The remnant

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Long before the Kabul of Afghanistan there was the Kabul of Galilee. Hiram, king of Tyre, was displeased with the 20 cities gifted by Solomon. He named them the Land of Cabul (Kabul), which meant “good for nothing.” 

During the Babylonian exile, many Jews migrated to the land that eventually became Afghanistan. They have become so much a part of the history of this country that the Pashtun, the main Afghan ethnic group that has many Taliban supporters, believe they are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel who converted to Islam. The Pashtuns claim that Kabul stands for “Cain and Abel” and Afghanistan is derived from “Afghana,” the grandson of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. 

Only a handful of the Jews in Afghanistan who did not convert to Islam are left, and only one left in Kabul today: Zablon Simintov. 

I recently read an article about Simintov refusing to leave Kabul even after someone offered to fly a private plane to rescue him. Simintov met this offer and other with lame and unlikely excuses even though he has nothing left in this city. His business closed and his family left for Israel long time ago. He lives in and takes care of a deteriorating synagogue that nobody attends. Under the new Taliban-run regime, the fate of the  Simintov and his synagogue are uncertain, but the man won’t leave. Strangely, I understand him. 

“A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home… And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word… Tradition,” there you have it, the key to the story from the monologue of Tevye the Dairyman, the main character of the beloved musical.

There are people who are not meant to have a “fresh start.” They are the remnants rooted in what cannot be transplanted. Leaving or starting a new life for them means losing themselves. Sometimes you just can’t do it, even if no one else understands, even if it seems “good for nothing” and hopeless


What every American wants to vote for

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I did not vote for the first three decades of my life. My citizenship in the Soviet Union made my vote meaningless. Eventually I moved to the United States as the wife of a U.S. citizen. After a couple of years as a green card holder, I was eligible to apply for a citizenship; I didn’t. The green card gave me every privilege of a citizen except the right to vote, and I still did not believe in the political process. I gave my taxes to the “Caesar” but my allegiance I pledged to God alone.I became a US citizen a few months prior to the George W. Bush’s second term. By this time I realized that, though no political candidate is perfect and every political or economic system carries a seed of Babylon , the system where my voice matters deserves more than just my taxes. I have the responsibility to protect it.

In 2020 the number, complexity, and extremity of issues that divides us is greater than it has ever been. But the desire to live in a country where your voice matters is within every heart. We may argue over which lives matter more, but nobody wants to live in a country where no lives matter.

John Piper, whom I greatly respect, wrote that he will not vote for Joe Biden because his candidacy legalizes abortion and other practices that he as a Christian cannot endorse, but he will also not vote for Donald Trump because his boastful, arrogant, unrepentant personality destroys our culture.I would like to point out that on a voter’s decision making scale the weight of laws that alter the future of our nation and a personality of a leader cannot balance each other out.

G. K. Chesterton in observation of the Communist Revolution in Russian in 1917 wrote: “Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes the God. ” From my past experience I can tell you that Government God doesn’t love or care about you and its gifts come attached with strings that turn you into a voiceless puppet.

Chesterton defines democracy as “the crowd ruling itself, like a king.” He argues that democracy is only possible among a people who believe in God. This statement echoes John Adams who said that our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people and is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. 

What we do after November 3rd is actually even more important than how we vote or don’t vote. It is not the candidate in office who determines the future of our country but us. How we love God and how we love our neighbor will outweigh the negative consequences of an election, even if the candidate of your choice doesn’t win.

What truly matters when we decide what to do on November 3 is that our vote protects the system where our vote matters and government is not our God. Then we should be alright.

The Unbearable Price of Silence

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Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

One hundred and three years ago Russia was engulfed in riots and protests. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated from the throne, ending a thousand-year monarchy. The army was war-weary after two unsuccessful wars, the people were hungry, the workers were striking, and the church remained silent. If you have ever wondered how a small group of Bolsheviks (Communists) took over the Russian Empire.

Russian Orthodox Church had tremendous influence over people. Who knows what would have happened if it spoke out publicly against Communism? Was the church fragmented and lacking unified opinion on the unfolding events? Did the church hope to make alliance with the new regime? Or did it buy into the social justice that Communism promised?

Communism promised Russia to eliminate inequality, transfer power from elites to the common people and wealth from the rich to the poor. Instead, it created a new ruling elite that controlled all the wealth and shared it with no one.

The silence of the church resulted in 70 years of godlessness, torn down churches, murdered and imprisoned priests and the burning of Bibles.

The silence of people over the burning of churches and Bibles resulted in the regime that forced them to worship the government instead of God and sent them to labor camps if they refused.

