My name is Julius Ciss and I am a "counter-missionary." I work to educate the Jewish community about the problem of deceptive Christian missionaries who target Jews for conversion. I also try to bring those Jews whom they have "converted" back to authentic Judaism.
Being a counter-missionary was hardly a goal towards which I had strived; rather, it was almost the inevitable outcome of a series of circumstances in my life.
I grew up in a traditional Jewish home. My parents are both Holocaust survivors. They had received a very limited Jewish education; but with the little knowledge of tradition that they had, they tried their best to provide a Jewish upbringing for me and my two brothers in our home in Toronto.
My parents attended an "Orthodox" synagogue, thus leading me to believe in my younger years that I was an "Orthodox" Jew. While they did keep a semblance of Shabbat, attended the synagogue on the High Holidays, and conducted a Passover Seder, religion was not a vibrant entity in our home.
As a result of my sparse religious education, I never had much understanding of the essentials of Judaism. I did not understand the concepts of Jewish prayer, spirituality, G-d, or the meaning of the holidays. All I knew were the few basics that I had gleaned from my six years in afternoon Hebrew School or "cheder"; and, unfortunately, even that did not prove very spiritually satisfying.
Consequently, I found little reason to maintain a strong Jewish identity. I did have a sense of being Jewish, but I lacked any kind of vital commitment to this identity, either religiously or socially. It wasn't difficult to make the decision in my adolescent years to begin dating non-Jewish girls. In my fourth year at Toronto's Ontario College of Art, I met a woman named Mary Beth. We immediately felt an intense mutual attraction. We thoroughly enjoyed each other's company, and a relationship blossomed. There was only one problem; she informed me on our second date that she was a "born-again" Christian. However, I didn't care; I was already deeply emotionally involved with her.
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As Mary Beth and I continued to date, our relationship very quickly evolved into that between a missionary and the potential convert. Mary Beth tried by various means to convince me that Jesus Christ was my personal savior. Needless to say, I had strong objections to such claims and frequently engaged in heated discussions about G-d, Israel, and the Bible. She alluded to many spiritual issues of which I had no understanding. All I knew was that I was a Jew; I was born a Jew, I would die a Jew, and Jews didn't believe in Jesus. Time and again, she confounded me with various passages from the Bible, a Bible that I really knew nothing about. My only response was the constant refrain that Jews don't believe in Jesus.
She finally got the best of me when she demanded, pointblank, "Well, if Jews don't believe in Jesus, what do they believe in? What do you believe in?"
I didn't know. I knew we believed in one G-d, but I honestly didn't know much else. At afternoon Hebrew school, I had learned very little about G-d, Torah and Israel. I had "survived" six years of Hebrew school without acquiring much Jewish knowledge, and, after my Bar Mitzvah, I quit. That was the end of my Jewish education. Unfortunately, many Jews to whom I have spoken in North America have had a similar experience. My ignorance about Judaism and my inability to answer Mary Beth's questions compelled me to start looking through the Torah and the rest of Tanach in a desperate attempt to prove her assertions wrong.
My ignorance embarrassed me. I was unable to defend Judaism, and I didn't know where to begin to learn. I decided to start reading the Jewish Bible (the Torah, and the Prophets). Some of what I encountered was fascinating, and some of it I found quite confusing. To help me better comprehend the Bible, Mary Beth supplied me with some literature written by Jews who had converted to Christianity. These "Hebrew-Christian" books and pamphlets appeared to have been expressly designed to convince the spiritually ignorant Jew of the validity of Christianity's central claims.
The books intrigued me. As I ventured more deeply into their various "Messianic" claims and allegations, I attempted, using the Christian Bible that Mary Beth had given me, to find the answers to disprove her arguments. But gradually, inexorably, I became confounded by this literature. Many of its arguments appeared to make sense.
On several occasions, Mary Beth had asked me to go to church with her. I finally consented. However, once I was in the church, everything in me screamed out that I was in the wrong place. The entire setting was foreign: gentiles worshiping a foreign "god" with strange hymns. Being there made me feel like a traitor to my people. At the conclusion of the service, I defiantly stalked out of the church and informed Mary Beth, "I'm never going back there again. I was born a Jew and I'm going to die a Jew."
