A New Day

th-7Someone posted the following article by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews on our website, and in the interest of shared truth and global cooperation, I am passing it on to our reader’s as a fitting Catch to close out this first week of 2014.

My wife, who loves audio books, has been listening recently to the stories of Tevye the Dairyman through the writings of Sholem Aleichem, originally written in Yiddish and first published in 1894. These are the stories from which the popular musical Fiddler on the Roof was taken, and it has been a treat to be exposed again to this wonderful character who spoke of God as a constant companion with which he carries on a never-ending conversation about the trials and the joys of his life. Any Christian who walks with the Spirit day to day should be on familiar ground with these stories as well as with this following piece by the rabbi.

Instead of starting a new year, he suggests we follow the example of King David and just concentrate on starting a new day. Good advice.

“I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.”- Psalm 3:5-6

Did you know that when you woke up this morning, you experienced a miracle? When you went to sleep last night, it was an act of great faith – or at least it would have been if you fully understood the risk involved. According to Jewish tradition, sleeping is “one-sixtieth of death.” The soul actually leaves the body and runs the risk of never returning.

This is why the first Jewish prayer said in the morning is thanks to God for restoring our souls. We recognize that if we woke up this morning, it is because God actively intervened so that we could live another day. When God restores our souls each morning, it is tantamount to resurrecting the dead!

In Psalm 3, King David saw this miracle as inspiration.

This psalm was penned during one of the most excruciating episodes of David’s life: His very own son, Absalom, had launched a rebellion against him, and a successful one at that. If not for God’s divine intervention, David would have lost the throne. But David wrote, “I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” Although the odds were against him, David was not afraid.

From where did he draw this strength in the face of adversity? The answer is found in the words of his psalm, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.” David understood that God was working miracles in his life every time he awoke from sleep. If God could perform a miracle on that level daily, David had no doubt that God could – and would – deliver him with more miracles throughout the day.

There are times in our lives when we are in desperate need of miracles. The odds are against us and we are tempted to give up the fight. However, King David reminds us that despair is never an option and hope is always available – because if you are breathing this very moment it’s because you have already received the greatest miracle of all today, the miracle of your life.

There are so many stories to turn to for inspiration. Patients who were told they would die and then lived 50 more years, or people who were destitute and were suddenly blessed with money. But we need not turn any further than our waking up this morning.

As we awaken to the miracles in our daily lives, we will awaken to a day full of possibility, hope, and God’s salvation.

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

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3 Responses to A New Day

  1. Suzanne Shay says:

    When I was growing up, I developed a fear of falling asleep, due to the prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep….. if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take”. This fear didn’t leave me completely for many years into adulthood, not until I learned about the physiology of sleep and why our body needs it. Sleep is God’s gift of renewal for our body. So…. the message of seeing miracles, which is the main point of this entry, will be lost on people like me who have experienced a fear of falling asleep. I got a cold shiver when I read the words “the soul actually leaves the body (when we sleep)”. I fail to understand how this is supposed to add anything positive to the “A New Day” theme, and I really don’t know why this bit of mis-information was even printed here today.

    • jwfisch says:

      Sorry if this troubled you. This was, as stated, an ancient Jewish tradition that provided background to some of the Psalms of David and not intended to be taught as Christian doctrine. The point of this post was to show how our Jewish brethren see every day as sacred, and to celebrate the intimate involvement of God in every moment of our lives.

  2. Hans says:

    Hi John,

    Have to agree with previous poster, the phrase “the soul actually leaves the body with the risk of never returning” sounds rather ‘ghoulish’ and actually unChristian.

    Of course ‘Jewish tradition’ doesn’t have Christ, “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25); the Savior, who says “no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28) and “Come to Me (…) and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29).

    “Thank God for his Son – a gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Cor 9:15)

    There, I feel better already .. 🙂

    Hans

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