When I was twelve, my family moved from K’far-Nachum (Capernaum) to Natzaret (Nazareth). We lived in a house that was next-door to a twelve-year-old boy named Yeshua. He was very intelligent and was actually more home-schooled by his father than attending the Torah School at our assembly, like I did.
When he came to class, he was always able to give a good answer to every teacher that asked him, especially about our faith and God’s word. I saw him one day in his wood-shop helping his father build furniture. He noticed me too.
I was a school-girl without a brother in the house. He was a son within a larger family and many brothers and sisters, but he was the oldest, and able to help earn income for paying their high taxes.
Once when I was sitting on the front steps, I saw him come between the houses and suddenly appear from the shadow.
“Shalom Aleichem boy!” I called him as he came closer to me.
“Aleichem Shalom girl.” He said in time with his pace.
“Are you working hard?” I asked.
“Oh, not at all. I am learning to be a master carpenter.”
“You mean, you are learning from a master carpenter.” I said thinking he misspoke.
“Well true for you and true for me. . . You may come see my work.” He said as he swung around to bring me with him. “My father is a master, but I am a Master too.”
“My name is Levonah.” I said as Yeshua led me back to his wood-shop.
To describe him as boyish in appearance, he was average height, taller than me, medium build, uncut hair, and peach-fuzz face. His expression showed me he was very self-assured with very high intelligence and a superior level of knowledge. His speech was high-pitched, but assertive. His eyes were most remarkable to me, as they were steady, centered, and round – never shifty or squinty . . .
“I am called Yeshua.” He said as we arrived at the shop. “See, this is my work, Levonah.”
He lifted a chair that was a finely fitted, glued and stained example of a master’s piece. I was very impressed. There I was in the wood-shop and the very presence of the furniture-making Master, for whom I allowed myself to truly acknowledge. But who were we to do such things? Was our childhood finished already?
“That is very impressive Yeshua. But tell me about your childhood. Was it short-lived? Or are you about to take a vacation and go back to school?” I asked not knowing what else to say.
“Good question, Dear Friend.” He said trying to be something more to me than the boy next-door. “I have great plans for an adult life as a master carpenter as I can have. But, like you say, our childhood can’t be over yet. . . Can it?”
Just then, Yeshua’s father came in.
“Shalom Aleichem. You must be the only girl-child from the house next-door?” He said softly, and stopped to greet me, bowing.
“Yes Sir. Thank you for acknowledging me as girl-child, for certainly my childhood is not over yet . . .”
“Like maybe you are thinking mine is?” Yeshua said, looking from his father to my over-smiling face.
“Ha ha.” Laughed his father. “What line is drawn in your lives that tells you your childhood is over?” He asked us.
“Well Abba, there are several. Would you believe, the Bar Mitzvah is a good one, which comes for me next year. So how many master pieces can I make for you by then?”
“Oh, Son you have already proven yourself an able Master with furniture. It took me four-years after my Bar Mitzvah to even think I could become a master.”
Yeshua looked at me and I knew what he was thinking.
“How do you know my stepfather has gotten me into Torah training for Bat-Mitzvah?” I asked him, under my breath. His eyes gleefully glance from my mouth to his father’s eyes and back.
“There are many things our neighbors know about us that we haven’t even begun to learn yet.” He said.
“Oh-oh, Look out. The wood-shop’s new Master will be showing you how to think beyond your hands, even into eternity.”
“I think I would like to hear about that, but first I have to kiss my childhood goodbye, right?” I said.
“Oh no Dear, your childhood ended the moment you met our young man here. You’ve not moved here accidentally, or by coincidence . . . “ Yeshua’s father said.
“What do you mean, Sir? I asked. “I haven’t been told how babies are made yet — what can we call that? – The last rung of the ladder for climbing out of childhood?” I said immodestly.
Yeshua’s father looked at his son expecting some really profound statement. And I looked from Yeshua to him, then back, when my thoughts began to give me some deeper understanding — no words needed to be spoken. (we were just touring the wood-shop).
