I met Simcha Pearlmutter in June of 1986 at Ir Ovot, having been told by friends of this rabbi in the Arava, who had placed a huge sign at the entrance to Ir Ovot that said, "Kvar Yeshua/Village of Yeshua." He also flew a big banner on top of the water tower, saying the same in big letters. I was impressed that an ultra-orthodox Jew should be displaying his faith in Yeshua that boldly, and planned to meet and interview him. His story especially interested me in the light of the prophetic Word in Isaiah 51:3 and 35, the location of Ir Ovot being precisely as foretold in verse 8, and the healing waters literally "broke forth" in the wilderness of Zin and flowed down into the Arava.
After my first volunteer stint of 30 days with Sar-el, I rented a car to drive through the length and breadth of Israel, and on the way back from Eilat I visited with Simcha and Rachel to interview them. At the time I had a live radio show in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and wanted to air Simcha's story. I made three tapes with him1, which I still have and can be ordered as CD's from me at the address below:
1. History of Ir Ovot - a captivating story; 2. Gentiles join Israel - a teaching based on the example of Ruth the Moabitess; 3. Shuva & Aliyah - exhorting Diaspora Jews to return both to our ways of living and to our Land.
The above drawing I made for the cover of the casette folder, while the drawing below was just another sample.
He and his wife Rachel were observing an ultra-orthodox life style, living still in the same old caravans the Ministry of Immigration (?) had put up for them. These caravans were in constant need of repair, quickly undone again by nightly visits of the thieving, nearby Bedouins. Simcha and Rachel took me to the water hole where the water of an underground sea (called "the waters of creation" by Israeli experts and flowing beneath the whole of the Negev, 300 km long and 30 km wide, for an expected one thousand years), was coming up spontaneously, without needing to be pumped. People suffering from various diseases, bathed in this water and got healed.
In the spring of 1987, the year of our Aliyah, my husband and I made a volunteer stint in Sar-el, and went to visit Simcha and Rachel at Ir Ovot. It was just a few days before Passover, and we brought them the greater part of the tithe from the sale of our house in Texas. Their joy and gratitude was amazing, as they hadn't had the funds to celebrate Pesach properly. But G-d provided. A warm and strong friendship grew from this, and we were frequently guests in one of the better caravans, in which the toilet wiggled and the shower did not work :-)
We LOVED it at Ir Ovot, I always felt like walking on "holy" ground like I felt in Jerusalem. I cherished the Shabbat services in that tiny Beit Knesset where Rachel had draped a parachute (what a story about that parachute!) she had dyed purple around the Ark with the Torah scrolls. Simcha had such tremendous insights into Scripture I could never get enough of his teaching. I even suspected that perhaps he might be one of the two Witnesses.
Our times at the Shabbat dinner table always were joyful and delightful, and so were the afternoons spent together. Our sons had the most wonderful time with Ari and Dari, especially at night venturing out into the desert, making a fire and then the two brothers would tell scary stories. Lag B'Omer was a major fun time, and every so often we would spend a week there, enjoying the fellowship, the Arava, and fellowship with Christians who came with the organization of "Blossoming Rose," renovating the caravans, working at the archeological dig of Biblical Tamar, and doing gardening and working in the fields. It was altogether a wonderful time.
People came by busloads to hear the rabbi in the Arava speak of Messiah, to see the dig and a tree allegedly two thousand years old, which serves like an apartment house to a multitude of birds. Then an older man from Australia, with whom Simcha had corresponded, came with his wife to live in the caravan next to Simcha's, allegeldy to help Simcha with the publication of his book, "The Tents of Shem," newsletter and radio program. This man absolutely loathed Christianity and the Church, and his hatred greatly affected Simcha.
One day, I was in Ir Ovot writing one of my books, when a minibus pulled up with six ultra-orthodox rabbis, asking for Simcha. They wanted to hear fom him about Yeshua. These rabbis, and the many others who came secretly by night to hear him speak of Messiah, became his stumbling block. For by honoring the elders of Israel, he succumbed to their interpretation of the meaning of Yeshua being the Son of G-d. For their sake he left the faith for which he had fought and endured years of persecution and hardship, only to lose it all: his destiny, his beloved son, and finally his life, cut short by pancreatic cancer.