She was now desperate to find a way to get me to accept Christian religious belief. She discovered a congregation of predominantly Jewish people in Toronto who believed in Jesus. She arranged for a private telephone conversation with a member of this group. After speaking to him, I agreed to attend a Friday night "Erev Shabbat" service.
As a 25-year-old Jew, I was about to attend my first organized religious experience since my Bar Mitzvah. In that 12 year period, I had never seriously questioned who G-d was or the nature of my Jewish spiritual roots. Now, not knowing what to expect, I walked into the meeting hall and sat down. The congregation was addressed by a very pleasant man with a large nose and a face as Jewish as the map of Israel. He wore a yarmulke (skull cap) on his bald head, and a tallit (prayer shawl). Many of the male congregants that evening were also wearing yarmulkes and tallitot. Some of the women wore head coverings, and one lit Sabbath candles while reciting a Hebrew blessing. This was followed by the recitation of kiddush blessings over a cup of wine and HaMotzi over a challah; but each blessing ended with the expression "B'shem Yeshua HaMashiach" ("in the name of Jesus the Messiah"). I clearly remember a guitar player and a violinist. They were singing some wonderfully vibrant Jewish songs I had never heard before, but which I would soon learn were traditional Jewish melodies; "Od Yeshama" and "Hinei Ma Tov". The atmosphere felt very Jewish, and I found the environment more stimulating than any synagogue experience I could remember.
The synagogue of my youth had struck me as nothing so much as a fashion show, with lots of noise and conversation, and services conducted in a language that I didn't understand. Here, however, everything was in English. The music, accompanied by rhythmic hand-clapping, was both emotionally and spiritually inspiring, and altogether enjoyable. I decided to give this group a chance, and that I would listen to what they had to say. It was very reassuring to meet other Jews who believed in this new form of "Christian-Jewish" expression. The environment was not at all offensive; on the contrary, its Jewish flavor was quite appealing. I didn't feel like the traitor I had been when attending Mary Beth's church. I felt comfortable and wanted to return for more of these "Oneg Shabbat" meetings. In this milieu, basic gospel messages were presented with a distinctly Jewish flavor. The man leading the services who looked so Jewish was, in fact, a Jewish-born Baptist minister. He was a gifted speaker, passionate and convincing, and I was extremely moved by his sermons. It was in the environment of this "Hebrew-Christian" church, or "Messianic Jewish Synagogue", as its leaders preferred to call it, that my interest in my Jewish identity was rekindled. I began to go once every three or four weeks, and soon found myself attending meetings every week. The evangelical techniques used by this congregation lulled me into feeling more comfortable with the idea of accepting Christianity. Their symbols were clearly Jewish rather than Christian. At the front of the meeting room, a large Jewish star hung on the wall, as did two tablets with the Ten Commandments written in abbreviated Hebrew letters (no doubt originally part of an Aron HaKodesh, or cabinet containing the Torah scrolls). Ritual articles of clothing (yarmulkes and tallitot) were worn, and Hebrew terminology was used liberally. The congregation almost never spoke the name "Jesus Christ" to identify the individual in whom they believed; instead he was referred to as "Yeshua HaMashiach." The New Testament was called the "Brit Chadasha", or "New Covenant". After having been exposed my girlfriend's Christian jargon, I found this "Jewish" environment and terminology much less abrasive to my ears and conscience. The more I listened, the more Jewish belief in Jesus seemed possible to me. Through my weekly Bible study group, I was drawn deeper into serious consideration of the belief system offered me by these people because of their ability to use the Old Testament, or as they called it, the "Tanach", to "prove" repeatedly that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. "If the Jewish Bible prophesied a Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, mustn't he, then be the Messiah?", they challenged. When I expressed concern at being unable to read the cited prophecies myself, in the original Hebrew, I was assured that the translations in their Bible were irreproachable, the work of great scholars.
As a result of this congregation's pervasive use of Jewish symbols, terminology, music, ritual and liturgy, and their distorted celebration of Jewish holidays, I soon began to feel that I had never been more Jewish in my life. The minister preached that if Jesus were the Jewish Messiah, what could be more Jewish than to believe in him? Judaism claims that it awaits the coming of the Messiah; if Jesus were that Messiah, then I would be complete as a Jew if I accepted him as my Messiah. In accepting Jesus, I would be a "completed Jew", a "fulfilled Jew", a "Messianic Jew". My religion wouldn't be Christianity but Messianic Judaism.
