Shimai’s Hope

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“Sure Shimai, you ‘heard it from the Lord,’ whatever you say, old friend.  Let’s just finish cleaning off this altar.  I wish you’d just focus on doing what we know we need to do; our duties!  Why should we ever think beyond that?  The Almighty has enough to worry about without adding our little day-to-day concerns.  Don’t you think?”

“Well, yes, my friend.  And still, no.  I do believe you’re right; nothing we are supposed to do should ever be set aside to chase vapors and myths.  But to say that the Lord is too busy to care about us and too focused on other things to tell us things?  I’m sorry to say, Nathanael, you either think too little of the Almighty and his power, or you’ve been standing over the fire too long and your head is lightly baked!  Ha!  The Almighty, as you call him – and it is right to do- he is just that: all mighty!  Why shouldn’t he be able to manage the whole world and the stars beyond while also taking a moment to whisper something to His people?  Did he not whisper to Noah that he would send the rain like never before?  Did he not tell Joseph he’d rule over his brothers before it came to pass?  And didn’t the Lord tell Moses he would send the plagues and how to avoid them?  Didn’t he tell David he’d be king of Israel?  Didn’t he tell Hezekiah he’d be–“

“Okay!  Okay Shimai, my wise, aged friend.  You have spoken and the Ever-Wise One has changed my mind!  Clearly, the Almighty can tell secrets to men.  But come now, you must admit, this secret you keep is not like the others!  Not like any of them!  For Noah, God sent rain as promised.  For…who’d you say?  Yes, for Joesph! That’s right Joseph ruled over his brothers as promised.  Moses fought Egypt with the plagues, David became king and Hezekiah died as promised.  But Shimai!  What you have told me is like nothing else we’ve heard of!  What you claim is like no vision, no hope, no dream any Hebrew of Hebrews has dared to dream!”

“Yes, my friend.  I know.  And it makes me tremble to think of it!  Hand me the hyssop, please.”

“Okay, then, why do you insist it is real if you know that such a dream is too high for simple men like ourselves.”

“Nathanael, I do not dare to wonder into the mind of the Most High.  And I do not dare to think I am so special to have earned a message from the Lord, the Living One.  Truly, I think if anyone should hear, it should be the high priest not a lowly servant such as I.  But there is this fact, for whatever it’s worth to anyone.  when I wake up and I say the Prayers, when I read the Torah -may the Almighty instruct us- when I pass this temple and go in to praise Him- in all these times and in each of these holy places, I can’t deny it.  My heart speeds its pace.  My hands get sweaty, and my mind swirls with the promises we’ve been given and I think not only of our people (how we’ve waited so very long) but also (and this is why I whisper it only to you, my dear friend) also of the goyyim, the gentiles.”

“You see!  There you go again!  You are my friend, but I can listen to this no longer!”

“But Nathanael–“

“You forget yourself, old man!  We are Jews.  And today, what little money we make cleaning these vessels for the priests?  It will be stolen from you; almost all of it!  And by whom?”

“Oh, Nathanael–“

“By whom?”

“The Romans.”

“By the Romans!  The Caesarites!  The Gentiles!  Those pig-eating, Sabbath-hating, Law-breaking, unclean gentiles!  These are the ones you think will be helped by Adonai?

“I do.”

“These are the dogs you think will care about our Heavenly hope?  Our Meshushu as they mockingly call him?  Our Messiah?  Why should he care about them when it is we who have served Him and surely we Jews who will welcome him?”

“I believe–“


“I believe, because–“

“Shimai!  Change the subject!”

“I believe because it is written–“

“Accckkk!  Here we go!”

“Nathanael, we have both read–“

“Obscure texts!  You always pick the hidden texts”

“No, friend.  It is not I who have written what we have both read.  No, it is the Great Giver of all the Law and the Writings!  Whether they seem obscure or not to us.”

“I suppose, Esias is not very obscure of a book, is it.”


“And, the Book of Beginnings promises hope for all the seed of Eve.”


“And– What am I saying?!”

“So, you see–“

“Hand me the hyssop, Shimai, I’ll clean my mouth out next!  Before the priests hear me!”

