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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: A Tree Transformed
By Jan Ross


Outside the window stood a tree. A special tree planted in the yard after it had served as a family Christmas tree for previous owners of the house. Now, though it stood in the shadow of a street light, it had no light of its own. Dark, empty, plain.

Inside the house, Rabbi Goldman and his wife Sarah were about to celebrate Shabbat, a welcome rest from the week’s activities. Just before sundown on the cold December evening, Sarah lit the candles, waved her hands over the flames to welcome in the Sabbath, then covered her eyes: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to light the Sabbath candles.”

The old rabbi’s eyes glistened in the candlelight as he prayed a blessing over the cup: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth fruit from the vine.” Breaking off a piece of challah, the aged voice recited the traditional prayer: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.” He tenderly handed a piece to Sarah.

The Rabbi trusted his wife with his deepest thoughts. As usual, the topic of Shmuel, their grandson, arose as he secretly shared his questions about the Messiah and Shmuel’s departure from the faith. He always concluded the conversation with, “No one must know my questions.”


Outside the window stood a tree. A special tree planted in the yard after it had once served as a family Christmas tree. Now, it stood outside, adorned with lights, radiantly serving as a beacon in the midst of the darkness. A Christmas tree.

Inside the house, Shmuel and his young bride were celebrating Shabbat, a joyous time as the Messiah was honored as fulfillment of the traditional Sabbath.

Leah covered her head and welcomed the Sabbath. “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to be a light to the nations and Who gave to us Yeshua our Messiah, the Light of the world.”

Shmuel prayed a blessing over the cup and the bread, always with emphasis of the revelation found in the Messiah.

“Leah, before we eat, let me offer one more prayer.”

He tenderly reached for her hands: “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who gave to us the way of salvation through the Messiah Yeshua, blessed be He. Amen.”

He looked up and saw the Light of Shabbat glistening in Leah’s eyes.

“What gift can I give you in honor of the gift we have in the Messiah this Christmas?” Shmuel knew his bride desired nothing, but still he inquired.

“Only one gift I long for—to see our family undivided, to know we share in the fullness of the revelation of the Messiah.”

“It, too, is my most fervent prayer to see them all come to the knowledge of the Truth. May God use us to show them the way of salvation through the Messiah Yeshua!”

“Would you mind if I called…”


After Shabbat was complete at sundown on Saturday evening, Shmuel and Leah prayed as she dialed the phone.

“Hi, Grandma Sarah, this is Leah, Shmuel’s wife. I pray you had a blessed Shabbat.”

“Hello, dear, we did. Thank you.”

“Grandma Sarah, we would like to invite you and Rabbi to join us next Shabbat. In the spirit of the miracle of lights, we’d be pleased to have you as our honored guests.”

“Oh dear, we miss you both so much. But you know the Rabbi. He will not agree.”

“Could you please talk to him? I pray he will allow us this opportunity to share Shabbat together in the tradition of our forefathers; it would be an answer to our most fervent prayers!”


During the meal, the discussions, though lively, were deep, revealing, and loving.

It was time for the final blessing.

“Grandfather, would you?”

Unable to hold back his tears, the Rabbi rose to his feet and raised his arms toward heaven. “Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, who gave us the way of salvation in the Messiah Yeshua, blessed be He. Amen.”

The old Rabbi’s face was aglow with animated brilliance against the darkness of a lifetime of unbelief. He, who once had no Light, was radiant with Truth revealed.

Light dispelled darkness.

The plain tree became a Christmas tree.

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This article has been read 866 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karlene Jacobsen10/18/08
The transformation of tree and tradition, beautiful! Jesus came not to abolish, but to fulfill... I love this.
Patricia Turner10/19/08
I'd love to see how the Rabbi and Sarah were transformed, but otherwise a very beautiful story.
Ellen Dodson10/19/08
Very unique, yet important angle/topic addressed here. I was touched, engaged by the dignified, sacred tone of the piece. I picture a childlike glow on the grandfather at the end--a newness.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/20/08
Wonderful refreshing, enlightening, approach to the topic. Great entry. Blessings, Angel
Lollie Hofer10/20/08
We have a Jewish family that attends our church. They love Jesus and would certainly relate to this uniquely, dignified story of faith. Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us.