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Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

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Question:

I was accosted at the beach today by a guy from Jews for Jesus. He offered me a New Testament in Yiddish and said that many Jews have been "saved" by accepting Jesus as the messiah. I just ignored him. Then I saw a big ad in the newspaper from the same people. My question: Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Answer:

Of course a Jew can believe in Jesus. Just like a vegetarian can enjoy a rump steak, a peace activist can join a violent demonstration, and a dictator who preaches martyrdom can surrender himself to his enemies. As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense!

I think your response to that missionary was the best one - to ignore him. Missionising is not a new phenomenon. Certain Christian sects believe that their messiah will only return when the Jews accept him. Throughout history Jews have been threatened with death, torture and expulsion if they don't convert. More recently, missionaries targeted the weak of our community - the elderly, new immigrants, and the underprivileged - in an attempt to exploit their vulnerability. All these attempts have had little or no success. Whether religious or not, Jews are reluctant to give up their Jewishness.

So they came up with a new ploy. Rather than demand conversion, they offered Jews to remain Jewish, and even "complete" their Jewishness by accepting Jesus. Thus Jews for Jesus was born.

This is a movement of non-Jews who pose as Jews by taking on Jewish names. They do usually have a token Jewish member, who is invariably either ignorant of Judaism at best or psychologically imbalanced at worst. They are a sham.

All religions are free to present their beliefs in the open market of ideas. But if they have to resort to slimy tactics like Jews for Jesus does, then they obviously have nothing to offer a thinking person.

Editor's Note: Visit Jews for Judaism for a comprehensive counter-missionary handbook.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (252)
July 11, 2014
To be called a Christian is to be labeled. I believe that is true when ascribed a Jew. Another label, in my opinion. Labels are developed and applied by humans. When does the Jew become a Christian? When are the labels exchanged?

It seems to me that, maybe or possibly, that we might call the Old and New Testaments, the Testament. Oh shucks: am I now a heretic?
Paul
Idaho
May 21, 2014
"I think your response to that missionary was the best one - to ignore him." So by ignoring him you are displaying indifference. Ellie Wiesel said it very well,

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death."

So in other words, instead of trying to correct of a fellow Jew of the error of his or her belief, you instead advocate "ignoring" the person. Think carefully of what you posted. In essence, you are despising that person. What a very unwise position for a rabbi to say!
Alexander Petzinger
Texas
April 28, 2014
to Doug
The reason Jews don't believe he is the Messiah has less to do with the behavior of Christians towards Jews and more to do with him not conforming with the standards of the Jewish Messiah.
Chabad.org Staff
mychabad.org
April 26, 2014
Insulting Jews
I'd be flattered if anyone came up and promoted their religion to me to save me. I might not agree with it per-say, but offering what they believe will save me from "sin' is probably the nicest thing anyone could do for me. I wouldn't stoop so low as to call him/her "slimy" or "a sham". That's just immature.
Anonymous
April 13, 2014
Observations from a Christian
I acknowledge the many sins committed by Christians against Jews. Understandably, this leaves a sour taste. Bad behavior, however, is not the litmus test as to whether Jesus is the Jewish messiah. Jews have believed in false Messiah's through the ages. If Jesus is the true Messiah then belief in the true Messiah is the most Jewish thing a Jewish can do. Doubtless the majority will disagree with the conclusion Jesus is the Messiah. But popular vote does not determine truth. I welcome dialog regarding what is true and why it is true. Sharing the truth ought to be a mutually shared value between Jews and Christians. Ok, Christians are also commanded to share the Gospel. Is it fair to ascribe my desire to discuss what I believe is true to some bad motive because it coincides with the command to share the Gospel?
Doug
September 29, 2013
Oh the irony
I see more demagoguery and xenophobic rhetoric here than on some yahoo chat boards. Just because someone doesn't agree with your beliefs or doesn't think you have the truth doesn't make them anti-Semitic. This type of thinking is almost as dangerous as anti-semitism itself. NEVER classify an entire country, religious or cultural group as all the same because of some errant actions of what is usually an outspoken minority.
ALL the early followers of Jesus "Christ", aka Christians were Jews. What became Christianity was SUPPOSED to be a continuation, if you will, of Judaism. Unfortunately, it has been hijacked and misrepresented so many times that that Abrahamic and Judaic identity has been lost and/or (in some cases) erased.
Humanity will only ascend to its apex when people from every
PS: We have all endured persecution. It is for us to learn from it and teach it so it will not happen again, not reciprocate the petulant seeds of intolerance that bloomed into history's pandemic injusb
Rami
FL, US
September 24, 2013
Aron, your comment that "All these attempts have had little or no success." leads me to believe that you may be underestimating the impact that such efforts are having.

Jews for Judaism on their web site states: "Today over 1,000 Christian missionary groups spend $300 million annually, targeting Jews for conversion worldwide. In recent years, they've succeeded in converting over 350,000 Jews."

Messianic missionary efforts are increasing as we speak, and this number is expected to rise significantly in coming years as they continue to gain momentum. I would like to see Chabad take a much more active role in providing an anti-missionary effort.
James D.
Los Angeles / Orange County
May 29, 2013
To Karen: RE: To Katrin in Germany
“I love you so much for saying that.”

One the one hand, your comment made me happy because I obviously could make you happy.
One the other hand, it made me sad, because it’s sad that our world has come so far that someone is so happy about someone else not singling you Jews out. It should be normal that noone feels left out at no times. You Jews all in all are so humble by nature that you probably don’t even realize the humility within your own words.
And on yet another hand, they humbled me.

Thank you for sharing your story and telling me about this Catholic girl. I thank G-d He protected you and sent you a real friend.

May He bless you, too, and may you walk underneath his wings always.

All the best and a Shabbat Shalom everyone.
katrin
Germany
May 27, 2013
Thank you Karen and have a Shabbat Shalom full of health and blessings
Uri Yitzchak
Orlando Fl
May 25, 2013
To Uri,
Thank you for explaing, and Shabbot Shalom!
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA USA
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