Zvi Jul/Aug 2008

As it is written in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And this is so. When I go to people who consider themselves good servants of God, they always ask me the same questions and show me that they often do not know what is written in His Word.

Not only do they wear special clothes and cover their heads, but they do not even like to speak Hebrew, although they know it well, because they consider Hebrew a holy language. They want to speak only Yiddish. I know Yiddish well, which makes them happy. I recently met with a group of ultra-Orthodox men to whom I have spoken many times. They read the Word, but they do not understand it.

“As servants of God,” one said, “we bring you something you have never seen.” One man opened a small bag and pulled out a picture of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Rabbi Schneerson was the world leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement of Hasidic Judaism for 44 years. He immigrated to New York from Europe in 1941. He died in Brooklyn, New York, in 1994 at age 92 following a stroke that left him unable to speak. In his whole life, he never set foot in Israel.

“Here!” one man proclaimed, holding up the picture. “This is the true messiah to whom we must be faithful!” Underneath Rabbi Schneerson’s picture was written, “And the Lᴏʀᴅ has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6”

I have seen such a thing many times here in Israel. Sadly, many Lubavitchers believe Schneerson is the messiah. “I know all about this,” I told them. “I know what you believe. But I know about whom this was written.”

“If you know, then tell us so that we also shall know,” one said.

“You are living in deep blindness,” I explained. “You have created your own messiah.”

“He is holy!” they insisted.

“As the Chosen People of God, you should be ashamed to say such a thing about a man,” I told them. “Only God Himself is holy—this one, about whom you read in Isaiah 53. Do you want to know where else you can read about Him?”

“Show us where it is written about our holy one,” one replied.

So I opened my Bible to Micah 5:2 and handed it to them. There it is written,

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.

After they read it, they looked at me with anger and began to shout, “You want to make us Christians!”

“Have a good look from which book you are reading,” I replied. They saw they were reading the Hebrew Scriptures.

This time one asked, “How did you come to this?”

So I told them that I read only the Bible. I do not read rabbinical commentaries, as they do. “You have taken a mere man who was sick and who had to stay in a hospital and who died 14 years ago, and you have turned him into a god. And you pledge your allegiance to him. Even Rabbi Schneerson himself did not claim to be the messiah,” I told them. I could see that now they had no rest in their souls. “I worship the living God,” I said.

“Do you believe in this one from Bethlehem?” one asked.

“I believe in this one about whom it is written in the Holy Bible. I know who He is. You should be ashamed that you venerate a man from New York City,” I told them. Then I began teaching about the Holy Spirit of God. But as soon as I mentioned Him, they started shouting again, as they had many times before.

“You speak like those Christians,” one said. “You believe in this Holy Spirit. If you are so smart, show us where it is written about the Holy Spirit in the Bible!”

“How poor you are,” I replied. “You read the Bible so many times, yet you do not know what you read because you read without faith. Please, open the book of Psalms and read chapter 51. Read what King David asked the Lord in his prayer, when he was in such deep trouble.” I handed my Bible to them so they could examine it to make sure it was kosher (acceptable).

As they read 51:11, they grew quiet. So I took the Bible from them and read the verse in a loud voice: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”

“Was King David a Christian?” I asked.

“You are doing all you can to brainwash us,” one said.

“How mistaken you are,” I told them. “I am doing all I can to show you the truth that is written plainly in our Hebrew Scriptures. On the one hand, you refuse to study Isaiah 53; and on the other hand, you go to people to show them what is written there. I want people to believe what is written in Isaiah 53. You want them only to believe that Rabbi Schneerson is the messiah.”

We parted in peace. And they told me, as they have many times in the past, “You have given us much to think about.”

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