Beyond the Books

Home » Articles posted by admin

Author Archives: admin

First Chapter Reveal: A Wanted Man by Robert Parker

A Wanted Man

Title: A WANTED MAN
Author: Robert Parker
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: 307
Genre: Crime Thriller

It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.

Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.

Not by the front door.

With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.

Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.

No one to keep him steady.

No one to stop his cause…

The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place.

Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in London.

But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.

Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.

In the process, he descends into the fold of Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…

This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages. Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Chapter One:

My two years in prison ended just how they started – with a stabbing. As soon as Craggs drove the makeshift dagger into Quince’s belly and the recreation room filled with prison staff waving batons, I was moving. I knew they would arrive quickly, and I knew that the door would swing shut just slowly enough for me to slip through. The place erupted in noise and violence, but I didn’t look back. I haven’t done since.

Now, I am running. I can feel my mind bathing in the electric warmth of adrenaline. People are looking at me from a bus waiting at the traffic lights and I try to rein in my stride just a touch. If only they knew what I knew, they might understand why I can’t adopt a more leisurely pace. I need to keep moving.

Hello, Manchester, it’s me, Ben Bracken. I am back. It’s nice to see you, my adopted home town. I’m just sorry it’s under circumstances like these.

I’m arrowing right into the heart of the city, right into the bustling centre, with the sole intention of hiding in the urban congestion. I’m familiar with the city, its quirks, crevices and people, and I know just what to do when I get in there.

The suit I wear, a gigantic, ill-fitting grey coverall of stinking, sweat-soaked canvas, was the chief warden’s only moments earlier. As is the shirt, which will soon be dripping with both our sweat, at this rate. I took both from him as I left the prison – I couldn’t very well come out in my prison issues – and left him there on the steps of the prison in his underpants. He is such a nasty, vile shit of a man. He absolutely deserves it.

He shouldn’t be bothering me for a while, which is thanks in full to the contents of the only item I carry, hanging off my shoulder: a tattered green duffel bag. I can scarcely believe what is inside, but as insurance policies go, this one is ironclad. And I know that as long as it is safe, I am safe with it.

I cross the road and head north towards the Printworks, an entertainment oasis from where I can easily head to my destination, the Northern Quarter. But first, I need to make a call. And the Printworks has a bank of payphones.

It is mid-afternoon, just about 3:45, I think. Thursday. Cold, late October. The city has that quiet afternoon throb about it. The long-lunchers have all gone back to work

by now, hiding boozy excesses on their breath with too much gum, and the early leavers haven’t quite summoned the courage to sneak for the door just yet.

It feels so good to walk on these streets again, for so many reasons. It is a surrogate home now, and after all the travelling it’s still one of the only places on earth where I feel comfortable. I was sent overseas as a soldier, one of Her Majesty’s loyal hounds, setting right the wrongs others had perpetrated against human rights and democracy. A ten-year career mainly stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan saw me reach captain. I was the pride and joy of my family, the ‘Toast of Rawmarsh’ they used to call me back in my home village in Yorkshire. Such memories become more vague all the time. Then I had to make a very difficult choice, which was my undoing. I was cast out, ripped of my purpose, medals and duty, viewed as scum by my peers, dishonourably discharged and sent home in disgrace – and hated by the society I gave everything to protect.

That same society changed a lot in the decade I was away fighting for it, and now I barely recognise it. It now strikes me as an ideal dining out on its rich history. Yet somehow my sense of duty remains. I can’t help it. I don’t believe in My Great Britain anymore, nor even trust it to do the right thing for the people on her shores… But it’s like we were married, Britain and I, long since divorced – yet I’m still inexplicably devoted to my bitch of an ex.

The Printworks is just ahead. I cross the street again, bobbing between the cars, and head in via a side entrance. The Printworks, once the largest printing house in Europe, is now a cavernous converted warehouse, filled with bars, restaurants, cinemas, and a bank of cash machines and payphones. I head straight to the nearest phone and check the pockets of the suit. Two twenty-pence pieces and a ten. Perfect. Thanks, guv’nor. Picking your pocket felt damn good. I know I could call the number reverse charge anyway, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying getting one over on Chief Warden Harry Tawtridge just one last time.

I dial the number I’ve committed to memory for this very moment. Three rings, then the call is answered not with words, but with silence. I know he is there, though. Bob ‘Freckles’ Froeschle got out three weeks before me, although his exit carried Her Majesty’s consent. This moment was rehearsed, and I feel a buzz at putting our prep into practice.

‘The package will be there from midnight tonight, and I’ll cover it with you as agreed,’ I say. ‘Thank you. I am grateful.’

I hang up. Job done. The insurance policy is almost there. The last strand of the escape plan executed to perfection. I am pleasantly surprised. I’m used to responding to instructions ordinarily with violence. Not this time: I’d used my brains and hadn’t laid a finger on anybody myself. I’m inwardly pleased, which is a damn sight better than the bitterness and anger I was stuck with before.

I know I shouldn’t but I find myself popping another coin. I dial again from recollection, having called Kayla’s house countless times when I was on leave. Before prison, before everything changed.

A voice answers, but it is not Kayla, it is a young boy. ‘Hello?’ he says, not a care in the world.

‘Joshua?’ I say.

‘Yeah, who’s that?’ he replies, playing along. I can feel myself ready to bottle it. So much for being ruthless and decisive.

‘Tell your mum it was Uncle B. Tell her, Uncle B sends love to you all, that includes you, Joshua. And tell her I’m going to do my best.’

‘Umm, ok.’
What the hell am I doing?
‘Bye, pal,’ I say, before hanging up. I wish I had more in me to say, but I don’t know

how to say it.
I owe that family so much, more than they will know, but I also know that hearing

from me will hurt. It was a selfish gesture to call, damn it all. But they need to know I’m thinking of them. Of him – of Stephen, the man I killed. Joshua’s father and Kayla’s husband. Because if I forget about them, none of what I broke out to achieve will mean anything.

I leave the booth and crack on with something I’m far more comfortable with.

I see a bar opposite, Waxy O’Connors. An Irish bar. I would bloody love a pint, perhaps a cold pint of Guinness. I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in twenty months now – the length of my stay in Strangeways. I could easily pop in for one, and head into the Northern Quarter after, but my remaining thirty pence probably wouldn’t get me much in there save for a bag of pork scratchings, and I’m almost gagging in this filthy suit anyway.

I use the front exit of the Printworks, passing the Big Issue sellers, and head left, up towards the Northern Quarter. Within a couple of moments, I’m running again, inhaling

the cold, grey air that only Manchester ever really seems capable of providing. It’s like an elixir and I gulp it down.

Between a pair of streets I see the entrance to an alleyway that I recognise. Above the mostly garish shop fronts, the second floors of the buildings are still all set perfectly in the 1940s. It gives the Northern Quarter away immediately: Manchester’s little piece of Manhattan. Movie crews come in to shoot period-set New York films here because it’s cheaper, and it’s a nice little corner you can always head to for a warm welcome, a cold beer, and a good atmosphere.

Damn. The beer popping into my head again. I wasn’t expecting to only be out of the nick for twenty minutes and already be thinking about having a beer. But it signified freedom to me when I was inside, and I certainly have that freedom now. I’ll get my chance. Besides, I’m nearly there. Church Street.

The street is very quiet, and a scrappy alley cat slinks along the pavement, pausing to look at me with that look all cats give humans: how’ve you managed to get this far with just one life compared to my nine? It leaves me to it and I walk up to the glass doors of an apartment complex nestled between two businesses. I call up to the fifth-floor flat I have been to only once before.

A female voice answers. ‘Hello?’

‘It’s an old friend. Last time I saw you, you were in your nightclothes,’ I say, keeping an eye on the street.

The intercom is quiet for a moment, presumably while a decision is being made. I hope she recognises either my voice or the occasion I was alluding to. She should do.

‘Please come straight up,’ she says.

The door buzzes open, and I enter and head for the lift. I am not expecting anyone to be looking for me, at least not quite yet, but I don’t want to stay here long. I’m convinced I’ll be ok, and my previous captors will leave me to it, because it is simple: if they reveal I’ve escaped, I break out my insurance plan. The authorities would come crashing down on that prison like a ton of bricks, and the disgraceful, corrupt management of that facility would be dragged into the light. So I would imagine that for all intents and purposes, Ben Bracken is holed up in his cell, patiently living out the remaining fifteen years of his sentence.

Fifteen years – that should be enough time to get more than a few things done.

It’s heartening to know that nobody will be looking for me, but still, taking care keeps you alive. Care means I should keep this visit fairly brief. Especially while I still carry the damn insurance policy under my arm.

The flat’s at the end of the corridor, and the door is ajar. I knock and push it open a touch.

‘Hello?’ I call out.

The door is slowly pulled open, to reveal a beautiful woman staring at me, her eyes filling a little, her hand creeping up to cover her mouth. She has shoulder-length brown hair, eyes wide as side plates and browner than melted chocolate, and I instantly recall the last time I saw her. Bruised, frightened, and in a very bad way. Her name is Freya, and last time I saw her, I saved her life.

‘I stink. I really smell bad,’ I say, holding my hands up, but she is on me before I can say anything else.

‘Ben,’ she whispers, throwing her arms around me. I’d been nervous about what welcome I might receive, but that has been quickly put to bed.

‘I’m sorry for dropping in out of the blue,’ I say, hugging her back. I’m genuinely glad to see her. We both went through a lot that day, and we haven’t seen each other since I sent her scampering down an emergency staircase in her nightie.

‘What the hell are you wearing?’ she asks, wrinkling her nose and smiling.
‘You don’t like it? It’s always a bit hit and miss when you buy suits off the rail.’ She lets me go, and we enter the apartment. It is as nice as I remember – warm wood

floorboards under an open living space, bare brick walls, and vast floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlook the low rooftops unique to this end of town. If I ever were to settle down anywhere, it would be in a place like this.

‘Tell me to get stuffed, or whatever you like, but I wondered if I could trouble you for a change of clothes, fifteen minutes internet access and, if you are feeling especially generous, a shower?’

Freya smiles and dabs at the corner of her eyes with the sleeve of her dark jumper. ‘Of course,’ she replies.
I love seeing her like this – doing well, and safe. Then, I notice a glitter on her hand

that makes me catch my breath.
‘The wedding ring… You and Trev?’
‘Yes,’ she says, looking at the ring. ‘After what happened, we… didn’t see any reason

to wait anymore.’

I find myself beaming. Everything I did, and the reasons I had for doing it, has been justified. I feel new strength – new steel in my resolve. I feel reinvigorated.

‘We wanted to invite you,’ she says softly.

‘Don’t be daft – I can be tough to pin down.’ I smile. ‘I’m thrilled for you both. Were you ok after what happened?’

She sighs, looking pensive, but she retains the slight fundament of a smile.
‘Yeah. It took some time, but we both got there.’
‘That’s great, Freya. I mean that.’ I need to get down to it. I’d love to reminisce but

with any luck there’ll be less pressing times. ‘Freya, I’ve just got out of prison – kind of. I don’t believe that anyone is after me, but I don’t want to put you in a difficult position – and I already have, just by being here. I need to keep moving but I need help, and yourself and Trev are my best bet. I’m afraid I’m not supposed to be out of prison. But I am. And I don’t want it to come back to bite you.’

Freya takes a step towards me and puts a hand on my shoulder. That warmth again.

Trev is a lucky man, but it was nearly so different. Two years ago, he got home late from his IT job to find the apartment ransacked and Freya missing. A nasty piece of work called Keith Sinfield was running a child sex ring from a flat in the biggest high- rise at the other end of the city, and by accident his laptop, from which he conducted the whole operation, ended up in Trev’s possession. Sinfield kidnapped Freya to force the return of the laptop.

Trev called me. Truth be told, when the phone rang I was being sick into a bin at a crummy budget hotel on the other side of town, on the bottom end of a self-pity bender, but I helped get her back. It was a messy one.

‘After what you did for us, we will do anything we can to help.’ She turned me and gave me a little push. ‘Hit the shower, and I’ll get some of Trev’s clothes together. He’ll be home soon after five, so if you can wait that long, please do, he’d love to see you. Bathroom’s second door back there. We owe you our lives, Ben.’

I have spent what feels like a lifetime undertaking grim tasks and never getting a word of gratitude in return. Receiving it now renders me awkward, overwhelmed and grateful.

Freya leaves me to it, and I head for incredible luxury: a real, private shower, in freedom. Such a simple thing, but a signifier of so much. It feels like a new dawn, a symbol: to wash away my previous life, all its mistakes and sadness, and start afresh.

About the Author

Robert Parker

Robert Parker is a new exciting voice, a married father of two, who lives in a village close to Manchester, UK. He has both a law degree and a degree in film and media production, and has worked in numerous employment positions, ranging from solicitor’s agent (essentially a courtroom gun for hire), to a van driver, to a warehouse order picker, to a commercial video director. He currently writes full time, while also making time to encourage new young readers and authors through readings and workshops at local schools and bookstores. In his spare time he adores pretty much all sport, boxing regularly for charity, loves fiction across all mediums, and his glass is always half full.

His latest book is the crime/thriller, A WANTED MAN.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Advertisements

First Chapter Reveal: Nadya’s War by C.S. Taylor

Title: NADYA’S WAR
Author: C.S. Taylor
Publisher: Tiny Fox Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Fiction
BOOK BLURB:

Nadezdah “Little Boar” Buzina, a young pilot with the Red Army’s 586th all-female fighter regiment, dreams of becoming an ace. Those dreams shatter when a dogfight leaves her severely burned and the sole survivor from her flight.

For the latter half of 1942, she struggles against crack Luftwaffe pilots, a vengeful political commissar, and a new addiction to morphine, all the while questioning her worth and purpose in a world beyond her control. It’s not until the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad that she finds her unlikely answers, and they only come after she’s saved the life of her mortal enemy and fallen in love with the one who nearly kills her.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Chapter One

13 August 1942

Anisovka, Saratovskaya Oblast

When I climbed into my single-engine, low-wing fighter, praying to get my first kill, I never thought I’d fall in love with someone who’d have me shot.

I flew through my pre-flight checklist as fast as I could, verifying every setting and gauge in the cockpit. I was a last-minute substitution for a patrol near the Don River, and the added pressure of having to scramble put a tremor in my hands. I feared I would miss something that would prove deadly. A single overlooked item could be the difference between coming home in one piece and not coming home at all. And I had promised my little brother a game of cards when the war was over. I didn’t want to go to my grave knowing a fourteen year old had cleaned me out the last time we played.

“Nadya! Slow down!” Klara Rudneva shouted as she hopped on my plane’s wing. Her short stature and oversized male, khaki uniform made her look childish, but her face looked anything but. She reminded me of the famous operetta star, Anastasia Vyaltseva, as they both had the same lively smile, sparkling dark eyes, and angelic beauty. Despite the urgency in Klara’s voice, she gently slid a pair of goggles over my leather cap. “You’ll want to have these, Little Boar.”

I groaned as I set the trim and flaps to neutral in preparation for takeoff. “I wish you wouldn’t call me that. I’m not a boar.”

Klara was a mechanic at the airfield and had seen me off for all seven combat sorties I’d been on. She’d called me Little Boar since I’d arrived at the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment regardless of my constant objection. She gave the gritty harness that held my parachute on my back one solid tug before tightening my lap belt. “Little boars are hot headed and charge fearlessly at their enemy.”

“Boars are mean and ugly.”

“You are far from ugly, Nadya,” she said with a longing in her tone. “Not with those gorgeous cheek bones and golden locks of yours.”

“And fat head,” I tacked on. “You forgot to mention that, and you do think I’m mean.”

“Only when someone teases you about your Cossack heritage,” she replied, referring to an incident that had happened two days ago involving me and our commanding officer, and ended with me scrubbing floors for eight hours straight. “But if you are mean, be mean to the Germans. Be mean and deadly as my Little Boar should be.”

The roar of two engines firing up on the airfield drew both our attentions. That was the start of the other Yak-1 fighters on this mission’s flight. In moments, we’d all be in the air, eagerly looking to pick a fight with the German Luftwaffe. The time Klara and I had was short, despite my wishes to the contrary.

Klara leaned into the cramped cockpit and gave me a one-armed hug. She smelled of sweat and oil, and grease transferred from her face to mine. I didn’t mind. “Come back to me safe, Nadya.”

“I will,” I replied. This brief exchange had become a ritual between us since our first pairing, twelve days ago. It was a moment in time I’d come to relish. It was our little space where nothing could harm us. Not Hitler nor his army looking to conquer. Not Stalin nor his fanatics looking to purge. It was a place where two friends could savor a moment before being thrust into the chaos of the Great Patriotic War.

“Now go and get your first kill,” she said, squeezing me one last time before jumping off the wing.

Once she waved she was clear of the propeller, I gave her a light-hearted salute and started my plane’s engine. I watched the needle on the oil pressure gauge climb and tried to calm my nerves. The Luftwaffe had dominated the air since the start of the war. Today would be no different, and I wondered how many more planes and pilots we would lose in defense of the homeland. My muscles tightened in my back, and I blew out a simple, hushed prayer. “God be with me.”

As comforting as those words were, I hated whispering them, but over the last twelve years I’d learned to keep prayers to myself after seeing those who didn’t be shot or sent to labor camps. I told myself I was being pragmatic, surviving, even if official persecution had been called off. Some nights when I tried to sleep, however, I considered it was more cowardice than anything.

I used the two wheels on my right to open the water and oil radiators, and then started taxiing the plane into position on the runway. I leaned out of the cockpit to see where I was going since the plane’s nose blocked my view. The cool afternoon breeze carried with it hints of petrol.

The radio sprang to life. Martyona Gelman, my wing leader, spoke with calm authority. “Form on me after takeoff, five hundred meters. One circle of the airfield and we’re going.”

I slid my canopy over my head and locked both it and the tail wheel into place. The roar of the engine softened by about a third, but I felt as if its vibrations in the stick and the foot pedals were three times what they were. I soon became aware that the engine wasn’t causing my controls to shake. I was.

“Easy, Nadya. You can do this.” I told myself, double-checking the gun sight. Focusing on the crosshairs felt reassuring, as if I had control over my destiny. All I had to do was put my enemy in them and down he’d go. I could make a difference in this flight, in this war. A great difference. More so than any of the other girls? No. As far as I was concerned, each one of us in this all-female regiment would leave our mark in history.

“Red Eight, this is tower. You’re clear for takeoff.”

I pushed the throttle forward, and my fighter started down the runway. It built speed like a wild horse cut free from the pens, and I was along for the ride. I used the left rudder pedal to counter the plane’s innate desire to hook right, lest I crash before leaving the ground. God, how embarrassing would that be?

Once the plane hit one hundred and seventy kilometers per hour, with both vehicles and buildings zipping by on the ground, I eased the stick back. My Yak-1 leapt into the air as if it were as eager to reach the sky as I was. An overwhelming sense of freedom washed over me, and I smiled while slipping into a V-formation with the two other girls. Flying was still as magical as I’d dreamed it would be when I had been a little girl watching hawks sail overhead.

I took my position flying wing for Martyona. I was off her right side by a dozen meters, and another girl, Kareliya Malkova, flew on Martyona’s left. In the short time I’d known Kareliya, I had learned two things. First, she was as reserved as they come, and second, she had a vicious streak that hungered for her first victory against a German pilot like none I’d ever seen. I wondered if she’d beat me to it and secretly prayed she wouldn’t.

Our flight should have been four, a pair of wing leaders and wingmen, but another girl’s plane needed last-minute work on the landing gear, and even a dullard knew taking off with only one wheel ended badly. Normally, we would have waited on the repair, but the Germans had reached the town of Kalach-on-the-Don a couple of days ago and were now less than seventy kilometers from Stalingrad. We couldn’t afford to let them reach that mighty city, and thus were forced to go up one pilot short. Our CO said we’d be fine. I dared to believe her.

Our trio headed south. On most flights we’d protect high-value targets from the Luftwaffe, such as railways, bridges, and depots, but with the pressure on Stalingrad, we were being sent to patrol a swath of area northwest of the city. Despite the Red Army Air’s high losses, I was glad we were headed closer to the front as it let me be proud of my service and reinforced the notion we were all doing something important. That and guard duty was about as exciting as hours of pot scrubbing.

The Volga River flowed off to my left. I enjoyed the view of it from above as it reminded me that even in war, nature was beautiful. I also loved seeing the ships come and go from port—they looked so free—and enjoyed wondering what the little girls in the nearby fields thought when they looked up and saw us fly by.

