Zvi Oct/Nov 1997
I have some of my best conversations with people at the bus stop or on the bus. One recent day I was waiting for the bus to go into Jerusalem, when two young men approached me and asked if I lived in the neighborhood. When I told them I did, they asked for directions to a synagogue, which I gladly gave them, telling them that it was very close by. They replied, “We want to pray, but we have already been to that synagogue, and it is locked up tight.” I asked, “If every synagogue were locked up tight, would you not pray?”
They looked strangely at me and asked, “How can you pray without a minyan [ten people required to conduct a Jewish worship service]? It is impossible.” I responded, “That is a mistake. You see, God is not looking to see if you pray in a synagogue. He looks at your heart. If you pray to Him from the depths of your heart, you can be sure that your prayer will be heard in heaven.”
Again they looked strangely at me and asked, “How can you pray without a tallit [a prayer shawl] and without tefillin [phylacteries]?” I replied, “Those things are not important. To God, they are nothing more than a disguise. What the Lord wants from us is our hearts. You must realize that without the heart, there is no life. When we give God our hearts, we give Him ourselves, our very lives.”
As we were talking, many more people arrived at the bus stop, and most of them wanted to join in the conversation. Some of the men belonged to the synagogue that was locked, and, because they know me, they asked, “Why are you always against everything we do? You know that for many years we have followed the old traditions. Who are you to say that they are not true? Why are you trying to brainwash these young men, so that they will leave the God of our fathers?” I said, “My duty is to bring them closer to God, and not according to the old traditions, but according to Zechariah 1:3: ‘Turn unto me, saith the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, and I will turn unto you.’ Zechariah also refers to your old traditions: ‘Be not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts: Turn now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings; but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lᴏʀᴅ’ (Zech. 1:4).”
It was like a small miracle to me to be able to give them living facts from the Bible, and not examples from their old fictitious stories, as they always do. It was also a small miracle that the bus was late, giving me more time to tell these people the truth about God and how to open their hearts before Him.
Eventually the two young men said that they wanted to repent, and they asked me to take them to see the rabbi. I told them, “If you really want to repent, you do not need a rabbi. You can go before the Lord yourselves, individually, and open your hearts before Him. Believe me, you will know that you are saved from your sins. Then you will not have to wear those funny clothes, which make you look like you have come from another planet. It is enough for God when you come before Him and say, ‘Lord, save me!’ You can say, just as King David did in Psalm 25:1–2, ‘Unto thee, O Lᴏʀᴅ, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed.’ ”
Sensing their great need, I continued reading the remainder of Psalm 25, along with some other passages, including Jeremiah 31:33: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lᴏʀᴅ, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
As soon as I spoke the word covenant, some of the older men said to the young men, “You must fear him. He is speaking from the New Testament, the book those Christians believe!” I then told them how blind they were, showing them that I had read from the Prophet Jeremiah and not from the New Testament, as they thought. All of these men were very surprised because this was the first time that most of them had seen with their own eyes that the Jewish prophets spoke about the new covenant, and it was very hard for them to believe.
Because we had come to the subject of the New Testament, I showed them some Old Testament passages that clearly speak of the Lord Jesus. By then, they all knew who I was and in whom I believe—the mighty God, and no one else.
I pray that I will have more opportunities to meet with these people, especially the two young men, and tell them how they can truly repent by putting their faith and trust in the Messiah of Israel.