Yahadut doesn't differentiate between those who slaughter Jews and those who prey on our souls. Chanukah commemorates the physical revolt of the Maccabees against the Greeks, who waged war against the Torah. The criminalization of circumcision and Shabbat was akin to a knife at the Jewish throat since the death of the Jewish soul signifies the death of the Jewish nation. And so, we Jews have always reacted viscerally when a Jewish soul is threatened, just as a mob of bloodthirsty anti-semites compels us to act on behalf of our brethren.
The dark days of the Crusades bears witness to this nightmarish fact. The tragedy of screaming Jewish mothers and fathers taking the sword to their children, and then themselves, because a time of shmad was upon them. Mesirat Nefesh personified. No one loves their children more than a Jewish mother and father. And yet, under the threat of their Jewish child being raised under the cross, they did the unimaginable.
We have many enemies throughout the world. The Arab/Islamic world stands out as today's number one enemy since they are actively trying to exterminate us. Our many spiritual foes desire our souls. They wish to convert us. Many religious Jews recognize the danger of the former, but not the latter. They have forgotten centuries of mass slaughter from those who merely wanted us to fall on our knees and kiss the cross.
Today, they prey on us with love. A very smart tactic; the clever exchange of the sword for the dove. The missionaries are enjoying historically unprecedented success due to this tactical shift. Baruch Hashem, there are many wonderful organizations and individuals out there combatting the spiritual threat. The excellent website Jewish Israel is another goldmine of meticulously researched, documented information. Jewish Israel has a plethora of information and documentation relating specifically to the subjects of this article.
“Hayovel” (The Jubilee) and “The Harvesters”
As I see it, there is another threat today, which represents a new category of missionary. These soul snatchers are planting a parasitic vine that will ultimately strangle those within the religious camp. This foe doesn't wear a “Jews for Jesus” cap. Nor does he actively portray Jesus as kosher-- for the moment. He is far too clever for that. And he is as patient as an adder. They call themselves “Hayovel”--The Jubilee.
This enemy has toned down his rhetoric, for the most part, when he's sitting with Jews. If in the past, his websites were a window into their goals, they have since sanitized them and rendered them “neutral” to the untrained eye. (Although video footage can be readily found which exposes their real agenda.) This new missionary came to Israel to assist Jews in the vineyards of Samaria, and fulfill (in their distorted interpretation) the words of the prophets. Whole communities have ensured that “The Harvesters,” as they call themselves, feel welcome.
I could not believe my eyes when I first saw the many videos documenting this terrible phenomenon. One particularly disturbing clip featured a grotesque spectacle of religious women with skirts and men with kipot dancing with missionaries. One of the greatest examples of Chillul Hashem that I have ever seen in Israel. I would venture to say that never before in Jewish history has such an insidious threat to the Jewish soul occurred right under the noses of Jews. Jews who go to minyan thrice daily and learn Torah have allowed the cross to be put up in their homes. Metaphorically speaking of course. But the door is open for them. Like the mythical Dracula, these spiritual predators have been invited in.
Hayovel has reached a section of the Jewish populace that they never could have imagined would be available to them. Close knit Torah oriented Jewish families have never been an easy prey. Under the guise of helping Jewish farmers tend their fields and vineyards in the Shomron, these missionaries have come to the hills of Samaria. Jews with kipot are ecstatic .Too many Jewish farmers have eagerly embraced this halachically prohibited free labor.
A reputable insider source has informed me that volunteers have even set up a tent in Har Bracha where they worship and pray to Jesus every morning before heading to the field. The tent is also used for speakers to address them. And these folks aren't here to merely visit. Part of their plan is to plant roots and remain in Eretz Yisroel.
For those who may find this incredulous, this age of social media and Youtube videos can confirm everything. There are numerous videos of prominent religious Jews sitting in meetings with the infamous Tommy Waller (of the notorious missionizing Waller family) inviting thousands of x-tians to join "The Harvesters."