“Everyone tighten up,” Martyona ordered. There was a bite to her tone, not painful, but threatening, like a straight razor pressed against the skin. “Sloppy girls are dead girls.”

I stiffened in my seat. Kareliya was in formation, but I had drifted off and dropped altitude, putting me outside and low of my slot by fifty meters. I slipped back into position with a combination of throttle, elevator, and rudder so we once again made a perfect V.

For the next fifteen minutes we flew in silence, and I was embarrassed at my rookie mistake. I was a Cossack, proud and true, and from a long line of warriors whose skill was only rivaled by our dedication. Thankfully, Father hadn’t been witness to it.

I wondered when we’d encounter German fighters on the prowl. At our current speed, we’d reach their lines in about twelve minutes. As such, I kept a constant watch over the bright blue skies and the rears of the other girls’ planes as best I could and trusted they did the same for me. Though rear visibility wasn’t as bad as I heard it was with German fighters, our Yaks still had a blind spot.

I saw no planes other than the two dark green Yak-1 fighters to my left, and nothing shared the sky with us other than the late afternoon sun. That scared me more than anything. Ever since I’d come to Anisovka, Martyona had told me time and again most pilots were shot down by enemies they never saw. German aces came from unseen places, like monsters in the night every child fears. Luftwaffe pilots, however, were real and more lethal than any imagination.

The radio crackled, and our wing leader spoke. “I can see the Don. Change course to two-three-zero and look sharp. The fascists want to tear into us as much as we want to tear into them.”

Her plane climbed with a gentle bank, and Kareliya and I followed suit. My mouth dried, and goosebumps rose on my skin. The past seemed to fade away, and thoughts of the future fell as well. All that existed was the moment.

I flipped the safeties to both the nose-mounted cannon and the pair of machine guns in the cowl. They should have been ready to fire after takeoff, but I’d developed the habit of waiting later in flight to do so. I was fearful of an accidental discharge, and the last thing I wanted was to be responsible for damaging—let alone destroying—another girl’s plane.

“Stay with me and Kareliya, Nadya. I haven’t lost a girl in almost twenty-four hours,” Martyona said.

I chuckled nervously, her joke doing little for my nerves. Still, I tried to keep the air light and confident. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to ruin your new record.”

Kareliya didn’t chime in on the conversation. She couldn’t, as only a few planes in our regiment had RSI-3 Eagle radio transmitters installed. All Kareliya had was the RSI-3 Hawk receiver, thanks to some genius who thought the ability to talk during a dogfight was unnecessary. After all, who in her right mind would want to lug around a few extra kilos for the ability to say, “Check your six!” or, “I need help!” Idiots probably thought we’d talk about hair and makeup the entire flight, as if that’s all us girls were capable of. They did promise us we’d all have two-way capabilities in the future, but I wasn’t expecting that day to be anytime soon.

The Don River passed beneath us. I bit my lip in eager anticipation of a fight and the chance to prove myself. At the same time a knot formed in my stomach. I checked and rechecked everything. Water temperature. Clear tail. Oil temperature. Oil pressure. Clear tail. Fuel pressure. Manifold pressure. Clear tail. Gun sights. Fuel level. Clear tail. I did this entire routine four times before running my fingers over my leather cap and wondering what I was missing.

“I’ve got eyes on Luftwaffe, one o’clock low,” Martyona said. “Four He-111s along with two 109 fighter escorts. Five kilometers away. Headed east.”

I easily spotted the flight. He-111s were medium-sized, twin-engine bombers, and a staple of Hitler’s war machine. Their lumbering bodies flew in a tight formation and bristled with machine guns to cover one another. Their green paint jobs blended well with the terrain, but their bulk made them stand out. The bright yellow noses of their Bf-109 escorts were even easier to see.

Martyona’s plane accelerated, and my engine’s pitch grew louder and higher as we followed her higher into the sky. The enemy planes stayed on course, apparently unaware of our presence. Even as a green pilot, I understood why Martyona didn’t charge in. She wanted to have the advantage in altitude. Altitude could be traded for speed, and speed meant life. The only thing flying a low and slow plane would grant you in a dogfight was a condolence letter to your next of kin. The only letter I wanted written was to Father, telling him how his little girl scored her first aerial victory. I’m sure he’d celebrate for a week straight once he got that news.

“Stay fast and hit them hard,” Martyona said. “Hit them for the Motherland. Hit them for all you’re worth!”

The ferocity of her words ignited a fire in my soul. I narrowed my eyes and turned my anxiety into hate, hate for those who bombed our cities and razed our villages. I rolled my plane to the left and followed Martyona in a diving attack, vowing to make the fascists pay for flying half asleep over Soviet soil and thinking we’d been so beaten they were safe from our air force. Their audacity fueled the burning in my chest.

Though I was flying to cover my wing leader, I placed the last of the German bombers in my sights. I’d be able to make at least one firing pass on it while keeping Martyona clear of escorts. Once we shot by, we could reassess, maybe even engage the 109s if no one took damage from the tail gunners. Three on two were good odds as far as I was concerned.

Time stretched, and I measured each second by the heavy thumps of heartbeats. I used the gun sight to gauge the distance to my target. Once the bomber’s wings filled the diameter of the sight, it would be about two hundred meters away.

The bomber drew near. Six hundred meters. Five. Four. I don’t know if it was sheer luck or an angelic whisper that tore me away from my target to peek over my shoulder, but when I did, I gasped. Four German Bf-109 fighters bore down on us from out of the sun, their yellow noses filled with guns and cannons promising swift and certain death.

“Break! Break! Break!” I yelled.

Martyona snap rolled her plane and reversed direction with an inverted dive. I followed her as best I could, flipping my fighter and pulling back on the stick. The hard maneuver pressed me against my seat. My arms felt as if they had large bags of lead attached to them. I strained under the G’s, gritting my teeth. My head grew light, and the world muted. I prayed I didn’t black out under the maneuver, and I prayed it had been fast enough that the Germans couldn’t follow.

<< End Ch 1 Sample, Hypable has an exclusive from this point on>>

About the Author

C.S. Taylor is a former Marine and avid fencer (saber for the most part, foil and epee are tolerable). He enjoys all things WWII, especially perfecting his dogfighting skills inside virtual cockpits, and will gladly accept any P-38 Lightnings anyone might wish to bestow upon him. He’s also been known to run a kayak through whitewater now and again, as well give people a run for their money in trap and skeet.

His latest book is the historical fiction, Nadya’s War.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

First Chapter Reveal: The Song of Solomon Revealed by Owen Sypher

Title: THE SONG OF SOLOMON REVEALED
Author: Owen Sypher
Publisher: Litfire Publishing, LLC
Pages: 308
Genre: Religion/Bible Studies
BOOK BLURB:

The book of Song of Solomon is a spiritual book full of allegories or pictures where God used the natural to show the spiritual. By using the keys of understanding found in the Bible the author has unlock the hidden meaning of the book of Song of Solomon.

The book of Song of Solomon is about the love that Jesus has for his bride. When looked at from this angle a lot of the verses makes more sense.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

 

First Chapter:

The narrator is speaking.

Song 1:1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

The first verse starts out describing who wrote this book of Song of Solomon.  We know that King Solomon wrote many songs, but this was considered his best ever because it is a song between a bridegroom (Jesus in type) and his bride.

We will use the following verse to show that Solomon wrote many songs.

1 Kings 4:32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

 

The bride talks in verses 2–7.

Song 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

What this verse is referring to is that as he kiss us with an understanding of his word and we respond back to him that there is a coming together of us and the Lord. We start to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord. What I mean by this is that we start to walk closer to him by doing his will in our lives. We come together by the renewing of our minds and can become one with the Lord. First we need to see what the definition of a Bible kiss is. As we look at what the word kiss means, we see two interesting meanings: one is to be put together, and the other is to be equipped with.

The Hebrew word for kiss is:

OT:5401 nashaq

  1. to put together, to kiss
  2. (Qal) to kiss
  3. (Piel) to kiss
  4. (Hiphil) to touch gently
  5. to handle, to be equipped with; (Qal) to be equipped

              (Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

 

So when we kiss the Lord we see that there is a joining or putting together causing us to0 come together with the Lord. What is happening is that the Lord will develop his nature in us.

In John 17 when the Lord was praying to his father concerning his disciples it was that we could be one with him and his father and each other. This was Jesus prayer concerning us, that we could come together

John 17:22-23 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. KJV

We can tie the second definition of kiss where it talks about being equipped with Ephesians 4:12 where the word for perfecting can be interpreted as the equipping of the saints. Don’t let the word perfection or perfecting intimidate you; all it means is a maturing or growing up in Christ. So we are kissing the Lord when we allow him to equip us or to take us through the perfecting process in order to put us into his bride. What he is equipping us with is his nature so that we will have the right nature to rule and reign with him as his bride. He equips us through the spirit of God and the word of God, and a fivefold ministry and the things we suffer has an effect also. Ephesians 4:12 shows us that he uses a fivefold ministry to help us in this equipping or perfecting of our lives. At the same time, he gives us his people to help us through.

Eccl 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. KJV

We have been kissed by his mouth when he gives us an understanding of his words, the words of life. And as we respond (kissing him back) by living these words that he has given us it causes a change to take place in our lives that cause us to come together with him. We develop a love of the truth and a deeper love for of the Lord.

Now let us consider the words that Jesus spoke about equipping us in the following verses:

Prov. 24:26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer. KJV

Truly Jesus gives us the right answers. I will use the following verses to show that Jesus used the word of God to kiss us, i.e., give us a right answer.  I believe Proverbs 24:26 is the key verse to understand what kiss is about because this verse ties lips in with a right answer or what a person is saying.

Matt. 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. KJV

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. KJV

John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. KJV

We need to respond back to the Lord with a spirit of meekness in order to receive his word into our lives as stated in James 1:21 we do this by putting it to practice in our lives.

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. KJV

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. KJV

Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. KJV

Ps. 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. KJV

This word angry means to be displeased with. So by not responding to the Lord’s kiss or his word, God becomes displeased with us and the end result is we will lose out with God or perish from the way. Let’s look at the Hebrew word for angry.

Angry

OT:599 ’anaph

to be angry, to be displeased, to breathe hard

  1. (Qal) to be angry (used of God)
  2. (Hithpael) to be angry (always of God)

(Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

 

Ps. 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. KJV

He is displeased with the wicked everyday because of the sin they commit; he would like to see them come to repentance and acceptance of his son in their lives.

 

Song 1:2 for thy love is better than wine. (love)

This shows to me that to have God’s love working in my life is more to be desired than wine or doctrine. Let’s first deal with his love or the love of God and then we will deal with the wine part.

The Greek word for love and for charity is the same. So charity (1 Cor. 13) is God’s love for us.

When 1 Corinthians 13 talks about charity which describes God’s love or his charity for us and the kind of love we need to have for others. He showed us his great love for us by sending his son to die for our sins and open up the pathway to immortality and eternal life for us.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. KJV

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. KJV

1 Cor. 13:4–8 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8Charity never faileth: KJV

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: KJV

When all is said and done the finished product in our lives should be charity or having God’s love manifested in our lives, and as his love start to develop in my life, his light will shine out in this dark world and others will be able to see it and magnify and glorify God.  God’s love will help us produce a pure heart in our lives.

 

Song 1:2 for thy love is better than wine. (wine)

Now to deal with what wine is, wine is a picture or type of doctrine in or it can be used as a picture or type of the Holy Ghost. Here in this scripture I believe that wine is a picture of our doctrine. When I think about wine I usually think of it as the pressing of the grapes together to get the juices out and then it goes through a fermentation process thus producing wine or alcohol. Wine can have an intoxicating effect causing one not to think or act right. We can become intoxicated or drunk on our own wine or doctrines and teachings and not be willing to consider other people ideas or beliefs. The reason his love is better than wine or doctrine is that if I truly love my brother, I will love him even if he doesn’t agree with me. It will help me keep the unity of the spirit until I come into a unity of the faith with my brother or sister.  My doctrine can actually separate me from others who might not agree with me.

Another reason his love is better than doctrine is that the wrong kind of doctrine will produce the wrong kind of spirit. A bad doctrine will produce a bad or hateful spirit, but the doctrine of Christ will produce a spirit that is full of the love of God. If I have the right spirit working in my life, it will allow me to listen to others who don’t agree with me and my doctrine, thus allowing me to finally know the complete truth of the scripture. The right spirit will help us love our brothers and sisters until we come into the unity of the faith or doctrineIt is the teachings and doctrines of the Bible that produce the right spirit inside of me.

I am using Genesis 9 to show that wine or alcohol in the natural sense can cause us to become intoxicated and not understand what is happening around us.

Gen. 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. KJV

Now to apply the spiritual understanding to being drunk, this is a wandering or erring from God through false doctrine or teachings:

Isa. 28:7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. KJV

Showing that the wine or strong drink affected their vision, so if I have the wrong doctrine or understanding of the Bible that understanding can also affect my vision and/or judgments. Spiritually I don’t want anything to affect my vision, and in order to do that, we need to do as Proverbs 9 states that wisdom has mingled her wine or her doctrine. This means that wisdom was willing to put what she believes out there for others to see, and to also consider others’ beliefs and understanding in the light of the word of God. Asking questions like is it possible that what I have been taught is wrong? How does it compare with the Bible? Just like wisdom in Proverbs 9 was willing to mingle her wine we also need to have that kind of spirit so that if there is any error in my understanding I can get rid of it and go on with God.

 

Prov. 9:2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. KJV

Prov. 9:5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. KJV

 

Wisdom has killed her beasts or she has brought her spirit under control so there could be a mingling of the wine. She is willing to listen to what others have to say. This has to be done in a spirit of charity or love as I will show in Ephesians 4:2–3, and 13. **

I can be deceived by the wrong doctrine of the scriptures, thus the need to mingle what I believe about the Lord with others, but we need to have a right spirit as we are discussing our different believes. In Ephesians 4:14 and Ephesians 5:18  we see that the wind of doctrine can be used to deceive us and that instead of being drunk with wine we need to be filled with the spirit.

Eph. 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. KJV

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. KJV

**Eph. 4:2–3 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. KJV

**Eph. 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: KJV

The first thing here is the need to keep the unity of the spirit with a peaceful spirit until you come into the unity of the faith. As we go about trying to restore his truth we must have the right spirit to be able to listen to others point of view and consider what they are saying.  God’s love will help us have the right spirit as we mingle our wine or doctrine “till we come into the unity of the faith.”  That is why his love is better than wine.

 

Song 1:3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

The good ointment is the sacrifice that Jesus made not just in dying on the cross for us but also his living an overcoming life. What the overcoming life produced was a sweet smelling savour or fragrance unto God. He then poured it out unto us by giving us the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Having the ointment of the Holy Ghost working in our lives will produce a sweets smelling aroma in our lives just like Jesus had.  His name or his character is being revealed to his people this is causing them to start to purify themselves so that they can be just like him. They are working on overcoming the works of the flesh that is mentioned in Galatians 5:19 replacing the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. As we work on overcoming the flesh that is how we show our love back to the Lord with the desire to be like him as mentioned in 1 John 3:1-3.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. KJV

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. KJV

Let’s break Song 1:3 down further for our understanding. First let’s deal with what is a name or what does a name stands for in the Bible, and then we will get to the ointment.  A name in the Bible can denote either someone’s authority, such as “I come in someone’s name or authority,” or it can denote a nature, or character. This next verse discusses name as a character:

1 Sam. 25:25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send. KJV

This verse shows us that his name described him perfectly. Nabal means fool.

Nabal

OT:5037 Nabal

Nabhal or Nabal = “fool”

a man of Carmel who spurned David’s messengers, then died of shock when he realized it might cause his death; his case was pleaded by his wife, Abigail, who became David’s wife after his death.

(Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

 

These next two verses show us that in proclaiming his name, God started to describe his character.

Exod. 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. KJV

Exod. 34:5–6 And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. KJV

The following verses show us how important a good name is and there is no better name than the name or nature of Jesus.

Eccles. 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. KJV

Eccles. 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. KJV

Phil. 2:9–10 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. KJV

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. KJV

Now to deal with what the ointments are.

Song 1:3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

Again, what this is showing us is that because of the sacrifice that Jesus made in overcoming his flesh which produced a sweet aroma which is causing those that want to overcome to love him enough to work on overcoming sin in their lives.

The ointment which was poured forth was the Holy Ghost which he poured out on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:33 KJV).  You could say that we had our head and/or our lives anointed with ointment or the Holy Ghost. We need to consider what savour is because ointments produce an odor, and our lives should be producing an aroma also.

Savour (reference Strong’s number 7381)

OT:7381 reyach—a scent, a fragrance, an aroma, an odor

  1. a) a scent, an odor
  2. b) an odor of soothing (a technical term for a sacrifice to God)

(Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

The reason his name is better than any other name is because of the sacrifice he made for us.

Genesis 8:21 and Ephesians 5: 2 are tied together. Just like Noah’s sacrifice caused the Lord to smell a sweet savour or aroma, Christ also produced this sweet aroma when he sacrificed himself; i.e., it produced an ointment, if you will. And he poured it out unto humanity on the day of Pentecost when he poured out the Holy Ghost. The sweet smelling savour came from the sacrifice.

Gen. 8:20-21  And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. KJV

Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. KJV

 

Ointment

Prov. 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. KJV

This shows that hearty counsel is like an ointment. We get hearty counsel from the Lord through understanding his word.

Eccles. 9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. KJV

Ps 133:1-3 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; 3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.  KJV

Let my head or the way I think and process things be anointed with the understanding of the word of God. Also in Psalms 133 the Bible talks about unity being like an ointment and how important this unity with the brethren is, for it is in unity that the Lord commands the blessings so I need to learn also to work in unity with him and his body. So we see that unity can also be anointment.

 

Song 1:3. thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

 Virgins are people who have not been defiled by men or the traditions of men. Thus, they would be people who are working on overcoming their nature. Revelations 14 is talking about the 144,000 bride members and one of the things that is stated about them are they are virgins. The following two verses will show us both a natural virgin and a spiritual virgin or overcomers.

Gen. 24:16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. KJV

Rev. 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. KJV

To get us to be a part of the group in Revelation 14 was Paul’s goal. Consider the next verse:

2 Cor. 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. KJV

To be a chaste virgin is more than just to have chastisement working in our lives, but it is a way of living our lives. That we may live pure and holy or separated lives, separated from the natural, carnal way of doing things.

The name of Jesus or his character is better than counsel or even having the anointing of the Holy Ghost in our lives, as great an experience as that is. Getting to the place where we have the nature of Christ is the end result of having both the counsel (word of God) and the Holy Ghost anointing our lives. If we will allow his nature to occupy our minds until it becomes our nature, we will be like him when he appears.

 

Song 1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine:

This shows us that the Lord is drawing us unto Jesus and that we can have a close relationship with Jesus if we allow ourselves to be drawn to him. We always want to remember how much the Lord loves us, so that when we go through hard times, we can have a confidence and trust in the Lord no matter what we have to go through because we know how much he loves us.  Add that to our understanding of the Bible and it can and will hold us strong and steady unto the end.

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. KJV

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. KJV

Jesus talking about his crucifixion was going to draw all men unto himself.

As we are drawn to the Lord it causes us to want to get our lives purified so we can be close to the Lord.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. KJV

Ps. 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works. KJV

Ps. 42:1–2 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? KJV

Heb. 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. KJV

This better hope that Jesus brought us is causing us to draw nigh to God. What this better hope is that we have a high priest in Christ Jesus who can be touched by the feelings of our infirmities.  Also the fact is that he has an unchanging priesthood that he will abide forever more death has no more dominion over him.

Heb. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. KJV

Song 1:4 Draw me, we will run after thee:

A brother in our church brought out this point; it says draw me (singular) and we (Plural) will run after thee. So we are called unto the Lord on a personal level but then it takes a corporate effort to go on with the Lord. There is no me and Jesus got our own thing going we need to be a part of his body. We need that which every joint (person) brings in order to increase or grow in God. We don’t always know when and who we are supplying strength to when we get together with God’s people. Look at the following scriptures:

Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. KJV

Col 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. KJV

We then see that the nourishment for the body of Christ comes through the joints and bands or the people that is why it changes more from a personal walk to include a corporate walk as well. We need each other in order to finish this walk with the Lord.

Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.KJV

Song 1:4 the king hath brought me into his chambers

His chambers are the assemblies in the body of Christ. Chambers are the inner most parts of the house where people retire to rest. This is where we can find rest for our souls, no longer having to work in our flesh. It is the Lord’s desire to have a close and personal relationship with all of us if we would let him.

 

Song 1:4 we will be glad and rejoice in thee

            We are rejoicing in the Lord because of where he has brought us to and the new relationship we have with him. Rejoicing in the Lord is where we get our strength because as we start to praise or rejoice in him, it causes us to magnify him and makes our problems smaller.

Neh. 8:10  Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. KJV

Ps. 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. KJV

As we start to praise and magnify the Lord it makes him bigger and our problems smaller. This helps us get victory in our lives; that may be one reason Paul said to give the Lord thanks in all things.

Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; KJV

 

Song 1:4 we will remember thy love more than wine.

This is talking about remembering the love of God in our lives is more important than our doctrine. If we will remember his great love for us it will help us go through all kinds of adversity in our lives because we know that he loves us and is working all things out for our good. And one of the greatest aspects of the love of God is that he sent his son to die for the sins of the world. Jesus after he conquered death than poured forth the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost, thereby shedding the love of God abroad into our hearts. And then he brings us to his people where we can feel the love of God thru them, and then the Lord start to giving us an understanding of his word to stand on all because of his great love for us..

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. KJV

Rom. 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. KJV

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. KJV

 

Song 1:5–6 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

Song 1:5–6 I am black, but comely

Again this has nothing to do with nationality or race but what is being said here is that I am different or stick out from the rest of the world and what also makes me comely or beautiful is because of the effect that the sun (Jesus) has had upon my life.

            Spiritually speaking this means that we have been exposed to the sun (Jesus) by the light of the gospel causing a change to take place in our lives. God is working with us not only to deal with our sins but to also overcome them. This will cause us to be changed and look differently than the world because we will act different than the world. And people can recognize the life of Jesus being manifested unto the world through our lives. The process of overcoming our natural will and spirit by the trials and tribulations that we are going through will make us comely or beautiful in the eyes of the Lord.

This is what makes us as beautiful as the tents of Kedar and the curtains of Solomon.

2 Cor 4:4-6 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. KJV

 

Song 1:5 as the tents of Kedar. (according to Strong’s number 693,8 a descendant of Ishmeal)

Kedar

OT: 6938 Qedar

Kedar = dark

as a proper noun, masculine:

  1. a son of Ishmael

as a proper noun, people

  1. the descendants of Kedar

(Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

 

Here the writer is describing themselves as black as the tents of Kedar. We know that Kedar was the second son of Ishmael who was the son of Abraham by Hagar.  Based upon Ps 120 it appears that they were a war like or military type of people and also they were nomads hence the tents. Their tents were made out of black goats hair thus the black as the tents of Kedar. If this is the case than what made them so beautiful would be that they were probably organized when they set up camp, showing having some order in their lives This would be just like when Balaam came to Baalak to curse Israel in Numbers 24:2-5.  The higher he got the more beautiful the camp of Israel looked.

Ps. 120:5–7 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! 6 My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. 7 I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. KJV

Num 24:2-5 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. 3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: 4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: 5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! KJV

Consider also  in dealing with being black but comely, the tabernacle in the wilderness was not very pretty on the outside but beneath all the curtains you would have found gold inside showing us not to  judge on the outer appearance but look for the things that God has done on the inside.  Spiritually speaking we might look black and not so pretty on the outside, but inside or under those coverings there is something of great value that God has put in to our lives. God has put some gold or understanding of his word that is changing our lives.

 

Song 1:5 the curtains of Solomon

These curtains or veil of the temple were bright and colorful similar to the curtain in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Now since Paul said that this curtain was a picture of Jesus flesh what this is saying is that because of Jesus shining (the sun has looked upon me) in our lives that it can produce that same beautiful life before the Lord in our lives.

2 Chron 3:14  And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubim thereon. KJV

 

I believe that “the curtains of Solomon” is talking about the veil that separated the holy place and the most holy place in the temple of Solomon.  Behind this veil or curtain was the ark of the covenant which represented the place where God dwelt. (Until the temple was built they would carry this ark around on the shoulders of the priest, it would be covered with a blue cloth. After the temple was built they moved the ark behind this curtain and the priest would go behind this curtain once a year on the Day of Atonement when a sacrifice was made for himself and the sins of the people the priest would go beyond this veil where he would present the blood of the sacrifice before God. Paul in Hebrews 10:20 tells us this curtain is a picture of Jesus flesh so in this case this curtain would represent the live that Jesus lived in this flesh a life of overcoming. How beautiful was that life that he lived. This means that he was able to take the different natures and produce righteousness in his life.

Look at some of these colors of the curtain Red, Blue, white, purple, and cherubim’s. Consider these types for the meaning of the colors.

Red is man’s color that is what the name Adam meant was red.

OT:120 ‘adam —

1)         man, mankind

  1. a) man, human being
  2. b) man, mankind (the much more frequently-intended sense in the Old Testament)
  3. c) Adam, the first man
  4. d) a city in the Jordan River valley

 

OT:121 ‘Adam —

Adam = “red”

 

1)         the first man

2)         a city in the Jordan River valley

From Biblesoft 5 computer program

Blue being God’s color because it is the color of heaven. Also in Exodus 24:10 talks about sapphire stones which to me is blue although there are other colors of sapphires.

Ex 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. KJV

Purple is Jesus color because it takes blue and red to make purple.

White being righteousness because of Revelations 19:8

Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. KJV

 

We use Mark 15 to show that this rending or tearing of the curtain or veil at the time of Jesus crucifixion was a picture or type of Jesus overcoming his flesh.

Mark 15:38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. KJV

Heb. 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. KJV

See this way was opened up to us by Jesus overcoming live and the way this applies to us is that we are being changed into the same image as he is, hence as beautiful as the curtains of Solomon or we are having the same overcoming life.

1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. KJV

There is coming a day when we will no longer be looking at the Lord through our flesh but we will see him as he is.

2 Cor. 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. KJV

 

Song 1:6 Sun (the sun is Jesus)

Jesus is the sun of righteousness, and if we will allow our flesh to be exposed to his righteousness through his word, he will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Darkness or ignorance can hide a lot of imperfections but just like natural light exposes all the imperfections because you can now see it so also does the word of God in our lives, the word of God will expose our sins and our sinful natures so that we can deal with them..

Ps 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. KJV

1 Cor 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. KJV

Let’s deal with some scriptures on the sun exposing our sins first a couple of scriptures to show that Jesus is the sun.

Ps 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.KJV

Mal. 4:2 Shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings. KJV (talking about Jesus)

Ps. 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. KJV

Ps. 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. KJV

Ps. 69:5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee. KJV

1 Tim. 5:24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. KJV

In 1 Timothy 5:24 These men were able to take care of their sins because they had been exposed to the light of the gospel so that they can deal with their sins before judgment time.

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. KJV

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. KJV

Acts 4:13 shows us that the apostles were affected by being exposed to the teachings of Jesus.

Song 1:5 Look not upon me, because I am black

You could look at this statement as this woman (bride) is sad because she has gotten sun burnt from being out in the sun too much and that would be valid observation.  This statement comes after she said she was comely or beautiful. Let’s consider if you will that what she is saying is don’t look on the outward appearance because the sun has been shinning in my life. She says she is as beautiful as the tents of Kedar and the curtains of Solomon.

 

Song 1:6 my mother’s children were angry with me.

Our mother is the early church and my mother’s children would be the different religious sects that came out of the early church. All Christendom can trace their beginnings back to the early church.

Gal. 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. KJV

 

Song 1:6 were angry with me

The reason they are angry or again displeased with us is that some people do not want to live an overcoming life but live after the flesh and are angry because our lives of righteousness will condemn them in the sense that they know that they should be living the same kind of life.

John 3:19–21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. KJV

They want to come under his covering or to be called by his name to take away their reproach.

Isa. 4:1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. KJV

I am using Isaiah 4:1 to show the spirit of a person, I want to do my own thing but I want to be called by the name of Christ so that there is no reproach to the way I am living. To show how it takes away our reproach it is like the saying we are not perfect but just forgiven.  Yes we do fall short of the glory of God and do need to be forgiven and he is just to forgive us, however the apostle Paul in Romans6:1 said should we continue in sin that grace may abound.  His answer was God forbid.  So we see a need to change our sinful nature.

Song 1:6 they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

We use this verse in the context of ministers taking care of other churches before coming to the body, but let’s use it on a more personal level. To be clear what I am talking about is I can tell others how to change their lives and neglect the changes I need to be making in my own live.  I will use the vineyard as my life and that I can get so busy trying to help others straighten out their lives, or their vineyard, that I never take care of the things (sin) in my life that I need to overcome. In the process I neglect my own vineyard and it produces thorns instead of the fruits of righteousness that God is looking for. If I will work on taking care of my life the helping of others will come with the changes that the Lord is making in my life.

Prov. 24:30–31 I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding.

31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. KJV

By being slothful this person’s field was unusable for growing things, so what is being slothful.

Being slothful is not just being lazy, but it also includes be neglectful. This is important. While I wouldn’t consider myself lazy, I can be neglectful in not just life but also in the things of God. So what we see in the scripture above is a person who has neglected his fields and they have overgrown with thorns.

Thorns are the deceitfulness of riches and other things that crop up in my life that take away from the word of God working in my life (Matt. 13:7, 22).

Heb. 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. KJV

 

This is still the bride talking to Jesus.

Song 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

Jesus is the shepherd and we are the flock of his pasture.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: K JV

Ps 100:3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. KJV

 

Song 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest

Can you tell me where Jesus is shepherding his flock or where he is feeding his church? Where does he give his people rest from this world? We will find it is a place where there is life for your soul, a place of green grass. Feedest refers to being a shepherd, which is the number one definition of the word.

Feedest

OT:7462 ra`ah —

1)         to pasture, to tend, to graze, to feed

  1. a) (Qal)

1)         to tend, to pasture

  1. a) to shepherd
  2. b) used of a ruler, used of a teacher (figurative)
  3. c) used of people as a flock (figurative)
  4. d) shepherd, herdsman (substantive)

2)         to feed, to graze

  1. a) used of cows, sheep, etc. (literal)
  2. b) used of an idolater, of Israel as a flock (figurative)
  3. b) (Hiphil) shepherd, shepherdess

 

2)         to associate with, to be a friend of (the probable meaning)

  1. a) (Qal) to associate with
  2. b) (Hithpael) to be companions

3)         (Piel) to be a special friend

(Source: From Biblesoft 5 computer program.)

Side note: (I was asked to explain what is  an idolater; an idolater is someone who served false gods and it appears from Paul’s writings that they would eat the sacrifice after it was offered 1 Corinthians 8:8-13.)

Ps. 23:1–2 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. KJV

Ps. 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. KJV

When Jesus fed the five thousand in John 6, he made them sit down on green grass, showing that he was going to be a shepherd to the people. While we can get things from God’s word on a daily basis on our own, there is also a part that the ministry plays in our understanding of his plan. Notice the order in which he fed the multitudes: he first gave food to the disciples and then they fed the multitude.

John 6:10–11 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. KJV

John 6:10 sat on much grass.

(Mark 6:39 mentions that it was green grass; green represents life, or a place of life.)

So we see that Jesus will feed us in green pastures or on the green grass, but there is an order to how he does this, and it is through his ministry.

 

Song 1:7 where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon…

At noon which is the middle of the day when it is starting to get hot. This would be the times of adversity in my life. Where do I go to find rest for my soul? I find rest for my soul when I put my trust and confidence in him, even when things are going against me.  We go through chastisement or trails in our lives to help us line up with God’s word and his ways so we can be like him.

Ps. 94:12–13 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; 13That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. KJV

Ps. 125:1 They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. KJV

Prov. 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. KJV

 

Song. 1:7 for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

This message that we have found about being in the bride is of great value. Are we willing to do what it takes to keep it and not turn aside from following the Lord? We can be turned aside by following false doctrine or the traditions of men instead of the true gospel of Christ. These companions are people who are preaching a different message than the one Jesus and the apostles preached, which was a message of overcoming the flesh and being in the bride of Jesus Christ.

2 Cor. 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. KJV

Gal. 1:7–8 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. KJV

Acts 13:10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? KJV

 

Here in Mathew 13 is someone who found something of greater value than what he had and sold everything he had to buy it. What I have does not compare to what I can get from serving the Lord so am I willing to sell all I have to buy that field? What I have to sell would be my religious ideas, my own way of doing things, etc.

Matt. 13:44–46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. KJV

 

In verse 8 Jesus responds to the bride.

Song 1:8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

We need to follow in the footsteps of the early church and the apostles if we want to find the way of the Lord.  We need to find and use the teaching which Jesus and the apostles taught as our blueprint for our lives, the old paths and walk in them and it will cause us to live a righteous life. We need to quit walking in our own way and start following the Lord because the way that seems right to men but the end thereof is death I need to find his way and follow him.

Jer. 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. KJV

Prov. 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

KJV

Isa. 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. KJV

There is a highway (higher than the ways of men) that will lead us all the way to the top of Mount Zion. And it is found in the next verse where Jesus said I am the way.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV

Rev. 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. KJV

 

Song 1:8 Shepherds’ tents

Notice it is not just one shepherd but many shepherds, denoting that it is going to take a ministry to get the job done, not just a minister. Also realize that Jesus came and established a ministry to help with his salvation plan. I need to find where the ministry of Jesus Christ is and start to rest beside their tents, actually I need to go inside and make myself a part of the body of Christ. The shepherds’ tents are the assemblies in the body of Christ and they surround the main shepherd tent, which is Jesus of course. What this means to me is that the Lord has put a fivefold ministry over his church that is to lead (or guide) his flock to green pastures and feed them with the word of God and counsel.

 

Jer. 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. KJV

Eccles. 12:11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. KJV

The one shepherd is Jesus, and the masters of assemblies are the pastors of his body. Therefore, let’s stay here (actually go inside one of the tents) by the shepherds’ tents so the shepherds can take care of us.

 

Song 1:9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.

Here Solomon (Jesus) is comparing his love or the bride to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.  To understand this we need to understand what a company of horses is and what kind of quality do they have that would cause Jesus to make this comparison.

 

This is what Solomon or Jesus was comparing his love to a company of horses.

 

The question should be: what made them so valuable? Horses denote a sense of power and of might, an unbeatable strength. Look at the following scriptures; we will use them to tie horses and strength together, thereby showing that horses are a picture of strength.

Ps. 33:17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. KJV

Ps. 147:10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. KJV

We know that these horses of Egypt were of great value because in 1 Kings 10:28 Solomon would go to Egypt to buy his horses from Pharaoh.  In today’s langue Solomon would go to Pharaoh to arm or equip  his army with the very best that money could buy, and that was horses and chariots out of Egypt.

1 Kings 10:28–29 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price. 29And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means. KJV

I don’t know a lot about horses but why wouldn’t Solomon have bought Arabians instead of these horses? Remember that the bride is compared to a company or group of these horses, so these horses were probably war horses intended for battle. So the question is: what kind of qualities are you looking for in a horse?

  1. One of the qualities I would be looking for is endurance. Can it still have the ability to keep going even after a long day in the heat? Jesus said he that endures to the end shall be saved.
  2. Another quality is being able to get along with the other horses, showing that we need to be able to blend our spirits together, to work together in unity with one another.
  3. They have been through the battle and came out victorious. They are not afraid of the battle, so we should not be timid about the trials and tribulations that the Lord puts us through.
  4. A horse should have some strength about him, and we know that our strength comes from the Lord.

We will have some of the same qualities as these horses have because of what the Lord has worked out in our lives. We are not looking for our natural strength to get us through the battle but the strength that comes from the Lord.

Ps. 18:32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. KJV

2 Cor. 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. KJV

 

Song 1:10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

The cheeks are dealing with our mouths and the rows of jewels being our teeth showing that the bride has a maturity that allows her to eat and process the things of God, even the hard things of God. The neck is a picture of our will. We will go over some scriptures later on this idea of our neck being a picture of our will. Putting chains of gold around our neck is showing us that God has given us wisdom to the point that we can have strength or authority over our own will  because of the things that we have ate out of the word of God.  Jesus showed us that he had authority over his will in the garden when he said not my will but thine be done.

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. KJV

First let’s deal with the jewels of her cheeks and then we will deal with the chains of gold.

Jewels deal with knowledge,

Prov. 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. KJV

We see here is that our lips and the things we do can be a precious jewel.

In Hebrews 5:12-14 we see that strong meat or understanding of the Bible belongs to those who are of full age and because they have reached a level of maturity in the Lord that they don’t always have to have milk because they have become skillful in the use of the word of God.

Heb. 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV

           

 

Song 1:10 thy neck with chains of gold

Chains of gold show authority in the Bible, and the neck is a picture of our will. This would then be showing us that we can have authority over our will. We can bring our will into subjection to the word of God through the spirit of God. Because of what we learn (eat) out of his word and as we incorporate it into our lives we are becoming subject unto God’s will for our lives.  Look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 the purpose of these weapons is so that we can bring every thought into obedience of Christ.

2 Cor. 10:3–5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. KJV

When the Bible deals with being stiff necked it is in association with self-willed, rebellious people who don’t want to listen to the word of God.

2 Kings 17:13–14 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.

14Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. KJV

Neh. 9:29 And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear. KJV

Prov. 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. KJV

Deut. 31:27 For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? KJV

 

Song 1:10 chains of gold (continued)

And now I will show you that these chains of gold are a picture of authority. When Daniel and Joseph were made rulers, they put a chain of gold around their necks to show that they had authority.

Dan. 5:29 And put a chain of gold about his neck. KJV

Gen. 41:42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. KJV

Chains of gold or the authority that we get comes from  an understanding of God’s word. In the following verses, wisdom and instruction in righteousness are around our necks like a chain. We will see that we can bind the word of God around our necks (will).

Prov. 1:7–9 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. KJV

Prov. 3:21–22 My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: 22So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. KJV

Sound wisdom and discretion can be grace to our neck, just like a chain or necklace can grace someone’s neck.

2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: KJV

So we see that as we get an understanding of his word it starts to give us authority and power over our will allowing us to bring all our thoughts and then our lives into subjection unto the Lord.  So the chains of gold would be an understanding of the scriptures that empowers the new man inside of us with the tools needed to bring our will into subjection to the will of God and allowing us to live righteous lives. .

Prov. 6:20–21 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. KJV

Our father is God; remember when Jesus taught them the Lord prayer: “when you pray, pray our father which is in heaven.” So we need to keep God’s commandments, and our father’s commandments does come through his ministry so we need to listen to a ministry and our mother is the churchSo her law would be not only the doctrines, but some traditions that might not be found in the Bible but most importantly the Law of kindness or charity as stated in Proverbs 31 about a virtuous woman. 

Gal. 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. KJV

Galatians 4 is talking about his church which came into being on the day of Pentecost.

Prov. 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: KJV

Prov 31:26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.KJV

 

Song 1:11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

The “we” in this verse is talking about God the father and his son Jesus Christ, and that they will make some borders or boundaries in our lives by giving us a complete understanding of the word of God. Borders of gold or the understanding of the word of God, (that the early church had) will keep us in the way of the Lord. Studs (like the studs of a house) of silver for supports, the silver or understanding of the latter reign church will actually support the teachings that was found in the days of the early church.. The border is like a battlement that was put around a building to keep people from falling. The Lord wants to give us all the understanding we need so that we won’t fall into sin anymore.

Deut. 22:8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence. KJV

Even the table of showbread in the tabernacle had a border on it to keep the bread from falling off. This table of showbread was found in the Holy place and had 12 loaves of bread on it. Eventually the Priest would eat this as it was replaced with new bread. Thus we use it as eating of the word of God. But the point here is that it still needed to have a border of gold around it.

Exod. 25:25–27 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. KJV

Both gold and silver ties into an understanding of the word of God, we apply gold with the understanding that the early church had because gold is more valuable than silver and truly the early church had a far better understanding of the scriptures than we now have. Some of the truth that the early church had was covered up with the traditions of men, where men replaced the truth with a tradition Since Martin Luther men have been working on uncovering this lost or misplaced truth.  Silver would then be the understanding that the latter reign church would acquire, consider Psalms 12:6 stating that the words of the Lord is as silver. The key word in Psalms 12:6 is   ”as”, because this word ties the words of the Lord and pure silver together.

