Tag Archives: pogrom

The Battle Between Easter and Passover

Passover and Easter are fast approaching, and I am still immersed in speaking and traveling in support of my book, Being Both. So I am reposting some essays from the archives. This one dates from the spring of 2010. Enjoy!

-Susan Katz Miller
“Passover: Three Generations of Interfaith Family”
On Being Both

The “collision” of Easter and Passover is hitting me particularly hard this year. Last year I “celebrated” both. I put that word in quotes because I had the traditional Passover seder in my home as I do every year, but for the first time in over a decade, I went to the “Resurrection Sunday” (they don’t call it “Easter”) service at the church I currently attend.

I remember that Sunday morning as I was leaving for services. It was too late to do anything about it and since I’d been going to church for months, I didn’t think my wife would mind. But as I was getting up to leave, the hurt I saw in her eyes was almost tangible. It was too late to stop and as I drove away from our house, I realized that this was probably the worst thing I could have done…attend an Easter service while being married to a Jew.

In the history of the Church how many passion plays were immediately followed by a pogrom?

I remember quite some number of years ago attending Shabbat services at our local Conservative/Reform synagogue. Everyone was talking about the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ (2004) which had just been released. All of the Jewish people in the room were absolutely terrified.

In the history of the Church how many passion plays were immediately followed by a pogrom?

I’ve never seen “Passion” and I never will. I realize Evangelical Christians won’t understand my reasoning, but I know the film would just make me angry and I know bringing the DVD into my home would be insulting to my Jewish family.

Passover this year begins the evening of Monday, April 14th and concludes the evening of Tuesday, April 22nd. Easter Sunday is on April 20th. I’ve never really connected to Palm Sunday or Good Friday, so I’m pretty detached from the whole sequence of Easter related events. And yet, especially this year, Easter and Passover seem heavily intertwined.

This coming Sunday, the church service will be quite different from normal. Not only will Pastor be speaking about Passover, but the entire service will be geared around Pesach. No, I don’t mean they will be conducting a seder, but there will be “Passover related” music such as “My Passover Things,” “The Ballad of the Four Sons,” and “Don’t Sit on the Afikomen.” The program does include a couple of more traditional pieces of music such as “Dayeinu” and Hallel,” but when I first saw this in the church bulletin last week, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend or not. Also, and this is the heavy punctuation to the event, they will also be conducting a communion service. I don’t begin to know how to wrap my brain around a matzah-communion wafer mashup.

Normally, communion is only offered in the evening service at this church, perhaps as an inducement to get people to attend both morning and evening services. I haven’t taken an actual communion since first coming to faith as a Christian. I’ve always practiced ”Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24) as part of my Passover observance. Communion, to me, seemed at least redundant if not a skewed path away from this additional meaning Messiah attached to the Pesach meal.

The problem of whether or not to attend became moot when I was asked to help a family move to their new home this coming weekend. This is a friend of my wife’s, a Jewish woman, a single mother with three sons, all with some degree of disability. I’ve helped out this family in small ways before and long-planned to be part of the “grunt labor” when it was time for them to move.

PassoverMy wife is slowly winding things up for our Pesach seder this year. She ordered the matzah for the meal from some place in Vermont that processes the matzah from the growing of the wheat through baking, packaging, and shipping the matzah. For the rest of the week of unleavened bread, we’ll be eating more local fare (although we’ve already opened a box and have started munching).

But while people like Susan Katz Miller can celebrate interfaith families and (apparently) not encounter significant dissonance between Christian and Jewish worlds, there are points in my life experience where I can’t avoid them. One point I faced was last year on Easter, uh…excuse me, Resurrection Sunday, as I was about to walk out the door and looked one more time at the expression on my Jewish wife’s face. I don’t think I can take seeing that hurt and feeling that guilt again.

But there’s another less personal but still important reason.

Imagine this alternate prophetic scenario, which I believe accords far better with the Jewish prophets than the New Testament’s version of the future, where the glorious multinational Church and Jesus are reunited. This is not a version of future events where Jews belatedly accept and worship the messiah they “murdered” two thousand years ago, and finally join the Church, feeling very sorry for not recognizing Jesus all along. The unfolding events looks (sic) decidedly different than what the authors of the gospels, Paul and the author of Revelation would have their readers believe. This is my reading of the Jewish prophets. I took some liberties with filling in the blanks.

