Zvi Jan/Feb 2001
We have a saying in Israel: Curses, like chickens, come home to roost. But a curse cannot rest where a blessing has been pronounced. Many rabbis today are making new laws, and they claim these laws are holy and blessed. Yet each rabbi belongs to a different faction or political party (of which we have many here), and the parties are not overly friendly toward one another.
I often witness among the Hasidim (ultra-Orthodox) because it is written to “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate . . . and persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). The Hasidim make much trouble for us because we believe in Christ. When I come among them, I feel like I am back in the army, clearing the minefields. Nevertheless, God gives me much courage to bring them the message of salvation despite the fact that they have this great intolerance.
Recently some of these Hasidim asked their rabbi for advice. In the morning in the synagogue, the rabbi read from Psalm 109:5–14, which speaks of cursing one’s ene- mies. The people responded with a hearty “Amen.” But these people did not need to learn about curses and hatred. They needed to learn about God’s love.
So I told them that everyone is a sinner. But what does God say? I read to them from Jeremiah 31:33–35 where God promises, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (v. 34). I asked them if they knew what is written in the Ten Commandments, especially in Leviticus 19:17 where God says, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart.”
They were listening to me with great suspicion, wondering who I was. I cannot go to their places with a loud voice, shouting, “I believe in Jesus Christ!” It is too dangerous. Therefore, I come only with what is written about Christ in the Bible, particularly in the prophets.
So they began to discuss things with me. They repeated many commentaries, as their rabbis do. This took a long time. It seemed to me as though they were dancing around a poisonous snake, not knowing how to run away.
“What do you say to this?” they finally asked me.
“I never use commentaries, as your teachers do,” I said. I gave them the Bible and had them read Isaiah 53. The rabbis forbid the reading of this chapter.
“Who is your rabbi?” they asked. “In which yeshiva did you study?”
“My study,” I replied, “is by faith. I have believed what is writ- ten here and believe that there is no other way to come to God but this way. About whom is it written here: ‘and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’” (v. 6)?
They asked me again, “What do you think? Who was this one?”
But I did not tell them. Instead I said, “Read it again. Read the whole chapter and think about it. If this is difficult for you, ask your rabbis, your teachers. I am sure you will receive the right answer, providing they do not go to their commentaries.”
A few minutes later, a rabbi arrived. He seemed to be very sure of himself. He asked his pupils what they were discussing. So they said, “We are speaking about this prophecy in Isaiah 53.”
“Are you blind?” the rabbi asked, greatly upset. “Are you crazy! Don’t you see that this one wants to make you Christians?”
The pupils were very surprised and suddenly became very fright- ened. “But we only read from this chapter in Isaiah and spoke about it,” they explained.
Then the rabbi turned to me. “Are you a missionary? Did you come here to brainwash my students?”
“I came here,” I said, “because it is written in Isaiah 43:10, ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen.’ And it is written in Ezekiel 33:7–11 that we are to warn people who are not walking down the right path. It is my duty to come here and not to run away, as the prophet Jonah did.”
Please pray for these students. It is important that they learn to think for themselves and to read the Word of God instead of reading commentaries and listening only to their rabbis. Then they will know the truth about Jesus. God blesses His Word. God’s Word is truth, and they need the truth so they can be set free.