The Torah's Perspective
How does one deal with spiritual contagions in Israel? Let's take a look at the authentic Bible.
Deuteronomy 12:3: "And you shall destroy their name from this place." (This week's portion of the Torah reading.)
Judges 2:1-2: "'The angel of the L-rd came up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, "I made you go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the Land which I swore unto to your fathers, and I said....'You shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land. You shall smash their altars..."
As sons of Abraham, we have an obligation to bring the knowledge of The One to the world. In order to spread the knowledge of G-d, we have to first comprehend that knowledge ourselves. The Torah prohibits gentiles from living in Israel unless they accept the Halachic conditions of "resident strangers." The definition of “resident stranger” varies according to different Halachic positions. Maimonides would represent a more stringent approach. The Halachah understands that even fine, non-hostile gentiles (with the exception of "resident strangers") can adversly affect the spiritual integrity of Am Yisroel. Many Jews have readily adopted the pro-Israel evangelical lobby in the war against the Arabs and Islam. This is no ally. The evangelists have a stated goal of wanting to convert Jews. To endanger the Jewish soul means we have gained nothing and lost everything.
Confrontation: Spitting On Rav Soloveitchik's Psak Halachah
On one level, several prominent leaders of "modern-orthodoxy" contributed to this outrageous phenomenon, and laid the groundwork for sanitizing their agenda. They have created a new forum for discusion/meetings which previously never existed. In recent years, many of these individuals abrogated their Rebbe's psak Halachah, and engaged in one form or another of "interfaith-dialogue." Rav Soloveitchik (of blessed memory) had a consistent position: that Jews are prohibited from engaging in any form of religious discussion, debate, or dialogue with members of other faith communities. His so-called students are trampling upon his psak Halachah. His classic essay “Confrontation” articulates his position fully.The Rav would become physically ill were he alive today to see this outrage.
In recent years, one of these rabbis went so far as to adopt the language of the missionary. He was featured in videos where he called Jesus "rabbi jesus," and even used such ideologically loaded terms as "branches" or "grafting" that are laden with unmistakeable x-tian associations and interpretations.
Another individual (not a talmid of the Rav) used the written word to “kasher” Jesus. Without getting into the nuances of his work, there is no definitive evidence that a specific historical Jesus existed that has any commonality with the various contradictory and mythical gospel accounts. The scholarship was premised on one particular historian's viewpoint, which is contested by other scholars; and the end result is that it reads like a polemic which reimagines Jesus as a palpable figure for religious Jews. It is agenda driven. (The Rambam and Ramban's unique perspectives provide some insight into the Jewish perspective on Jesus. Let the diligent reader explore this on his own.) Whether Jesus was a real Jewish figure, a composite of several figures, or based upon two different figures in the Gemara, Judaism does not venerate his memory. If he existed, he was not a good Jew.
There is no common ethic between Torah and a theology that requires man to accept another man as a deity and a savior to find salvation. Truth be told, interfaith dialogue with x-tians or any member of another faith community on matter of religion has always been viewed as contrary to Halachah. There has always been a consensus on this issue across the wide spectrum of Torah leaders. Even among those groups that have no interest in converting Jews. Certainly, those who prey on Jews for conversion are enemies. We aren't allowed to meet with them or accept charity; no hosting them in Eretz Yisroel. They are evangelical. Their stated mission is to draw Jews to the cross.
As the bloody headlines inform us daily, Islam is a scourge upon the earth. It is natural for Jews to want allies against them. But to align ourselves with those who wish to convert us is insane. Even if it is in their distant dream of a messianic redemption. Righteous gentiles who want to assist the nation of Israel may have opportunities to do so, but it must always be in accordance with Jewish law. This is where proper poskim need to come into the equation, since it is purely an Halachic matter. But those who are evangelical cannot have any foothold in the country!
“The Harvesters” and others like them have an advantage over other missionaries. They are mingling, and spending considerable time with Jews in the vineyards. They are forging friendships and finding a commonality that is blurring the distinction between gentile and Jew. “The Harvesters” have discovered that strumming folk songs based solely on “Old Testament” verses, while tending to the fields, have opened doors to them. Some of their women even cover their heads with mitpachot.
