In this week’s Torah portion of Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43), we read about the kidnapping of Dina, the daughter Jacob and Leah. Two of Dina’s brothers, Simon, and Levi, go to extreme measures to rescue their sister. Although Jacob disapproved of their methods, we can learn a valuable lesson about the importance of saving a life.
With this message in mind, it seems appropriate to share a portion of my talk from our recent Jew for Judaism Gala.
Our sages teach, “whoever saves a single soul is as if they saved an entire world.”
For more than three decades, this has been Jews for Judaism’s mission.
In the ‘70s when an evangelical missionary group targeted the Jewish community with the slogan “We Found It,” Jews for Judaism responded with bumper stickers that proudly proclaimed, “We Never Lost It.”
When a mother contacted us for help, and tearfully explained that her son had become a Jew for Jesus, we provided the family with support and guidance. Today this young man is a proud Jew for Judaism.
When we launched Jews for Judaism, our focus was counteracting the efforts of cults and missionaries.
It never entered my mind that the day would come when non-Jews would seek our advice, and orthodox families would turn to us to help their disillusioned children who had wandered from Judaism.
Today we are confronted with the highest percentage of Jews who no longer consider Judaism to be relevant or meaningful.
Today, I received a phone call from a young woman who called to thank me.
Sarah grew up in a traditional home and attended Jewish day schools. While attending college, she was challenged by one of her professors to explain a verse in the Jewish bible.
Imagine Sarah’s surprise when she read Psalm 22:16. “Dogs have surrounded me, evil people have encompassed me, they pierced my hands and my feet.”
She was confused because it sounded like Jesus being crucified.
Over several months the professor showed Sarah dozens of passages which also appeared to be speaking about Jesus.
Sarah was so confused and distraught she contemplated suicide. However, she finally gave in and accepted Christianity
When we met for the first time, I also showed Sarah a verse from the bible.
King Solomon, in Proverbs 18:17, said, “the first to bring an argument sounds right until someone comes and challenges him.”
This passage made a deep impression on Sarah. She realizes that she needed to hear both sides and use her critical thinking skills. We spent countless hours exploring the context and translation of dozens of confusing bible verses.
When I showed her that the word “pierced” was a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “k’ari” which means “like a lion,” she immediately realized that King David was speaking about his enemies who surrounded him like a lion hunting its prey.
I also helped Sarah discover a deeper spiritual connection to Judaism. Today she told me that she met a Jewish boy and hopes that within the next year, they will get married.
Keeping Jews Jewish is our mission, but we can’t do it alone. Our honorees and supporters empower us to save Jewish lives.
They are the backbone for our counseling and education services, which reach hundreds of thousands of people. Jews for Judaism’s YouTube channel alone has 325 educational videos and receives 3,000 hits every day.
Thank you for supporting our life saving activities and believing in Jews for Judaism’s mission of keeping Jews Jewish.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz