By Jesse ben Yosef.
When I heard of the B’ney Yosef Congress, I was quite thrilled to embark on what I had envisionedto be some epic quest, in which I had been sent as a diplomat from my hometown in the Pacific Northwest to represent people here, and to argue on their behalf in a court-room style drama that resembled something one might witness during a heated debate in the US Senate.
Never have I been so wrong.
When I arrived at the Congress in Ariel, I was immediately met with a spirit of love and cooperation, and not with the intense debate I was expecting. I was able to connect with nearly 130 delegates from thirteen countries around the world, and I believe that each and every man and woman who was present there was called– just as Queen Esther– for such a time as this. I very quickly realized that coming into this movement with a preconceived agenda was not within the Father’s will for any of us; instead, what He had planned was bigger than any one of us, and included the scope of all of us.
I have been involved in the Torah-walk for nearly a decade now, and my mind, thoughts, and opinions have been changed numerous times, on various issues; but there has never been anything like the paradigm shift that I acquired at the Congress. Before I departed for the Congress, I had developed the idea that I was a delegate from my home town, to represent Ephraimite believers in the Pacific Northwest– but as it turns out, I had it all backwards. I was called to go to the Congress to acquire a vision of the restoration of our nation, so that I could be a delegate from the Land of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, to share the vision of restoration and reconciliation with my Ephraimite brothers and sisters in my own (temporary) home town. An essential part of this vision comes down to simply living out the Fruit of the Spirit– love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control– in our walk with others. While these are qualities that we should be familiar with, the Messianic movement has been sorely lacking them in our relationships with not only other Ephraimites, but with our brother Judah as well. It is by displaying these qualities toward fellow Ephraimites that we will be set apart as is disciples of the Living Messiah, and it is by displaying these qualities toward the House of Judah that will show our Jewish brothers that we are serious about being who the Father has called us to be.
Another part of this vision is unity. Now I am not referring here to unity in doctrine, but unity in purpose; not unity in race, but unity in heritage; not unity in belief, but unity in action. It is not sufficient for Ephraim to be united under a banner of how we tie our tzitziyot, or how we pronounce the name of God, or which calendar we use; rather, we must come united under a banner of repentance– first for the sins of our fathers, who forsook the covenant which God made with us at the base of Mount Moab; and second for our sins toward our brother Judah: for the arrogance we have shown to him, and for our many hateful accusations of him. I believe, with perfect faith, that the 130 delegates will return to their own homes in the diaspora, to all the countries which our fathers were scattered to, understanding that the vision of unity which was established during those three game-changing days is an essential element of our restoration as a people, as a global community, and eventually, as a sovereign nation, drawn together from the four corners of the world.
In closing, I would like to share something on a personal note. When I came into the Torah lifestyle, I lost most of my family. When I came to the B’ney Yosef Congress, I found them again. Being in the congressional room with 130 other Ephraimite delegates gave me a picture of the scope and the size of our family. When I was with those fellow believers, I ceased to be of European descent. I ceased to be an American. I ceased to be of my own gentile family. Instead, I was a Hebrew, an Israelite; specifically, I was an Ephraimite, and I was surrounded by my own people, my own family, and those of my own nation.
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