What could be more natural?
Many questioning how I became involved in Christianity, many people over the years have suggested that there may have been something "wrong" with me at the time: perhaps I was undergoing some kind of emotional trauma, or was a victim of depression, so that my need for an emotional "crutch" made me susceptible to such religious arguments.
Yet my only emotional distress at the time arose from the fact that I was romantically involved with a Christian woman who had introduced me to these religious issues. The initial impetus for my involvement in Christianity had been my desire to prove her assertions wrong. I had a very satisfying social life outside the "Messianic Jewish" group with which I had begun to associate, and was enjoying tremendous success as a magazine illustrator. There was no crisis in my life to precipitate spiritual quest, no intense emotional drive for ultimate truth. Very simply, I had a beautiful girlfriend who happened to be a Christian, and we were very much in love. If I could find a way to effect compromise between my Jewishness and her Christianity, perhaps we could get married. At one point, a congregant of Melech Yisrael had suggested that we could even get married under a chuppah (traditional Jewish wedding canopy)!
What influenced me to consider Christianity? The sermons promising a personal relationship with G-d were delivered in English, and in easily understandable terms. The ambience was warm and familiar. The members of the congregation were overwhelmingly loving and friendly. My ignorance of Judaism and my profound emotional involvement with my Christian girlfriend most certainly had an effect. Lastly, I rationalized, "How can hundreds of millions of Christians be wrong?" I thought, "How could it be wrong for a Jew to believe that Jesus is the Messiah?" Nonetheless, I was concerned that I might be making a mistake, and decided to speak to a rabbi. I made an appointment and went to see him. The rabbi was not available at the appointed time, and I was obliged to wait a while for him. When he did finally have time to see me, it was for no more than a few minutes. He spent these few minutes chastising me for even considering such a "silly belief system." He recommended that I go to Yeshiva and start learning about Judaism, and sent me away. As I left, I considered the attitude of this rabbi, who ostensibly represented Judaism, and asked myself, "Was he from G-d? What did I experience from him that would draw me closer to G-d?" The man had no time or patience for me; he didn't appear to be offering me anything that the Christians were offering: love, hospitality, endless hours of discussion, and tireless encouragement to believe in what they believed. In marked contrast, the rabbi did not seem to have a sincere interest in what was troubling me.
I couldn't help but compare the rabbi's attitude towards me to that of the "Hebrew Christians". I rationalized, "If one were a representative of G-d, surely it must be the 'Hebrew Christians'." Consequently, I plunged myself even further into exploring the "truths" of Christianity.
It was at a Messianic "Rosh Hashana" service in the fall of 1976 that I formally committed myself to Christianity. At this service, the "Messianic rabbi" (as their pastors often call themselves) had preached a message of atonement, stressing the need for us to be forgiven for our sins through the blood of Jesus. I was overwhelmed by a sense that everything he preached was true. I was overcome by guilt for my sins. The opportunity to be forgiven these "sins" and to secure myself a place in heaven was irresistible. The pastor announced that refusing to atone carried with it as a consequence an eternity of burning in hell. I couldn't afford the risk of not "atoning". I decided to come forward and make my statement of faith: that I believed Jesus was the Messiah, and that he died as an eternal sacrifice for my sins.
After I had stood up in front of this congregation and confessed my belief in Jesus, the "Messianic" leader asked me to recite a prayer inviting Yeshua into my heart and requesting that he forgive me for my sins. After a tearful prayer, he then addressed both me and the entire congregation. "Julius, it is G-d who has guided you on this incredible journey through your unique education and through the people whom you have met, to bring you to this point today, where you have finally discovered the truth of Yeshua being the Messiah. Do you believe this?"
I replied, "Yes, of course!"
"And do you believe that G-d wants more than anything for you to have eternal life and to enjoy the eternal pleasures of heaven with Him?"
I said, "Yes, I believe that."
"And do you believe that G-d wants more than anything for you to be forgiven for your sins and to not sin anymore?"
I said, "Yes, I believe that."
"G-d wants you to repent and be forgiven for your sins and to not sin anymore. Does that make sense to you?"
