Zvi May/Jun 2005
Not long ago I got together with some of the men I served with in the army. We first met 56 years ago when we were young. And we served together in all of Israel’s wars. Some, like me, survived the Holocaust. But truly, time waits for no man. We are much older now, and many in our group have died. But some of us are still here, and we enjoy getting together to share our memories of the old days and renew our friendships.
Several of these men are now Orthodox. We were having a friendly discussion when one of them said, “I have seen some Jewish people who believe in Jesus. And I can say that they are, in my eyes, traitors to their faith.”
I was listening quietly when one turned to me and asked, “Zvi, what do you say to this?”
“The traitors,” I said, “are those who do not worship God according to the Bible but worship according to the many rabbinical traditions. It is clearly written in Leviticus 26:3–4, ‘If you walk in my statutes and keep my commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season.’ We must obey what is written in God’s Word, not the rabbinical traditions.
“Let me ask you something. Do you think that those who do not believe in all the rabbinical traditions are traitors? I do not believe in them. But I believe in the Lord according to what is written in the Bible. So in your eyes, I am a traitor?”
Then one of them replied, “As a Jew, you must follow the traditions of our great rabbis.” Now the discussion, which had been so friendly earlier, suddenly became like a volcano about to erupt.
“Are you a Jew?” someone asked angrily.
“I believe in the one mighty God,” I replied. “As it is written, ‘the Lᴏʀᴅ is one!’ [Dt. 6:4]. He is the one on whom is laid the iniquity of us all [Isa. 53:6]. It is not written, ‘the iniquity of the Jews’ or ‘the iniquity of the Gentiles,’ but ‘the iniquity of us all.’”
Now they looked at me with suspicion. “Tell us in whom you have believed,” one demanded.
So I asked them, “How many Gods do we have? Every morning you pray this most important prayer from Deuteronomy 6: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lᴏʀᴅ our God, the Lᴏʀᴅ is one!’ [v. 4]. We are commanded to fear the Lord and serve Him only: ‘You shall not go after other gods’” (v. 14).
“No one speaks to us as you do,” one man said. “We are not like the ultra-Orthodox, but we believe in God.”
“You believe in something God does not like,” I said. “You give false testimony. Do you believe in the Ten Commandments?”
They all said they did. “But you disobey them,” I said, “because you put your trust in what is not God. You put your trust in men, in these rabbis who persuade you to follow them instead of the Bible. You have lost the right direction; and now you are at a crossroads, waiting for someone to come and lead you onto the right path. Here I am!”
This time someone asked me, “Who are you that you will tell us how to worship God?”
As we were discussing these matters, others began to gather around and listen. So I said, “I do not know these other people. But I want to ask them a question. What is the best way to worship God? According to the Bible or according to a big stack of commentaries?”
The people all answered, “According to the Bible, of course.”
Again I asked the crowd, “How do you feel about all the commentaries?”
Someone replied, “They are idolatry (in Hebrew, Avodah Zarah; this is the name of the Talmudic tractate).”
The others who listened to our conversation also began to ask questions. They even asked questions my friends did not have the courage to ask. When we finally got up to leave, the others said they would like to speak with me again. And they wrote down the Bible passages I told them about: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2; and so forth.
Slowly, slowly, step-by-step, my friends and I came around to a discussion that showed them that Jesus is truly the Lord. Earlier they did not want to hear about Him. But when more people came and began to agree with me, then everything became kosher, as we say in Israel. It took a long time to bring them this truth. But those who were once so blind have seen the Light, who is the Lord.