. These prescribed words and prayers are for us to use on behalf of the rest of the "spiritually dead of the House of Joseph." It is for us to use to ask G-d for mercy for those not yet awakened. Those awakening now have a responsibility and obligation to ask G-d to mitigate the terrible wakeup calls that are liable to come if the Ten Tribes continue in their current perverse, Sodom and Gomorrah-like downward slide, (Mal. 3: 24, [4:6]). Therefore, it remains for those in the first contingent, those that have been mercifully awakened by God before the masses up to now, to stand in and pray for the rest who are still in their spiritual graves. In the face of the pending calamity of severe judgment, God warns us and instructs us on what to do:
"Gather My pious ones (saints) to Me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice..... Hear O my people and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee, I am G-d even thy G-d.... Offer unto G-d thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High... Now consider this ye that forget G-d, lest I tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver... whoso offers praise glorifies me; and to him that orders his conduct aright will I show the salvation of G-d."
God tells us that when we offer sacrifices, in essence we have made a covenant with Him. For us, who are in the gradual process of coming alive in The Valley of Dry Bones, (Ez. 37), the implications are that if we do so, i.e. give thanks, we have started to obey His words. By giving thanks for our calling to spiritual resurrection, we have started to show that we have embarked on the road to abide by His words and that we want to continue on that road. We may not be all the way at the goal, but it is a start and we have entered with good faith into part of the Covenant. Therefore, it behooves all aware Israelites from all the Tribes to practice ahavat / love of Israel by offering sacrifices of thanksgiving for our awakening and to stand in and intercede NOW for the speedy and merciful deliverance of all the rest of the two families of Israel not yet aware of the times we live in (Jer.33:24).
Instruction from king Yehoshaphat:
When the people of Ammon, Moab and mount Seir came against the kingdom of Yehudah, king Yehoshaphat prayed on behalf of the nation in the new courtyard of the Temple. At the end of his well-thought-out formal prayer he made a short but profound statement and plea: "We know not what to do, but our eyes are upon thee." (II Chron. 20:12). With this statement king Yehoshaphat tells us that it is not wise to assume that we are right about anything, or that if we are right about some things, that is all the learning we need. If we follow his advice in this, we will be open to G-d's confirmation to us of what is correct and to his promise to that end: "I will guide you with my eye," (Psalm 32:8). Therefore it is wise and imperative for us, that in our seeking the homeward-bound road, returning from 2700 years of being estranged from G-d and His Torah, to always include in our prayers the above dictum. The G-d of Israel promises to teach us in the way we should go. He promises to guide us with His eye. Let us say with king David, "My eyes are toward thee," (Psalm 141:8).
Suggestions on what to do:
David tells us to seek His face in order to receive His strength, (Psalm 105:4). God promises that if we seek the guidance of His holy Spirit early, we will find it, (Prov. 8:17). As the "early" first contingent of returnees, it is imperative for us to do so. Ask the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov to guide you and this early contingent to arise from the Valley of Dry Bones, in being cleansed and readied to receive the revelations and guidance of His holy Spirit for the Return Movement of all Israel.