"Yes, I believe that, too." "Good", he responded. "Then be prepared, when doubts enter into your mind that would cause you even to entertain the possibility that Yeshua was not the Messiah, to realize that those thoughts are not from G-d. G-d doesn't want you to doubt Him. Does that make sense to you, Julius?"
And I answered, "Yes, of course it makes perfect sense."
"Understand," he continued, "that when doubts regarding Jesus' salvation enter your mind, such thoughts are not from G-d; they are, in fact, from Satan. And you must know that from the moment you walk out of here, Satan is going to try to pursue you and cause you to doubt. When that happens, you have to cling close to your savior. Now that G-d has shown you the truth, that Jesus is your Messiah, the Devil is going to want you to doubt, more than ever. And if you start thinking that Jesus is not the Messiah, you must recognize that those thoughts come from the Devil himself. That's when you have to pray even harder that Jesus should protect you with his blood."
I was stunned and terrified. It seemed to me that I accepted two belief systems instead of one that day, or two opposing gods: Jesus and the Devil. The Devil isn't a god in the sense that Christians worship him, but they attribute so much power to him that it is almost as though he is the evil deity in contradistinction to Jesus. In some Christian circles, the Devil seems to be as much a spiritual focus as Jesus.
After receiving this admonition, I walked away from the meeting extremely troubled. After all, what nice Jewish boy who had just converted to Christianity wouldn't have some qualms that maybe he was making a big mistake? Needless to say, I was having doubts from the moment I walked out of there, wondering, "What have I done?" Yet I could not allow myself to brood about these doubts, because I had been infected with this new "doctrine of the Devil".
After about a year of involvement with Christianity, I discovered how much emphasis the Torah places on the importance of a Jew's not marrying a gentile. Although I believed in Jesus, I also still believed in the Jewish Bible; I didn't want to violate that prohibition. Because of this, I decided that I could not marry Mary Beth, even though it was she who had led me to belief in Jesus. Throughout this time, I had the sense that G-d had shown me something that very few Jews in the history of the world had ever known: that Jesus was the Messiah. It was crucial that I learn as much as I could to prove Jesus' "true identity", so that I could be G-d's instrument in bringing many Jewish people to a saving knowledge of "Yeshua HaMashiach". With this motivation, I started diligently attending various Bible study programs as well as studying daily on my own, reading through the Bible and listening to Christian radio programs.
In the summer of 1977, I attended my first Messiah conference, in Pennsylvania, an ingathering of about 1000 "Messianic Jews" from around the world. No longer did I feel isolated as a Jew in my belief in Jesus. Instead of the handful of "Hebrew Christians" with who I was acquainted in Toronto, I now had the opportunity to meet literally hundreds of friendly Jews for Jesus. To me, this experience seemed to be a corroboration that I was part of a growing religious movement. For eight full days, I attended intense workshops, Bible study sessions and seminars. I underwent the ceremony of "Mikveh-Bris" or baptism, immersing myself in the river that went through the Conference grounds. That week was the most spiritually motivating experience I'd ever had. I absorbed a great deal of Christian teaching and made many contacts with Messianic leaders and missionaries. I was later to work for many of these individuals. I returned to Toronto "on fire for the L-rd", ready to do whatever I could to reach Toronto's Jewish community for "Yeshua HaMashiach".
Soon afterwards, I was given the responsibility of leading my "Messianic" congregation's choir. Our choir visited various churches, where we sometimes gave our personal "testimony" (a short emotional account of how we converted to Christianity), and often quoted passages from the New Testament which urged congregants to reach out to convert Jews.
In time, I was elevated to Public Relations Director for the congregation, and was in charge of community relations.
I was excited by the momentum of my spiritual growth and by the active role I was taking in the congregation. As I had never been familiar with the content of the Jewish Bible and had never had an appreciation for prayer, it was through my involvement with "Hebrew Christianity" that I became aware of the Bible's potential for a personal relationship with G-d. In my zeal to spread the "good news", I was a featured guest on various "Hebrew Christian" radio and television programs across North America. Listeners to these talk shows would often write to the station to express how inspirational the program had been, and would send generous donations. I also helped to design and illustrate brochures, pamphlets, record album covers and book jackets for many prominent "Hebrew Christian" missionary organizations. My talents were so much sought after that Jews for Jesus, one of the largest missionary organizations of its kind, asked me to consider moving to San Francisco and working at their headquarters.
