Zvi Jul/Aug 2002
I was riding home on the bus recently, and an ultra-Orthodox man was seated next to me, reading from the book of Psalms. He was reading chapter 96, the same chapter we had read in church several days earlier.
As he read, he kept looking at me. I could see he was not happy. Finally he turned to me and asked, “Are you not ashamed?”
“Why do you ask me this? What have I done?” I replied.
“You see that I am reading the Psalms. And you do not even cover your head,” he said angrily.
I have lived in Jerusalem fifty-four years, and I have never encountered a situation similar to what happened to me with this man. Many people I witness to ask me why I do not cover my head. But never has anyone come against me with such hostility, using such angry words, while I was merely sitting still, doing nothing. Perhaps he is ill, I thought.
But he continued to abuse me with his speech. So I asked, “What do you want from me?”
In front of everyone on the bus, he replied loudly, “When someone reads from the Psalms, as I am doing, and you are near me, you must show respect and cover your head.”
“When I pray,” I replied, “the head does not take on extra value. What is most important is the heart. I believe the Lord and what is clearly written in our most important daily prayer: ‘And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might’ (Dt. 6:5). I never go to people and tell them they must do this or that, according to what I say.”
The people on the bus were listening, and they were on my side.
“I believe in God,” I continued. “He is our Savior, Yeshua [Jesus]. And in Him I put my trust. And if I want others to believe in the Lord, I must remember that it is written, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, said the LORD of hosts’” (Zech. 4:6).
This time he asked me, “Where is this written?”
So I told him, “I did not write this. It is found in our Holy Scriptures, in Zechariah.”
“You know, many Christians use the word Yeshua,” he said.
As he spoke, I could not help but feel compassion for him. We have many people like him in Israel. They read the Psalms; but they read so quickly that they do not take time to study what they read. Nor do they understand it. They are blind to the truth.
“Please,” I said, “give me this book of Psalms, and I will show you where it is written about Yeshua. Even here, in Psalm 96, where you are reading, about whom is it written? And this is not a Christian book. I can see that you are afraid of the truth because you have believed so many fictitious stories. In Leviticus 19:4, it is written, ‘Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves melted gods: I am the LORD your God.’ But so many Jewish traditions have turned people to ‘idols.’ It is important to believe what is written here in the Bible.”
Then he asked me, “Do you believe in Yeshua?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I believe in Yeshua. I believe because of what is written in the Holy Scriptures. It is our obligation to believe because we are the people of the Bible and have been called to bring His salvation to the ends of the earth.”
I asked him, “In what manner do you go to people and speak to them? What news do you bring them? Just a few minutes ago, I saw how you behaved. In which commandment is it written to be angry and hostile?”
I showed him Leviticus 19:18, where it is written, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.”
“Who gave us that commandment?” I asked. “Not the rabbis, in whom you put all your trust, but the Lord Himself. Those of us who believe in Yeshua try to teach people about God’s love and salvation. And you can see that I am not shouting, as you were, but trying to show you what the Lord expects of us: to open our hearts before Him. He is love.”
The people on the bus were so surprised to see someone who does not dress like the ultra-Orthodox speak of faith according to the Bible. So they began questioning me also, wanting to know how I came to believe in Yeshua.
And all this happened in a bus. So many times I try to plan a way to meet such people to talk to them about the Lord. And this time, the Lord brought them all to me.