-Gene Shlomovich
“The future of Israel, Messiah and the World (the Jewish version)”
Daily Minyan

LevitesGene has made it something of a mission to try to educate Christians, including Hebrew Roots Christians and Messianic Gentiles, of the error of our ways, and how the Bible does not really presuppose “the Church” in any form, but still allows the people of the nations to join with Israel in the worship of the God of Israel. But the people of the nations, including (especially) Christians, are much less Israel-friendly in his scenario.

The real Jewish messiah appears on the scene. He’s not Jesus, but a virtuous and devout Jewish man who is able to unite all Jews. While he knows full well the tradition of Davidic lineage of his family, he does not find it significant when it comes to himself, at least not at this time. After all, many Jews today are able to do the same. Coming from a deeply devout family which nevertheless identified with Jews of all walks of life and participated in the national life of Israel, he is both a scholar and experienced military leader. Humble and wise, he is respected by all sections of the Jewish society. He doesn’t call himself a messiah. In fact, just like his ancient predecessor, Moses, he doesn’t even know that he too one day will help lead Israel – only G-d does. Neither has he been anointed – this is still to come. Still, the nations of the world hate and oppose him and work against him, as they’ve done to every Jewish leader in Israel‘s history. Some already derogatorily speak of this Jewish leader as a false messiah, scorning and ridiculing the fact that he’s so respected by the Jewish people while Jesus has been rejected.

Indeed, he’s nothing what they expected to see in a messiah as Christianity long portrayed him – not the glorious all-powerful heavenly god-man coming back for his beloved Church. It does not take long for this leader of the Jewish nation to branded as the “antichrist”. Preachers preach fiery sermons in their churches against him and against the Jews who fell “under his spell just as Jesus, Paul and John predicted”. No Christian may believe in him or support him in any way, or they risk losing their salvation. Christian tourism to Israel dries up as do other forms of Christian support, with many Christians denominations joining the boycott of the Jewish nation. Jews are ridiculed for their “folly” and the New Testament is held up as having already predicted everything the Jews will do. Muslims, who along with Christians likewise believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that no one else fits the bill, also reject the leadership of the real Jewish Messiah and join with the Western world in their opposition to him and the nation of Israel.

This is the more traditional Jewish viewpoint of the Messiah, the last battle, and the ultimate victory of Israel over her enemies. Gene’s last mention of Jesus will seem particularly difficult for most Christians:

The idols of the nations which do not save (including Jesus) are destroyed, are put away for good and are remembered no more. All false prophets and idol worshipers will be ashamed – they will all realize that they inherited nothing but lies from their forefathers.

sunrise-easter-serviceWhile I consider Gene to be my friend, I am more than conscious of the gulf that lies between us, it’s incredible width, it’s gaping depth, because while I believe (unlike most Christians) in the primacy of Israel and that it will not be replaced by “the Church” as God’s central focus of devotion, love, and the receiver of all the covenant promises, our perception of not only the identity of Messiah, but of his very nature, character, role, and mission as Israel’s King are dramatically different and tremendously at odds.

And as Gene knows quite well, having personally experienced persecution as a Jew in his native Russia, after every passion play, there is a pogrom.

We don’t have pogroms as such in America in the 21st century, but the very act of celebrating Easter is bound to send out some sort of spiritual tremor into the atmosphere that is keenly felt by many Jews. Certainly in interfaith families, it is unavoidable. A collision of Easter and Passover.

My own answer this year will be to not attend Easter or Resurrection Day services. I’m not even sure that Jesus intended to add Easter to the calendar of religious moedim and I’m sure he didn’t intend for Easter to actually replace Passover.

Today, churches all over the U.S. pay some sort of attention to Passover. It’s usually the one festival of Judaism Christians know something about, thanks to the “Last Supper” of Jesus. One of the Jewish Christians at the church I attend will be holding a Passover seder and is inviting anyone in the church who wants to attend. Church and the Passover. It almost seems like an oxymoron.