“Today is a good day, Nathanael.  You begin to believe!  But it is a sad day when two old men cannot openly discuss the Writings of the Almighty without fear of the priests (of all people)!”


“I think that what seems obscure is not a matter of what is true, but what is popular, my friend.  These texts have fallen out of favor because of who reads them, not–“

“Not because of Who wrote them!”



“And so, again I say, Nathanael.  That I–“

“Okay.  Here we go.”

“But Nathanael.”

“I know, I won’t interrupt.”

“Good.  I believe, with all that I know and am, that–“


“Here we go again.”

“No, it’s just–“

“I thought we agreed.  You said you believed the Scriptures–“

“Yes.  I did.  I do.  But.”

“Then wash the vessels and listen to me.”

“I believe you.”

“Believe God, friend.”

“Yes!  I believe God and you and the Writings and the Torah and the hairs on your head, but–“

“But what?”

“But the priests are coming behind you and you should talk more quietly.”


“No.  I will say it for all to hear.”
“I believe that I will not die until I see–“

“Hear, hear.  What’s all this?”

“Oh no.”
“Oh.  Yes.”
“No, don’t.”
“Yes, I must.”
“Will what?  What’s the bother that keeps you from cleaning these vessels?”
“Yes, well.”
“I told you!”
“It’s just this, sir–”
“Go on.”
“Yes, well.”
“Oh boy!  There goes Jerusalem.”
“I believe–”
“Spit it out already!”
“I wish he wouldn’t.”
“I have searched the Scrolls.  I have prayed for insight.  I have tried to shake it.  But I believe that I will not die before I see the Lord’s chosen.  His Messiah!”
“This is why I am a priest and you are not.  There are two big problems and one bigger problem in this presumptuous little…dream”
“Tell the rest.”
“What rest”
“And that the Lord’s Messiah will save the Jews”
“And the gentiles too!”
“I’m afraid your time here has ended.  But before I have you removed from the grounds of this Temple you’ve defiled by blasphemy, I will tell you this.  First!  You are wrong because you cannot possibly understand the Scrolls.  You’re no rabbi!  We priests are the only ones who should do it.  Second!  you are wrong because for you to see the Messhiach -may the Lord deliver us- he’d be here by now and you wouldn’t see him!  You’re no priest, and you’re as good as dead by now!  Thirdly!  And here’s your biggest problem: the Just Judge will do no such saving of any gentiles.  Every good son of Abraham knows that the Lord chose the Jews, not the filthy beasts who kill us for sport!  You sir, are a danger to yourself, a threat to the Temple and a danger to your own people!  Please be gone from here and make no further plans to visit this Temple.  And you…”
“Are you with him?”
“I thought so.  We’ll take care of you too.  Leave now!”

“Well Shimai, that may be the first time anyone has been removed from the Temple for hoping in the Lord according to his Torah and Writings.”
“I doubt it.  Let’s hope it is the last though.”
“Slow down, friend!  What’s the hurry?!”
“Well, we’re not working any more today.  So I’m getting home.  But…”
“I’m going back.”
“To the Temple?  Did you forget something?”
“No.  But here we are, at my door and I know I must go back there.  Right now.”
“They’ll have you removed forever, and your family too!”
“Yes, well, each must do what he must do.  I feel compelled.  I wonder if this is what Samson felt like!”
“You feel strong?”
“No.  Well, yes, but not with my arms.  With my heart!  That priest has tried to blind me* but I see exactly what the Almighty wants me to do; and it is to go to the Temple.”
“Okay, well.  Tell me what you find there.  I’m going home.  But Shimai.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“And I wish the priests would confirm your vision.  And I wish they’d believe as well.”
“Me too.”
“I’m sure they’ll believe when they see Him for themselves.”
“I hope so.  See you soon, friend.”


Luke 2:25-35

“25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,29″Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation
31that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
33And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

*To be removed from the temple was a very serious matter in this day.  The temple was the place to hear the Old Testament read, the place for community life, the place for prayer and sacrifice.  Jews felt close to God there.  Removal was community ostracism; a very serious, embarrassing action.