I loved him, Rachel, their sons, the Arava and Ir Ovot dearly, a friendship for which I paid with the loss of other friends, for whom this voice crying in the wilderness was too hard to take. I hoped and prayed, as he was faced with the diagnosis of incurable cancer, that he would return wholly and completely to the Son of G-d of Whom he so zealously and fearlessly testified, and for Whom he had given up all and suffered the rejection of most of his family and our people in Israel.
May Simcha have been united with his beloved son Ari in Paradise, and enjoy and delight in the Presence of His Savior, Lord and King, Israel's Messiah in Whom the fullness of G-d dwelled bodily.
And here are some photos:
From left to right: Simcha's mother Rose Pearlmutter, his son Dari, Simcha, Ari, Rachel, my husband Betzalel and our sons Ami and Yizrael. We're standing in front of the little Beit Knesset, with a banner testifying about Yeshua hanging at the side of the court yard.
A typical Shabbat afternoon, when everyone had rested after the meal, enjoying coffee, sweets, and my husband playing on the guitar, singing us songs. Simcha is smiling, and so are his sons Ari and Dari. Betzalel probably played one of his "spur-of-the-moment" songs.
Ari's Jahrzeit memorial in 1995. Simcha in jeans and white T-shirt - Israel's national colors - (he no longer wore the ultra-orthodox clothes in protest to G-d who had not protected Ari and did not answer Simcha's cry of "Why?" All Simcha wanted to know was the reason for Ari's untimely death, which is given on Ari's Memorial page); next to him Dari, then Rachel and I.
Ari's Jahrzeit 1995; the commander of Ari's army unit attended and gave a speech, so did several others, such as friends from the army days and from Moshav Shapir, where Ari and Dari attended school. Both Israelis and Christians from abroad attended this moving service. It was the last time I saw Simcha, for he died of pancreatic cancer in 1999. I was deeply grieved for him.
At the 1995 Jahrzeit of Ari's death Simcha blew the shofar over his son's grave at the end of the memorial service. He wanted all of heaven and the Arava to take notice of the day of his son's death.
My greatest grief was when Simcha began to teach that Yeshua was only the Son of G-d in the sense in which
G-d calls Israel "His son"; he now denied Yeshua's divine origin and nature, and called the New Testament "slime." I know much of this was due to the influence of his Australian friend Harry, and that of the visiting rabbis. I was heart broken that we could no longer visit Ir Ovot, as Simcha's denial of Yeshua's true origin and calling the N.T. slime made it impossible. If Yeshua was merely of human origin, even if G-d's seven spirits were on Him, there would be no salvation, no escape from the power of sin and death. G-d's salvation is not a matter of "religion," it is an extraordinary feat of creation, of re-creation. If anything, it has to do with the science of genetic engineering, rather than with "religion."
I will always miss the wonderful times we had at Ir Ovot, and Simcha will always hold a place in my heart. Once in a while, on our way down to Eilat, we will drop by and visit Rachel (who also no longer ascribes to ultra- orthodox clothing but dresses casual), who lives now in a nice new house, built from the money for which Simcha had fought for so many years being rightfully his. Some non-Jewish, Christian families have joined her living there, and Blossoming Rose is still coming to visit and work at the archeological dig. Dari is married, father of two children, and lives at Shapir. Other family members come now and visit, so Rachel is not alone. But I am sure she misses Simcha, as we all do.
What a tragedy that this voice crying in the wilderness got first of all side-tracked, and then silenced. He was a mighty man of G-d when I knew him.
|1 These tapes then were usurped by "Messianic" Christians (non-Jews) from Beth Shalom Jewish Study Center in Henryetta, OK, and distributed by them for money, without the customary request for permission, acknowledgment of authorship and payment of royalties.|
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