Ps 12:6 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

KJV

The following verses shows gold also is a picture of the word of God.

Ps 119:72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. KJV

Ps 119:126-1276 It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.

127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. KJV

 

The bride is talking again.

Song 1:12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

Spikenard is an expensive perfume used in many ways and I am using it here to show that my life can give forth a sweet aroma or order, or that I can have a sweet spirit which is pleasing unto the Lord, we will deal with this later.

 

Song 1:12 While the King sitteth at his table.

The table refers to a church, so this tells us that if Christ, our king is sitting at his table or in his seat of authority as the head of the body, this will cause my life to produce a sweet-smelling fragrance. In other words, as I am overcoming by living the kind of life that Jesus would want me to live my life will produce a sweet spirit. The key is I need to let the Lord sit at the table of my heart and rule as the king of my life in order to produce this. Used to be that the head of the family or the patriarch of the family would set at the head of the table and mom would sit at the other end and the children would be at the sides of the table. It did re-enforce the order of our family without having to say anything about it.

The point I am trying to make here is if I will let Jesus be the Lord of my life and present my body as a living sacrifice to him, it will produce a sweet and loving spirit that the world will see. Thus my spikenard, or my spirit, will produce a sweet aroma.

Let’s deal with the table being the church. In showing that a table is a church or place of worship, consider the following verses.

Rom. 11:7–10 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: 10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. KJV

Roman 11 is showing us that spiritually they had become blind. In reference to David, he said that their table should be made a snare, and they became snared with what they believed, having their eyes darkened.  Note: what I want to show here is that a table is connected with worship or what one believes, if I am not careful my table or believes can become a snare unto me and I can miss out with the Lord also.

Isa. 28:7–8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean. KJV

1 Cor. 10:19–21 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. KJV

This deals with the wrong way to worship God in that it talks about how they sacrifice to the idols, thus tying the two thoughts of sacrifice and table together. So then the king’s table would be the body of Christ where you can eat of the things of God and Jesus will be at the head of the table.

 

Song 1:12 my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

Again the point I am trying to make here is if I will let Jesus be the Lord of my life and present my body as a living sacrifice to him, it will produce a sweet and loving spirit that the world will see. Thus my spikenard, or my spirit, will produce a sweet aroma.

Spikenard is an oil that emits a pleasing smell, and it was used to anoint Jesus’s head and feet. Mary the sister of Lazarus did this for his burial in John 12:3.

John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. KJV

Eph. 4:32 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. KJV

Phil. 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. KJV

If Jesus give himself and it was a sweet smelling savor unto God than if I follow in his footsteps my live can be a sweet smelling savor unto God.

 

Song 1:13 A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me;

This shows that Jesus was bruised for our transgressions so that we could be healed from our sinful nature that Adam brought onto mankind.

Let’s first look at a definition for what myrrh is and then scriptures to show why this applies to Jesus. Myrrh was used as perfume and/or as medicine

When a myrrh tree wound penetrates through the bark and into the sapwood, the tree bleeds a resin. Myrrh gum, like frankincense, is such a resin. When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum. Myrrh gum is waxy and coagulates quickly. After the harvest, the gum becomes hard and glossy. The gum is yellowish and may be either clear or opaque. It darkens deeply as it ages, and white streaks emerge. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh.)

 

Interesting that there is a change that takes place during this process, likewise with us also as we go through this process with the Lord there need be a change that takes place within our lives.

Jesus being wounded for our transgressions or sins is like the myrrh tree being wounded.

2 Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. KJV

Isa. 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. KJV

1 Pet. 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. KJV

Also consider the fact that myrrh was also used for burial practices, therefore tying it in with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Myrrh was used in many different ways in the ancient world and was considered sacred by several cultures. The ancient Egyptians used the resin when embalming mummies. It was also an ingredient for incense, according to the Old Testament, and the New Testament states that Jesus was brought a gift of it, along with gold and frankincense, shortly after his birth. It has been reported that, in 65 CE, the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year’s supply at the funeral of his wife. (Source: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-myrrh.htm.)

 

Song 1:13 He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.

Here is a spot where the natural is used to illustrate a spiritual meaning.

Breasts depict our understanding of the Old and New Testaments because breasts are where mother’s milk comes from. I need an understanding of both the New Testament and the Old Testament in order to get a clear understanding of Jesus. So here when we deal with him (Jesus) laying between her breast what it is talking about is this:

The Old Testament points toward the coming of Jesus through prophecy, types, and shadows. The New Testament points us back to Jesus, and right in the middle of both of these you will find the four gospels which tells us about Jesus. Hence he is laying between the two breasts.

Here are some scriptures that will tie breast and milk together with an understanding of the word of God.

Isa. 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. KJV

Heb. 5:12–14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you

again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of

milk, and not of strong meat. 13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of

righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. KJV

1 Pet. 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

KJV

1 Cor. 3:2–3 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? KJV

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul ties being a carnal Christian in with being a babe in Christ, because he fed them with milk and not meat.

 

The bride is talking again.

Song 1:14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.

Jesus is this cluster of camphire; this shows us that the Lord will be a barrier or protection unto us. We can be surrounded by Jesus and have our lives hid in him.

Camphire is a shrub that grows to a height of eight to ten feet and bears very fragrant, cream-colored flowers. The botanical name of the plant is Lawsonia alba. In ancient times it grew plentifully near En-gedi (Song of Solomon i. 14). Tristram (Natural History of the Bible, p. 339) reports having found it growing there. Camphire had various uses. Along with other fragrant woods (Song of Solomon iv. 13–14), it was valued for its perfume.

The shrub as used for protection (http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/3954-camphire). Clusters of camphire were also used around the vineyards for soil erosion, just like the Lord puts battlements around our minds to protect us from the world.

(http://www.hennapage.com/henna/encyclopedia/growing/songofsongs.html).

 

Song 1:15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.

Here Jesus is talking about his bride and says she has doves’ eyes, thus showing that we need to have a singleness of mind or purpose, that of being in the high calling of Christ, the bride of Christ. This is because doves can only see out of one eye at a time, we also need to keep our focus on the Lord and what he wants us to do.

A dove’s eyes are set so they can only look in one direction at a time. They are not easily distracted. This characteristic is attributed to the bride of Christ. She too is continually and steadfastly looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, no matter what distractions and “other lovers” may come her way. She simply cannot look away from the Lord.

(http://bibleforums.org/archive/index.php/t-170872.html)

Some scriptures on being single minded or having a single heart tying it in with the dove eye.

Matt 22:37-38  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. KJV

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. KJV

Sometimes in the Bible a dove represents the Holy Ghost because when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptize the spirit descended as a dove and landed on him. So can I look at things going on in my life through the eyes of the spirit? In other words, can I go through life being led by the spirit? This will help us by allowing us to see that the things I go through is working out something far greater than the sufferings that I am going through. Look at second Corinthians 4:16-18 show that we are keeping our focus on eternal things.

2 Cor 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. KJV

 

Song 1:16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.

Here the Bride is talking about Jesus we know this because he is referring to as my beloved.

What makes Jesus so fair is also found in Chapter 5 talking about his character.

WE find that he only have immortality, the king of kings, always followed the leading of the spirit,has a transforming power.  We will go into more detail latter.

 

Song 1:16 also our bed is green.

I use the color green in Mark 6:39 as a picture of life because when the grass is green, and the trees are green with leaves you know there is life going through them, their life is not dormant. Our bed being green means that there is life in his church. A bed is a picture of a church because of the following verse, in which the bed and sacrifice are tied together. Sacrifice was the method of worship in the Old Testament.

Isa. 57:7 Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. KJV

 Mark 6:39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. KJV

I use the color green to show life, i.e., trees, grass, etc., are all green when they are full of life.Here Jesus fed the 5,000 and he made them to sit down on green grass or a place of life where he feeds us spiritually.

 

Song 1:17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Beams are the boards that support the roof and rafters are the side boards that add additional strength to the roof.

Here the beams are showing us that we want to be enclosed with righteousness (cedar).  In another words I want to be thinking and meditating upon being righteous or doing the right thing. The Lord is going to have a church that is made up of righteous people, righteous but not self-righteous.

The following scriptures show us that the beams of the temple were covered with cedar and that the righteous are like the cedar, you will notice in Psalms 92 that the righteous is compared to both a palm tree and a cedar tree. In Psalms 132:9 the priests were suppose to be clothed (or enclosed) with righteousness (cedar).

1 Kings 6:9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar. KJV

Ps. 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. KJV

Ps. 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. KJV

2 Chron. 6:41 Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. KJV

Isa. 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. KJV

 

Song 1:17 and our rafters of fir.

Since fir is an evergreen tree that stays green all the time, I like to use it here to show that we can stay full of life all the time. The Lord can put things into our lives through the word of God that will produce everlasting life. Because it is a rafter that holds up the roof, it shows me that we need to think about those things that produce life in our lives. For instance, what is it that I think about the most? Is it the things that please my flesh or the things that will please God? I should be feeding my mind with the things that will help me to have a righteous mind like am I reading the Bible every day, do I spend time in prayer, what kind of music am I listening to? What difference does music have on my mind? It is because there are certain words that go with the music and sometimes music can either stir up or calm my spirit so I need to listen to things that will help produce the right kind of spirit.

Ps. 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. KJV

Ps. 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. KJV

Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. KJV

Matt. 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. KJV

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. KJV

So do I treasure the things of God and his word over the things that please my flesh?

About the Author

Owen L. Sypher is a devoted servant of the Lord. At eleven years old, he started a spiritual journey to discover and understand God and his word.

In 1979, he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Since then, he has had fellowships with the same group. Song of Solomon is his first book.

You can visit his website at http://www.sypherbooks.com.

 

First Chapter Reveal: Night in Jerusalem by Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy

Night in Jerusalem

Title: NIGHT IN JERUSALEM
Author: Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy
Publisher: PKZ Inc.
Pages: 246
Genre: Historical Romance

A bewitching love story that is also an extraordinary portrait of Jerusalem, its faith, spirituality, identity, and kaleidoscope of clashing beliefs, Night in Jerusalem is a novel of mystery, beauty, historical insight, and sexual passion.

David Bennett is invited to Jerusalem in 1967 by his cousin who, to the alarm of his aristocratic British family, has embraced Judaism. He introduces David to his mentor, Reb Eli, a revered sage in the orthodox community. Despite his resistance to religious teaching, David becomes enthralled by the rabbi’s wisdom and compassionate presence. When David discloses a sexual problem, Reb Eli unwittingly sets off a chain of events that transforms his life and the life of the mysterious prostitute, Tamar, who, in a reprise of an ancient biblical story, leads both men to an astonishing realization. As passions rise, the Six Day War erupts, reshaping the lives of everyone caught up in it.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

First Chapter:

Hail pounded the windshield of the sherut as it made its way through the night to Jerusalem. The driver pulled to the side of the road, startled. He peered at the windshield. It was fractured, but to his astonishment, still intact.“In twenty years I never see such storm,” he said in his best English.

He lit a cigarette and offered the pack to his passengers. David refused; the three Israelis accepted. Sitting up front, an elderly woman took out oranges, which she peeled, divided, and shared, using her dress to wipe the juice off her hands. The taxi filled with the pungent smell of oranges mixed with cigarette smoke. David cracked open a window.

The storm reminded him of the monsoon in India. Like many of his generation, he had gone there searching for revelation. He had hoped it would let him shake off the feeling of isolation that plagued him wherever he went. His upbringing had given him every comfort that money could buy, except the comfort of belonging in his own skin. At times the loneliness hid long enough to fool him into thinking it was gone, but then, like a familiar ghost, it would find its way back and fill him with despair. After a year of traveling, he had returned to England, only to discover that nothing had changed.

Now, stuck in a taxi on a desolate hilltop outside Jerusalem, enveloped by smoke while waiting out the storm, he regretted leaving Hampshire’s gentle slopes, which were always so green and welcoming, where sometimes after a rain, like a gift from heaven, the sun would come out followed by a sudden rainbow.

He was trying to ignore his reservations about coming to Israel. He wished he had not allowed his cousin to persuade him to come “just for a visit.” Although Jonathan, at twenty-eight, was only a year older, David viewed him as a more mature, elder brother, as well as his best friend. They had grown up together in the south of England in an aristocratic family, enjoying the privileges of great wealth, but subject to the remoteness from society that it can sometimes bring. When Jonathan had left for Israel, David’s loneliness had become unbearable.

After an hour, the storm stopped. The driver told everyone they would need another car to take them to Jerusalem, as he could not see out of his cracked windshield, and that their only option, given the hour, was to hitchhike. The passengers stood at the side of the road for what seemed like an eternity. David was certain he would be there until morning, when an army truck loomed out of the night and juddered to a stop. The driver, a young soldier, helped them aboard, before continuing cautiously down the steep, winding road to Jerusalem.

David was the last passenger to be dropped off. He thanked the soldier for stopping and delivering them safely, surprised by the informality of it all. Just after midnight, standing before a two-story stone building in Abu Tor, with only the moon shimmering through the clouds for illumination, he could just about make out the number of the house. The flat Jonathan had arranged for him was upstairs. He could not find the light and, after blindly climbing the staircase, he felt his way to the top-floor door and fumbled under the mat for the key.

Inside the flat, a lamp had been left on for him, with a note attached to a bottle of wine on a small, wooden table.

Welcome to Jerusalem. See you in the morning, eight o’clock at Cafe Cassis. It’s down the hill to Hebron Road, then right to Rehov (Street) King David, and right again on Rehov Ben-Yehudah. The cafe will be on your right, just a bit further up at the corner. It’s less than a fifteen-minute walk, Jonathan.

P.S. If you want a bath, turn on the red switch outside the loo an hour before. Hope you remembered to bring toilet paper.

The shutters on the windows and doors were closed. The room had a vaulted ceiling and contained a dark, birch armoire that matched the headboard on the double bed. A tufted, deep green armchair was the only other piece of furniture. The room felt as ancient as the city.

Chilled from the storm, David lit the gas heater, then clicked on the red switch for hot water. The bathroom had a commode with a chain flush and a small sink with an even smaller mirror above it. He felt the rough, brown toilet paper sitting on top of the commode and understood why Jonathan had told him to bring a suitcase full. He was grateful there was a deep bathtub with a hand shower.

Restless while waiting for the water to heat, he changed into warmer clothes and decided to take a first look at the city he would live in for the next month.

Outside, the narrow, winding roads of Abu Tor had been soaked by the storm. The stone houses were dark and there were no streetlights. The place seemed uninhabited, with only feral cats out searching for food. Wandering the neighborhood deepened his sense of isolation. He knew nothing of Israel, did not speak the language and, besides Jonathan, knew no one in the country. How could a month here relieve his despair?

Had Jonathan been there to meet him at the flat, he would have felt better, but Jonathan lived near the University of Jerusalem, where he was studying Judaism. Tonight he had gone to a seminar in Haifa and would not be returning until the morning.

David climbed up a steep road, unable to see anything but the stone wall beside him when, suddenly, at the top of the hill, Jerusalem’s Old City revealed itself. The lights peering from stone houses built neatly into its hills shimmered with golden hues against the night. It was, as Jonathan had promised, mysterious and beautiful.

Soaking in a hot bath gave him a restful night until he was awakened at six by a loudspeaker calling the Muslims to prayer, “Allah, Akbar…” Sleepily, he opened the shutters and doors which led onto the roof and there, again, was a panoramic view of Jerusalem. He felt the warmth of the sun as it rose from behind Mount Zion, with no sign of last night’s storm. The clear, blue sky amplified the city’s magnificence. He could see a crescent of cypress trees and, below it, the walled Old City with its minarets and church spires. He looked out at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the golden dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque glittering in the sun. To the far left stood the King David Hotel. He felt a surprising surge of excitement.

He had an hour before meeting Jonathan at Café Cassis and, eager to get a feeling for the city, decided to take a leisurely stroll to the café. By seven o’clock, most of the businesses were open. He passed the King David Hotel and a small cafe where the smell of coffee and freshly-baked pita bread filled the street, already bustling with people, rickety buses, Volkswagens and Mini Minors.

Arriving at the café, he immediately spotted a bearded Jonathan sitting reading the Jerusalem Post. Jonathan jumped up and hugged him.

“Great to see you! I’ve been so looking forward to you being here. I can’t believe you’ve finally shown up. How’s the flat?”

“Fine, the views are spectacular.”

“Well it’s yours for two years, if you like. The chap who owns it is on sabbatical in Argentina. He’d be delighted to get the rent.”

“I’ve committed for a month,” David reminded him, so as to not get Jonathan’s hopes up. “You look very Jewie with that beard. Do you have to have one to study Judaism?”

“Very funny.”

“How are the studies going?”

“Really well, actually. How was your trip to India?”

“A bit challenging. After one of their downpours, my car got stuck in the mud and started sinking. I thought I was going to be swallowed up. I took it as my cue to leave.” David looked at the thick, muddy coffee Jonathan was drinking, “I hope they’ve got more than that to drink.”

“How about a cup of tea?”

“Perfect. Do they serve eggs with sausages?”

“Yes, more or less.”

Jonathan introduced David to Uri, the owner of the café, then, in Hebrew, ordered their breakfast.

“It’s good to see you, Jonathan. I’ve missed you,” David confessed.

“By the way, I’ve arranged for you to meet with the rebbe tomorrow.”

“I know how you feel about him, but frankly, I’m not much interested in meeting him,” David said, as gently as he could, not wanting Jonathan to feel his good intentions were unappreciated.

“David, I’m just asking you to be open-minded. The rebbe has helped so many people. They come from all over the world just to meet him. Why not give him a try? You’ve got nothing to lose.”

“Why are you so keen for me to see him? What’s so special about him?”

“That’s something you’re going to have to find out for yourself, but I promise, once you meet him, you will be hungry for more.”

“More of what?”

“You’ll see. He’s helped me enormously,” Jonathan said emphatically.

David sat quietly, absorbing what Jonathan was saying. He felt envious of his enthusiasm and that he had found his place in the world.

“Jonathan, I don’t know if this is …”

Before he could finish, Jonathan interrupted, “Give it a try. There’s no harm in looking into your own heritage.”

“It’s not my heritage. I know absolutely nothing about it. You know how it is at home. All we do is make an appearance at the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, when of course, it’s a delight to spend quality time with the other closet Jews.”

“Sarcasm has always been such a part of your charm, David.”

“Have you forgotten that my mother thought you ‘troubled’ when you told us you were coming here? And how we were instructed ‘the situation’ was ‘best kept to ourselves.’ Heaven forbid it would jeopardize her luncheon invitations from the queen.”

Although it was all true, Jonathan reasoned, “David it’s what we were born into. Why not give it a chance. Nobody is asking you to commit to anything.”

“Good, because I have no intention of becoming more of a Jew, or anything else for that matter. This country is like any other country, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not here on any kind of pilgrimage.”

“I’m so glad you haven’t changed.”

Uri brought David his tea along with their breakfast of scrambled eggs, a few thin slices of salami and a crusty roll. Jonathan caught David eyeing the salami with suspicion. “Think of it as fine-pressed sausage.”

Reb Eliezer Ben-Yaacov, known to everyone as “Reb Eli,” sat quietly in the study hall of his synagogue in Mea Shearim while his Torah students debated the meaning of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. The previous night’s storm had kept him awake, leaving him weary for today’s studies. Whenever the rebbe couldn’t sleep, he sat and read his favorite verses from the great Tzaddikim, those awakened souls who had come to such a tenderness towards the world that they saw only its beauty. But last night, despite his reading, he had been unable to stop worrying about his youngest daughter.

It had been ten years since his wife had died. Still, he felt God had been generous with him. He was blessed with five children. He had all that he needed, and, three years previously, to his surprise, he had been named Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Based on his growing reputation as a sage, people came from all over the world to seek his guidance. But he could not resolve his concerns about his own daughter. He lived among the Hasidim, and whenever he walked by, the women would become suddenly silent. He knew what they were saying about Sarah. “Blessed with beauty, cursed with misfortune, a woman born luckless, without mazel.”

Sarah was just twelve years old when her mother died. His eldest daughter, Dvorah, had taken on the burden of being her mother. She already had three children of her own. She did her best to look after Sarah as well.

Reb Eli was delighted when Sarah married Yossi, a kind, scholarly young man from a pious family. But after three years of marriage, she was still childless when her devoted husband was stricken with a rare form of cancer and died. All in Mea Shearim gossiped, “Poor, beautiful Sarah had so many bees, but no honey.” The sadness in his daughter’s eyes weighed heavily on him.

