Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a great Elder in the faith: Orlando Smith.
Brother Orlando was the first man to teach me about the tassels (Numbers 15:37-41), back in 1998. I was sitting in my in-law’s living room, and he had these strings hanging from his clothes. I didn’t know what they were. I asked. He explained. I tied my first set that night. Me and my father-in-law even wrote a song together about the ribband of blue. I still sing it today.
Orlando was a dedicated man of YHWH. He was quiet. He talked slowly. He was old when I met him. He studied a lot. He would sit in the living room there and study all day long. Sometimes he’d nod off, then he’d wake up and start studying again.
Orlando had calloused knees from kneeling down often to pray. He would always get on his knees to pray. He said it was a way to humble ourselves before the Almighty.
He had two silver trumpets that he would blow at the same time. A Tennessee newspaper once took a picture of him on top of his house, blowing both trumpets. The county was trying to get him to move some trucks out of his yard that had been there “forever.” He didn’t believe he needed to. He was blowing the trumpets in defiance of local government persecution, lol. Orlando meant business.
Orlando wore a hat all the time, but with the bill cut off. Most of the time his hat would have the Sacred Name on it, in Aramaic or Paleo script. Once though it was a Philadelphia Eagles hat. I never asked him why. It’s possible he didn’t even know that was a football team. He mightta’ thought it stood for the scripture about eagles wings.
Orlando wore an untrimmed beard, solid white. He also didn’t trim the hair on the temples of his head. That’s how he understood Leviticus 19:27. One time I saw him walk in the house and his beard was crooked. I said, “Brother Orlando! Your beard!” He responded that he had gotten a new shirt with the Tetragrammaton on it. With his long, untrimmed beard you couldn’t see the writing. He had trimmed his beard so people could see the Name on his shirt. He trimmed it crooked. 😃
I was at a Feast of Tabernacles up in Pennsylvania about 15 years ago, and brother Orlando was there. They had a huge congregational sukkah; the biggest I’ve ever seen. One night it started to rain. I said, “Brother Orlando, we’re going to go inside or get in the van. C’mon with us.” He said he’d be fine. He reached down in his sleeping bag, pulled out a plastic sheet, and pulled it over his head. I watched him lay there under that sukkah with the rain drops hitting him right in his face on the plastic.
Orlando told me that when he prayed, he always asked Yahweh to enlarge the borders of his heart, so that all the commandments could fit there. He didn’t want to neglect anything in Torah. I believe he was a man after Yahweh’s own heart.
Brother Orlando died somewhere in his 80’s. I wasn’t there. I didn’t attend his funeral. I don’t even know if he had a funeral. I don’t think he would care either way. He wasn’t well known on this planet, and he never tried to make a name for himself. His reward will be great in the Kingdom. He’s in the book of remembrance, because he feared Yahweh, and had a high regard for His name. He will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Rest in peace wise Elder. You made a huge impact on me. I still think about you most every day.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.