Upon returning to Eretz Yisrael and discovering that Esau was coming to meet him with an armed band of 400 troops, Yaakov pleaded with G-d, "Please save me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau" (Genesis 32:12). Why this redundancy? Simply asking G-d to save him from Esau or from his brother would have sufficed. The Torah is notoriously concise and cryptic so if it goes to length to add extra words, it must have a purpose and a lesson to teach.
Sometimes, the yetzer harah (evil inclination) or outside forces conspire to prevent us from keeping the Torah outright. Think Antiochus's infamous decress against practicing Judaism or the Spanish Inquisition. Other times, the yetzer is far more cunning and pretends to be our brother so that we will let our guard down. In this relaxed environment, it is much more difficult to stand up for our beliefs or even to sense the spiritual danger.
Increased pro-Jesus missionary activity has been initiated in Kassam-besieged Sderot over the past two weeks, local residents say.
On the backdrop of Kassams exploding into the small city of Sderot, the mostly working-class population is now facing yet another danger: missionary activity. Local residents say, "They are taking advantage of the difficulties here and trying to convert us to their beliefs."
Herzl Shayubi, who served until recently as Deputy Mayor of Sderot, told Arutz-7, "You can see that they have become very active here of late, with large signs about repentance and door-to-door activity with their Bibles and materials... In one case, I physically stopped one of them when I saw what he was giving out."
Moshe Malka, an activist of the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization who has family living in Sderot, said, "The missionaries - most of them 'Messianic Jews' - often show up to the weekly market day, marketing their destructive wares... Many of the residents say that the missionaries are taking advantage of their difficult situation to try to entice them to join their services - and it really appears that they have targeted Sderot. For instance, around the country they give out cheap editions of the New Testament, but here in Sderot they have been giving out a very fancy edition, with a very beautiful gold and black binding and gold-edged pages. I went into some houses to show them the book and ask if they've ever seen one like it - and they say, 'Sure, someone once gave us this' and they pull it out of their libraries. The missionaries simply prey on the ignorant and the weak."
Of course, this isn't the first time that this has happened. All too often, missionaries in Israel target vulnerable Jews such as the elderly, lonely Russian immigrants or teenagers with family problems. There have been cases of elementary students bring used to missionize to their friends, missionaries dressing as charedim and infiltrating schools and missionaries have even used violence to stop anti-missionary organizations like Yad LeAchim from foiling their dastardly deeds. In July, the Chief Rabbi of Arad, Harav Ben Zion Lipsker, was brutally attacked by a missionary when the Rabbi tried to stop him from hawking his materials at the city market.
"They have two houses here in Sderot, one on Natan Elbaz Street and one on Shivat Tzion [Return to Zion] Street In one of them, they have a weekly class in Russian on Friday evenings, and in the other they have Sabbath prayer services - featuring Jesus, of course... We have found that a 60-year-old man named Peter from nearby Bror Hayil comes and gives out literature."
Malka says the plight of the residents is very much in evidence: "For instance, on the weekly market day, there used to be four or five rows of people selling their stuff, and now there's only one row. On every street you see many houses for rent or for sale. It looks like a ghost town."
Yad L'Achim has stepped up its anti-missionary activity in Sderot, Malka says: "We have been going door-to-door ourselves, and we're in contact with the yeshivat hesder there, and with the local Beit Chabad, and we stand at intersections, etc. We would like to hold a public session in some protected building in order to explain the dangers..."
Avi Ben-Abu, a local grocery store owner, told Yad L'Achim, "It is unacceptable for missionaries to take advantage of our difficult plight and put salt on our wounds by leading innocent Jews astray."
We are happy about Christian support for Israel but not at the cost of selling our souls. If this is the price, we will not co-operate with anyone who attempts to missionize to us. The Torah is clear that our security depends on our adherence to G-d's commandments.
Here's another story from Arutz-7 that gets me angry. Despite the former Pope's attempts to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, ties are still strained in many cases. It certainly didn't help that the current Pope reinstitued last year the Latin mass that calls for G-d to open up the eyes of the 'perfidous Jews' who are lost in 'darkness.'
Fourteen Austrian Catholic bishops visiting Jerusalem last week were barred from approaching the Old City's Western Wall (the Kotel) after refusing to remove crucifixes they were wearing as part of their formal attire. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, responsible for the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites, explained to the bishops that they were welcome to pray at the Kotel, but had to remove their crosses in order not to offend the sensitivities of Jews there.
The bishops, including the Archbishop of Vienna, opted to remain outside the barrier separating the prayer area from the rest of the Western Wall Plaza rather than remove their crosses
The group subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Rabbi Rabinovitch, responsible
for the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites, explained to the bishops that they were welcome to pray at the Kotel, but had to remove their crosses in order not to offend the sensitivities of Jews there.
The bishops, including the Archbishop of Vienna, opted to remain outside the barrier separating the prayer area from the rest of the Western Wall Plaza rather than remove their crosses. The group subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Rabbi Rabinovitch that was to take place in his Jerusalem office. Austrian officials said that the ban on crosses at the Wall was not made known to the Catholic delegation ahead of their arrival for the Austrian Bishops Conference, which was held in Israel for the first time last week.
Speaking with the Israeli Maariv newspaper, Rabbi Rabinovitch said, "Appearing like that at the Wall and to a meeting with me is insulting and provocative." Rabinovitch claimed that previous Catholic delegations, including that of Pope John Paul II in 2000, refrained from displaying the cross while at the Kotel. While official government publications describing appropriate dress and conduct for the Western Wall area do not include any mention of a ban on crucifixes, Christian pilgrimage tour leaders have in the past suggested that those wearing crosses place them inside their shirts to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
I remember when I visited Israel two summers ago that while I was at the Wall, an Orthodox priest carrying a huge cross approached the Wall and was angrily turned away by a group of chareidim. While the prophet Isaiah (56:7) says that the Temple is a "house for all nations" and King Solomon asks for G-d to hear the prayer of non-Jews in the Temple (1-Kings 8:41-43), it is completely innapropriate for the crucifix to be displayed at the Kotel. The crucifix throughout history was a sign of death and destructio for Jews. During the Crusades, Jews went to their deaths rather than accept baptism under the shadow of the crucifix.
A popular Christian hyman goes like this: “Onward, Christians Soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of J going on before! C, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle. See His banners go!” Think about the words. This hymn is adopted from the theme of the Crusades- the banners and crosses of JC and his worshippers demanding of the Jews 'convert of die, C-killers!'.
My heart is truely saddened over all of the Jews who have been led astray and away from Judaism- it truely pity them. They have traded in their birthright for a bowl of lentils. True Torah- True beauty.