Apples of Gold Nov/Dec 2021
The ultra-Orthodox in Israel try to milk people out of their money. They always find something new to sell. Lately they have been going from house to house to collect funds to build a new Temple. This business pays them well.
They go to the homes of recent immigrants. I am an immigrant, but not a recent one. I have lived here for 53 years. But it is not written on my door how long I have lived here, so they come to my home, too; and I receive them kindly.
“You know we come here to do good deeds,” one told me.
“I will be happy to help you if this is really to the glory of the Lord,” I replied.
This made them happy. One said, “We have come to the right place. As you know, we are collecting money to build a big, new Temple. We need a lot of money, and everyone who gives will be doing a great mitzvah [good deed].”
“For whom?” I asked.
“You don’t know?” another asked. “For Hashem [God], of course.”
I listened patiently and then spoke. “I have heard you for a long time,” I said, “and now I want to tell you that the best mitzvah you can do for the Lord is to come before Him like King David did, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me’ [Ps. 6:2]; and ‘Teach me Your way, O LORD’ [27:11].
“You call yourselves the most religious ones. But what do you do? You come to people in the name of the Most Holy One, and you lie in His name. It is clearly written in Exodus 23:6, ‘You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute.’”
They were not happy when I told them this. One asked, “To whom do you belong?”
“I am very proud that I belong to the Lord and serve Him,” I replied, “but not by going to people and telling them fictitious stories and taking money from them. You want to build the Temple? You must first become clean before the Lord. What is most important to the Lord is your temple—your heart.”
“If you don’t want to join us in holy deeds, you don’t have to,” another said.
They tried to leave quickly; but I told them, “Stay, and we will try to make this all clear.”
Then they started to suspect me because one asked, “How can you speak about the Lord and not even cover your head?”
“I have heard this question many, many times,” I replied. “But I want to tell you that covering the head is not important. Instead, we must come before the Lord with clean hearts, as David said in Psalm 139:23 and as Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 4:14: ‘O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness.’ Here we are in Jerusalem, and the Word of the Lord must go forth from here. What are you doing? Going to people for bribes!”
I read the Bible to them, showing them what the Lord warned us not to do. It was difficult for them to understand. How could someone like me not cover his head and speak about the faith?
“If you speak about the faith, you must belong to a special sect,” one told me again.
“I can prove to you that it is you who belong to a sect, like those who danced around the golden calf in the wilderness,” I said. “I have this small Bible, and I try to do what is written in it in the best way I know. It is hard, but I do my best. You must take a good look at yourselves and ask yourselves if you are doing the will of God or the will of Satan.”
One of them replied, “We will speak with our rabbis about the questions you asked us.”
After a long discussion, they started to speak about their messiah. They are in deep trouble, as they believe their rabbi (the late Menachem Mendel Schneerson) from New York is the messiah.
“Show me even one place in the Bible where it is written the Messiah will come from New York,” I said. I showed them many places about the Messiah whom I have believed and what He has done for us all.
They were in our home two hours. At the end one said, “This was interesting, but next time when we come here, we will bring our rabbi with us. We are sure he will have the right answers for you.”
I said, “Please, come again!”