What will Passover be like in the Messianic Age? My guess is that, from Gene’s point of view, “reformed Christians” will not be attending, at least to eat the Pascal meal, since only men who are circumcised may eat of the sacrifice in the Messiah-built temple. From the Church’s point of view, while some Christians believe there will be a third temple, many more believe that since “Christ is our sacrifice,” the actual sacrificial system will not be reinitiated, and therefore, there will be no Passover sacrifice.

If anyone celebrates Passover, it will be as a memorial of Christ’s Last Supper. Probably the expectation is that since Communion seems to have replaced Passover, that will be the more significant event.

Even from my point of view, one that holds the belief in a third temple, in the return of the sacrifices, and the continued commemoration of all of the moadim, including Passover, I can’t see how I, an uncircumcised male, would be able to eat of the Pascal offering with my Jewish family (assuming they made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pesach) or even sit at the same table with them, lest my presence render the offering tamei (unclean).

i_give_upI know Christians and Hebrew Roots Gentiles will say that I’m rebuilding the dividing wall between Gentiles and Jews, but the Bible is the Bible. I can’t simply ignore certain parts of God’s Word because it’s inconvenient to Christian theology. I must not allow myself to stand in the way of God’s special, chosen people, the Jewish people. I believe there are personal sacrifices all believing Gentiles must make for the sake of Israel.

Only God can heal the nations after the terrible wars against Israel that will occur in the future. Only God can heal the rift between believing Gentiles and the Jewish people. For Gene, that healing comes at the price of our faith in Jesus as the Messiah. From my point of view, it comes at the price of Christian arrogant presumption that they (we) are the center of God’s universe and that the Jews either mean nothing at all, or at least have been reduced to “shield carriers” standing silently in the background of our tragic play.

Only God can heal how distant I feel from Him sometimes, and how distant I can feel from Jewish people, even in my own family, because of my faith.

Only God can heal us…

Vayigash: Settling Into Prosperity and Captivity

jewish-handsIn 468 CE, Rabbi Amemar, Rabbi Mesharsheya and Rabbi Huna, the heads of Babylonian Jewry, were arrested and executed 11 days later. The Jewish community of Babylon had existed for 900 years, ever since Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Israel, destroyed the Holy Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon. Seventy years later, when the Jews were permitted to return to Israel, a large percentage remained in Babylon — and this eventually became the center of Jewish rabbinic authority. Things began to worsen in the 5th century, when the Persian priests, fighting against encroaching Christian missionaries, unleashed anti-Christian persecutions which caught the Jews of Babylonia in its wake. Eventually the situation improved, and Babylon remained as the center of Jewish life for another 500 years.

-Rabbi Shraga Simmons
“Today in Jewish History, 7 Tevet”

Thus Israel settled in the country of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; they acquired holdings in it, and were fertile and increased greatly.

Genesis 47:27 (JPS Tanakh)

It’s hard not to compare these two events. Both of them describe different points in the process of the Jewish people going down into a land not their own and then making themselves comfortable there and thriving. As we see in the Babylonian example, the “good times” don’t last forever, but from Jacob’s point of view, this isn’t readily apparent. In fact, he had assurances that dwelling in Egypt was the right thing to do.

So Israel set out with all that was his, and he came to Beer-sheba, where he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God called to Israel in a vision by night: “Jacob! Jacob!” He answered, “Here.” And He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you there into a great nation. I Myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I Myself will also bring you back; and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

So Jacob set out from Beer-sheba. The sons of Israel put their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to transport him; and they took along their livestock and the wealth that they had amassed in the land of Canaan. Thus Jacob and all his offspring with him came to Egypt: he brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters — all his offspring.

Genesis 46:1-7 (JPS Tanakh)

God’s blessing upon Jacob as we see above, is the beginning of the process of Israel dwelling in Egypt, multiplying greatly, and thriving there. However, the other end of the story is hardly so pleasant.

A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.” So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites.

The Egyptians ruthlessly imposed upon the Israelites the various labors that they made them perform. Ruthlessly they made life bitter for them with harsh labor at mortar and bricks and with all sorts of tasks in the field.

The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”

Exodus 1:8-16 (JPS Tanakh)

rabbi-prayingThe irony in making the above comparisons, is that the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet is just a few days away.

The Fast of the Tenth of Teves marks the day that Nevuzadran, the Babylonian general, laid siege to Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the first Holy Temple. The siege lasted almost three years until the city walls were breached and the Temple was destroyed. This was the beginning of a long line of disasters on the Jewish people, including the first exile, and the destruction of the second Temple.

This day is commemorated by refraining from eating or drinking from sunrise to nightfall.

While the last sentence of this week’s Torah portion is one of hope and prosperity for the Children of Israel, it is ominously foreshadowed by what we know will occur after the death of Joseph and his brothers. This is the fate of the Jewish people that we’ve seen enacted again and again across history since the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 CE and to this very day, when the Jews settle in an area, develop a robust and prolific community, and then are persecuted, robbed, maligned, murdered, and exiled.

On his blog, my friend Gene Shlomovich posted an extremely telling example of how Christianity in the “bad old days” expected and enforced Jewish conversion to Christianity. I invite you to click the link I just provided and read the whole story. It’s not a pretty picture, and many Jews chose to be tortured and die rather than to abandon the God of their Fathers and the Torah of Truth, and replace them with the “lure” of the “Goyishe Jesus.”

What am I saying here? That Christians are perpetually bad and that Jews should do anything in their power to blame the church for the hideous way it has historically treated Jewish people? Is that what the upcoming fast is all about? Not according to Rabbi Raymond Beyda

The purpose of fasting almost 2500 years after the events of the destruction took place is to awaken our hearts today to repentance. Our sages teach that anyone who lives at a time when there is no Bet Hamikdash must realize that had he or she lived when the Temple stood that his or her behavior would contribute to its destruction. Should we mend our ways and remove from our lives the behavior that brings destruction we will bring about the construction of the third Temple — the one that will never be destroyed — and the coming of Mashiah speedily in our days. May we all spend the day productively contributing to that end — Amen.

This is not to excuse the church for its crimes or to pardon any of the peoples and nations who have harassed and abused the Jewish people over the long centuries, but we must separate history from current events. Yes, hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel is still rampant in our world and there are many accounts in the media that indicate it is on the upswing. However, there are also many churches that have significantly revised and improved their (our) understanding of Jews and Judaism, and they (we) have repented and seek to understand our “Jewish roots,” while also honoring that God created a unique covenant people and nation in Israel who remain unique and special to the current day.

But the Jewish people have only one nation, Israel. While, in most parts of the world, Jews are welcome, and flourish, and are fully integrated within the countries and societies where they dwell, we see from history that there is such a thing as being too integrated, and certainly assimilation takes Jews to the point of no longer being recognizably Jewish. What the ancient church attempted and failed to do by force is now being accomplished voluntarily.

Judaism is being destroyed by assimilation and integration, which in effect, means Jews are, without realizing it, renouncing all that it is to be a Jew for the sake of national, social, and cultural belonging. But for those Jews who fully retain their unique ethnic, covenant, and halakhic identity as Jews, the danger they face living in the nations is the same danger the Jews faced in 468 CE in Babylon, and the same danger they faced in the 1930s in Germany.

joseph_egyptAnd it’s the same danger we find them facing this week as Jacob and his family settle comfortably in Goshen, which is in Egypt, and ruled by Pharaoh. Today, as we read Vayigash, Pharoah, King of Egypt knows Joseph and seeks to continue the profitable relationship between Egypt and Jacob’s family. Tomorrow, a new Pharoah will arise who does not know Joseph. That’s the way it’s always happened. Jews believe it will happen again.

According to the Talmud, as the Messianic era approaches, the world will experience greater and greater turmoil: Vast economic fluctuations, social rebellion, and widespread despair. The culmination will be a world war of immense proportion led by King Gog from the land of Magog. This will be a war the likes of which have not been seen before. This will be the ultimate war of good against evil, in which evil will be entirely obliterated. (Ezekiel ch. 38, 39; Zechariah 21:2, 14:23; Talmud – Sukkah 52, Sanhedrin 97, Sotah 49)

What is the nature of this cataclysmic war? Traditional Jewish sources state that the nations of the world will descend against the Jews and Jerusalem. The Crusades, Pogroms and Arab Terrorism will pale in comparison. Eventually, when all the dust settles, the Jews will be defeated and led out in chains. The Torah will be proclaimed a falsehood.

“End of Days”
from the “Ask the Rabbi” series

Israel and her people, the Jewish people, will be rescued when Moshiach comes. But until then, we in the church have a responsibility to make sure the Holocaust or anything like it does not happen again in our towns, in our cities, and in our nations. In solidarity, we can also fast on the Tenth of Tevet, which this year is on Sunday, December 23rd.

Peace be upon Jerusalem and may the Messiah come soon and in our day.

Good Shabbos.

The Irrelevant Drunkard

PogromOn today’s daf we find the laws of when we follow the majority.

It is difficult to imagine the precarious state of our fellow just a few centuries ago. Even in places where they were relatively safe and prospered, the status quo could change at any time. Virtually all clergy were antisemites, always trying to trip up the Jews who were generally no more than tenuous second-class citizens in their host countries. If a Jewish rabbi could not give a satisfactory reply to a prominent priest’s questions or accusations, the entire community could be exiled from their homes with hardly any notice and no time or even right to sell their possessions, most of which were often confiscated. And if the king himself asked a question which could not be answered, things were at least as bad.

Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“Majority Rules?”
Chullin 19

It’s difficult for Christians (and everybody else who’s not Jewish) to imagine what living this way must have been like. Probably the closest we get to comprehending a Jewish life of eternal uncertainty in a hostile world is when we watch the film Fiddler on the Roof (1971) or see the stage musical. Even then, we are unlikely to register the true horror of the pogroms, the inquisitions, and the general hatred of the Jews in most parts of the world.

As much as we’d like to believe that all of the Jew-hatred is behind us, there is still a significant presence of these feelings among people, including Christians, today. Even among those (non-Jewish) Christians who are aligned with the “Messianic” movement, while they make a public declaration of love for the Jewish people, love of Judaism, and love of Israel, there is also an underlying current of distrust and frustration, particularly when religious Jews insist upon maintaining a lifestyle and set of traditions that chafe at Christian “goyishe” sensibilities. I once heard a Christian fellow exclaim, “Why can’t the Jews just accept Jesus?”. He was operating out of a sense of historical, social, and theological ignorance that has held the church in thrall for nearly twenty centuries and still exists in many churches and “Messianic” communities to this very day.

To illustrate the point I’m about to make, I will continue to quote from the aforementioned commentary on the daf:

Once, a priest primed his sovereign to ask Rav Yonasan Eybeschuetz, zt”l, what he thought was a genuine stumper. The king was delighted at this trick, since if Rav Yonasan could not answer the question he would fill the coffers of his treasury with Jewish property – an excellent way to improve the economy.

He asked, “The Talmudic rule is that one should follow the majority. Since the non-Jews are the majority of the world’s population, why don’t you join our religion? According to your own law you must follow the custom of the majority!” But Rav Yonasan could not be bested. “We only follow the majority when we are in doubt. When we know the truth, the practice of the majority is irrelevant.”

This could sound pretty harsh to Christian ears. Here we have Rav Yonasan telling a priest and a King that Christianity is irrelevant to a Jew. That’s pretty much a slap in the face, but you have to look at the larger context and what was at stake. If the Rav answered poorly or not at all, his entire community could be evicted from all the lands where the King ruled with not so much as a “by your leave”. The Jews weren’t being “witnessed” to by concerned and well-meaning Christians about the love of Jesus; they were being given an ultimatum that could even be escalated to a death sentence. Rav Yonasan had not only the right to be a little “snippy” toward the priest and the King based on this, but he was also following a path of Godliness and truth that the Jewish people have traveled for untold centuries, going all the way back to Moses at Sinai.

I suppose all this begs the question of how (or if) Christians should witness to Jews and a detailed answer goes beyond the scope of this small article. In short, the answer is “yes” with the caveat that you don’t just go into a synagogue, start “preaching Jesus”, denigrate everything there is about being Jewish, and expect your audience to cry out joyously “Give us an ‘Amen’, brother!” Instead, you’ll be politely asked to leave. If and when God requires that a Gentile Christian share his or her faith with a Jew, that door will become very apparently open. Don’t presume ignorance for “missionary zeal”.