‘Call it maturity.’ I thought.
“Your heart is ready for Bat Mitzvah Levonah. When is it going to happen?” Yeshua asked.
“Actually, on my twelfth birthday, Tishri 15th.” I said.
“Hey! That is my twelfth birthday too!” Yeshua said.
“But you knew that somehow, right?” I asked him.
“Of course I know my own birthday. But what makes you think I have known yours?”
“Because it was on a Friday, the first day of Sukkot. (September 25th) And we are both from families who have long-planned to travel up to Yerushalayim on the same days.” I said.
“But my Bar-Mitzvah will not happen like your Bat-Mitzvah.” He said.
“Yes Yeshua. You will have yours in the Temple, while I will have mine in our assembly here.”
“Don’t worry about it children.” Yeshua’s father said. “The future will take care of itself. And each of your personal pledge to God’s Commandments will be glorious.”
Yeshua looked at me and I knew the shop tour was over. I admired the table they were working on. But the one fact that we were born on the same day was a little too much for me. I felt it was very special, however, so much so, that I may probably not tell another soul. (How will anyone know this if they are not told?)
“Nice meeting you, Yeshua’s father.” I said.
“My pleasure dear, you can call me Yosef.” He said.
“Please call me Levonah, thank you, Yosef.” I said.
We walked outside and back to my house next-door. I was thinking to say something polite and proper, or kind to him. Yeshua glanced humbly at my eyes. I felt his kindness. And I suddenly realized he was acknowledging me exactly as I knew he should. He was my best friend though I had just met him. He was a peer in the flesh. But he was my Master in the Spirit. From the work he was given to show me, I easily accepted his skill as a master carpenter.
Our birthday and my Bat-Mitzvah was only a short time away. Both our families will travel to Yerushalayim. Although our return to Natzaret would be scheduled apart. All we could do was accept the future as mere children, letting it come.
“Levonah,” He said.
“Will you think of me when you have your Bat-Mitzvah?” He asked this of me totally off-the-cuff.
“Why yes, I will, if it is all right with God?” I asked.
“It will be all right with him.” He said.
“I realize I might not be there for your reading, physically. But I will be there in spirit for you.”
“That is a comfort to know, Yeshua. I have just met you and already you have become a best friend.” I said. “Thank you, and bless you friend.”
I leaned forward and I had the thought to kiss his cheek. He stood still for that.
Kissing him suddenly, I felt an exhilaration of emotion shoot through my heart as deep as my bones: if my bones could feel (but I did think how the first woman was formed from the first man’s side rib-bone) . . . ‘Oh, if I could be formed from Yeshua’s rib!’ I thought to myself.
Yeshua stood there looking at my face and smiled curiously. “You kissed me.” He said.
“Well then, I guess, you are kissable.” I said.
“You are not old enough to kiss people like social adults do.”
“Maybe not. My intention is to express my gratitude for your showing me how you are a Master with making furniture.” I said defensively.
“You are most welcome for the demonstration, but for the kiss in private, and the thought about being formed from my rib — they are not something we can go around doing at any age, my dear girl.”
“Did I just misspeak my thoughts out-loud?”
“No. But your kiss brought you into my heart’s perception which is something I can’t help because of my Father.”
“You mean Yosef . . .”
“No. I mean my true Father, who is Adonai Elohim Tzva’ot (Lord God of Hosts).”
I heard his words, but my mind could not grasp them. So I reached out and touched his arm feeling his strong muscle. “What you have said would make you a spirit. But you are only a growing boy who has lost his real father, like I did.”
Yeshua stood there smiling feeling such temptation to do something to prove himself, but thought better to reach my heart. He leaned over to me and kissed me back on my cheek. That sent a resounding signal to my heart that what he says is true and that children can know the Father and dwell within his kingdom. Such a kiss brought my heart to its knees . . . He turned and left me on my front porch, the place of our first meeting.
Next: Chapter Two