I was so committed that I actively tried to convert many of my friends and family members to Christianity. A few of those friends are still involved in Christian belief to this day, and refuse to speak to me.
However, as time wore on - and despite feeling good about belonging to a congregation of Jews who believed in Jesus - I sensed that something was terribly wrong. I noticed that almost all of the Jewish people who shared my Christian beliefs came from backgrounds which were clearly devoid of any substantial Jewish content. I felt that my background had been characterized by more religious observance than theirs. Even the little acquaintance with Jewish practice that I had acquired was more than most of these people had ever had; Jewish content and education were sorely lacking in these lives. What disturbed me most about their obvious lack of Jewish background was beginning to crystallize: the only Jews who appeared to be accept Jesus as the Messiah were Jews who were ignorant of Judaism. This observation was confirmed time and again. None of us had enough Jewish knowledge or understanding to enable us to determine who was truly the Jewish Messiah. None of us even came from homes in which there was any serious observance of Shabbat or Jewish holidays. We had all grown up in an environment in which Judaism was lox and bagels and meaningless ritual, but did not denote a belief and a lifestyle. This was our most readily and apparent common denominator. Nevertheless, when attempting to convert Jews, many of us would claim to have been dedicated, observant Jews ourselves, or that our grandparents had been Orthodox. (This latter assertion, in fact, may well have been true.) An honest appraisal would usually expose the first claim as a lie, or, at the very least, as a "well-meaning" exaggeration. Our collective vacuum troubled me, but I rationalized there must be a reason for it.
As a result of this awareness, a process of questioning, doubting and probing had begun. I started to take mental note of issues that I found troubling.
One such issue was the question of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. According to the New Testament, the only way a Jew (or non-Jew) could be forgiven for his or her sins was to accept Jesus as savior, and to believe that Jesus died for those sins and rose from the dead. This, according to my Christian understanding, was the only formula by which a Jew could gain eternal life.
What, then, is the nature of the eternity to which those six million Jews were consigned?
According to the Old Testament, the Jews are the apple of G-d's eye, engraved on the palm of His hand; G-d committed Himself to an everlasting Covenant with the Jewish people, a people He promised never forsake. Yet, according to Christianity, the six million Jews are burning in hell for eternity because they never accepted Jesus! At the same time, according to Christian doctrine, it is feasible that Hitler and his henchmen - if they repented before they died, and accepted Jesus - could be forgiven for their sins and be sitting up in heaven basking in G-d's presence. This deeply distressed me. I found it difficult to accept what Christianity had to say about my wonderful and loving parents: that they were sinners doomed to go to hell. Many pious Jews died in the Holocaust. Many very famous rabbis and tzadikim (righteous people) had perished in the gas chambers - as had my own grandparents. From what my parents told me about my grandparents, they were devout, G-d fearing people. But Christianity maintained that they were burning in hell. I found it incomprehensible that Jews who had died tortured deaths with the words "Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One" on their lips would be punished by that same G-d by being banished to hell. There were many Christian precepts which I found difficult to digest. Yet, because I felt committed to my belief in Jesus, I was convinced that the issues that I was unable to comprehend would somehow soon become clear.
Nevertheless, occasionally there were irreconcilable contradictions. One such example occurred during an evening Bible class, when our group was studying the Book of Ezekiel. Chapter 18, verses 21 through 24, clearly states that if a wicked man turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps G-d's ordinances, and executes justice and righteousness, he will surely live and he would not die. The Scripture further states that the transgressions he had committed will not be remembered against him, and that "in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live". Similarly, Jeremiah 36:3 states "that (when) every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin." This is a reiteration of the prominent Biblical theme of Tshuvah (repentance of sin). All this stands in flagrant contradiction to the Christian doctrine that the only way a person can truly repent and be forgiven is to accept Jesus as his sacrifice. As the "New Testament" Book of Hebrews declares (9:22), "...Without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness."
I realized that there was no mention in the passages of Ezekiel of having offer a sacrifice in order to be forgiven for one's sins. But when I confronted the pastor that evening and asked him about this glaring contradiction with Christianity, he gave me a weak answer which appeared to be inconsistent with what was being expressed in Scripture. Instead of contesting his claim, I determined not to "rock the boat", and merely stored this incident in my mental file for future reference.