PrayingThe other question this brings up is, when a Jew does accept Jesus, does he or she accept the stereotypical white-Christian Jesus, or are we talking about the Moshiach; the Messiah? Opinions vary, even among believing Jews. Some Jews who have come to faith in Christ lead lives that are little different than any other Christian, including setting aside all of the Torah laws related to the Sabbath, kosher eating, the traditional prayers, and so forth. A very small (but perhaps growing) minority can’t be said to be followers of the Jesus one sees in most traditional paintings of Christ, who bears no resemblance to a first-century Jewish man living in Roman-Judea. Instead, they are disciples of the “Moshiach, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).

For this latter group of Jews, there is no inconsistency between living a lifestyle completely consistent with religious Judaism, including Talmud study and adherence to accepted halachah and the logical and ultimately expected discipleship of the “Rebbe of Nazaret”, the “Jewish Jesus of Nazareth”. Although Rav Yonasan Eybeschuetz wasn’t necessarily referencing the Moshiach as opposed to Jesus in the responses we’ve read thus far, the Messiah is always anticipated. Why do a few Jews see him in the person of Jesus while most currently do not? I’ve heard it taught more than once that Jesus, the brother of all Jewish people, is currently concealed, just as Joseph in Egypt, though he spoke to and interacted with his brothers, was temporarily concealed behind an Egyptian “mask” (see Genesis chapters 41-45 for the details).

I’ve also recently read that “prominent sages such as Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and the Chazon Ish have ruled that we live in a time of God’s concealment” (quoted from the Lev Echad blog), and although those noteworthy Rabbis are not likely referring to the concealment of Jesus as the Messiah, perhaps we Christians can take such a meaning when considering the Jewish people from our perspective.

The conclusion of our “Story Off the Daf” contains an even more difficult lesson for Christians to learn:

Rav Elchonon Wasserman, Hy”d, offered a different explanation, however. “A sober person would never follow the opinion of even a hundred drunks since they are not thinking straight. The Jewish sages are likened to a sober minority since they purify themselves from ulterior motives and personal agenda. How can we expect people who have not purified themselves from impure agenda to find the truth?”

Thus Christianity goes from being “irrelevant” to in the possession of “drunks” and “people who have not purified themselves from impure agenda”. That does not, in fact, describe the majority of Christians who truly are disciples of the Master and live out his holy teachings, but in the era being described in today’s story, it was most certainly true of the corrupt church authorities who spared no effort to harass, malign, and abuse the Jews just because they could.

However, we don’t have to repeat the mistakes we see laced throughout Christian history. We don’t have to demand that Jews stop being Jews just because we don’t understand them. We don’t even have to demand that Jews who have come to faith in the Moshiach, who we call “the Christ”, stop being Jews just because we’ve been taught that “the law is dead” and that “Pharisees are all hypocrites”. We can however adopt the lesson I found at the Lev Echad blog, from which I previously quoted:

One of the unique aspects of Judaism is learning about all the different roads people take that lead them to God and a life of goodness. While this is certainly a fascinating phenomenon, it can also be a great impediment to how we treat one another. Therefore, our goal in life should not be to turn all our fellow Jews into ideological and/or religious replicas of ourselves. Rather, it should be to guide – not force – others into a life of serving God and His children in a way that best matches their individual personality.

Extending this lesson beyond Judaism, we can realize that it’s not our job to judge. There is only one righteous Judge, and He is God. As there are many different churches and many different congregations of God, so there may be many different ways to offer worship and glory to the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Can you, as a Christian, say that only your church is the true and righteous church and that no other churches, even within your own denomination, worship God in a way that is accepted by Him? Without seeing the world as God sees it, can you dare pronounce judgment on your fellow human being and companion along the path of faith?

If you can be so daring, then perhaps the words of Rav Elchonon are true for you. More’s the pity.

“If your heart is bitter, sugar in your mouth will not help.” -Jewish Proverb

“It was Judaism that brought the concept of a God-given universal moral law into the world…the Jew carries the burden of God in history [and] for this has never been forgiven.” -Reverend Edward H. Flannery

“A Jew never gives up. We’re here to bring Mashiach, we will settle for nothing less.” -Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Good Shabbos.