What will happen, (and Heaven Forbid, it is almost a certainly that it will,) when some infatuated Jewish boy falls head over heels for the pretty blond girl in the field who he sees for weeks at a time. His name is Daniel, and she likes the Book of Daniel. She has a nice smile. She plays the guitar and enjoys evening strolls as the sun sets. So does he. What about the mirror equivalent? A Jewish girl who finds a rugged southern gentleman, who believes in the notion of a creator, never mentions Jesus, and works his boots off in the field. A mentch, right?
Unlikely scenario? I think not. I think that it is more unlikely that this won't happen, if things persist as they are. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if such “meetings” are already occurring.
Not Anti Gentile!
This is not meant to be taken an an anti-gentile polemic. Heaven Forbid. Without getting into the complicated Halachic issue of whether Jewish theology deems christianity an appropriate religion for gentiles, all authentic Jewish positions are in agreement with one thing: it is prohibited for Jews. I believe that perfection of the self and Divine reward is available to jew and gentile alike, provided they follow the proper framework. Maimonides required the non-Jew to follow the 7 Laws of Noah. I will venture to say this: Gentiles have the same responsability as Jews; to accept the true Creator. The rising phenomenon of the Bnai Noach community in the U.S. and across the world shows that it can be done.
It should be noted that despite his rigid Halachic stance regarding x-tianity and Islam, Maimonides notes that we don't understand G-d's plan, and perhaps the former two faiths will be a vehicle for man to ultimately draw close to the truth. In short, since they are better than a purer paganism, or polytheism, they represent man heading towards the truth. Ultimately, The Almighty Himself will judge each man/woman to the extent that they dedicated their lives to uncovering the truth of His Name.
One thing is clear: those who desire to convert Jews are our enemies. Those who try to make christianity more acceptable by blurring the lines between us cannot remain in Eretz Yisroel. And those Jews who cannot (or will not) see this with the clarity of true Jewish thought, will play the role of one who stands idly by his brother's blood.
The Imminent Danger
A spiritual contagion is growing in the Shomron. They are aided by religious Jews who, for economic and political reasons, have eagerly taken Brother Esau's hand. Most native born Israelis have no understanding of the evangelical personality, and are ill-equipped to read their pulse. The leading anglos who abet them generally lack the intellectual sophistication and/or integrity to see the problem. Some are naive puppets in a war they don't even realize is raging around them. But the fact remains: this is an unprecedented phenomenon in Jewish history.
If Am Yisroel doesn't stand up and make a public outcry over this, it won't be long before “the Harvesters” claim their first victims, as Jewish boys and girls are exposed to a confusing and strange admixture of the holy and profane. It will happen.
We endured centuries of mass burnings, lynchings, mutilations, and the endless wrath of the sword to preserve our Torah. Every Easter season, Jews in Europe feared for their lives. And all they wanted from us was to abandon Torah and embrace Jesus. We resisted as long as our Torah values remained intact. In modern times, as our understanding of Jewish concepts began to erode, we became vulnerable. Our ancestors would roll in their graves if they could see that missionaries are picking grapes for us in Eretz Yisroel. Our zaidies would scream and cry out to the Heavens at this madness.
“Hamavdil bein Kodesh l'chol, bein yisroel le'amin....”
“He who separates the sacred and the mundane, between Am Yisroel and the rest of the nations”. (Havdalah)
In the hills of Samaria, leaderless flocks of Jews are going off with Brother Esau into the dark night. They are drinking non-kosher wine. And they don't even know it.
Let all people of Torah stand up and loudly shout to our brothers in the Shomron, “Ad Kan!” Enough is enough! We would be wise to adopt the position of our chareidi brothers who understand what the missionaries want, and can see the danger with 20/20 vision.
Almighty in heaven! Save us from Brother Esau!