During my final two years, this and other issues were continually surfacing which indicated a striking contradiction between the scripture of the Tanach (Old Testament) and the teachings of the New Testament. I found an increasing number of references in the Jewish Bible demonstrating that blood sacrifice was not required. For example, in Leviticus 5:11-13; Numbers 31:50; and Numbers 14:17-20, flour, jewelry and prayer were used to atone for sins. Interestingly, nowhere in the Old Testament is it ever mentioned that a gentile was required to offer a sacrifice for atonement. When a "sin sacrifice" was offered (which was only for an unintentional sin), it was always an animal sacrifice. Human sacrifice, the Torah teaches, is absolutely forbidden.
Who was right?
The Tanach is G-d's word, and instructs us to keep His Torah forever, neither adding to nor subtracting from it. How can the New Testament be Divinely inspired if it completely invalidates the same G-d given Torah? The New Testament claims that the Torah is a curse ("Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law..." [Galatians 3:13]), and that the only path to G-d is through faith in Jesus.
While these and many other questions perturbed me, I remained confident that there had to be answers to these issues. After all, hadn't the messianic prophecies proven that Jesus was the Messiah?
At the same time, my mental file of doubts continued to grow at an alarming rate.
Then the leader of the congregation assigned me to teach Sunday school to our adult congregants. I taught a program entitled "How to Share Israel's Messiah With the Jewish People". I used a variety of different books as resources for the series of classes, extending over nine months. During those months, I covered a lot of Biblical territory, digesting all this material.
There's a truism that one of the best ways to learn is to teach. In order to prepare my weekly lessons, I was exposed to various Biblical passages which were regarded as traditional "proof texts" for Christianity. Often I found these references very encouraging; they helped build up my faith and belief in Jesus as the Messiah. But the inconsistencies and contradictions I had noted between the New Testament and the Old Testament continued to multiply. One of the principles constantly impressed upon me, from the day I first became involved in Christianity, was that the Bible was one hundred per cent the true and "inerrant" word of G-d, and that G-d was not a liar or subject to error. And I was now discovering many errors. If G-d were in fact the author of this Bible, why was I discovering references in the New Testament which were utterly inconsistent with the sources in the Tanach which they claimed to be fulfilling?
The New Testament frequently alluded to passages in the Tanach, and blatantly erred in transcribing the information. For instance, the New Testament states, in Acts 7:14, that seventy-five persons came with Jacob to Egypt; whereas Genesis 46:27. Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22 all clearly state that there were seventy persons in total. In addition, the Book of Genesis (49:28-30; 50:13) says that Ya'akov (Jacob) was buried in Mamre (which is Hebron, according to Genesis 23:19), in land that had been purchased from Ephron the Hittite. Yet the New Testament book of Acts (7:16-17) misquotes Genesis and claims that Ya'akov was buried not in Hebron but in Shechem, in land bought from the sons of Hamor. Furthermore, I observed time and again that the New Testament itself was markedly inconsistent from one chapter to another. The various accounts of the Resurrection in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were mutually exclusive. The very Resurrection of the son of G-d was not consistently described by this allegedly Divinely inspired book!
I discovered many references to alleged messianic prophecies in fact did not concern messianic prophecies at all. One such example, central to Christian doctrine, is the mistranslated reference to "virgin birth" in the Christian editions of the book of Isaiah (7:14). This "virgin birth" passage is a pillar of Christianity, because upon this verse Christianity bases its belief that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was the son of G-d, and that he was the Messiah.
I remember clearly that, when I was first shown the passage of Isaiah 7:14, where Christians claim the concept of a "virgin birth" first appears, my reaction was, "How could this be? How, for two thousands years, could the rabbis not have seen this?" I remember that, when I confronted my pastor at the time, he said to me, "Julius, it's because those rabbis were blinded. They had a veil over their eyes, but G-d has lifted the veil from your eyes that you can see the truth."
I felt that I had been paid a huge compliment: G-d had chosen me above all the thousands and thousands of Jews who had gone before me for the last two thousand years. G-d would pick me, of all people, to see the truth in the Old Testament tha