The Soviet pseudo-historians pronounced Jesus Christ a fictional character, and the new Russian hero and martyr was Pavlik Morozov, a 13-year old youth who informed GPU (early version of KGB) on his father which resulted in the father’s imprisonment and Pavlik’s death, supposedly at the hands of his enraged family.

I was among the last generation of high schoolers in the Soviet Union who were forced to copy Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto by hand in history class. Though young, we were old and bold enough to recognize that the doctrine we were being brainwashed with produced very rotten fruit. We rejected Communism as the farce, in silence, of course.

Just a few years later Soviet Union collapsed, and I hoped never again to be forced to read or hear about Karl Marx and his manifesto.

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce,” said…you guessed it… Karl Marx!

Karl Marx was not a prophet. He believed in the resilient stupidity of man who refuses to remember history and learn from its mistakes.  He believed that the ancient sin of envy that caused Cain to murder Able because he had something better than Cain did, will continue to fuel his idea of redistribution of wealth.

Abel was silent in the Scripture, but his blood cries out for him against Cain. The blood of the martyrs who were killed by the regime that tried to replace God is crying out for justice.

I am dumbfounded by the fact that Karl Marx has been resurrected as the hero of today, that people once again fall for the false promises of his doctrines.

My prayer is that those of us who possess the truth will not remain silent. If we fail to speak the truth, the truth will no longer be heard. If we fail to protect freedom, it will cease to exist. If we do not uphold true justice, it will not be found. If the church of today does not speak up there will be no church of tomorrow.

The great unmasking

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To mask or not to mask – is the question of the moment. This is not a matter of opinion anymore but a legal matter, which means a choice with consequences.

It is not the first time in history a piece of cloth represents allegiance to a moral code.

Once upon a time an ambitious opposition leader overthrew the government of his country. To secure his power he needed to get rid of the top ideologists of the previous regime. But they were hiding in plain sight. He pretended to side with them and ordered a special piece of clothing for them to wear as a sign of distinction. Once they put it on, he knew exactly who they were. 

COVID-19 pandemic came in as an existential maelstrom shutting us in, separating us from one another, disguising our faces with masks while unmasking hidden agendas, malevolent rulers, and revealing essential truths about ourselves.

There are consequences to an exposed identity. The officials who disclosed their allegiance to the old regime by wearing a special piece of clothing were executed by the new king.  You can read this fascinating story in 2 Kings 10.  

The virus will eventually surrender to a cure, a vaccine or will simply fade into oblivion. The question is what will we do with the line it drew in the sand of our existence?

It is not about whether you align yourself with the masked or the unmasked, conservatives or liberals, “black lives matter” or “all lives matter”.  

The choice is between light and darkness, good and evil, God and Satan, and the consequences of this choice are eternal and irreversible.

The ancient ghost is haunting America

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Washington DC protesters prove my point

In the smoke of burning churches, monuments, and stores across America I see a lurking familiar ghost. This ghost does not care about the death of an innocent man George Floyd, the ghost does not care about police brutality or racism.

This ghost is cunning and ancient. Its name the “Specter of Communism” was given to it by Karl Marx over 100 years ago.

Under the spell of this “specter” people of Russia took to the streets with a noble cause to fight the injustice. They set up barricades, held up slogans, looted and murdered in the name of justice, they burned churches and destroyed monuments. They villainized businesses owners and believed they were helping the poor and the persecuted.   Unknowingly they helped bring a regime that under the name of justice turned them into voiceless sheep living a mediocre life in every shade of gray, void of God, mercy or freedom. They were kept in this slavery for 70 years and finally got the guts to kick out the nasty “specter”.

Thirty years later the world forgot all about it and this nightmare of a ghost quietly made its way into the United States of America.

It has hijacked every aspect of our culture and politics and has turned us into its own likeness – hateful and violent people who pretend to fight evil by committing greater evil.

The ghost of communism will not be exorcised by political measures. Poor Europe has tried for over a century and failed.

The sheep who follow wolves in sheep’s clothing are led to their own slaughter. We have another option – to follow the Good Shepherd to the life of peace and justice for all.

Beware of contaminated water

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I caught myself grumbling in my mind. It made me feel bitter not better.
When parched Israel was tested by the bitter water of Marah, the cure was in front of them but they couldn’t see it because they were grumbling – indulging bitterness in their hearts and savoring it in their mouths. The cure to the water was simple, obvious and instant – one log thrown into it turned bitter water to sweet. With this cure came the ultimate prescription:
“If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord , who heals you.” Exodus 15:26
This morning in my devotions was Colossians 2. This verse made my heart joyful.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15
What we celebrate in the upcoming week is far more important than what is happening in the world at the moment.
Let’s celebrate the Healer, the healing will come!

It’s a “ratz” race

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For most of us in the US this has just been week one of altering and limiting our lives in some ways. For some of us things have just gotten more dramatic with the “shelter in place” order. Unless God intervenes, we are facing at least a few more weeks of sacrificing our freedom of movement and the uncertain future as the aftermath. 

This is a rather extraordinary challenge for several reasons. One, in the world of fast food, high-speed internet and the culture of instant gratification we have lost the edge in the art of endurance. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to create a vaccine for a new virus or a stimulus packages that will take us back to normal right away. Another reason, from the natural perspective, we are helpless in the face of the virus. And yet we are not.

I read somewhere that in Hebrew the word  ratzon, “will/want,” is related to “running” (ratz) because desire or will makes us run better. A concept familiar to every runner and the key to 1 Cor 9:24 : Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

The runner who wins the prize is not the fittest, the fastest but the one who is driven by the greatest desire to win.

COVID-19 is a distance race that will test our peace, patience and perseverance. It can’t however wear out the one with the  “ratzon” to live, love and thrive .

The best cure


If there is an urgent deficit out there today, it is not the toilet paper, coronavirus test kits or financial injections into the economy. The world is desperately deficient of peace. Peace of the soul, that is. Everybody wants a peace of mind. They demand a plan from politicians, answers from medical professionals… Peace of mind is hard to achieve because it in a codependent relationship with the world. The panic over the coronavirus is the perfect example of this.

Peace of the soul is the product of a relationship with the unmovable, unchangeable, all-powerful God. Peace of the soul has an actual dwelling place – “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”  This place is more real and secure than anything the world can offer. “It is well with my soul” is the statement of ultimate peace, a state of being that transcends circumstances and time.

If your soul is at peace, you can control your mind by adjusting the diet. If instead of the “facts” or the perceptions of the world you feed it with the thoughts of “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable”,  it functions really well and produces sound decisions.

The best news ever – peace of the soul is readily available, free of charge and never runs out!

Why didn’t Jesus write a book?  Thoughts on the World Book Day

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On a recent date my husband and I played a game in which we asked each other questions outside the scope of our daily conversations.
He asked me what were the 5 things I would have to have on a deserted island.
The first two items I named were the Bible and my other favorite book. The rest were of practical nature like a flashlight , etc
There is an international day for everything these days, from puppies to happiness. The World Book Day definitely constitutes a holiday on my calendar. Can you imagine life without books? The world limited to the present facts and thoughts without access to history or wisdom of the great minds of the past or the option to be carried away by the imaginations of authors.
I discovered today that the World Book Day was first established to commemorate the death of Cervantes, whose novel Don Quixote is the most translated book in the world after the Bible. Somehow this trivia made me wonder why Jesus, the most influential person on earth, didn’t write a book?
The greatest book ever written is focused on Him. He spoke the most pure truth humanity has ever heard. Yet He left us no book, just the writings of His students.
Books are treasure chests of words. He was the Word. He lives in us, His followers, making us the living books who tell His story from generation to generation. In a world without books His truth and His children would fill the void.
Still, let’s hope we will never have to live in a world without books.
My other book for the deserted island packing list is “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov. In my opinion, one of the finest specimens of writing craftsmanship, but there are other close favorites. Perhaps the flashlight and two other useful items will be traded for books …

How much is free lunch?

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My personal opinion – know how much your free lunch will cost before you take the first bite.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union an American and a Russian were having a conversation about freedom. The American said, “I am free to stand in front of the White House and shout insults against the US President.” The Russian said, “I too am free to stand in front of the Kremlin and shout insults against the US President”.

Who would have thought that just two decades later socialism will become fashionable in the US? But such is the luxury of a free society – you are guaranteed the right to have a personal opinion. You are free to fantasize about social justice, freedom and equality that socialism promises. It is important to remember, however, that they don’t come free. Socialism requires entrusting the Government with the kind of power that no American, Republican or Democrat, can stomach.

If you dream of waking up one morning in the United Socialist States of America, you’d better know what it looks like.

Individual Liberty
Each person is born with freedom from arbitrary or unjustified restraint
Under socialism:
The Government chooses what is best for you

Private Property
Individuals have the right to obtain and control possessions, as well as the fruits of their own labor.
Under socialism:
The Government owns the fruits of your labor

“All Men Are Created Equal”
There is no natural class of rulers among people, and everyone is born with the same unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Under socialism:
The Government becomes the ruling class

Free lunch is never free. Socialism should not be a partisan issue, it is un-American in its essence

Unless you are prepared to give up the right to have your personal opinion or use the word “personal” in general, please don’t vote for socialism.