In both Testaments of the Jewish and Christian bibles the names Saul and Mark appear. In the Jewish bible, Saul is well-known as the first anointed king of Israel. In the Christian bible, Saul is the Hebrew name of Jesus’ primary follower and founder of the new faith. His Greek name was Paul and Saul/Paul was the only disciple who had never known Jesus. It was Saul/Paul who became the father of Christianity.
In the same Christian bible, Mark is one of the synoptic gospels together with Matthew, Luke and even John who were the official biographers of the birth, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth.
Likewise, unknown to me physically but treasured spiritually, are the Saul of Florida, USA and the Mark of Hadera, Israel. We have never met. We know one another only through their replies and comments to many of my 692 published articles in the TIMES OF ISRAEL.
If either of them has ever found fault with some of my remarks they have never so indicated.
The comments they make truly inspire me and if I want to retire from my writing, they will not allow it.
As I have written in past, my oldest and dearest friends in Israel were those who picked me up in 1951 from a sandy road in Beersheba and invited me to join them for a cup of Turkish coffee which I had to sip through my teeth in order to avoid a mouthful of coffee grinds !
One can never know just when and where new friends will enter one’s life.
Often friends and family members both here in Israel and abroad share verbal remarks with me about a particular article which they have recently read.
But Saul and Mark take the effort to write personal thoughts and opinions to me… written words which frequently touch my heart and always…always… inspire me to say a silent prayer for them, thanking them for their kindnesses and asking God to bless them and their families.
Over the past 692 articles, many people have commented occasionally. But none so often as the faithful readers, the American Saul and the Israeli Mark.
I am truly blessed to have such devoted but unknown friends. On Sunday I will strike a match to create light for two candles…one for the shamash (the big chief) and one for the first candle.
Both will bring light and gladness into my life and my home on this Chanukah. For them and for Jews everywhere I pray for “ora v’simcha b’chag ha-oorim”… light and gladness on the Festival of Lights.
Biblical readers can have their own Saul/Paul and Mark. I rejoice in having my own.
Soon I can relax, retire, and cherish the memories.