Reb Eli was brought back from his troubled thoughts by Chaim, a slight young man from a family of fourteen children whose curiosity and devoted scholarship made him one of the rebbe’s favorite students. “Chanukah honors those times in our lives when sun and moon, the direct light of God and the reflected light of our tradition are at their nadir. It is a time of trouble, fear and sadness. The work of Chanukah is to dispel darkness with the kindling of lights. That is what we must contemplate throughout these eight days,” Chaim said, answering the question the rebbe had forgotten he had asked.

The rebbe nodded his head in approval, grateful to Chaim for reminding him of the inner work to be done.

Ever since Yossi’s passing, Sarah’s nights had been restless. She woke often, feeling tired and dull. The storm the night before had awakened her with the sound of fierce rain and hail beating against the window. Watching the rain, she had remembered how her mother always said whoever is born or married in the rain will be blessed with mazel.

The storm had flooded the classroom at the girl’s cheder where she taught biblical studies. It had damaged the dilapidated roof and left the floor waterlogged. Her class was moved to her sister Esther’s room, where the two classes were combined. The students sat paired together at each desk, giggling. Nevertheless, Sarah was grateful when Esther offered to take over both of their classes so she could take the remainder of the day off, as she was feeling intense cramps from the onset of her period.

It was five months since her husband had died. A childless widow at twenty-two, she felt her monthly bleeding was now wasted on a barren woman. She returned to the courtyard where she lived just across from her father’s house. She climbed the stairs to the small flat she had shared with Yossi. After closing the drapes of her bedroom window, she removed her marriage wig, allowing her lustrous, auburn hair to spill over her shoulders. Undressing from the drab mourning clothes she had worn since Yossi’s death, she slid into her warm bed, wearing only her soft, white slip.

Sarah looked at the clock. She had a few hours before she was to bring her father his four o’clock tea. Catching an afternoon nap felt tender and peaceful. She fell deeply asleep, dreaming she was floating out to sea.

Late in the afternoon, Jonathan escorted David into Mea Shearim, where bearded men strolled the streets in long black coats and fur hats, with curled locks of hair hanging over their ears. The women were dressed in dark skirts and coats that covered them from the neck down to their clumsy Oxford shoes. Their hair was hidden by tight scarves or identical wigs. Walking separately, segregated from the men, they appeared weary, and old beyond their years.

The Hasidim stared suspiciously at David. His clean-shaven face, short brown jacket, jeans, and loafers screamed “outsider.” By their glares, it was obvious they didn’t like strangers coming into their neighborhood. Most of them belonged to the ultra-orthodox sect known as the Satmars.

David was repelled by the sight of “these people,” and told Jonathan he felt he was visiting a strange planet of clones. He wanted to get out of there right away.

Jonathan was disturbed by his reaction. “David, you know nothing about the Hasidim. Judging them by their appearance? That’s so shallow.” Trying to put him at ease before meeting the rebbe, Jonathan explained that Reb Eli, although orthodox, did not belong to any sect.

Alone in his study, Reb Eli thought about the promise he had made to his friend, Phillip Bennett. He had known the Bennetts since childhood when his family had sent him to England from his home in Germany.

In November 1938, five days after Kristalnacht, the renowned Reb Yaacov Wolfner had decided to send his youngest child, Eliezer, who was almost fifteen, to England through the Kindertransport, an organization that rescued Jewish children from Nazi Germany and found them foster homes in England.

“How strange,” he thought, “that we forget so easily what we did yesterday, but remember so vividly what the heart felt long ago.” It was now nearly thirty years since Reb Eli’s last Shabbat dinner with his parents and siblings. He remembered his father had invited two young rabbinical students as guests. He could still hear the songs and chants. He could still taste the sweet challah bread his mother had baked. He remembered how the Shabbat candles had magically turned their home into a haven of peace and beauty; how he had cherished the days when he was able to study alongside his father.

At Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse railway station, Reb Yaakov held his son’s arm tightly, not saying a word. All around, families were tearing themselves apart, pushing their children into railway carriages under the hostile eyes of the SS, fearing this would be their last time together. Children cried out for their parents even as the train carrying them to England pulled away from the platform.

Several days earlier, his father had explained why he had to leave Germany. He was being sent to England where he would be safe. His father had assured him he would be well cared for, as his friend, the Chief Rabbi of the Emergency Council in England, would place him in a good home. He promised to send for him as soon as the Nazi regime was over and told him always to remember where he came from, and to live by the teachings of the Torah.

When young Eliezer arrived in Harwich he was driven to Hampshire, where the Bennetts took him into their home. He remembered the drive up the long road to their estate, how he stood there staring in awe at the majesty of it all. It was grander than anything he had ever seen. When the Bennett family came out to greet him, he was too intimidated to speak. It was only when their son, Phillip, reached out his hand, that he was able to say hello.

The Bennetts were generous and compassionate secular Jews, careful to keep their philanthropy anonymous, especially all they did for their fellow Jews.

Phillip Bennett and Eliezer were close in age and befriended each other immediately, despite their different enthusiasms. For Eliezer, it was the study of Torah; for Phillip, it was rugby. Their common interest was chess, a game at which Eliezer excelled. When war broke out, they would hike out into the fields in search of German paratroopers, missions which Philip insisted be kept secret from his parents.

Each time they went out, Eliezer would pray they would not run into any Nazis. Other than his fear of Nazis, Eliezer learned to enjoy their outdoor adventures. He loved Hampshire’s open, green fields and narrow, gushing streams, often writing to his parents about the English countryside. He looked forward to when they would come for him, so he could show them how beautiful it was. He also let them know the Bennetts had arranged for him to continue his religious studies. Phillip and “Eli,’” as he soon became known, became firm friends.

When the war ended, Eli learned of the fate of his family. They had been taken to Auschwitz and murdered. At twenty years old, he was left orphaned and bereft. He yearned for his family and the life he had known. Germany was no longer a place he could call home. As welcomed as the Bennetts made him feel, and as close as he was to Phillip, Eli desperately needed to return to his own ground. Like so many displaced Jews, he found himself drawn to a new beginning in the Promised Land. In 1946, with the Bennetts support, Eli left for Jerusalem, where he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become a rabbi.

During the early, struggling years of the new state of Israel, and through its wars, Phillip had sent generous support, both to Reb Eli, who had started a family, and to the nation. Now, it was Reb Eli’s turn to be generous.

He had been taken by surprise when Phillip, who professed to be an atheist, told him of his nephew’s desire to learn about Judaism. Jonathan was the son of Eleanor, Phillip’s younger sister, whom he knew well from his time in England. She had married an aristocratic Jew, secular in his ways, yet committed to supporting Israel as insurance against an anti-Semitic world.

Reb Eli had become very fond of Jonathan, though he remained something of an enigma to him. He could not understand how a young man, coming from such wealth, without religious upbringing, could suddenly decide to come to Jerusalem to study Judaism. Was it a rebellion against his family, or was he simply searching for a spiritual path? Or perhaps it had to do with the loss of his father at a young age? Eleanor had told him how much the boy had suffered. For the past three years, Reb Eli had observed Jonathan closely. He appreciated his devotion to his studies, yet remained curious about his motives.

Then, two weeks earlier, Phillip had called asking for help for his only son, David. “My son is lost. He doesn’t know where he belongs. He can’t seem to find himself. Eli, see what you can do. Jonathan has promised to help as well.”

As much as he wanted to help Phillip, he doubted there was much he could do. So many families, especially from America, begged for his help with lost souls. Young people who had no roots were like trees that fall in the first wind. How could he give them the spiritual foundation their families had failed to provide? Most of the time, he could do no more than offer them blessings and prayers. But this was Phillip’s son. He owed Phillip so much. This would have to be different. Reb Eli prayed that the hand of God would guide him.

Promptly, at four o’clock, Sarah brought him his tea, with two biscuits. The rebbe’s heart ached at his daughter’s appearance. Her once sparkling eyes were now dull and empty. She moved like a woman who had been thwarted by life. Lost for words of comfort, the rebbe gently asked his daughter how she was feeling. “I’m fine, Abba,” she said quietly, then left to join her sisters in the kitchen to help prepare the evening meal.

You’re on your own now,” Jonathan said when they reached the courtyard of the rebbe’s house.

“I haven’t a clue what to say or what I’m even doing here,” David muttered nervously. “Aren’t you at least going to introduce us?”

“No need. Just be brave and honest. See you later.”

Other than what Jonathan had told him, and his father’s story of how he had lived with the family during the war, David knew little about the rebbe, except that he was now the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and had remained a close friend of his father.

He felt awkward and out of place knocking at the rebbe’s door. A young Hasidic man greeted him and ushered him into Reb Eli’s study.

The rebbe was sitting by a large table, facing the door. “Please,” he motioned for David to sit across from him in the worn, upholstered chair. Reb Eli’s blue eyes were gentle and inquisitive. His head of prematurely white hair and his full salt-and-pepper beard added to David’s impression that he was meeting an Old Testament prophet. He sat in the chair and waited for the rebbe to speak, anticipating many questions. Instead, Reb Eli sat silently, periodically closing his eyes in meditation. Not knowing what to say or do, David remained quiet. After a while, a wave of peace washed over him. He became aware of the flow of his breath and the beat of his heart. He heard himself say, “I have so many questions.”

“Questions are good, they are all we have, because there are no answers,” the rebbe countered in a tone tender enough for a small child.

In the kitchen, Sarah and her sisters had been washing and cutting fresh-bought vegetables, when Esther asked if one of them would mind running to the macholet for some garlic. Miriam suggested Sarah should go because she had “had a long rest in the afternoon.”

Sarah left for the corner market. Outside the house, in the courtyard, she was looking down when she spotted a pair of brown loafers walking past her. She looked up, curious to see who belonged to these foreign shoes. David, engrossed in his thoughts, walked by without noticing her. Sarah glanced into his face and saw the refined shape of his head, how his hand gently brushed away the dark-brown wisps of hair that had fallen on his forehead. She felt a sudden queasiness in her stomach at noticing so much about a stranger. Trying to dismiss the incident, she rushed to the market, then back to the kitchen where she began mincing the unpeeled garlic cloves until Miriam cried, “Sarah, you forgot to peel the garlic!”

The setting sun covered the city in warm, mellow hues of amber and purple. David was glad he had decided to walk back to Abu Tor. The meeting with the rebbe had left him longing for things he could not name. He was baffled by the rebbe’s silence. Why had he not spoken? Was it because Reb Eli sensed he didn’t want to be there, or was it just that the rebbe had nothing to say? Perhaps this renowned rebbe was simply bored with one more seeker?

What puzzled David most was why he wanted to see him again. What for? More silence? The rebbe had already told him there were no answers, so what was the point of seeing him again? It would be best to tell Jonathan the meeting had served neither of them well.

At the bottom of the hill at Abu Tor, near the water mill, lay the border between Jordan and Israel, marked by a military post manned by Israeli soldiers. On the other side of the road, Jordanians stood watch at their post. Each monitored the other, day in, day out. Watching the sunset hover over the Old City, David couldn’t help but think how bored the soldiers must be, having to stand watch all day, with only each other for company. He saw one of the Jordanians signal for a cigarette. An Israeli soldier put one into a pack and threw it across the road, to a perfect catch. For the moment, their differences dissolved. They became simply two men watching a magnificent sunset, sharing a smoke.

David and Jonathan walked through the ancient tree-lined streets of Baka, a neighborhood of traditional stone houses where Jonathan’s girlfriend, Nilli, lived. The houses had been built with Jerusalem stone, a pale limestone with mixed shades of pink, sand and gold that were glowing in the sunset. David admired the buildings and asked where the stones came from.

“They come from local quarries. All houses have to be built with them, by law, to preserve Jerusalem’s antiquity. It’s why the city is known as Jerusalem of Gold,” Jonathan said.

He pried as gently as he could to find out how David’s meeting with the rebbe had gone. “He’s pretty amazing, isn’t he?”

“He said nothing. What’s so amazing about that?”

“He doesn’t have to say anything. His presence tells you everything you need to know,” Jonathan said, trying not to sound preachy.

“Is that it? I just get to sit there in his ‘presence’?”

Jonathan laughed. “Didn’t you have enough of good conversation in England? I should think by now you would have learned the limitations of language.”

“I don’t think I will be seeing him again.”

“Don’t be so quick to judge. It’s worth giving it some time,” Jonathan said in his older brother tone.

Jonathan was eager for David to meet Nilli and their friends. Feeling out of sorts, David was hesitant about meeting everyone and tried to excuse himself by insisting he was “too grubby” in his jeans and sweater and wasn’t properly dressed.

“I wouldn’t worry about that. Nobody here bothers about fashion. It’s considered gauche,” Jonathan boasted, not letting David off the hook.

Arriving at a small stone house with a painted blue door, David was greeted by Nilli. She had a lovely, open face and smile, with bright blue eyes. She embraced David with a warm hug, “Jonathan has told me so much about you.”

“I hope some of it was good,” David smiled.

Her warmth put him immediately at ease. The door opened into the living room, where three people sat on bright oriental pillows around a large brass coffee table.

Jonathan introduced Nilli’s roommate, Anat, and Nilli’s brother, Gideon, and his girlfriend, Ronit. Anat and Gideon were dressed in military khaki. They each had an Uzi lying beside them. Gideon shared his sister’s eyes and smile. Ronit seemed shy and awkward, traits David later discovered were due to her lack of English. Anat was a sensual beauty, with long blonde hair tied in a ponytail. She spoke English with a perfect British accent. David thought she looked amazing in her army fatigues. Her skirt came just above her knees revealing her shapely legs. The uniform accentuated her slim, curved body. Anat let David know immediately she considered herself smart, tough, and well-informed. When he asked if she had studied in England, she told him “I’ve never left Israel. I make it my business to learn a language in its proper accent.”

“Anat makes it her business to know about everything that interests her,” Nilli boasted about her friend.

Jonathan warned him, “Don’t be surprised if she knows more about England than we do. Anat is a phenomenon. She reads everything in sight, in four languages, and she’s got a photographic memory so she retains all of it. I wouldn’t bother challenging her on any subject. It will just make you miserable.”

“I shall play it safe then, and keep quiet,” David said with good humor.

Anat proceeded to prove to him that everything Nilli and Jonathan had said about her was true. She was not only beautiful, but brilliant and provocative.

The evening continued into the early morning. They had wine with Mediterranean salads, pita bread, olives, cheese, fruit, and nuts. Afterwards, Anat rolled some hashish into a cigarette, offering it to everyone. David, feeling at home with the group, was the only one who accepted. Jonathan had to get up early and left soon after. The rest of them continued talking until three in the morning. They all wanted to know about David’s travels and what had brought him to Jerusalem. The hashish relaxed him. He opened up about his adventures, and how Jonathan had persuaded him to come to Jerusalem to meet Reb Eli. Feeling that he had been talking too much about himself, he shifted the conversation.

He learned that Gideon was a high-ranking pilot in the Air Force. Anat was an army lieutenant, an atheist and an archeologist, studying to get her doctorate at the Hebrew University. Ronit was an army code decipherer and Nilli was a medical resident serving in Hadassah Hospital’s emergency ward. They were all curious about his meeting with Reb Eli, although none of them were religious. They knew that the rebbe was well-respected and admired for his plain-spokenness about the Torah and the Talmud and was known to be deeply immersed in the teachings of the mystics, which especially interested Gideon.

David didn’t know if it was the wine, the hashish, or just the early morning hour that made him feel a deep kinship with these people. Whatever it was, it felt good. Nilli made him promise he would come by whenever he felt the need for company. “Abu Tor is a short walking distance from Baka. You can stop by anytime.”

Gideon, who listened more than he had spoken during much of the evening, asked David if he would like to see Jerusalem from the air. He offered to pick him up on Saturday to go flying in a twin-engine Cessna that was available to him from the Air Force. David eagerly accepted.

The next morning, the phone rang at eight, waking David from a deep sleep. It was Jonathan asking him to meet at Café Cassis.

“I’m a bit sleepy. Didn’t get to bed until four. Mind if we meet later?” David mumbled.

“I won’t be around later; tied up all day at school. Why don’t you get up and nap later? You’re on holiday, after all. Come on. I’ll have Uri put the kettle on.”

David found Jonathan seated at the same table, reading the Jerusalem Post.

Uri, the owner, brought over a cup of tea, with a glass of milk on the side. “If you want more tea, I bring you.”

“Hungry?” Jonathan asked.

“I think I’ve had enough of the finely pressed sausage, thank you.”

“It’s an acquired taste. You’ll get there,” Jonathan assured him.

“I’m quite happy as I am, thank you,” David said, as he removed the tea bag brewing in his cup. “I wish you had told me to bring along some decent tea as well.”

“I didn’t think there’d be much room left, after the toilet paper. First things first, you know.” Jonathan whispered.

“Enjoyed last night,” David said, adding a little milk to his tea.

“Good. What do you think of Anat?”

“Smashing.”

“Any interest in getting to know her better?” Jonathan inquired matter-of-factly.

“Not particularly.”

“How come?”

“A lady who carries an Uzi is not my idea of a romantic date.”

“Don’t be absurd. Everyone carries an Uzi here. They all serve in the army.”

“I don’t, and neither do you,” David reminded him.

“You’ll get used to it.”

“God, I hope not,” David moaned. “Seriously, I think Nilli and all your friends are great and lots of fun. I’m just not ready for any sort of romance.”

For as long as Jonathan could remember, David was never interested in “romantic entanglements.” In England he’d had many girlfriends, but never a steady one. Jonathan decided to let it ride. He was concerned about David and didn’t want anything to become a source of friction between them. He was grateful he was in Jerusalem and had met with the rebbe. When Jonathan was growing up, his mother had spoken of Reb Eli with great respect and appreciation, telling him how much he had helped her find the strength to deal with the death of his father. Jonathan was also grateful to the rebbe for taking him under his wing. Reb Eli had become a great inspiration to him, and he hoped the rebbe would be able to help David, too, find his way in the world.

“Well, I’m glad you found Nilli and my friends engaging,” Jonathan said, keeping the conversation light and cheerful.

“Gideon has invited me to go flying with him on Saturday.”

“Really, that’s quite impressive. Gideon is not one for wasting time with insignificant others. Frankly, it took him a year to warm up to me. Must be he took a real liking to you. I have to admit, that makes me feel a bit put out.”

“Don’t be. I’m not the one sleeping with his sister,” David reassured him.

“I take your point. Thank you.”

“I like Gideon. I suspect there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.”

“There is.”

When Sarah brought in her father’s afternoon tea, he asked her if she would sit with him for a moment. Pleased to have her father to herself, she sat down on the old, worn chair, the chair she shared with so many others who hungered for his wisdom and guidance. Reb Eli was a man of few words. He never talked much about himself or divulged anything about those who came to see him. Idle talk and gossip were unwelcome. Everyone’s confidences were well kept in his inner world, which belonged to him alone. Even Sarah and her siblings knew little about their father’s past, other than he had spent several years in England during World War II. Like everything else, details about their father or others were never given or discussed.

He was used to counseling all sorts of people. He had given comfort to so many. It pained him that he could not find a way to reach his own daughter. He sat quietly praying for the right words to come to him.

Sensing her father’s concern, Sarah knew the best way to put him at ease was with a direct question. “Why do some people have more difficult lives than others?”

Sarah’s question was filled with loneliness and despair. It tore at the rebbe’s heart. He spoke to her in his gentle manner. “When it rains, you can shout for the sun, but neither the sun nor the rain will hear you. There is either your acceptance or your rejection. The first leads to peace; the second, to suffering. God pursues you with peace, offering each moment for your appreciation. There is no profit in rejection, but with acceptance comes tranquility and hope for the future.”

“How do you find tranquility and hope?” she asked.

“The mysteries are an open secret, Sarah. It is we who must come out of hiding. Some days are bright, others are dark. We should not make a drama of the light, or a tragedy of the dark. Just embrace each as it is, knowing that happiness comes when we live each moment in peace. The whole of life is impermanent; there is no certainty. There’s no salvation to lift us out of it, and no reward for suffering. Thinking otherwise is like pursuing the wind. You are a wise and learned woman, Sarah. You know these things. You must try to live them.”

“It’s not easy, Abba.”

“I know,” Reb Eli said quietly.

