I Challenged The Preacher’s Hateful Speech
The preacher on the UCLA campus made himself out to be a prophet. He predicted doom for any minority group whose religious beliefs did not match his narrow Christian faith in Jesus.
I was standing with members of the Jewish Student Union when we heard him say, “the Jews killed Jesus and are ‘damned’ to hell.”
One female student started crying when she heard these hateful words. She begged me to stand up to the preacher and defend Judaism.
I challenged the preacher to present proof that Jesus was the messiah. His answer was simple, “who else could perform miracles and heal the sick?”
In response, I pointed out numerous contradictions between the New Testament and the Jewish scriptures. These blatant contradictions make it difficult to believe the stories about Jesus. Even if some of the stories were real, Jesus’ alleged “miracles” would not prove that he is a prophet or the messiah.
The Torah warns that false prophets can perform miracles, and these miracles are not proof.
This lesson is found in this week’s Torah portion Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17) and is one of the most powerful refutations to missionaries like the UCLA preacher.
Chapter 13 of Deuteronomy starts with a proclamation that we should keep God’s commandments and not add or subtract from them. The chapter continues:
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder of which he spoke happens, saying, ‘Let us follow other gods,’… you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.
For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him… and that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death” (Deuteronomy 13:2-6).
These passages demonstrate that God can allow false prophets to perform “miracles” to test our loyalty to God and the commandments.
Christians claim Jesus nullified the commandments. This act is a violation of the first verse of Deuteronomy 13, which says to keep the commandments and not add or subtract from them. A true messenger of God, and the Jewish people, must be loyal to the commandments.
Keeping the commandments is so essential it is mentioned four times in Deuteronomy 13, in verses 1, 5, 6, and 19. To avoid drawing attention to the commandments, most Christian bibles move Deuteronomy 13:1 and put in at the end of chapter 12. Both the context as well as ancient manuscripts, refute this distortion.
Faithfulness to the commandments is the foundation of the moral example Judaism has set for the world. The commandments are our spiritual lifeline and connection to the Almighty. They are not a burden; they are a blessing.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz