Zvi Feb/Mar 1992
Since suffering a heart attack several years ago, I must go to the doctor every four months for a checkup. There are usually many people waiting in the doctor’s office, and it often takes several hours to get in to see him, and my last visit was no exception. As always, people were talking to each other to pass the time, but this time something very unusual occurred.
There was an ultra-Orthodox man sitting next to me, complete with a long beard, long curls, and black clothes, and he was reading the Psalms at the top of his voice. After a while I turned to him and said, “I do not mind your reading the Psalms, but would you please lower your voice. After all, if you are truly doing this from your heart, I am sure that God will hear you even if you read silently.” He responded by asking, “When was the last time you spoke to God, that you can be so sure He will hear me?” Then he began to stare at me very intently, and soon he said, “I know you. I know you very well! Your name is Zvi isn’t it?” “Yes,” I replied. “Were you on Cyprus in 1947?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied again. “I thought so,” he said. “We were in the same camp, in the very same shack, for eight long months. Don’t you remember me?” “Not really,” I replied, “because of your camouflage. But now that I see you closely, yes, I do remember you.”
Of course, he asked why I was in the doctor’s office, and I told him about my heart attack. He told me why he was there and asked me many questions, as anyone would do upon meeting an old friend after 44 years. I then asked him what he had been doing since arriving in Israel in 1948, and he replied, “I have become a real Jew. I study the Talmud in a yeshiva all the time. I do no other work.” I told him, “I can see what a good Jew you are. You grew a long beard, spent years on the study bench, and let others do the fighting. I got off the ship from Cyprus and went straight to war, and I fought in all the wars up to 1973. Now my children are in the military. So tell me, who is really a good Jew?”
He replied, “I want to know more about you. Do you go to the synagogue even once a week?” I replied, “When I pray, it is not so that other people will hear and see me and think what a good Jew I am. Rather, I pray to the living God and lay before Him all that is on my heart, and I know that He answers my prayers. For this I do not have to go to the synagogue and make a theatrical performance to prove to people that I am holy. I can go to the Lord at any time, anywhere, and pray in His name, and I know that His Holy Spirit is there.”
He then said, “As I remember you from Cyprus, you were not so serious. What has caused this change?” I replied, “For one thing, I am 44 years older. But, more importantly, I have learned to whom I belong. As we say, you must know from whence you came and whither you are going.”
I soon realized that I was not talking to this man only. Most of the other people in the large waiting room were listening to our conversation, and it was apparent that many of them were so interested in what I was saying that they had forgotten why they were there. One of the other men asked, “What is your point in all of this? What are you trying to say?” Of course, I could not quickly say that I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. That is not the way to preach the gospel in Israel. You must go slowly but surely. I told him, “I have never studied in a yeshiva. I came to know the Lord God through reading the Bible and praying. In that way I found what most of you will never find, even after spending a lifetime studying the writings of famous rabbis and the traditions of the fathers. Also, I have never boycotted the Word of God, as you are doing.”
When I made that statement, no one in the room agreed with me. “We have never boycotted the Bible!” they said. I had been waiting for such an opportunity, and I read to them Isaiah 53—the entire chapter. Then I asked, “Why is this chapter never read in the synagogue? Why is it always passed over, year after year? It is definitely part of the Bible and was written by the Holy Spirit of God.”
As soon as I said that, another man in the waiting room said, “Now I know who you are. These people may not know, but I know, and I would tell them but I don’t want to make trouble for you.” I responded, “If you tell the others about me, it will make me happy. Please do it.” He asked, “Aren’t you afraid?” “No,” I replied. So he started to whisper into the ears of the others, like a small child in kindergarten. I asked, “Why are you being so quiet about it? Don’t worry, I am proud of who I am. I am not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord because I know in whom I have believed.” I then told them—not in a whisper but in a strong voice—“I believe in Yeshua Hamashiah, Jesus Christ!” No one made any derogatory remarks when I made that statement, and just then I was called into the doctor’s office.
I was grateful to the Lord for the opportunities I had that day. I renewed my acquaintance with a man I had not seen in 44 years, and I had the privilege of telling him and many others about my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. These people all have problems with their physical health, as I do. But they have a problem more serious than mine—they are spiritually dead. Please pray with me that what they heard in the doctor’s office that day will drive them to their knees before the Great Physician and that they will recognize and accept Him as their Messiah and Savior.