“For the Lord God of Israel says that HE hates divorce. For it covers one’s garments with violence.” (Malachi 2:16 NKJV)
Tel-Aviv –Rehov Ha’Aliya
We walked side by side along Rehov Ha’ Aliya (street). It was early evening; the shop owners were getting ready to close business for the day. Buses and cars drove past, their occupants bent on finalizing the day’s activities. The smell of fresh nuts and spices from nearby stands, drifted through the Middle Eastern atmosphere, gently arousing the senses. I was seemingly oblivious to my surroundings. My attention was riveted on the young lady walking beside me, as she recalled her past life.
Her tanned and smooth arms gently swayed with the flow of her tall, slim frame. Her hands were beautifully fashioned. Long, black and silky hair shone in the failing evening light, cascading down her shoulders and framing her delicate Yemenite features. Dove’s eyes, lovely face, a sweet voice (rf; Song of Songs I: 15; 2:14), all bespoke of the Master’s touch. I wondered how people could remain atheists when presented with such portraits of God’s magnificent handiwork. Surely the biblical statement ‘the work of the hands of a skillful workman’ (Shir Ha’ Shirim 7: 1b), rang true in this particular case.
I listened carefully, as she spoke with that Israeli accent peculiar to those who have been born to a Sephardic Jewish background.
“My Father left us when I was twelve. I remember the fights and shouts. We, my sisters and I, were never at peace. I could not understand it; only wished my parents would stop fighting. I loved my father,” she continued, “but when he left, my world fell apart. I began to hate my mother, blaming her for everything that had happened. My father never came back. I heard bad stories about him because my mother forbade us to see him again.”
Liat stopped and lit a cigarette. Smoke mingled with the surrounding odors.
“Why are you helping him now?” she suddenly asked.
“Well, he somehow showed up on my doorstep and I couldn’t leave him stranded. I help the homeless.”
She pondered my reply. “What are you?”
It was a genuine question. This was the first time we had met even though, we had spoken several times on the phone. I was desperately trying to find someone who would take care of Joseph, her father. I was informed that his eldest daughter might be concerned. Once a verbal relationship had been established between us, I suggested a meeting.
“I’m a Pastor,” I now replied.
“What’s that? Oh, I know!” She attempted to answer her own question. “You’re a psychologist, right?” She puffed on the cigarette. I tried to avoid the smoke, as I formulated a reply. This could be an opening. I sensed her pain. She really needed to meet the ”One” who never fails to heal families that turn to Him.
“You know,” she continued not waiting for my answer, “I blame him for all the things that have happened in my life; ugly things. I really never had a father. Now that he’s old, a useless drunk, why should I care about him? He has never done anything for me, except bring me into this, this life.”
Liat swung her arm in a half circle. I began to feel a little uncomfortable. Had I gone too far? The thought now occurred to me. Why should this young twenty-three year old lady, become responsible for a homeless, drunken father, who had deserted her at a tender age? Was I acting in the will of God by contacting her and bringing about reconciliation? She looked younger than her years. Was she ready to handle the attentions needed by a wayward, sick and increasingly senile, father? Was she responsible? Her gentle voice broke the train of my thoughts.
“I feel like a ‘tsumatoot’ (Hebrew transliteration for a ‘cleaning rag’). Deep down I know he is my father. But I wish all this had never happened. I’m not ready to look after him. I’m still young, I want to enjoy life; do things, travel, have a steady boyfriend...”
Someone shouted obscenities at us. “It’s alright,” she consoled me, “they are not used to seeing a black guy walk with an Israeli girl.” She shouted back in Hebrew.
“Don’t pay any attention to them. You know when I was fourteen…,” she paused. “I want to tell you something that I have only shared with a few people. Please keep this to yourself. I’ve never told my parents. I feel safe with you.” I nodded not wanting to break the rapport.
“I hate divorce. People should think before they get married. When I was fourteen, we were living in Netanya. By this time my mother could not control me. One Thursday, Yom Hameshi, is that correct? Sorry, I sometimes forget. Tuesday, Thursday. My English is not so good.”
“It’s ok!” I encouraged.
“Well one Thursday night, I and my friends took the bus to Tel-Aviv. Thursday is the night when most Israelis go out to have a good time. We wanted to have fun. So we went to the “Tayelet.” By the time I realized, it was so late and all the buses had stopped running. My girl friend and I decided to wait and sleep somewhere until morning. Just as we were talking, we saw one of the guys whom we had met earlier on. He seemed a nice guy, fun to be with. He was about twenty. He invited us to his apartment, just across from the beach. I still remember the place.” She pointed in the right direction.
My eyes followed her lead. The “Tayelet” has been built along the Tel-Aviv beach front. It is a paved beachside walkway which provides a 2km path between Tel-Aviv and Yaffo. Thousands walk the promenade when the weather‘s right. Nearby restaurants, hotels and shopping centers entertain tourists and citizens alike. I loved to walk along the beach at night praying for the salvation of Israel. There are also apartment blocks lining the streets that run parallel.
Liat continued. “When we got to his apartment, this nice looking guy offered us something to drink. That was the last thing I remember until I woke up the next morning. I knew I had been raped. But he denied everything. I was a virgin. I cried a long time; for days, but I never told my mother.”
I stopped walking and stood shocked, struggling to verbalise my emotions. “What did you do?” I finally queried. The disgust was etched across my face. Disgust with certain men.
“What could I do? Later, when I met my first boyfriend Avi, I told him the story and he was furious. We went to this monster and Avi gave him a good beating.”
We fell silent. Two lives drawn close by the effects of the ‘Fall.’ (Genesis 3). I wondered how many other young girls of divorced parents had become victims to such shameful practices. A shudder ran through my body, as I contemplated the answer.
Some people have the tendency to blame God for all the suffering in the world. Yet so much suffering is caused by people. Those who apply Godly principles will find that a relationship with Yeshua H’Mashiach leads to freedom from the dark effects of injustice. It makes people better persons. They cause less suffering to those around them and the wider world in general. I’ve seen it happen.
But the further good news is that God, who is a God of Love, is also the God of Justice. When I think about people like this man who take advantage of the weak, the young, the helpless, I am glad that one day there will be a reckoning. Justice will be served. As it is written; “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13; 11). The world’s justice system may fail us now, but no one will escape Divine Justice.
Together we turned the corner onto Rehov H’ Galil, leaving the sound of passing cars behind. It was now dark. There were only a few people about, standing on the road- side and chatting in hushed tones. I recognized the different behaviors associated with night life of a less- than savoury nature.
Liat was engrossed in thought, the cigarette dangled limply between her fingers which were pointed towards the ground. I understood she must be feeling nervous.
“We’ll soon be there,” I said. “However if it’s any consolation, I am so sorry for what has happened to you. You don’t deserve this and I would have done all in my power to protect you, had I been there.”
She smiled weakly. “I feel so nervous. I have not seen him for years. Are you sure I should do this?”
“Liat, you can turn and walk right away and I will continue to look after your father. You do what you want to do. But he really needs you now.”
We stopped outside the centre. I slowly opened the door allowing her to enter the room first.
“Daddy!” she exclaimed, and the tears ran swiftly down. I tried to control my emotions, as father and daughter embraced; the first time in many years. It was their miracle moment. I stepped back misty eyed.
Thank God that He exists and loves us. What would the world be like without Him? God bless you always!
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