At that moment, Sarah longed to be five years old again, sitting in her father’s lap while he gently stroked her hair. Not since she was a child was that permissible. Being observant of the orthodox law, girls over twelve were not permitted to have physical contact with any male, even with their brother or their father. It was forbidden. By twelve, she had lost her mother to cancer, and she had lost her father’s physical affection. This would have to come from female family members and friends. The only man once permitted to touch Sarah was her now dead husband. Sarah wished she could find comfort in her father’s words, but she could not. Neither could she find solace in her sisters’ arms. Her loneliness weighed heavily on her body and her soul. She found comfort only in books. Books were her special friends. She loved the way they opened the outside world to her, leaving her imagination free to dream and experience whatever thoughts and feelings came to visit her. Sarah and her eldest sister, Devorah, kept secret her frequent trips to the library. When Sarah married Yossi, he too became her secret-keeper.

Yossi was not like any of the other young men among the Hasidim. He was more open and willing to give his wife the freedom to seek any knowledge she desired, even if it meant going to the city library alone. Sarah had known Yossi since they were toddlers. As long as Sarah could remember, Yossi and she were good friends. Although she was a girl, Yossi would debate the meanings of the Torah and Mishnah with her. Sarah and Yossi’s marriage had been arranged and both were content and agreeable to the match. Their marriage was like their friendship: tender, respectful and loving. Yossi agreed Sarah would not have to cut her beautiful hair, which is expected of married women. Luckily for Sarah, Devorah worked in the mikveh where Sarah would always arrive last for the Friday cleansing ritual. With her sister as the only witness, she would neatly tie up her hair, then immerse herself twelve times under the water, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thereafter, her spirit and body would be cleansed.

Whenever Sarah left home, she would wear the customary sheitel, neatly tucking every strand of her own hair under the coarse brown wig, styled with bangs, just like the other married women. At night, Yossi loved to brush her long, thick auburn hair. Then, when it was permissible, they would be intimate. All other times, they slept in their separate twin beds.

Now that Yossi was gone, Sarah knew she had not only lost a husband, but her best friend. She knew no one would be as kind, gentle and accepting of her as Yossi had been. She tried to acquiesce to God’s will that she be left childless and alone. She understood the only suitor who would be willing to marry her now would be one of the elderly men who had been widowed, such as Itzhak, the loner across the courtyard, whom she had caught spying on her from his window. Sarah preferred her aloneness to being with someone old enough to be her father.

The rebbe knew his words had failed to soothe his daughter’s wounded spirit. He was at a loss. How could he bring comfort to her? All that was left for him was to accept his helplessness about it. He closed his eyes and did what he knew best. He prayed.

His thoughts shifted to David, who would be arriving shortly. He found David to be earnest and sincere. He wished he had come at a better time, when he wasn’t so preoccupied with his own concerns. Nevertheless, he would pray and ask Hashem to show him a way to reach this lost young man.

For his part, David had made up his mind to challenge the rebbe: no more sitting in silence. If the rebbe had no answers for him, he would not waste his time. He approached Mea Shearim determined to be a force to be reckoned with. He entered the rebbe’s study and sat down on the chair with a thud.

“Reb Eli, I’ve been thinking…”

“So have I,” interrupted the rebbe. “How would you like to join me every Thursday evening at eight? You will ask a question each week, then we will contemplate your question, which you will take into consideration until the following week, when you will come in with another question. Do you agree to do this for at least eight weeks?”

As if speaking with someone else’s voice, David heard himself mutter, “Yes.”

“Good, now take a moment and ask your first question.”

David felt himself go blank. “I can’t think of one just now.”

“Then I have one for you,” replied the rebbe. “Why is it a young man like yourself is not married or betrothed?”

Feeling as if he had been knocked off his feet, David tried to catch his balance, and mumbled, “I don’t know.”

“Do you enjoy being with a woman?”

“Yes, of course…,” David answered, nervously, wondering how the rebbe knew he had a problem. His shameful secret must be written all over his face, he thought. Every time David got intimate with a woman, he would ejaculate prematurely. Each relationship added to his humiliation and left him feeling more inept than before. David would repeatedly tell himself he would do better next time. Next time always proved to be the same. The women were just as embarrassed by his predicament as he was. They would ignore it as though nothing had happened, as if that would ease his shame. To avoid any further distress, he always found an amicable excuse for breaking off the relationship. Confronted by the rebbe, David sat quietly for some time. Reb Eli waited patiently, giving him the time he needed to gather the courage to speak. “I have trouble holding myself,” he confessed, in a whisper.

The rebbe was as astounded about his inquiry as was David. He had no idea why he had asked that particular question, and was just as amazed when he heard the answer come out of David’s mouth. Feeling this was divine intervention, he offered David the only assistance he could muster. “Can you be here Sunday evening at eight?”

From her bedroom window, Sarah spotted David walking across the courtyard, wearing the same brown loafers and jacket. Once again, she felt an odd twinge in her stomach. What was this modern man, dressed in European clothes, doing in Mea Shearim? Perhaps he was visiting a distant relative? There were several Hasidim who were visited by outsiders, but not often. This was the second time in two weeks she had seen him. She became preoccupied with what he was doing in Mea Shearim, and wondered why he should have such a peculiar effect on her. Then she caught herself and dismissed her thoughts as idle nonsense, caused by her unsettled state. She felt like a stranger to herself and a burden to her family. Nothing made sense to her anymore.

Every Friday night, all twenty-five members of the rebbe’s family gathered for Shabbat. They would sit in their customary places at the Shabbat tables, Sarah with her three sisters, her two sisters-in-law, and their children at one table; Reb Eli at the head of the men’s table with his two sons and sons-in-law and his three eldest grandsons. His eldest daughter, Dvorah, would light the Shabbat candles as the women covered their eyes and chanted the prayer welcoming the shechinah, the peace of the Shabbat bride, to their home and heart. At the conclusion of each Shabbat, the rebbe’s grandchildren would line up before him and he would place his hands over each of their heads for a special blessing.

Sarah felt bereaved. She would never bring forth a child for her father’s blessing. She was aware how her sisters, who knew of her anguish, avoided looking into her eyes.

At the end of the meal, Reb Eli gave Sarah a nod, her cue to start singing. Nothing pleased him more than the sound of Sarah’s voice. It created a peace that filled the room and touched his soul. Afterwards, the children sang traditional Sabbath songs, with all of the family joining in.

As the women cleared the table, Sarah heard Reb Eli ask her brother, Yaacov, to arrange for Shimon to come see him. She knew summoning Shimon meant a visit to the “House.” She wondered which of the young men was having personal issues and needed help.

After Shabbat, she went back to her flat. Since Yossi’s death, she had stopped going to the weekly mikveh. She preferred, instead, to light her own Shabbat candles, carefully placing them on the windowsill from where she could watch them flicker while she enjoyed her meditation. But tonight, her thoughts flowed to the first time she had followed her brother, Isaac, to the House. She remembered how her mother had wept copiously at the dining room table, the night Isaac was caught caressing his best friend, Moshe, in the shower of the men’s mikveh. Her mother, who was weakened by illness, had pleaded with her father to “have Shimon take Isaac to the House.” When her father refused, she begged until he became weary with guilt. Seeing the fragility of his wife, he could not deny her and, despite his reservations, arranged for Isaac to be taken there. Sarah had just turned twelve and wondered why it was so wrong for her brother to have shown affection for Moshe. She was also curious about the House and why Isaac had to go there.

The previous week there had been so much whispering between her parents that it piqued her curiosity so much that she decided to follow her brother and Shimon, secretly, keeping her distance. She watched them enter a house in the heart of Machane Yehuda’s open souk on Agripas Street, the main market in Jerusalem, which was a short distance from Mea Shearim, and deserted at night.

Her first glimpse of Madame Aziza was from a bench across the street where she sat looking up at the balcony, through panes of glass doors and windows that were draped with white laced curtains. She could see the silhouette of a woman who was elaborately dressed. It would be years before she learned who she was.

The lights from the House sparkled against the darkness of the night. When scantily dressed young women with flowing, bright scarves appeared, Sarah became mesmerized and watched spellbound as they danced sensually before Isaac. She watched her brother go off with one of the girls, but couldn’t see where they had gone, or what they were doing. She imagined the girl would dance for Isaac and, if he were nice to her, she would let him kiss her so he wouldn’t have to caress Moshe anymore and make her mother cry.

After that night, Sarah imagined she, too, could dance with beautiful scarves in the same graceful way that would please men. Thereafter, whenever she heard about one of the young men having a personal problem who needed a visit to the House, Sarah would wait until her sisters were asleep, then dress and escape into the night and walk the narrow streets to Madame Aziza’s house to watch from the bench and marvel at the exotic dancing of the young women.

It was during that time that Sarah’s life changed forever. Her mother had been struggling with her illness for years. Watching her slip into the hands of death became unbearable. Toward the end, she and her brothers and sisters would take turns looking after her. Each afternoon, from two until four, her father would be with her. At night, when everyone was asleep, Sarah took to escaping to the privacy of her father’s study to lock out the world and pretend to be one of Madame Aziza’s dancing enchantresses. Alone, in the solitude of her imagination, she, too, became a beautiful dancer. She imagined being married, dancing to the delight of her husband, and giving him many sons, which would please Hashem who, perhaps, would spare her mother from dying. Sarah’s secret world was not to be shared with anyone.

God did not spare her mother. And at fourteen she discovered the truth about what was going on in the House. Her sister, Esther, explained that her husband, Yitzhak, was having difficulty performing his husbandly duties, so it was arranged for him to be taken to Madame Aziza’s house. Esther was not happy with the arrangement, but Yitzhak’s problem was keeping her from conceiving. She told Sarah that men went to Madame Aziza’s house where they paid women to help them overcome such problems. Sarah was shocked and embarrassed by how stupid she had been not to realize that Madame Aziza’s was a house of prostitution. She feared what her sisters would think if they knew she had been sneaking out after dark to watch and enjoy harlots dancing, imagining herself to be one of them.

Lying in bed, Sarah wondered if Isaac, with his four sons and two daughters, and her sister Esther, with her three sons and two daughters, were grateful to Madame Aziza. It was only she who was left devoid of children and without a husband. Perhaps this was beshert for having secretly stolen away to live vicariously as one of Madame Aziza’s seductresses.

Flying high above Jerusalem at sunrise, David looked out of the window of the Cessna, spellbound by the glistening light that bathed the city. “It’s magnificent,” he said.

Gideon smiled proudly, as though Jerusalem belonged to him personally. “For thousands of years, so many have fought over her.”

“Her?” asked David.

“Do you know of another city that has given birth to three such religions?”

“No, thank heaven. I imagine it would just cause more conflict and wars.”

“Perhaps, but none would be as Jerusalem.”

Gideon circled lower, giving David a closer view of the curving domes, soaring minarets, and the Western Wall of the Temple.

“There’s the Old City.”

“Do you think there’s any chance of peace?”

“That’s a question for our neighbors.”

“Surely they believe in peace?”

“They’re too afraid democracy and education will corrupt them, especially their women. Liberated women are their worst nightmare. Our own orthodox have the same problem.”

Gideon pointed into the distance, “Over there is Hebron. It’s where our patriarchs are buried.”

David asked, “Do you really think that’s what it’s about for the Arabs? Not wanting their women to be liberated?”

“Mostly. With the Christians it’s different. With them, we are a constant reminder that even though their God was born and died a Jew, we don’t go along with their story.” Gideon was quiet for a moment. “I believe that’s why they found it easy to kill six million of us.”

“You can’t blame the Christians for what the Nazis did.”

“And who were the Nazis before Hitler came along?”

“What about the Christians who helped save Jews?”

“Too bad the Pope wasn’t one of them.”

“The world has changed. You have your own country now.”

“Exactly, and we intend to keep it. Do you really believe being British excludes you from being a Jew?”

“Frankly, I’ve never given it much thought.”

“Being Jewish is not something the world will allow you to opt out of.”

David felt he had been insensitive and wanted to explain himself. “I’ve never had any desire to be part of a tribe. I think each of us has to find his own way in the world. I just wish I could find mine.”

David was pushed back in his seat as Gideon pointed the plane skywards.

“I understand,” said Gideon as he turned the Cessna upside down into a roll.

David felt his stomach rise to his chest. Queasy, he began gagging.

“Being in the world without roots, and not belonging somewhere, is like flying through life upside down,” Gideon said evenly, turning the Cessna back over.

“I see what you mean,” David said, grateful to have his stomach and equilibrium back in place.

“Feeling better?”

“Sort of.”

Tsipi’s was a dive in a back alley in the heart of town. Most of the people there on this Saturday night were young Israelis, drinking with friends, or dancing to their version of a rock band. The air was rank with cigarette smoke and David’s throat became irritated. He ordered a beer to soothe it. It was dark and tasted of malt.

Anat seemed to know everyone there and introduced David as “my friend from England.” She was dressed in a dark blue mini-dress, which David thought was nearly as seductive as her army uniform. He wondered if he had been set up to go dancing with her. Earlier in the evening, everyone had an excuse for not joining them. Jonathan and Nilli said they were too tired; Gideon and Ronit had to get an inhaler from the pharmacy for Ronit’s mother, who was sick with bronchitis.

Anat was a good dancer and made sure everyone knew it. She seemed to know every move he was going to make. Her body was right there, in rhythm with him. David wondered if she desired him as much as he did her. He suspected she had dressed up to impress him, which flattered him. He tried to keep up with her dancing until he felt weak with hunger, as he hadn’t eaten since lunch. He asked if she knew where they could get something to eat. She suggested Mickey’s. “It’s the only place open at night that serves good food.”

Mickey’s was a small, crowded restaurant with bare Formica tables. A couple had just finished eating and were leaving when they walked in. Anat introduced David to the proprietor, Mickey, a burly forty-year-old Syrian Jew who could barely speak English. By the way they spoke rapidly in Hebrew, it was obvious they knew each other very well, and shared a warm friendship. Mickey was a charismatic man with a hearty laugh. David felt an immediate liking for him. Within minutes, Mickey, who was also the cook, brought out salads, warm pita bread, chicken and lamb kabobs. Everything was delicious. Anat ate and drank like no one David had ever seen. She was insatiable. For dessert, she ate three flans that she washed down with three cups of Turkish coffee. Finally, David burst out laughing.

“What is it?”

“You eat like a bloody horse. I’ve never seen anything like it. Where does it all go?”

“I’ve been this way all my life. I just burn it off. In an hour, I’ll probably be hungry again.” She licked her lips, continuing to devour the last of her third flan.

“She eat always like this. Where it go, I don’t know,” Mickey said, laughing.

Walking through the city toward Abu Tor, the streets were empty and still. In the distance, near the windmill, all that could be seen were the lit cigarettes of the sentries at the border post, flickering like lightening bugs.

Given the provocative way Anat had danced, David thought she would expect to be invited up to his place. Although he desired her, her heightened energy made him anxious. He feared he was not up to dealing with her.

“How was flying with Gideon?”

“Amazing. I don’t believe I will ever forget it. He has quite a way of making his point,” David admitted.

Anat laughed, “So you’ve discovered Israeli men don’t have your refined manners?”

“Yes. I’ve gathered as much.”

Arriving at the house in Abu Tor, Anat simply followed him up the stairs to his flat, in continuation of their walk. There was no need for an invitation.

David tried to hide his nervousness by asking her if she was still hungry.

“I might be a horse, but I’m not a cow. Do you have any hash?”

“Jonathan made me promise not to bring any. He said I would be deported if I got caught with it.”

Anat laughed. “Jonathan takes his Judaic studies too seriously. He might find God sooner if he smoked some himself.”

“I have a bottle of wine, compliments of Jonathan. Would you like some?”

“Sure.”

While he searched for a bottle opener, Anat opened the doors to the roof, looking out at the city. “Great view. It’s a bit chilly, but do you mind if we have our wine out here?” she asked.

“Not at all. It’s the best room in the house.”

He brought out the bottle with two glasses. He poured Anat a full glass, his, only a third, as he had already had several beers at Tsipi’s.

“It’s bad luck not to have a full glass,” she teased.

“Only if your intentions are to pass out.”

Anat pointed toward Jaffa Road, a wide, winding road below the King David Hotel. “There’s Gai Ben-Hinnom where Jews, Muslims and Christians believe, on Judgment Day, the Gates of Hell will open and devour all us sinners with fire. It’s one of the few things they all agree on.” She pointed to the far distance, at the left. “Over there is the archaeological park. I was there today, on a dig.”

“Find anything interesting?”

“Only if you find used prophylactics interesting.”

“Could be, if they belonged to Moses or Jesus.”

“Two of history’s most sexually repressed men,” Anat replied, dryly.

“How do you know that?”

“Jesus, alias Yehoshua Ben Joseph, and Moses were both Jews who would have followed the tribe’s sexual laws.”

The wine was warming David, taking the chill off the night air. Amused by her audacity, he coaxed her on. “All right, but how do you know they were sexually repressed.”

Anat shot him a look. “Do you honestly believe a man who had great sex would bother running around trying to convince everybody he was the only Son of God, or had personally received God’s hand-written laws on top of a mountain?”

“Why not? Men can have ambitions as well as desires.”

“Not when they’re having great sex.”

David suddenly felt challenged. He stood staring out into the night.

As though she could read his mind, Anat said, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to sleep together.”

David looked at her, not knowing what to say or expect.

“At least not tonight. I like men, but prefer women,” she said, shrugging.

He didn’t know whether to feel rejected or relieved.

David lay awake thinking about Anat. He was intimidated by her sexuality, but also fascinated by her free spirit and daunting intelligence. He had never met anyone like her. He wondered if Jonathan and the others knew she preferred women lovers, and why she had confided in him. He became anxious, thinking perhaps she sensed he had sexual issues and was someone she could easily manipulate.

Earlier, out on the roof, he had asked her why she preferred women. She had answered simply, “For the same reasons you do,” then adding, “I find women more interesting intellectually, as well as sexually.”

Her directness was equal parts frightening and exciting. He wanted to know her better. Perhaps, with her, he could get over his sexual problem. The truth was, he desired her as much as he found her intimidating.

The streets in Mea Shearim were busy on Sunday afternoon, when the shops re-opened after the long Shabbat. The men hurried about their business while the women shopped for the coming week.

The last rays of daylight came through Sarah’s bedroom window. She had been reading Martin Buber’s I and Thou throughout the Sabbath and couldn’t pull herself away from it. She pondered Buber’s premise that man separates himself from God when he views himself as “I” and others as “Thou.” Reb Eli had a great affinity for Buber’s work. His books were among the few non-religious volumes he kept in his extensive library. Sarah also loved Isaac Bashevis Singer’s stories about Jewish life in Poland, and the heart-rending dilemmas faced by his characters. Singer had no illusions about the human condition, nor did he offer simple, happy endings. He presented the complexity and relentless challenge of being human, something she, too, had come to understand.

Just as it became dark, Sarah spotted a man striding purposefully into the courtyard. She immediately recognized him as the outsider who had aroused in her such unusual sensations. She moved closer to the window, hiding behind the heavy curtains so she could study him more carefully. She was able to see the angular features of his face, and, again, the way his hand swept the hair from his forehead. When she saw him enter her father’s house, she immediately sensed he was the reason for the rebbe’s summoning of Shimon. She was intrigued by this outsider. Where did he come from? Why would a secular man require a visit to the House? Sarah knew she lived in a confined religious society, and that there were many things she didn’t know about the outside world, beyond what she read in books. Her curiosity heightened as she waited by the bedroom window, in anticipation of seeing Shimon escort the stranger to Madame Aziza’s house.

Shimon stood five feet, two inches tall and had a big round belly and wispy red hair and beard. David thought he looked like an Irish elf. A man of good cheer, Shimon took his mission of performing mitzvahs like that of a general who had been given orders to lead his troops to victory. David was a new recruit who was about to assume his God-given, manly duty of bringing children into the world. Shimon, as the liaison with Madame Aziza’s house, discharged his task with honor and pride. He was most eager that David, the son of a friend of the rebbe’s, should benefit from his good deeds. Shimon’s English was limited, so to demonstrate his sincerity, in hopes of gaining David’s confidence and trust, he stood up and enthusiastically embraced David as soon as he entered the rebbe’s study.

David instinctively pulled back. Shimon’s goodwill gesture embarrassed him. David’s eyes pleaded for Reb Eli’s help. The rebbe rose and said simply, “This is my nephew, Shimon. He will take good care of you. Until Thursday. I wish you a good night.”

