Following are thoughts penned by Ephraim and Rimona Frank upon the conclusion of the Second B’ney Yosef Congress. They are published with permission. This post was originally published at natsab.com.
Overview of the Second Bney Yosef National Congress
The dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem took place on the 7th month, during Succot, and beyond, with additional seven days of celebration (ref. 1 Kings 8:65-66). Similarly, the celebration of Succot was restored in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but following that celebration, on the 24th day of the 7th month the returning remnant from Babylon donned sackcloth and ashes and took stock of their disobedience to YHVH and His Torah (ref. Nehemiah 8:16 ff).
These two monumental events in the lives of our forefathers were echoed in some small way in the 2nd Bney Yosef National Congress which commenced immediately after Succot (on the 24th day of the 7th month), on the hills of Ephraim in the town of Ariel. Yes, the event was almost an overflow of the joy of the Feast, and went on for the next 5 days. Yet, it was also a time of humbling and repentance for the Israelite family gathered from 14 countries; from as far as the islands of Indonesia and Fiji, to the southern tip of Africa and all the way to North and South America and other continents and countries in between. Fourteen representatives gave brief reports on their countries of origin, and thus we were privileged to meet and hear from lesser known people groups, such as an Australian Aboriginal lady, Indonesian Papuans, and a Peruvian sister, not to mention videos and reports from Uganda, Pakistan, Finland (whose representatives were not able to attend this time), Mizoram and Kashmir in India, and some relevant historical data regarding China and Myanmar (Burma). However, we were exhorted by the moderator of the Congress to drop the ‘hyphen’ from our national description. In other words, we were not to see ourselves as Indonesian-Israelites, South-African-Israelites, Swiss-Israelites etc. but rather as all belonging to the one nation Israel, irrespective of current national origin.
This family reunion required of us to stretch the tent pegs of our hearts and minds in order to encompass our brothers and sisters whose culture, mentality, language, customs etc. were vastly different from ours. “How does a global family walk together as one?” was one of the last subjects addressed and discussed. What are some of the prejudices we still cling to and how do we get rid of them? In order to get to our desired destination we had to trace the steps of our people by examining their/our history, and its defining moments. We also had to ask ourselves how those defining moments may define our present and future. This session led to a deep time of collective repentance, following a survey which probed deeply into some of the origins of Israel’s sinful ‘tendencies’. Later we learned that as repentant Israelites, the Gospel’s accomplishments are fully available to us if we only make ourselves ‘available’ (open and receptive) to It’s benefits.
The magnificent Presence of the Almighty during the periods of worship, led to impromptu prayers even during these times, with His spotlight shinning brightly into the recesses of the hearts, there to touch each of us at the core. The historical process of YHVH’s relationship with Israel, as His Bride, was well demonstrated by a two part ‘epiphanic’ dance of two brides; each looking for her Messiah in her own way, while at the same time the one (the ‘church’) tries to coerce the other (Judah) to become like her. The beautiful reconciliation of the two demonstrated a glorious oneness with the emergence of a single, ‘golden’, bride. The participation of several from Judah during the Congress, and especially our beloved Hanoch, and several more visiting and having meaningful dialogs (on the last day), signals the hope that the day of union is already in the foreseeable future.
The second part of the dance, performed at the going out of Shabbat, demonstrated both the wedding and the coming down of the heavenly Jerusalem, now in the form of an open Hupa that until then was covered up. This expression of the wedding feast and union with the Bridegroom, followed in the footsteps of Shabbat’s presentation on the man-woman/husband-wife relationship. Here we had more than a teaching. The Spirit was seeking to convey to us the intimacy that we have (or ought to have) with our Bridegroom, and hence, for the married couples, with one another as husband and wife. An opportunity was given for a time of restoration of relationships, of rekindling the love – the Hupa was made available for individuals and couples to go in and rededicate themselves, and even seal it off with wine and bread. “Dance with Me Oh Lover of My Soul” was sung and played as a very appropriate finale, especially when it was repeated the next night, upon the closing of the Congress, at which time most of the couples took the opportunity to ‘apply’ the heart’s lesson of intimacy and closeness of “bride” and “groom”, as they danced with each other being locked in an embrace of arms or eyes.
And as if that were not enough, another ‘cherry’ on our ‘wedding cake’ was ending the hotel’s Biblical Gardens tour by the Mishkan replica, where an awesome sense of worship enveloped all.
We stand in awe at how the Spirit directed and led both the planning of the Congress, and then the procedures during the event. It was nothing short of our Bridegroom’s wooing His Bride (His Israelite family) to follow after Him, AND also to meet Him unashamedly eye to eye, as He is retracing our steps back to the Garden of His delight, whether it be in our hearts and/or in our relationships, while our task is to “prepare the way of YHVH; Make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim” (Isaiah 4:3).
For more detailed information on the daily events of the Congress, see Al McCarn’s blog: https://thebarkingfox.com