Izzy here. We're on the road driving home from First Fruits of Zion's annual Shavuot conference, but I wanted to share with you something that Michael Millier recently wrote that made me say YES!! Because it summed up our language learning philosophy so well. This is particularly timely, because just a couple days ago at the conference I spoke with a couple long-time students of ours - Mel and Bruce - who said they were going through the Hebrew Quest lessons, but stalled out when they hit the grammar-heavy ones. Hopefully you'll take Michael's advice here as encouragement to keep going and not stall, even if you don't feel you're getting the grammar thing. :)
"Grammar is always going to be hard because we often operate under the illusion that if we know about something/someone, we know it/them. The best way to know someone is to spend lots of time with that person (and "know" is always going to be a relative term). The best way to know Hebrew is to spend lots of time actually reading the Bible (and other texts) in Hebrew. Reading about Hebrew in grammar books or sites does not count. You learned English way before you learned what a noun, verb, or direct object were. Use a similar approach to learning Hebrew. It won't be exactly the same because you do now know what a noun, verb, and direct object are (most of you). But similar. Just read what you can and start to notice patterns. Then see what the grammar books/sites have to say about it. Lots of time in the Hebrew texts. That's the secret."
Mathias is following Yeshua in a Hebrew way! Here's his story.
I was brought up protestant in Erfurt, Thuringia (where apparently the oldest synagogue in Europe still stands).
When 11, we moved within the freshly reunified Germany to Hamburg, the workplace of my mother's second husband. They both entered into a protestant church within the charismatic renewal movement. As teenagers, my older brother and I were distant and skeptical. We got “confirmed”, like many young teens, with some earnest belief but also for the presents. Later I did an alpha course there, but what in retrospect impressed me most is that they invited Benjamin Berger to speak about the messianic Jewish movement. Benjamin and his brother Reuven lead “Kehilat ha’she al Har Zion”, The Congregation of the Lamb on Mt. Zion. I was struck by how much sense this all made, it felt like the Lord I was trying to believe in coming back home into His own.
After failing the entrance exam into an elite musical college in Berlin to study violin, I moved to Berlin anyway and studied something else (landscape planning / natural resource management). Here I lived without fellowship for some years, until personal issues and big questions led me to an evangelical church where I entered a small group, cycling 14 miles across Berlin every week (I've been a whatever-the-distance commuting cyclist ever since). One night on a University field trip I overheard a fellow student talking to another peer (a Greenpeace activist hardcore eco-warrior) about his faith. How far that went I do not know, yet this fellow who then became a close friend and I got talking. I was a fairly active Christian and thought we were on equal footing, however it quickly turned out that his convictions and principles were much stronger and clearer, which I admired.
I entered into their movement, which from the outside impressed with apparent unity and strength. It seemed like Christianity for real. Once born again on May 7th 2002 I quickly noticed that much of the external unity was machined by a very strong central leadership control system with discipleship partners and an absolute demand for transparency and accountability. Long story short, I left in 2005 after very strong criticism from within their own ranks, particularly about their obsession with numerical growth and statistics, the coercion, legalism and intolerance that rightly put this movement into the category of a cult.
I then moved to England to do an MSc and quickly found work, settled and started a family, while again not in any congregation nor living according to Christian principles. Now I have two lovely boys and am not married to their mother (who is not a Christian, a situation I am now trying to somehow sort in a way pleasing to my Rabbi, with much prayer and consultation).
In 2013 I became unemployed and my work-and-family-gotta-be-all-life-is worldview collapsed. I went back to this movement, to explore how much different it would be since the turmoil starting in 2003. Overall I found it slightly tinkered around the edges but still in the same principal fundamental error of systematically quenching the spirit and replacing it with a central (human) leadership. In 2014 I left for the second time, and this time I prayed on my knees that the Lord would show me who "the church" is, whether having left for the second time I was now "lost" again or still somehow "saved" and what pertained to "salvation", and how to understand the book of Revelation (the Unveiling) that we had just read through.
While in the movement I experienced and practiced a day-to-day checklist-type faith (Have you studied your bible for at least 30 mins and prayed for at least 30 mins? Check. Have you confessed your sins to your discipleship partner or small group or any other brother or sister? Check. Have you been out "evangelizing" at least once a week? hmm..., well something must be wrong with my faith, I ought to repent). The end times or at least a perception that spiritual history occurs in distinct ages, and that we are potentially very close to the end of one of them seemed outlandish and not directly relevant to our current lives as disciples.
Spiritual development in response to my prayers came in multiple ways, most importantly in a growing trust in the Almighty, entrusting Him with my life more and more, and to understand better that Yeshua is the true giver of freedom and peace, and the most loyal friend who will always support and never abandon me, or you, or anybody who seeks His presence.
Another important element is my renewed interest in this messianic Jewish movement. Via the end times studies, I came across amazing people. And starting to learn Hebrew just seemed to come natural with all this! I am overwhelmed by how much insight, wisdom and meaning is contained in every element of the Hebrew language and culture, down to each individual letter. I yearn to learn more and would like to be able to dedicate more time to Hebrew studies besides work, raising two boys and occasionally scratching my violin!
(Happy to be contacted via the tribe on Facebook or on Skype mathias.hessler)
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Make your own Hebrew meme here or here and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share yours too.
Shavua tov - have a good week!
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