Bewildered, David stood looking at Shimon, who was smiling, saying repeatedly, “Don’t worry, everything good, everything good.”

He followed him apprehensively through the dark, narrow streets of Machane Yehuda’s Souk to the two-story stone house on Agripas Street. Shimon, still smiling, opened the door, ushering him in. Climbing the pitch-dark staircase, he cautioned David to “be careful, just count twenty steps.”

On the second landing, Shimon knocked briskly on the door. A woman in her late fifties appeared. She had long dark hair, with coal-black eyes. She reminded David of the fortune-tellers who roam India. Shimon introduced him to Madame Aziza, who graciously invited them in.

Burgundy velvet drapes with gold tassels adorned the windows of her parlor. A gold-leaf tapestry covered the walls. On the floor were oriental carpets in deep reds, blues and gold. The largest had corners containing dragons with snakes around their necks. David wondered whether this woman was going to read his fortune or perform some magic healing ritual that would keep him from coming every time he was aroused by a woman. Speaking in a soft, melodic voice, her well-spoken English was colored with French and Arabic accents. She offered them drinks from her cabinet of wine and spirits. Shimon requested Turkish coffee. To keep it simple and quick, David asked for the same.

Madame Aziza made polite conversation, inquiring where David was from. He told her he was visiting from England. She asked him if he was married or divorced. He said neither, wondering why all this concern about his marital status. He began thinking perhaps she was a matchmaker, when a young, exotic looking woman with red lips and nails appeared from the kitchen, carrying a brass tray with a finjan of dark black coffee and an assortment of small pastries. She served them with her eyes locked into David’s, then quickly disappeared. Shimon helped himself to the sticky pastries, which had the scent of cardamom. David slowly nursed the muddy coffee. Sensing he was not a Turkish coffee drinker, Madame Aziza offered him “English tea.”

David assured her he was fine with coffee.

Madame Aziza looked curiously at him. “You’re a handsome young man.”

Feeling self-conscious, David replied, timidly, “Thank you.”

“Please help yourself to some pastries. They’re very tasty.”

Accepting her offer, he reached for one with nuts in it. Feeling like the center of attention, he ate self-consciously.

Shimon sat grinning from ear to ear. He sipped the remains of his coffee, informed David that the number four bus across the souk on Jaffa Road would drop him off at Abu Tor, then left abruptly.

Soft, Middle Eastern dance music filled the room. Madame Aziza’s eyes flashed as she turned to an opening door and said, “Now, for your pleasure.”

From a narrow hallway, four young women floated into the room and began dancing. David sat mesmerized, not knowing what to do. He watched as they danced before him, swaying their hips, shoulders and arms like slithering snakes.

Madame Aziza put her hand gently on his shoulder. “Let me know when you decide which one pleases you the most.”

Finding it difficult to believe that Reb Eli had sent him to a whorehouse, David asked incredulously, “Is this a bordello?”

Madame Aziza smiled. “This is a house that nurtures men’s passions and desires.”

“I’m really not ready for this,” he admitted awkwardly.

“There is nothing to be ready for, just relax and enjoy,” she said, gently reassuring him.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to take some time to consider your generous offer.”

Her voice took on a motherly tone. “There is nothing to fear here.”

“I’m sure. It’s just that I would like to think about it,” he said, adamantly.

Madame Aziza looked at him in her nurturing fashion. “You may visit us whenever you are ready. I will make sure you have the very best. I desire only what is good for your happiness.”

“Thank you,” David said, as he quickly left.

Walking along the Mount, near the University of Jerusalem, Jonathan howled with laughter. “The rebbe never ceases to amaze me. Why on earth did he send you to a brothel?”

David could not bring himself to reveal his sexual issues, but when Jonathan went on and on questioning why Reb Eli would send him to a whorehouse, David felt compelled to tell him.

“Because I told him I come too quickly,” David whispered.

Astonished, Jonathan repeated David’s words, “You told the rebbe you come too quickly?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you tell him that?”

“Because it’s true.”

Seeing that this was no laughing matter for David, Jonathan quickly changed his tone. “Why haven’t you ever told me?”

“What could you do about it?”

“Surely there are remedies …”

“There are no ‘remedies,’ so spare me any advice,” David said, becoming irritated.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be insensitive. I just wish …”

“There’s nothing you or anybody else can do. It’s something I have to live with.”

They walked on quietly around the Mount, looking out at the city.

“Look, David, perhaps if you had a steady girlfriend, it would just work itself out,” Jonathan offered, gently.

“What makes you think I haven’t thought of that?” David snapped.

Jonathan adopted an apologetic tone. “I don’t mean to be intrusive. I really want to help… For God’s sake, we’ve been closer than brothers.”

“Then let it be!”

They continued walking in an uncomfortable silence. David felt humiliated and angry, emotionally naked now that his long-kept secret had been exposed.

Remembering the Rebbe’s invitation and hoping to break the silence, Jonathan cheerfully announced, “Reb Eli has invited us for Shabbat dinner at his home.”

Going to the rebbe’s house for dinner was the last thing David wanted to do. He moaned, “Oh, joy.”

“I think you’re making more of it than it really is. I’m sure, given time, it will sort itself out.” Jonathan said, hoping to put David at ease.

David felt the remark was flippant. “How easy to say when it’s not your problem.”

Madame Aziza has helped many young men. Why should I be opposed to that?” said the rebbe. David looked at him in disbelief. Seeking help in a bordello just didn’t sit right with him. Perhaps these Hasids were comfortable with it, but he certainly was not.

Feeling the need to challenge Reb Eli, David argued, “It’s not a very holy approach.”

“When I first arrived here, I felt the same way. But when I saw how much she helped someone close to me, I came to a different understanding. After all, women who choose to sell their bodies come from the same source as you and I. They are just as holy as we are. The Torah tells us that to give pleasure is a mitzvah, but it is silent on how we should do it. It just tells us the no nos.”

The rebbe had done it again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that I was holier or superior to anyone. It’s just that using a woman that way doesn’t feel right.”

“One should never use another. The Torah teaches us to be kind and honor everyone, not just people we like or respect. There are things we can never know or understand about each other. The Torah recognizes this and gives us principles to live by that cultivate our happiness and wellbeing.”

Reb Eli muttered something in Hebrew, and then translated. “ʻThere is nothing on this earth that has not been here before or will not be here again.’ Do you know where that proverb comes from?”

David shook his head, humbly.

“King Solomon.”

“I know nothing of the Torah,” David admitted.

“You have the rest of your life to learn,” Reb Eli said, his eyes twinkling with warmth. He stood, cupped David’s hand into his, and smiled, “I hope you will honor us at our Shabbat table tomorrow evening.”

Looking out of her window, an hour before she was to bring tea to her father, Sarah saw David approaching for the second time in a week. Her curiosity heightened, she told herself she would go down to the kitchen, ostensibly to get a head start preparing the evening meal.

She could hear murmuring from her father’s study. To get closer, she decided to set the large table in the dining room, which was adjacent to the kitchen. As she carefully laid out the dishes, paper napkins and utensils, she could hear David’s voice. Making as little noise as possible, she was able to distinguish his British accent, which she found more eloquent than her father’s. She was enthralled by the tone and gentleness of his voice, and moved closer to the door, listening as he spoke of his reservations and concerns about going to Madame Aziza’s house. She found herself comforted by his direct but gentle manner of speaking. She continued to listen, unaware she was holding her breath. By the time she heard her father invite David for Shabbat dinner, she felt queasy and dizzy. She rushed to the kitchen and squeezed a fresh lemon into a glass of water to revive herself.

Soon after David left, Sarah made certain not to look her father in the eye when she brought tea with milk and biscuits into his study. Sensing something was amiss with his daughter, Reb Eli invited her to join him for tea.

“I’ve left the potatoes boiling on the stove,” she said, hoping to excuse herself.

He asked if she would turn the stove off, then come and join him for a moment. There was something important he wanted to discuss with her. Sarah anxiously obeyed and returned to the study, fearing the rebbe had discovered her eavesdropping.

“Sarah, how would you like to go abroad for a holiday?”

The offer was so unexpected, she responded by asking directly, “Why?”

“You’ve always had a desire to travel. I thought a trip to Europe would please you. I can arrange for you to stay with good friends of mine and perhaps, if you like, Esther could join you.”

Feeling guilty and embarrassed at having just spied on her father’s private conversation, Sarah did not know what to say, and answered without looking at him. “Please don’t worry about me Abba, I’ll be all right.”

Reb Eli was left once again feeling at a loss with his daughter. He prayed every morning and night for guidance, assuring himself, “Everything comes with time and patience.”

Alone in his study, the rebbe sipped tea, which he always found soothing. He was grateful to the British for teaching him the simple pleasure of a good cup of tea. He thought about Phillip’s son, David, whose intelligence and sensitivity were more heightened than in most of the young men he had counseled. He remembered the many times Madame Aziza had been effective in helping them overcome difficulties they had with their sexuality. At first, he had dismissed having anything to do with her. He knew the complexities of human nature and doubted it was possible to change the focus of desire. It wasn’t until she helped his youngest son to be willing to marry and have children that he learned to appreciate her gifts. He, himself, had never met her and knew little about her, other than that she had brought with her from Egypt wondrous secrets for awakening and healing the senses of complex young men.

A more pressing matter from Egypt was on his mind. Abdel Nasser’s inflammatory speeches and the escalation of raids against Israel made him fear that another war was imminent. He prayed Hashem would remember how long the Jews had suffered, how long they had been exiled from their Promised Land. He prayed to Hashem to bestow peace and awaken the hearts of all of Abraham’s children.

About the Author

Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy

Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy worked as an actress and writer in film and television in the United States and Israel. Night in Jerusalem is her debut novel, which she has adapted to film. She lives in Ojai California with her husband and daughter.

She writes, “I lived in Israel in the 1960s, a naive twenty-year-old, hoping to find myself and my place in the world. The possibility of war was remote to me. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. Then, the Six Day War erupted and I experienced it firsthand in Jerusalem.

I have drawn Night in Jerusalem from my experiences during that time. The historical events portrayed in the novel are accurate. The characters are based on people I knew in the city. Like me, they were struggling to make sense of their lives, responding to inherited challenges they could not escape that shaped their destiny in ways they and the entire Middle East could not have imagined.

I have always been intrigued by the miraculous. How and where the soul’s journey leads and how it reveals its destiny. How two people who are destined, even under the threat of war and extinction, can find one another.

Israel’s Six Day War is not a fiction; neither was the miracle of its victory. What better time to discover love through intrigue, passion, and the miraculous.

Writing this story was in part reliving my history in Israel, in part a mystical adventure. I am grateful that so many who have read Night In Jerusalem have experienced this as well.”

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

First Chapter Reveal: Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Diabetes by Tony Hampton

Title: FIX YOUR DIET FIX YOUR DIABETES
Author: Tony Hampton, MD
Publisher: Windy City Publishers
Pages: 168
Genre: Self-Help
BOOK BLURB:

Want to fix your diabetes?  In this book, I share with my diabetic and borderline diabetic readers that they have the power to reverse or prevent diabetes simply by changing their diets.  It starts with how you think.  By removing old beliefs to new ones that better serve you, the path to recovery from diabetes can be that simple.  Once I provide the rationale for changing old beliefs to more productive ones, I then share with you ways to stay motivated as you journey to a new way of eating.  You are then given a deeper understanding of why so many people have diabetes.  This knowledge will allow you to remove thoughts you may have had where you blamed yourself for having diabetes.  You are then given tips on how to maintain the motivation needed to make a successful transition to a diabetic friendly diet.  Additional knowledge is given about the many complications which could occur when this condition is not well controlled.  Empowered with the understanding of why diabetes occurs and its many complications, you will be given a case for changing how diabetes is treated.  This is done by changing the focus of diabetes management away from the symptoms (elevated glucose), which is how we currently manage this condition, to treating the cause of the disease (insulin resistance).  You are then given the rationale for increasing healthy fats in your diets while reducing starchy carbohydrates and processed foods.  Once this is explained, examples of foods that should be considered for smoothies, snacks, and dinner are given so you will know how to choose foods which are best.   Finally, tips on how to avoid being fooled by marketing labels and claims of so-called healthy foods provide the framework by which great dietary choices can be made.  This new approach to reversing diabetes with diet will reverse diabetes in nearly anyone willing to make these simply lifestyle changes.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Chapter One:

Fix Your Motivation

“If someone is going down the wrong road,

he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up.

What he needs is education to turn him around.”

~Jim Rohn

Answering the WHY Question

So what is your motivation for reading this book? Is it because you feel it’s time to finally win your battle with diabetes and are looking for the steps you need to take to get you there? Or is it because the world has convinced you that the reason you have this condition is because you have not taken personal responsibility for the lifestyle decisions you have made? If only you would eat less and exercise more, right? That’s what you have been told for so many years and yet no matter what you do, you have not found a path to success.

I have some good news for you. You are not the problem. If that was so, we would be living in a world of unmotivated individuals unwilling to make the necessary changes to improve their overall health. I don’t believe this at all. My experience with patients is that most want to be healthy and are willing to do what’s needed to get healthy.

So if that’s true, what’s been keeping them from finding success? The answer is simple. It’s not a lack of motivation but a lack of information. Yes, the path to success is understanding how our bodies work, which is becoming clearer as more and more research is being done.

In the pages of this book I will share a way of viewing your diet that perhaps no one has taught you before. With this new information you can take the steps needed to make changes in your diet and lifestyle. As you learn how to approach your food options, you will give your body access to the right nutrition. This will help you keep your blood sugars down, ultimately reducing the need for insulin, whether it comes from your pancreas (your insulin factory) or the pharmacy (medication). And yes, eating healthier can be done affordably, as long as you are open to eating some of the things you normally walk away from when shopping.

As a physician, there were times when I blamed my patients for not being at their ideal body weight until I realized one important reality. Maybe their behaviors didn’t lead to their inability to process glucose biochemically, but rather their biochemistry led to the behaviors. You may want to read that last sentence again. In other words, relax and stop blaming yourself.

Once you understand how sugars affect your decisions, you will stop blaming yourself (or anyone else) for your diabetes or the effects it has on your physical condition. You will also learn that all calories are not the same and that some calories are good while others are bad.

For example, calories from sugars are not the best way to receive nutrition, no matter what you’ve been told about how much of your nutrition should be coming from sugars or carbs. In fact, an International Econometric Analysis of Diet and Diabetes found “sugar availability is a significant statistical determinant of diabetes prevalence rates worldwide.”

To put this in perspective, a 12-ounce can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of total sugar, which is about 9-1/3 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) has put together a maximum intake allowance for sugar, and according to the AHA, women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day. Men can have up to 9 teaspoons of sugar daily. So, whether you’re male or female, drinking a single 12-ounce can of Coke goes over the maximum sugar allowance for the day.2 The average American consumes 22 teaspoons daily.

Keeping these facts in mind, it would not surprise you that drinking just one soda per day increases your risk for diabetes by 29 per-cent, regardless of your current weight. So I ask the question again, are you lacking motivation or lacking knowledge? I think you know the answer. Now let’s start by looking at ways you can stay motivated as you work toward your goal of fixing your diabetes.

Set a Goal

The first step is to define your goal. Your short-term goal may be to get your Hemoglobin A1c under 7. Or maybe you have a long-term goal of preventing many of the complications of diabetes, like blindness or kidney failure. Either way, defining your goals will be an important step in reaching them.

Keep your goals realistic and focused. Goals that are out of reach only create an unrealistic illusion. For example, I’m a tennis fan and dream of playing at Wimbledon someday. But the reality is that I am at an age and skill level where this is an impossible dream. Likewise, if your goals are not focused, you may find yourself trying to accom-plish more than your brain can handle. This results in mental fatigue, which will sap your confidence.

Now let’s look at the benefits of sharing your goals.

Share Your Goal

I must admit, this is risky. Even your friends and family, who should be your greatest source of support, can sometimes be your greatest source of discouragement. Many times they are not aware that they are harming you. They want to limit your expectations so they can protect you from failure. All the same, friends and family can be our greatest ally as we work towards our goals. We want them on board when we are trying to accomplish anything, so talk to them and let them know you are determined to change and succeed. They will help keep you from falling off the wagon whenever a little motivation is needed. Your diabetes control may depend on it.

Introduce Your Goal to Your Refrigerator

In a world where stainless steel is becoming the norm, I hope I don’t upset anyone with the idea of putting anything on that fancy refrigerator door. But this may be the best way to find the daily reminder you’ll need to stay motivated. Most of us will pass by that big ice box at least once daily. Why not repurpose it as a reminder of your personal goals? Such a reminder could be exactly what you need to get your day started on the right foot. Consider a picture of your diabetes medicines with a big X over it. This could serve as your aspirational goal of using your diet to get off medicines.

Partner With Others to Help You Reach Your Goals

Have you ever thought, “If only I had a life coach?” Imagine having someone to help you as you take your journey to a place you’ve never been before. How secure would you feel knowing that you’re not alone, but have a built-in support system to help you along the way? Partnering with someone can make this all possible.

Partnerships create an accountability that for some of us is not easily achieved alone. Not only will you benefit, but you will be return-ing the favor by providing the same support for the person you’ve created your partnership with. You are now accountable to each other, sharing both your successes and failures. Even the most successful motivational speakers, like Anthony Robbins, have life coaches. Think about the people in your circle and see if someone could fill this role in your life. If you can’t find one in your circle, consider hiring a professional life coach or joining a diabetes support group in your area.

Focus on What’s Important to You, Not What’s Important to Others

The reality for many of us is that we spend too much time focused on other people’s agendas—whether it’s doing activities you really don’t want to do, not knowing how to say no, or allowing others to dictate how you should live your life. The key is to reflect on your own goals and allow those goals to set your day’s agenda. Once you remove distractions caused by others, there will be plenty of time to do the things that are meaningful to you.

If you rarely feel motivated, making this shift could correct your energy levels. When you’re doing things for yourself, motivation will naturally be high because you’re doing what your own spirit desires. Doing other people’s work will never create the motivation you need to accomplish anything.

Be Careful of the Words You Use Daily

You are what you think or say you are. If you use negative words to describe yourself or your capacity to reach your goals, you will likely fulfill those negative expectations. When was the last time you recall a negative-thinking person accomplishing much or inspiring others? This doesn’t happen. Understanding that our thoughts become our reality is one of the most important keys to creating an environment that fosters success. If you believe you can fix your diabetes, you will.

Create a Positive Environment to Nurture Your Spirit

I listen to inspirational messages daily. Messages from those who have mastered the art of positive thinking. They are so easy to find— in books, with an Internet search, or on Youtube. This has changed my life and it will do the same for you.

All you need to do is take a few minutes each day to get the positive juices flowing. This will enable you to counter the negative forces you will certainly face each day. Whether it’s the local news, a negative co-worker, a mean boss, or an unsupportive family member, your ability to manage the negative energy they are emitting is made easier with the armor of positive thoughts in your head.

So take a moment to think about all your activities and the time and resources they use. Then start the process of removing those activities which don’t add value or help you reach your goal of better controlling your diabetes. By replacing activities which don’t serve you with activities that do, you will find it easier to reach your goals. Will you have the courage to take away those activities which have been part of your routine for so long? Sometimes it’s what we don’t do that harms us the most

Take a w a y s

  • Reflect and decide WHY you are motivated to fix your diabetes. Your motivation may be a person, or it may be a goal you are trying to reach.
  • Set a specific goal with a defined date to reach it.

This could be a target level of hemoglobin A1c.

  • Share your goal with someone who wants to help you reach it, to create accountability.
  • Write your goal on a sticky note and place it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder.
  • Get yourself a life coach.
  • Focus on your own priorities and not the priorities of others.
  • Speak encouraging language to yourself and others.
  • Make sure your day is started with positives messages.

 

About the Author

Dr. Tony Hampton has been treating patients with multiple chronic conditions for nearly two decades. In addition to his role as an Advocate Medical Group (AMG) family physician over the last nine years, Dr. Hampton currently holds multiple responsibilities within the Advocate Healthcare, including Medical Director of AMG Beverly, Vice-Chair of AMG’s Governing Council, Chair of Health Outcomes Committee and Co-Chair of Executive Diversity Council.

Over the last two years, Dr. Hampton has worked closely with AOS, successfully piloting advancements in AMG’s operations management systems. He is a champion for change that results in greater work-life balance for physicians and an enhanced patient experience. His interpersonal skills, clinical knowledge, and desire for strong patient/team engagement will continue to make Tony an asset to the AOS team.

