Published Monday, December 5, 2022
December Rector’s Reflection
By Fr. Jeff
A few weeks ago while I was out dining with my family, I overheard someone nearby ask if they served Mogen David wine. I thought to myself, “Wow! I have not heard that since my parents drank it back in the 1970s.” I thought it had Jewish origins but really did not think much about it until after the horrific event that occurred at L’Simcha Congregation (the Tree of Life Congregation). The hurt I had—we all had—for those who were gunned down for their faith, right here in Pittsburghreally struck home. They were persecuted not only because they were Jewish, but also because of their mission in living their faith by helping those in need. I also thought of the haunting stories of Rabbi Sarah at the Greensburg Ministerium meeting just days before this tragedy where she told us of the increasing Anti-Semitic tone she is experiencing. As I prayed, I had an overwhelming sense from God for us to stand in solidarity with our Jewish neighbors who are hurting. I noticed a symbol emerged representing solidarity with those in Pittsburgh, using the Steeler emblem of the three ingredients of making steel: yellow which is coal, orange which is iron ore, and blue which is steel scrap. The solidarity symbol changed the Yellow logo portion to a yellow Star of David, with the words Stronger than Hate on the banner. My first thought was how cool to include the Jewish symbol; then I started to think about the Star of David as we approach Christmas.
As I researched the Star of David, I was surprised that ithas not always been the symbol of the Jewish faith. Known as Mogen David in Hebrew, its association with the Jewish faith did not occur until the 19th Century. The Nazis adopted its use during WWII as part of their Anti-Semitic campaign. It does have roots in biblical times, but there are some discrepancies of its exact origin. Some call it the Star of Solomon having the belief it was a symbol of Solomon’s signet ring. There is little to authenticate these unfounded traditions. The general consensus among scholars is that it was a symbol David used to represent the unity or solidarity of all the tribes of Israel. Initially, when Saul died, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were loyal to David. The other ten tribes remained loyal to the house of Saul. It took seven years for all twelve tribes to be unified. This symbol represents the strength and solidarity of the twelve tribes of Israel. There are twelve points on the outside, and the two intersecting triangles represented the two factions coming together unifying the twelve tribes.
The Star Prophesy is found in Numbers 24:17, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.” This verse can relate to both the scepter of David and of Jesus. But when we get to the Magi, who came from the East, we see a distinction in the Star of David and the Star of Bethlehem. The Star of David represented the Coat of Arms on the Shield of David’s forces, which represents David’s military is Coming. The Star of Bethlehem is marked by the coming of the one greater than David. The Star of Balaam prophesy, which is rooted in Numbers and continues to be defined in Daniel 2:48 and Jeremiah 39:13, is the same star the Magi followed. Most scholars agree the Star of Balaam and the Star of Bethlehem areone and the same because they are described nearly identically.It is interesting to note, that the language also indicates that the star the Magi followed was Christ himself.
In the Gospel of John, we hear about the light coming into the world, which darkness could not overcome. I cannot help but think that when Jesus was born, He literally lit up the whole world. By His very presence, the light was easy to follow until the Magi got to Jerusalem. When the Magi got close to Jesus, they were unable to determine the origin of the light because they were in His radiant range. This also explains, how many in Israel were blinded by their lack of faith. If you're rolling your eyes at this point, that’s okay. The fact that Jesus is the light of the world is key: He enlightens us to eternal salvation. We, too,are called to be light to the nations. The Star of David shows unity; so, we too, must be one in Christ. This world wants to divide and conquer all that is good. Though others walk in other faiths, we still are called to bring Christ’s love. We need not be divided by earthly realms; rather, we need to be unified by the heavenly presence of the light of Christ. His prayer was for peace upon us that we might be one. This world wants us to see only darkness, but the Light has come and the darkness cannot overcome it. Our star is Jesus Christ that we may always live in His Light. AMEN.