A regular speaker for the American Diabetes Association and consultant for the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Initiative to Improve Diabetes Care, Dr. Hampton is passionate about empowering patients by changing old beliefs to new ones which better serve them using evidence-based medicine. Educating them on the root cause of disease processes and the importance of diet provides the path to positive health outcomes for diabetics, borderline diabetics, and patients not at their ideal body weight.

He is a Certified Physician Executive (CPE) and earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix. Tony authored the book Fix Your Diabetes, Fix Your Diet, Your Dietary Solution to Reversing Diabetes which was published in April 2017.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

First Chapter Reveal: The Mentor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The Mentor

Title: THE MENTOR
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 336
Genre: Thriller / Suspense / Mystery

Kyle Broder has achieved his lifelong dream and is an editor at a major publishing house.

When Kyle is contacted by his favorite college professor, William Lansing, Kyle couldn’t be happier. Kyle has his mentor over for dinner to catch up and introduce him to his girlfriend, Jamie, and the three have a great time. When William mentions that he’s been writing a novel, Kyle is overjoyed. He would love to read the opus his mentor has toiled over.

Until the novel turns out to be not only horribly written, but the most depraved story Kyle has read.

After Kyle politely rejects the novel, William becomes obsessed, causing trouble between Kyle and Jamie, threatening Kyle’s career, and even his life. As Kyle delves into more of this psychopath’s work, it begins to resemble a cold case from his college town, when a girl went missing. William’s work is looking increasingly like a true crime confession.

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected and hanging in the balance.

 

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Chapter One:

FROM FAR AWAY the trees at Bentley College appeared as if on fire, crowns of nuclear leaves dotting the skyline. Professor William Lansing knew it meant that fall had firmly arrived. Once October hit, the Connecticut campus became festooned with brilliant yellows, deep reds, and Sunkist orange nature. People traveled for miles to witness the foliage, rubbernecking up I-95 and flocking to nearby Devil’s Hopyard, a giant park where the students might perform Shakespeare, or enter its forest gates at nighttime to get high and wild. William had taken a meandering hike through its labyrinthine trails that morning before his seminar on Existential Ethics in Literature. It had been over a decade since he’d entered its tree-lined arms, but today, the very day he was reaching the part in his long-gestating novel that took place in Devil’s Hopyard, seemed like a fitting time to return.

His wife Laura hadn’t stirred when he left at dawn. He slipped out of bed and closed the mystery novel propped open on her snoring chest. He often wrote early in the mornings. Before the world awoke, he’d arm himself with a steaming coffee and a buzzing laptop, the wind from off the Connecticut River pinching his cheeks. His chirping backyard would become a den of inspiration, or he’d luxuriate in the silence of Bentley at six a.m. when the only sound might be a student or two trundling down the Green to sleep off a fueled night of debauchery.

He’d been at Bentley for over twenty years, tenured and always next in line to be department chair. He refused even the notion of the position for fear it might eat into time spent writing his opus. His colleagues understood this mad devotion. They too had their sights set on publications, most of them well regarded in journals, only a few of them renowned beyond Bentley’s walls like William dreamed to be. Notoriety had dazzled him since he was a child—a time when his world seemed small and lifeless and dreams of fame were his only escape.

His colleagues often questioned him about this elusive manuscript he’d been toiling on for years, but he found it best to remain tight-lipped, to entice mystery. It was how he ran his classroom as well, letting only a few chosen students get close, keeping the rest at enough of a distance to regard him as tough and impenetrable but fair. Maybe he’d made a few students cry when a paper they stayed up all night to finish received a failing grade, or when his slashes of red pen seemed to consume one of their essays on Sartre’s Nausea, which he found trite and pedestrian; but that only made them want to do better the next time. They understood that he wanted his kingdom to be based on fear, for creativity soared in times of distress.

William’s legs were sore after his hike that morning through Devil’s Hopyard. The terrain was hilly and its jagged trails would challenge even a younger man, but he kept fit, wearing his fifty-five year old frame well. He was an athlete back in school, a runner and a boxer who still kept a punching bag in the basement and ended his day with a brisk run through his town of Killingworth, a blue-collar suburban enclave surrounding Bentley’s college-on-a-hill. He had all his hair, which was more than he could say for most of his peers, even though silver streaks now cut through the brown. He secretly believed this made him more dashing than during his youth. Women twenty years younger still gave him a second glance, and he often found Laura taking his hand at department functions and squeezing it tight, as if to indicate that she fully claimed him and there’d be no chance for even the most innocent of flirtations. He had a closet full of blazers with elbow patches and never wore ties so he could keep his collar open and expose his chest hair, which hadn’t turned white yet. He had a handsome and regal face, well proportioned, and while his eyes drooped some due to a lifetime of battling insomnia, it gave him the well-worn look of being entirely too busy to sleep. People often spoke of him as a soul who never enjoyed being idle, someone who was always moving, expounding, and expanding.

“Hi, Professor Lansing,” said Nathaniel, a tall and gangly freshman, who after three weeks into the semester had yet to look William in the eye. Nathaniel’s legs twisted over one another with each step. William guessed that the boy had recently grown into his pole-like body and his brain now struggled with how to move it properly.

“Nathaniel,” William said, wiping the sweat mustache from his top lip. He could smell his own lemony perspiration from the intense jaunt through Devil’s Hopyard. “How did your paper on The Stranger turn out?”

Nathaniel’s eyes seemed to avoid him even more. They became intent on taking in the colorful foliage, as if it had sprouted overnight.

“Well…” the boy began, still a hair away from puberty, his voice hitting a high octave, “I’m not totally sure what you meant about Meursault meeting his end because he didn’t ‘play the game’.”

William responded with a throaty laugh and a shake of his head. He placed a palm on Nathaniel’s shoulder.

“Society’s game, Nathaniel, the dos and don’ts we all must ascribe to. How, even if we slip on occasion, we’re not supposed to admit what we did for fear of being condemned. Right?”

Nathaniel nodded, his rather large Adam’s apple bobbing up and down in agreement too. He stuffed a bitten-down nail between his chapped lips and chewed away like a rat, leaving William to wonder if the boy was on some new-fangled type of speed. He liked Nathaniel, who barely spoke in class, but once in a while would give a nervous peep filled with promise. The students he paid the most attention to weren’t the heads of the lacrosse team or the stars of the theater productions, those students would have a million other mentors fawning over them. He looked for the hidden jewels, the ones who were waiting for that extra push, who’d been passed over their whole lives but would someday excel past their peers. Then they would thank him wholeheartedly for igniting a spark.

“Is that why Camus didn’t personalize the victim that Meursault killed?” Nathaniel asked, wary at first, as the two entered the doors of Fanning Hall past a swirl of other students. “So we sympathize with him despite his crime?”

William stopped in front of his classroom, its cloudy window offering a haze of students settling into their desks. He stood blocking the door so Nathaniel had no choice but to look in his eyes.

“Did you sympathize with him?”

“Yes…umm, it’s hard to penalize someone for one mistake,” Nathaniel said. “I know he shot the Arab guy, but…I don’t know, sometimes things just happen. I guess that makes me callous.”

“Or human.”

William stared at Nathaniel for an uncomfortable extra few seconds before Kelsey, a pretty sorority girl with canary yellow hair, fluttered past them.

“Hey, Professor,” Kelsey said, without looking Nathaniel’s way. William could feel the boy’s sigh crowding the hallway.

“Come, Nathaniel, we’ll continue this debate in class.”

William led the boy into the room. The students immediately became hushed and rigid as he entered.

Nathaniel slumped into a chair in the back while Kelsey cut off another girl to get a prime seat up front.

William placed his leather satchel on the table, took out a red marker, and scribbled on the board, I didn’t know what a sin was. The handwriting looked like chicken scratch and the students had to squint a bit to decipher it; but eventually the entire class of twenty managed to correctly jot down the quote. They had gotten used to his idiosyncrasies.

“At the end of the novel, Meursault ponders that he didn’t know what a sin was,” William said. “What does that mean?”

A quarter of the class raised their hands, each one eager to be noticed. Kelsey clicked her tongue for attention, as if her desperation wasn’t obvious enough. She looked like she had to pee. In the back, Nathaniel was fully absorbed in a doodle that resembled Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.

“Nathaniel,” William barked, sending the pen flying out of the boy’s hand. Nathaniel weaved his long arms around the desk to pick up the pen and then gave a slack-jawed expression as a response.

“Why does Meursault insist to the chaplain that he didn’t know what a sin was?” William continued.

Nathaniel silently pleaded for William to call on someone else. He let out an “uuuhhhhhhh” that lasted through endless awkward seconds.

Kelsey took it upon herself to chime in.

“Professor, while Meursault understands he’s been found guilty for his crime, he doesn’t truly see that what he did was wrong.”

William turned toward Kelsey to admonish her for speaking without being called on, a nasty habit that happened more and more with this ADD-addled generation than the prior one, but a red-leaf tree outside the window captured his attention instead, its color so unreal, so absorbing. The red so vibrant like its leaves had been painted with blood.

“Professor…professor.”

The sound came from far away, as if hidden under the earth, screaming to be acknowledged.

“Professor Lansing?”

Kelsey waved her arm in his direction, grounding him. She gave a pout.

“Like, am I right, or what, Professor? He doesn’t truly see that what he did was wrong.”

William cleared his throat, maintaining control over the room. He smiled at them the same way he would for a photograph.

“Yes, that’s true, Kelsey. Expressing remorse would constitute his actions as wrong. He knows his views make him a stranger to society, and he is content with this judgment. He accepts death and looks forward to it with peace. The crowds will cheer hatefully at his beheading, but they will be cheering. This is what captivates the readers almost seventy years after the book’s publication. What keeps it and Camus eternal, immortal.”

Kelsey beamed at the class, her grin smug as ever.

William went to the board, erased the quote, and replaced it with the word IMMORTAL in big block letters, this time written with the utmost perfect penmanship.

 

THE REST OF William’s day included a creative writing class that he’d had to beg the Department chair, Dr. Joyce Yancey, to give him, and an independent study on Edgar Allen Poe, which two seniors took. Mondays were his busiest since he booked all his classes and then took the rest of the week for writing and office hours. Dr. Yancey had been hesitant about offering him a creative writing class, simply because he hadn’t put out a novel yet and prospective students might want a ‘bigger name’. Brooks Jessup, a newer hire, had a lockdown on the creative writing seminars after publishing a literary thriller to some acclaim that he liked to obnoxiously describe as a ‘modern Faulkneresque journey’. But this semester, Brooks had gotten a nice deal for his second novel, so a freshman seminar opened up. Unfortunately, the class was available for anyone to take and most of the students were just there to express themselves or fulfill a requirement rather than actually displaying talent.

When William returned home, his house was eerily still. His twin children, Alicia and Bill, had lived there while going to Bentley so it’d only been a few years since they moved out. He hadn’t entirely gotten used to their absence yet. They’d purchased a ramshackle bar in the next town over and chose to room together in the apartment above. Laura thought it best that they stayed at home to save money in case the bar went belly up, but William advocated for their independence. Ideally he wanted them to live apart and forge separate lives, but they always had a close symbiotic relationship he assumed one could only have from sharing a womb. As an only child, he had to admit being jealous. He couldn’t think of anyone he was that close to besides Laura, and he was twenty-five when he met her. Twenty-five years of experiences that she’d never be able to share in so they could fully understand one another like a twin would.

The glass door to the backyard slid open and Laura emerged with a basket of squash blossoms in her hands. She wore heavy gardening gloves and had a swatch of dirt across her forehead, often from combing her hair out of her face after digging into the ground. Four years older than him and pushing sixty, she was beginning to slow down but she still had a youthful face. The long New England winters kept her away from any excess sun exposure and her skin was porcelain smooth, the color of pearls. Her light blonde hair had thinned out some and turned off-white, but she maintained it to the best of her ability through weekly trips to a salon in Old Saybrook. She’d always been a nervously thin woman, prone to being spooked, and had gray eyes that took on whatever color she wore. She dressed simply, matronly, but no one would ever say she didn’t have style. Sweaters were tied around her neck, a cross necklace often sat above her heart, and white gold bracelets usually jangled from her wrists. She might be described as quiet, which William liked. The two of them never worried about lulls in conversations. Dinners were sometimes spent reading over the papers silently, occasionally remarking on the news of the day. She was a loving and doting woman, and after all these years the couple still appeared drawn to one another.

Laura was humming an indecipherable song as she stepped inside, likely from her church choir. The choir took classic songs and updated them by inserting The Lord for baby, love, or honey. She leaned forward and squinted at William before a warm smile broke out. She fumbled with her glasses and hung them low on her nose.

“Oh, William, I didn’t even see you. Been home long?”

William pointed to his leather satchel, still in hand.

“Just got in.”

She fixed the basket of squashes on her knee to get a better grip and then hoisted it onto the dining room table.

“Cabbage worms have been gobbling these up,” she said. “Hit them with the Spinosad, but had to spend the day watching over them like a hawk.”

He never envied her days. It seemed as if she spent too much time finding ways to fill up her time. She had the church and did charity work for them, lunched with a smattering of friends, and of course had her bookcases full of mystery novels; but William always felt he was the most exciting part of her life, which saddened him. They’d met studying literature in grad school, and he’d tried to get her to start writing her own novel too. She gave the excuse that she could only write what she knew and few would want to read what she knew these days.

“I was thinking spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, maybe some turkey meatballs to cut down on your red meat intake like the doctor suggested.”

William frowned. Besides his opus, red meat was one of his other true passions. He liked it as rare as possible, practically raw.

“I’m reaching a major part in my novel tonight so I might just eat in the study.”

She clapped her hands and gave him a peck on the cheek.

“Oh, William, how exciting. I’ll cook up some mixed beef and pork meatballs then.”

She gave him a pat on the butt.

“Well, go now, scoot up there and get to finishing.”

He kissed her on the lips and wiped away the smear of dirt on her forehead. Her cheeks reddened.

“The novel’s really good, Laura. I mean…I feel like I’ve finally figured out the snags.”

She fiddled with her cross necklace.

“Of course you have. I married you for your brain, not your body.”

She gave a harder pat on his butt, shooing him away and humming louder than before as she removed the squash from the basket.

He retreated upstairs.

That night, he furiously typed for hours, demented in his strokes. He had devoted over ten years to these words and tears crinkled at the edges of his eyes as he reached the midpoint of the novel. A melancholic aura filtered through the room, the frightening notion of what might come next once the project was done. He assumed that this was what all novelists wrestled with, the desire to elongate their works to avoid saying farewell to the characters. Saying good-bye meant killing them; it meant finality, and this weighed heavy on his heart.

The next morning, the sun baked through the window as he relished in the solitary bliss of a creation born from his mind alone. This meditation became interrupted by a thwack against the front door. He cocooned himself in a bathrobe, slid on slippers, and headed downstairs. Opening the front door, he swiped the Times and the local paper, The Killingworth Gazette. A biting breeze rustled his bones as he closed the door. Winter would be arriving soon. He tossed the two bound-up papers on the dining room table and brewed a pot of coffee. Sitting down, he picked up the Gazette and read the article on the front page.

Former Bentley College Student Strikes Gold as an NYC Editor.

A massive picture of Kyle Broder, handsome and chiseled with stylishly messy dirty-blonde hair and sea blue eyes, stared back at him. William was shocked to see his former student, one he knew well. At thirty, Kyle had just brokered a mega-deal at Burke & Burke Publishing for his debut author, Sierra Raven. Beyond being Sierra’s first novel, this was her agent’s first client and Kyle’s first acquisition as an editor after his recent promotion. The book had gone to auction and ultimately Sierra got an unreal $500,000 advance before the novel had even been finished. Film rights had already sold to a major movie studio for another $500,000.

Wonderful fate had delivered this news to William’s door. If this girl could get a deal with Kyle before completing her novel, then he certainly had a shot too, especially since he already had an “in”.

He sat back with his hands laced behind his head and couldn’t help but smile.

About the Author

Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg’s novel THE MENTOR is forthcoming from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017 and has been acquired by Macmillan Entertainment. The French edition will be published by Editions Hugo. His debut novel SLOW DOWN is out now. His pilot JOIN US was a finalist in Script Pipeline’s TV Writing Competition. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his fiction has also appeared in The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, Verdad Magazine, BlazeVOX, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series. He lives in New York City.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

First Chapter Reveal: Tell on You by Freda Hansburg

Tell On YouTitle: TELL ON YOU
Author: Freda Hansburg
Publisher: Micro Publishing Media
Pages: 248
Genre: Thriller

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.” Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher. A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.

PURCHASE YOUR COPY:

Amazon

 

First Chapter:

“ALL RIGHT, LADIES!”

Jeremy Barrett clapped to get the attention of his second period Advanced Placement English class. When they continued talking, he barked: “Hey!” Eleven pairs of adolescent eyes turned toward him and the buzz of their conversations died down. The Forrest School demanded academic excellence along with the steep tuition. These daughters of wealthy New Jersey bedroom communities mostly rose to the challenge. Jeremy found them a pleasure to teach.

He scanned the room, mentally taking attendance and ticking off today’s borderline violations of the school dress code. Here, a bit of exposed belly or cleavage, there, some serious piercing. He frowned, but not over the wardrobe issues. No one had called in absent today, but someone was missing.

“Anyone know where Heather is?” They were all enmeshed in a tapestry of tweets, texts and posts. If one fell off the cyber trail for more than fifteen minutes it drew the herd’s attention. Cellphones were supposed to be turned off, but there were always a few cheaters. Probably more than a few.

But nobody offered an explanation for Heather’s absence.

Jeremy shrugged off his unease about the missing girl and began his lecture. The Great Gatsby, one of his favorite novels. The latest movie remake, combining 3D and JayZ, had piqued his students’ interest when he’d shown it in class. Personally, Jeremy considered the film an over-the-top, gaudy spectacle that turned Nick Carraway into a derelict and mangled Fitzgerald’s gorgeous prose and dialogue. But his students ate it up.

“So, let’s come back to our discussion of how Fitzgerald used water imagery.” A loud rapping on the open classroom door interrupted. Jeremy looked over to see the principal’s administrative assistant, Mrs. Marvin, wearing a prim suit and a pinched expression.

He scowled at the interruption. “What is it?”

“Mr. Donnelly would like to see you.”

“Now?” Jeremy’s tone bore the outrage of a surgeon interrupted in mid-operation.

Mrs. Marvin looked back at him, stone-faced. “Right away, he said. I’m to stay and monitor your class.”

Her words provoked a chorus of murmurs among his students, which Jeremy put a stop to with a loud “Shhh! Start reading the last three chapters. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

A prickle of anxiety clenched Jeremy’s stomach as he walked down the hall to the principal’s office. Nothing to do with any childhood memories of disgrace, for Jeremy had been a diligent, rule-abiding student. His peccadilloes –well, transgressions – a recent development. He’d promised himself he’d get his act together. But – Donnelly. What did he know?

The principal rose as Jeremy entered his office.

A room designed to elicit tranquility rather than fear, it boasted a pastoral view of the green athletic field through French doors that led out onto a small balcony. Set on an estate, the Forrest School resembled a plantation more than an institution. Still, as Mr. Donnelly pointed him toward the sofa, Jeremy’s hands felt clammy. He mentally prepared defenses, but kept coming up short.

“Thank you for coming so promptly, Jeremy.” The principal wore a gray pin-striped suit today, dressing the part of CEO. Probably to stay on a par with the parents, many of whom were CEO’s.

“Of course.” Jeremy nodded. “What did you want to see me about?” He winced inwardly. An English teacher, ending a sentence with a preposition.

Mr. Donnelly didn’t appear to notice. He drew up his hands to form a steeple, touching his lower lip. Sunlight from the French doors reflected off his glasses. He looked like a church. A folded piece of paper rested on his lap. “It’s about Heather Lloyd.”

Jeremy drew a breath. Bad, but not the worst. “She’s absent this morning,” he said. “Has something happened?”

“That’s what I’d like to understand.” The principal passed the paper to Jeremy. “I received this email from Heather’s mother this morning.”

Jeremy unfolded the paper and read the message, his mouth turning to dust. Finishing, he looked up at Mr. Donnelly in silence.

“Jeremy,” the principal demanded, “what is this all about?”

 

About the Author

Freda Hansburg

Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller. She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart. Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Tell On You Banner

%d bloggers like this: