One in Messiah Congregation
Some Jewish people who met the Jewish Messiah - Yeshua
Rabbi Henry Bregman
There is a time when every true Israelite seeks forgiveness of his sins by merits of his own.
The Talmud, which is the Jewish code of laws, says:
Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith definitively inscribed in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith definitively inscribed in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year until the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death. (Tractate Rosh Hashanah, 16b)
HOW TO GET INTO THE BOOK OF LIFE
A Jew who is not orthodox all the year (that is, who is lax in keeping the Judaistic observances) will repent, pray on New Years Day and the nine days following, and give to charity between New Years Day and the Day of Atonement, in order to be inscribed in the Book of Life. Even the orthodox Jew would do his best during "the awful days of repentance", as they are called in the Jewish faith.
In order to be remembered in the Book of Life, the writer of this article used to "open his hand wide unto the poor" to fulfil the commandment in Deuteronomy 15:7-8, and also seek to abound in other good deeds. He carefully observed the ritual, and went to synagogue three times a day, a whole month before the New Year. Many a night he spent in studying the written and oral laws, repeating the Psalms and many prayers, even wailing for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the return of the Jews to Palestine, while sitting on the ground. Many other things he did, as wearing his phylacteries all day, and not looking at women, so as to have his mind consecrated and devoted to heavenly thoughts.
All these were done in order, that the "Mitzvot" (commandments) might outweigh the "Avarot" (sins). According to the Talmud everyones sins are being weighed against his merits at the judgment day. Maimonides (Rambam) in Hilchoth Tshuvah, c. 3:3, says that the same rule applies to the ten days of repentance, i.e., from the beginning of the New Year and the following nine days, including the Day of Atonement.
In order to please his Heavenly Father, a Jew seeks favour and pardon by observing many precepts, customs, and repeating the whole "Machzor" (a prayer book containing the festival prayers), without missing a word.
NEW YEARS DAY AND DAY OF ATONEMENT
On New Years Day he goes to the bank of a river, and there throws all his sins into the water. Then, on the eve of the Day of Atonement, the orthodox Jew takes a rooster, and swinging it three times around his head, says: "This rooster goeth to death, but 1 shall be gathered and enter into a long and happy life and into peace." Then he throws it on the floor to be killed immediately afterwards.
During the Day of Atonement most of the people torture themselves, standing most of the day on their feet, with shoes off, fasting twenty-five hours, and even abstaining from water. All these things, they believe, will save them. The writer believed this also, but the Lord graciously opened his eyes, and he saw that he had no merits of his own. "There is none that doeth good, no not one" (Psalm 14:3).
No man has any merits, for God declares furthermore that, "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores" (Isaiah 1:5-6). These verses are descriptive of Israel. This description is generally true of mankind. The intellect is corrupt, for the whole head is sick. The affections are corrupt, f or the heart is faint, and the confession of the prophet implies that "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).
MY EYES WERE OPENED
The writer thus found that he had nothing of his own by way of good deeds to atone f or his sins. He asked himself whether he had kept, or was keeping, all the commandments of the Lord. He was forced to reply in the negative. In that case the curse of God was hanging over him and would eventually descend and destroy him: "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say Amen" (Deuteronomy 27:26). According to that statement there is no hope, except for those who yield in perfect obedience. But where are they? The prophet Isaiah says, "All we like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6).
Again, he asked himself: "Where is the High Priest? Where is the Temple with all its ceremonies? Where is the atonement for sins?" The answer came in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews 9:12, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he [Messiah] entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption f or us."
As Messiah obtained our redemption on the eve of the Passover (John 19:14-17), so He became my Passover, my Atonement, my High Priest, and my All in All. He is my "Yom Kippur", not only once a year, but always, having obtained eternal redemption for me. My faith, my Hope and my Trust, are all built upon Gods promises, and cannot be better expressed than in His most Holy Word: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised f or our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). The Messiah was wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities, the chastisement of my peace was upon him, and with his stripes I was healed.
FROM RABBI TO BELIEVER IN JESUS
It was very hard for the writer to give up his pride, because of the position he held in the Synagogue as Rabbi. He always gloried in his wisdom, but the preaching of "Messiah crucified" was unto him, being a Jew, a stumbling block [being] a Rabbi, foolishness. But now he is called, Messiah became to him the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Dear Reader, if you are wise, mighty or rich and proud of these things, relying on your wisdom, might and riches, but you own not the Lord, there is no hope f or you, except you yield in perfect obedience. Each one has to renounce all his pride, and appear at the bar of God as a miserable sinner, looking only for mercy and not for rewards.
Thus saith the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me that 1 am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (First Letter to the Corinthians 1:31).
We naturally think we must do something to merit Gods favour, but Gods Word plainly declares, God commendeth His love, toward us in that while we were yet sinners Messiah died, for us (Letter to the Romans 5:8). This sets aside everything I might do to merit salvation as worthless, "for by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast (Letter to the Ephesians 2:8, 9). This is the reason why Gods way of salvation will never be popular in this world; it is not flattering to the human race, it sets aside everything in which we can possibly pride ourselves, and makes everything of Messiah Jesus and His finished work on Calvarys Cross. Messiah has been rejected and cast out of his world, He is still rejected here, and now the question for you, dear reader, is, Which side are you on? Have you taken sides with Messiah confessing Him as your Saviour? If not, let me tell you that you are on the worlds side and will meet the worlds condemnation, f or this world is guilty of the blood of the Son of God, and judgment will surely overtake it. If not already sheltered from the coming wrath, let me persuade you, yes, beg of you, to "escape from the wrath to come", take sides with Christ. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved" (Acts of the Apostles 4:12). Dont be deluded by false religion or careless indifference, there is only one Saviour.
Put your trust in Him now before you meet Him as a judge, for then it will be too late. If you die without forgiveness, you will be lost forever.
Rabbi Leopold Cohn, D.D.
Life began for Leopold Cohn in the little town of Berezna, in the eastern part of Hungary. At the age of seven a great calamity befell the young lad; he lost both his parents in the same year and was left to shift as well as he could for himself. In later years he often recalled how those days of terrible loneliness and bitter struggle for existence taught him to trust in God with all of his heart. It seems natural, then, to find young Cohn, after his confirmation at the age of thirteen, determined to enter upon a course of study with a view to becoming eventually a rabbi and leader among his people. That he gave a good account of himself as a student we conclude from the fact that at the age of eighteen he graduated from the Talmudic academics with a record of high scholarship and with commendations as a worthy teacher of the Law.
Following the completion of his formal studies and the subsequent receipt of smicha or ordination, Rabbi Cohn contracted a very happy marriage and, in keeping with the custom of the time, became installed in his wifes paternal home, there to devote himself to the further study of the sacred writings.
Through the years of almost ascetic religious study and devotion, the burning problems of his people, the problems of the Galut [exile] and of the promised, but long-delayed, redemption through the coming of the Messiah, had become deeply etched upon the rabbis spirit. Now that he had obtained leisure and could follow the call of his heart, he gave himself to earnest prayer and research in the hope of finding a solution.
A part of his morning devotions was the repetition of the twelfth article of the Jewish creed, which declares, "I believe with a perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah and, though He tarry, yet will I wait daily for His coming." The regular use of this affirmation of faith fanned to a flame the desire of his heart for the fulfilment of Gods promises and the speedy restoration of scattered Israel until, no longer satisfied with the formal prayers, he began to rise up in the midnight watches and sit on the bare ground to mourn over the destruction of the temple and to implore God to hasten the coming of the Deliverer.
The Time of Messiahs Coming
"Why does the Messiah tarry? When will He come?" These questions continually agitated the young rabbis mind. One day, while poring over a volume of the Talmud, he came upon the following citation: "The world will stand six thousand years. There will be two thousand years of confusion, two thousand years under the law, and two thousand years of the time of the Messiah." With quickened interest he turned for light on the passage to the writings of Rashi [Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040-1105], the foremost Jewish commentator, but the explanation he found there seemed to him to be of little help: "After the second two thousand years, the Messiah will come and the wicked kingdoms will be destroyed." When he turned away from the ponderous volumes, the solution of his problem appeared to him to have become more difficult than ever. According to Talmudic reckoning the Messiah should long since have come; yet, there was the exile, still the bitterest fact of Jewish life, to be accounted for. "Can it be possible," he asked himself, "that the time appointed by God for the coming of the Messiah has passed and the promise has not been fulfilled?" Sorely perplexed, Rabbi Cohn decided to study of the original predictions of the Prophets, but the very contemplation of the act filled him with fear, for, according to the teaching of the Rabbis, "Cursed are the bones of him who calculates the time of the end." And so it was that with trembling, hands, expecting at any moment to be struck by a bolt from heaven, but with an eagerness irresistible, he opened the book of the prophet Daniel and began to read.
When he reached the ninth chapter, light began to dawn upon him. He had struck a mine of hitherto concealed truth, covered up by the commentaries of the revered doctors of the law. From the twenty-fourth verse of the chapter before him he deduced without difficulty that the coming of the Messiah should have taken place 400 years after Daniel received from the divine messenger the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. The scholar, accustomed to the intricate and often veiled polemical treatises of the Talmud, now found himself strangely captivated by the clear and soul-satisfying declarations of the Word of God, and it was not long before he began to question in his mind the reliability of the Talmud, seeing that in matters so vital it differed from the Holy Scriptures.
It was neither an easy nor a pleasant matter for Rabbi Cohn, the leader of a Jewish community, daily gaining in popularity among his people, to entertain doubts concerning the authority of the Talmud. Quite apart from the disquietude that it brought to his own soul, he felt that doubt in a man of his position was heretical and, in some mystical way, injurious to the welfare of Israel. And yet, every moment of sober contemplation brought him face to face with the question, "Shall I believe Gods Word, or must I shut my eyes to truth?" In the midst of the conflict thus produced in his heart, there was one prayer that rose to his lips more often than any other was: "Open Thou mine eyes, O Lord, that I may behold wondrous things in Thy law."
The Parting of the Ways
Without being fully conscious of it, Rabbi Cohn was travelling toward a parting of the ways. A crisis was inevitable, and it broke upon him one Hanukkah. It was the season of the Feast of Dedication and, as was his custom, he planned to preach to his people on the meaning of the feast. He had not intended to refer in his sermon either to his doubts about the Talmud or to his late discoveries in the prophecy of Daniel but, when he rose to speak, some of his deepest thoughts welled up within him and would not be denied articulation. The effect of his words upon the congregation became immediately evident. Whispers grew to loud protests, and before the sermon progressed very far the service broke up in an uproar. That day initiated a series of petty persecutions which robbed the life of the young rabbi of its joy and made his ministry difficult to the point of impossibility.
The New Testament was as yet an unknown book to Rabbi Cohn, and consequently it never entered his mind to look there for the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophetic predictions. In a vortex of soul, casting about for a course of action, he decided to seek advice from a fellow rabbi in a distant town, a man his senior by many years, for whose learning and piety he entertained a very high regard. "Surely," he thought, "my problem is not a new one. Others must have puzzled over it and found some satisfactory answer, else how could they continue to study and teach the Talmud." But, here again, his hopes were destined to be dashed to the ground. Cohn had hardly finished unburdening his troubled soul when the rabbi whose help he travelled so far to seek began to lash him with his tongue and to pour upon him a stream of insult and vituperation. "So you have set out to find the Messiah, to uncover the inscrutable? You are hardly out of the shell and already you have the temerity to question the authority of the Talmud! The teachings of our masters are no longer good enough for you? You talk for all the world like the renegades across the sea, about whom I have recently read in a Vienna paper, who claim that our Messiah has already come. Better go back to your post, young man, and count yourself happy that you have not yet been deprived of it. And take my warning, if you persist in these unholy ideas, you will one day end your Rabbinate in disgrace and probably wind up among those apostates in America."
Land of the Free
Disappointed and crushed, Rabbi Cohn took his leave. But in spite of his utter humiliation, a new thought was beginning to form in his mind, and with it he seemed to see a glimmer of new hope in the far distance. America! The land of freedom! The haven of the persecuted! There he would continue his investigation. March 1892 found Rabbi Cohn in the city of New York, warmly welcomed by his countrymen, many of whom had known him personally at home. Rabbi Kline of the Hungarian Synagogue, who had preceded him to America, and to whom he had a letter of recommendation, received him with much kindness and even offered him a place of temporary service in his synagogue while awaiting a call to a suitable congregation.
On a Saturday, soon after his arrival, Rabbi Cohn went out for the customary Sabbath afternoon stroll. As had become his habit, he was meditating upon the subject of the Messiah. But in the midst of his musings, as he was passing by a church located in one of the Ghetto streets, a sign written in Hebrew and announcing Meetings for Jews arrested his attention. He hardly knew what to make of the strange combination: A church with meetings for Jews!
While he stood in front of the church absorbed in thought, a countryman of his seized him by the arm and said in a voice charged with fear, "Rabbi Cohn, better come away from this place." The rabbi was startled but, at the same time, his sense of inquiry was aroused. Just what was there about that church with the Hebrew sign? "There are apostate Jews in that church," he was told, "and they teach that the Messiah has already come." At the sound of these words Rabbi Cohns pulse quickened. They teach that the Messiah has already come! Could these be the people referred to by that Rabbi whom he had visited before leaving Hungary? This was something worth finding out.
As soon as he could take leave of his companion, and after making sure that he was not being observed, he quickly retraced his steps to the church. But he had hardly set foot inside the door when a sight met his eyes that compelled him to turn back. The speaker on the platform was bareheaded, and so was the audience. As it would have been to any Orthodox Jew, that was to Rabbi Cohn the height of sacrilege. On the way out, however, he thought that he should explain to the sexton his reason for leaving, and from him he received the suggestion that even if he could not stay for the service, he would nevertheless be welcome if he called for a private interview with the minister at his home.
On the following Monday, although still somewhat affected by his Saturdays experience, Rabbi Cohn plucked up enough courage to present himself at the ministers address. He entered the house with many misgivings, but the impression made upon him by the gracious personality of the minister, a Jew who, like himself, was a trained Talmudist, and in addition the scion of a famous rabbinical family very soon put him completely at ease. Before he realised what he was doing, he found himself relating to his new-found friend the story of his messianic quest.
The Book of Messiah
Near the close of the interview, noting that his visitor was completely unacquainted with its contents, the minister handed him a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew and asked him to study it at his leisure. Receiving with eager hands the book which was destined to transform his life and ministry, and being anxious to examine it. Rabbi Cohn opened the volume and turned to the first page, where his eyes fell upon the first lines of the Gospel by Matthew: "This is the book of the generation of Yeshua the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
The feelings the words awakened in him beggar description. It seemed that he had finally reached the goal of his long quest. The sacrifices he had made, the separation from wife and children he had endured, the days he had spent in agonising prayerall those things were about to bear their fruit and receive their reward. The problem which neither he nor those he consulted could solve was now answered by a book, and that book was in his hands. Surely such a book must have come to him by the will of Heaven. God had finally answered his many prayers and now, he was sure, He would help him to find the Messiah.
Taking leave of his host, Rabbi Cohn ran as fast as he could to his room and, locking the door, gave himself to a study of the precious volume, his pearl of great price. "I began reading at eleven oclock in the morning," he wrote later when reflecting on the events of that momentous day, "and continued until one oclock after midnight. I could not understand the entire contents of the book, but I could at least see that the Messiahs name was Yeshua, that He was born in Bethlehem of Judah, that He had lived in Jerusalem and communicated with my people, and that He came just at the time predicted in the prophecy of Daniel. My joy was boundless."
But had he been able to look into the future, Rabbi Cohn would have seen other days of sorrow in store for him. Narrow and toilsome is the path of faith in a world of unbelief. His first rude shock came the very next morning, when he tried to share his discovery with Rabbi Kline, who but recently had offered to assist him in finding a charge. "You are a wild dreamer!" shouted his rabbinical colleague when he had heard Cohns story. "The Messiah whom you say you found is none other than the Jesus of the Gentiles. And as for this book," he said, tearing the New Testament from Cohns hands, "a learned rabbi like you should not even handle, much less read this vile production of the apostates. It is the cause of all our sufferings." And with these words he threw the book to the floor and trampled upon it with his feet.
Fleeing from this unexpected outburst of wrath, Rabbi Cohn felt himself once more a raging sea of conflicting thoughts and emotions. "Can it be possible that Yeshua the Messiah, the son of David, is the Jesus whom the Gentiles worship?" To believe upon such a one would indeed be an act of rank idolatry!
A New Creature
The days which followed were filled with heartache and melancholy thoughts. But gradually he succeeded in freeing himself from the clutches of despair and began to study his problem anew in the light of the Holy Scriptures. When he turned to Gods lamp of truth, he found light. The prophetic vision of the suffering Messiah began to penetrate his mind as he read and re-read the fifty-third chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah, yet he was a long way from finding peace of soul. Solemn questions now stared him in the face: "What if Yeshua and Jesus are the same person? How shall I love the hated one? How shall I defile my lips with the name of Jesus, whose followers have tortured and killed my brethren through many generations? How can I join a community of people so hostile to those of my own flesh and blood?" These were indeed questions troublesome enough to rob any man of his peace. And yet, above all the raging storm, there was a still, small voice that kept speaking to his heart and saying, "If He is the Messiah predicted in the Scriptures, then surely you must love Him, and no matter what others have done in His name, you must follow Him."
Still halting between two opinions, Rabbi Cohn decided to fast and to pray until God clearly revealed to him what to do. When he began his supplications, he had in his hands a copy of the Hebrew Scriptures. Being wholly absorbed in prayer, he was startled when the volume fell from his hands to the floor and when he bent down to retrieve the sacred book he saw that it had opened at the third chapter of the prophecy of Malachi, which begins with the words, "Behold I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Angel of the Covenant whom ye delight in: behold He has already come, saith the Lord of Hosts." Now his entire being was electrified to attention and his every sense of perception awakened. For a moment he felt that the Messiah himself stood by his side pointing him to the words "He has already come". Stricken with a feeling of awe, he fell on his face, and out of his innermost parts came words of prayer and adoration. "My Lord, my Messiah Yeshua, Thou art the One in whom Israel is to be glorified, and Thou art surely the One who hast reconciled Thy people unto God. From this day I will serve Thee no matter what the cost." And, as if in direct answer to his prayer, a flood of light filled his understanding and to his unspeakable happiness he no longer found it difficult to love his Lord, although he was sure now that it was Jesus whom he was addressing. In that hour he knew that he had become a new creature in the Messiah.
Consulting no longer with flesh and blood, Cohn began to proclaim to all his friends and acquaintances that the rejected Jesus was the true Messiah of Israel, and that not until the Jews as a people accepted Him could they find peace with God. The first reaction of his friends was one of amused indulgence. "Rabbi Cohn is mentally confused," they said, "due to his long separation from his loved ones." But when his perseverance and earnestness of appeal challenged their attention, they branded him as a traitor to his people and began to persecute him bitterly. Some even thought that it would be a pious act to remove him from among the living. Such are the ways of zeal void of the knowledge of God!
When Cohns countrymen settled down to the inevitable acceptance of the fact of his conversion, they proceeded to dispatch letters to his wife and friends at home, to inform them about his "apostasy." As a result, all communication between him and his wife was soon completely stopped.
In the meantime the Jews of New York were in an uproar over the act of the once honoured rabbi. There is no way of estimating what harm fanatical persecution would have inflicted upon him had he remained long in New York. But, fortunately, the minister who gave him his first New Testament learned about his plight and came to his aid. A group of friends was rallied, who undertook to give shelter and protection to Cohn; but when it became plainly evident that in New York his life would be daily in dire danger, arrangements were made for his secret departure to Scotland, so that he might have opportunity to study and gather strength in a friendly environment.
In Edinburgh Cohn found a cordial welcome among the people of the Barklay Church. It was well that he was now among friends, for he had another battle ahead of him and another enemy to overcome, an enemy more subtle and dangerous than all those he had left behind in New York. Approaching the day of his baptism, he felt that he would have to face the supreme test of his life and that arrayed against him would be Satan and all the powers of hell. Many things, he knew, were in the balance for him. In a spiritual way he expected to gain much from a resolute and open confession of his faith in the Messiah, but on the human side he was in danger of losing all that he counted dear in lifehis wife, children, friends, position, dignities; in fact, everything.
For some days prior to his baptism, even until the very hour of his solemn public commitment to the Messiah, Cohn lived under a cloud of gloomy foreboding. Prayer, to which he resorted often, brought him only temporary relief. But on the morning of his baptism, when he reached the church, he felt strengthened and cheered, as if the clouds had been dispelled by the very presence of the Messiah whom he was so eager to confess. Later, he came to know how the prayers of many friends had supported him in the hour of battle and of glorious victory. Indicative of these was a letter he received from Dr. Andrew A. Bonar, the venerable pastor of the Finnieston Church in Glasgow, which read, "My people and I were praying for you at our service this morning." In this way Cohn cut loose from the life he once lived, in order to give himself anew to the service of his people. He was no longer a rabbi of the law, but a messenger of the Messiah, and he carried in his heart the secret of Israels salvation.
Back in the USA
In the fall of 1893 he returned with his family [who had also come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah] to New York, still the same passionate pilgrim after truth, except that now he had his bearings and the goal was no longer to him a matter of speculation. For the former Rabbi there was only one calling in life to serve God, and only one thing worth doing - to make known the way of Gods salvation in Jesus the Messiah. And so, upon landing again in New York, he set about immediately to establish contact with the masses of his Jewish brethren.
To secure a platform for the proclamation of the Gospel he opened a little mission in Brownsville. Being a man of practical sense, he devoted himself not alone to preaching, but also to the alleviation of the many needs that he found in the lives of immigrant Jews who were then crowding into New York by the thousands. It strikes one with pungent tragedy that at his first attempt to serve his people in the name of the Messiah, he stood very much alone. While his work as a preacher did not lack popularity, the Jewish community as a whole still looked upon him with hostile eyes, and Christians, who should have upheld his busy hands, rallied to his aid altogether too slowly. Before he went very far with his mission project, his wifes jewellery, a token of former affluence, had to be sacrificed in order to provide the rent for the humble meeting hall. And there came days when the larder of the missionarys little family was quite bare of provisions and when the children had to be sent to school half fed. Those must have been heartbreaking days, sufficient to crush the stoutest of spirits, but Cohn carried on undaunted, trusting himself and his beloved to God, who had called him out of darkness into His marvellous light.
Persecution must also have been a sore trial to the sensitive spirit of the young missionary; but if there were scars inflicted by cruel tongues and hands, those were known alone to God. Cohn never complained, but remained always bright and hopeful. There is on record an incident related by Dr. Cohn many years ago to an intimate group, in order to illustrate the text "The disciple is not greater than his Lord".
"One afternoon," he said, "I went to deliver a New Testament at a house where it had been requested. But when I arrived there, a powerful man fell upon me, first battering me with his fists and then jumping upon me with his feet. Finally he took hold of my ears, and lifting my head, he began to knock it repeatedly against the hard floor, all the while intoning in Hebrew, These ears which heard from Sinai that we must have no strange gods, and which now listen to the Christian idols, must be pulled out, and emphasising each mention of the words pulled out with a terrible jerk." From this experience Cohn went home with blood on his face, but that was the blood of one who suffered for the truths sake and it became the seed of a great work.
But perhaps the sorest trials that he had to suffer came from the side of people who were ostensibly of like mind with him. "False brethren" such characters were dubbed by St. Paul, and no better description for them has been found yet. When Dr. Cohn was already established in his work, with a large congregation of Jews whom he had won to the faith of the Messiah rising up around him to call his name blessed, there were found men of sufficient temerity to impugn his motives and to question the sincerity of his faith. Fortunately there were others, men of unimpeachable character, who knew the real worth of Dr. Cohn and stood with him and for him to the end of his life. It is noteworthy that in I930, at a time when the severest attacks were being levelled upon him, Wheaton College in Illinois, a Christian educational institution of first rank, conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.
Soldier of Messiah
Dr. Leopold Cohn passed away on December 19, 1937. His funeral services, held at the Marcy Avenue Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y., and conducted by the ministerial association of which he had been a life-long member, drew a large attendance of friends and admirers, both Jews and Christians. Of the many beautiful tributes paid to his memory perhaps the most revealing and intimate will be found in the following brief address delivered by Hugh R. Monro, LL.D., a prominent business executive of New York, who had known Dr. Cohn and associated with him for a period of nearly forty years:
. As far as I have been able to draw from the remarks that have been given tonight, I think tI am glad this evening to bear a simple word of tribute to this valiant soldier of Christ who was my friend for many yearshat my acquaintance extended over a period almost as long as that of any of the speakers, nearly forty years. I treasure this fellowship as one of the inspiring things which have come into my life, one of the real influences. I owe a great debt to this true soldier of the Cross. He was indeed a soldier, for. as several have indicated, he knew what strife was, what warfare was, on behalf of the Lord. There are probably not many in this audience who know how acute the suffering of this servant of Christ was in his early ministry, the anguish that he went through over a period of years. It is one of the phenomena of the spiritual history of this city and it is hard to account for it. I can hardly think of a parallel in the religious history of this country. To find an exact parallel I should have to go abroad to a celebrated case in France, in which one of his own people was concerned a generation ago. The simple fact is that his life was in constant peril for years in his early ministry. He was the victim of assault more than once. How strange this is when we think of the gentleness of his spirit, and his humility, and his one passion, and that to serve others. Yet for some reason this violent opposition not only on the part of his own people, but on the part of some Gentiles, developed, and for many years he was hounded and haunted night and day by opposition, by obstacles, by vilest slander and misrepresentation. It sounds like a chapter out of the dark ages. Perhaps some day that history will be written. I think there would be a value in the record. We live in days of such indulgence and softness, we know little of what our forefathers had to pass through, the things that put fight into them and iron in their blood. But Leopold Cohn knew all about it.
Another impression I have, and that was his singular poise and stamina. Leopold Cohn knew his Bible as few men know theirs. He was steeped in its teaching. He had a full-orbed message. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians there is a list of the endowments that are given to the saints of God, fruits of the Spirit. In the Epistle to the Ephesians there is a catalogue of Gods gifts to His Church. And when our Lord ascended on high He gave gifts unto men, and these gifts were prophets, apostles, pastors, evangelists, and teachers. Now I can think of our beloved brother right in the midst of that catalogue. He was in truth a gift of our Lord to the Church. He had the true spirit of the under-shepherd. He had a passion for souls. He had a keen responsiveness to the voice of the Spirit. How unslightingly did he labour during all these years in this very community. Starting amidst discouraging circumstances, and with only a few kindred spirits behind him to share his afflictions and persecutions, the work which he founded is reaching out, as has been observed, to almost all quarters of the globe. Our Lord is a Great Vindicator. He has a way of seeing his children through, and He has a way of settling accounts and squaring things. What a satisfaction and joy it is to realise as we meet here tonight that even while still in the flesh he knew his Lords vindication. He had led him out into this large and wealthy place. So I salute this true soldier of the Cross. I would like to lay some worthy tribute upon this casket. He has fought a good fight. He has finished his course. He has kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up that crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give him, and not to him only, but to all those that love His appearing.
Rabbi Rudolf Hermann Gurland
Chaim Gurland, the son of a zealous Rabbi in Vilnia, Lithuania, was not yet five years old when his father taught him the word "God". Soon he was able to read the Holy Scriptures and he loved the narratives of Elijah so much that one night he ran away from home because he "wanted to go up into heaven like Elijah"! It took days before the half-starved boy was found.
Chaim was destined to become a rabbi, but he later wrote the day of his induction that it was, "the most terrible, the most unhappy day of my whole life." He had great doubts as to the divine origin of the Talmud but, in obedience to his parents, Chaim became a rabbi, knowing well that it could not satisfy him. Although his conscience troubled him greatly, he accepted the call to be Rabbi at Wilkomir.
In the Synagogue he publicly preached against the Talmud and challenged his hearers to a discussion, but no one accepted his challenge. The Chief Rabbi demanded a revocation but Gurland refused. He remained in office for another two years, but then had to leave.
For some years he made a meagre living as a private teacher. Then, one day, a Jewish peddler brought him a Hebrew New Testament in which the rabbi read for the first time the Sermon on the Mount, the epistles of Paul and other passages. His reading led to fresh doubts and great sadness came over him.
A Pastor Faltin, who was in contact with many Jewish people in Kishinev, called on the Rabbi, who warmly welcomed him. Mr. Faltin remarked: "I should like to improve my knowledge of the Hebrew language. I am good at drawing and would be pleased to give you drawing lessons and German lessons if you, in turn, would read the Hebrew Bible with me once a week." The Rabbi agreed.
The Forbidden Chapter
In the course of their reading they came to the fifty-third chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah. Many Jewish people are afraid of the chapter because Christians say it describes the manner and meaning of the Messiahs sufferings, death, and resurrection, and Rabbi Gurland therefore asked Pastor Faltin not to read it. Pastor Faltin said: "I shall pray that God may give you courage to be willing to know His saving truth." From that time the rabbi could not help thinking about that remarkable chapter, and felt it was cowardly to be afraid to know what God had revealed in it.
The following week Rabbi Gurland expressed his willingness to read the fifty-third chapter with Pastor Faltin. First of all Pastor Faltin read to him the story of Christs sufferings as contained in the New Testament. After that they read Isaiah fifty-three, which was written more than 700 years before Jesus was born. Rabbi Gurland admitted that the chapter was a perfect picture of what Jesus had suffered and acquired for us at Calvary and he eventually desired to confess the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism. After instruction in the faith the 33-year-old Gurland and his wife were baptised.
The excitement and indignation of the Jewish population was great when they heard that Rabbi Gurland was to be baptised in Pastor Faltins church, and confess publicly his faith in Jesus. Many Jews were so enraged that they wrote to him that his baptism would be a disgrace and a calamity to the Jews. They told him that a number of Jews had sworn that if he dared to go through with it, they would kill him in the church after his baptism. Pastor Faltin asked the rabbi whether he would not prefer to be baptised quietly in the manse. "No", he answered, "Jesus the Messiah is a living, mighty Saviour. He can protect me; but even if He does not, I am willing to suffer and die for Him."
When the day of the Rabbis baptism arrived, the Jews were greatly excited and the church was overcrowded with both Christians and Jews. The service went on quietly. The minister preached about the Messiah who came to seek and to save that which was lost. Before the baptism, Gurland gave a short address, in which he stated how he received the heavenly light through reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and that he believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the promised Messiah and Saviour. During the act of baptism and the rest of the service everything was quiet. Jesus had once calmed the raging sea, now He had pacified raging hearts. After the service an elderly lady told Gurland that for eighteen years she had prayed to God and pleaded with Him to save his soul.
Now a new training began. Rudolf, as he was called since the day of his baptism, studied theology in Berlin and was later ordained as a Protestant Pastor. That day he preached on Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
He became co-pastor with his friend and spiritual father, Pastor Faltin in Kishinev. This did not cause him to forget his brethren of the house of Israel. He often had talked to them, led many to see that Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour, and baptised them. His work became well known in Germany and in Russia.
A few years later the Church of Kurland called him as their missionary to the Jews. He conducted Bible classes for Jewish people, had a large correspondence and was enabled by the Spirit of God to help many Jewish people believe in Jesus. There were many disappointments in the work, many tests and struggles - but Gurland was able to sow love for the Jews and for work amongst them in the hearts of many Christians, and to show many Jewish people the way of salvation.
As Gurland became well known and a beloved figure he was appointed Chief Pastor of the Church in Mitau. Consequently, and to his sincere regret, the mission work was neglected, for his new office brought with it many duties. Later, however, ill health forced him to lay down this post and to give himself solely to the Mission in Riga and Odessa.
Overwork badly impaired his health and he was often very sick. Asked how he could continually be so active in spite of his poor physical condition, Gurland would answer: "I preach myself well. Sickness is a hard test, especially permanent sickness: I know that from experience, it is a dark valley. Often God gives only enough light for one step at a time but to the faithful a glorious end is assured, for God wonderfully leads him from darkness to light."
The ex-Rabbi lived in two worlds. Time and again he kindled flames of love in the hearts of Christians for Gods ancient people and for service to them. Time and again he called his Jewish brethren to the Messiah Who died for Jews and non-Jews.
Almost 74 years old, Gurland went to his eternal home and reward, but not without first choosing the text, Psalm I22:1-3 "I rejoice in those who told me: Let us go into the house of the Lord! Our feet stand in thy gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built to be a city where the people should gather."
Rabbi Asher Levy
I was a Jewish Rabbi for 35 years. Born in Yugoslavia, I was brought up in a very Orthodox Jewish home. I was taught to say formal prayers and wear tefillin as prescribed for every pious Jew (Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18).
At the age of I5 I went to the theological school for Rabbis where I studied the Hebrew Bible and Talmudic commentaries and six years later I was ordained as Rabbi in Romania. Afterwards I served in Belgium, England and California.
Outwardly I was happy and successful in my ministry, but in my heart I was restless and discontented because I suffered much as a result of the emptiness of life in general. Six years ago I met a Jewish man with whom I discussed the matter. I did not know he was a believer in Jesus Christ, but his advice was: "Read Isaiah 53" I read this well-known chapter concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which says that, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." I felt constrained to examine further the Hebrew Scriptures and found these words written by the same prophet: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6, 7). I also read: "Hear ye now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:13, 14). "Immanuel" means "God with us".
This proved to me that Jesus was and is the Messiah in Whom all the prophecies were fulfilled. Meanwhile I had found a clear portrait of the Messiah in a small book which I had the privilege of getting into my hands. It was my first introduction to the New Testament. I started reading it like any other book, from the beginning: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham," and found, to my amazement, that I was reading a Jewish book about a Jew. Reading it carefully, I came to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew of the seed of Abraham and David; that He was born of a Jewish virgin in the Jewish town of Bethlehem, of a Jewish tribe, the tribe of Judah.
Because He knew the Law and the Prophets I followed Him on His journeys through the Holy Land, listened to His beautiful sayings and teaching, observed and admired His compassion and healings. It became my spiritual food. His promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who believe in Him drew me till I trusted Him as my Messiah and my personal Saviour.
I want to confirm the fact that my heart does not condemn we for my new belief, because I feel that I am still a Jew and shall always be a Jew. I have not renounced our inheritance of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Like Paul, I can say after my acceptance of Christ as my Saviour: "Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I! (2 Corinthians 11:22). Thus, I repeat with pride the word of Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
The brilliant example of the great apostle Paul influenced me very much and gave me the courage to accept the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour. Paul at first was a zealous persecutor of Christ and then became His most faithful follower. He had been a disciple of that great doctor of the Law, Raban Gamaliel, at whose feet he sat. It is believed that Raban Gamaliel also became a follower of Christ before Paul did. The Bible tells us that some wanted to kill Peter and the other apostles because they were preaching Christ so boldly. "Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men . . . And now I say unto you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."(Acts 5:34. 35, 38, 39).
It is two thousand years since the lowly Galilean, Jesus, traversed the bills and dales of Palestine, and He is still Master of the world. His Gospel is still preached, and his name as Messiah of Israel is still proclaimed. And His message is still repeated everywhere: "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Rabbi Philipp Philips
Philipp Philips had the good fortune, like so many Jewish people, to descend from a pious family, and at an early age he became acquainted with the literature of his nation. Later he became Rabbi of a Synagogue in New York and one Friday evening he entered the synagogue just at the moment the cantor was singing the words: "O Bridegroom, meet the Bride., let us go forward to bring in the Sabbath . . . Arise from the dust. Put on your beautiful garments, My people., through the son of Jesse from Bethlehem comes salvation to my soul." And Philips earnestly, longed for salvation. His heart was full of fear that he might not be saved so he took refuge in his books. He read all the Jewish writings: the Mishnah and the Gemara, the Midrash Rabbah and the Targum (an Aramaic translation of the Bible) and numerous other writings. Yet nothing could satisfy the longing of his heart. Nowhere could he find information on the matter of haw to gain salvation. In whom could he confide? He could not think of any member of his congregation who could help him; and there was the possibility that he might be suspected of wanting to forsake the Jewish religion.
Now it happened that during that time of fear and doubt the former rabbi, Jacob Freshman was working in New York. He was the director of a mission to the Jews and he had helped many Jewish people to find the Saviour through his earnest ministry. Philipp Philips felt attracted to this man but he did not risk going to him during the day, because he knew that it would be a very dangerous thing for a rabbi to visit such a man openly.
Consequently, he decided to go late one night. On his way he met the well-known evangelist D. L. Moody with whom he had been friendly for a long time. They greeted each other and, with surprise, Moody asked him, "Rabbi, what compels you to go out so late in the night?" Philips told him that he was on his way to the Rev. Freshman. "He is away on a mission tour," said Moody, "and he will probably he away for a couple of weeks."
Then, as Philips relates, Moody continued, "Rabbi, why do you not stay at home and enjoy the fruit of your table? Friend, you are restless, I can notice that. My spirit tells me you are a Nicodemus." At once he saw that he had said the right thing, and rejoiced. "Praise the Lord!" Moody told him also that he and Dr. Rosvally, the well-known physician, had prayed that he would see that Jesus was the Messiah and he requested him to read the New Testament. But Philips refused because he was afraid of persecution should the Jews hear of it. Moody, however, was not easy to get rid of and he offered the Rabbi a New Testament, asking Philips to read the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Still he refused, saying it would be impossible for him to believe in the Jesus of Moody. But in the end he accepted the Book.
And what a discovery he made! He had thought to find in it a fountain of pride, selfishness. hatred and violence; but instead he found only love, humility and peacefulness. Instead of stones he found pearls; where he was afraid of thorns, there roses diffused their scent; where he thought to read of lifes burden, there he read of blessedness, resurrection and heavenly treasures. Now in the wonderful light of the New Testament he could understand the narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures. As God had led his fathers in the wilderness by a pillar of a cloud by day and by a pillar of fire by night, so he saw in Jesus the Guide who has to lead us human beings in the way of Salvation. He realised that the "half had not been told" to him and he turned to this Jesus, Whom he now saw as the Redeemer of Israel and of the whole human race, as his Saviour and God. He humbled himself and came to Jesus as a poor sinner in need of grace. He trusted implicitly Gods promises, and could at last understand the words of Isaiah 53:4-5, "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God. and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions. he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed."
His friends did not understand him and his profession of the Christian faith was put down to blindness. People asked him how much money he had been paid to become a Christian, which caused him a great deal of pain. But he knew that he could not expect anything from them. The unkindest blow came from his mother who wrote to him: "Philipp! You are no longer my son. We have buried you figuratively. You have deserted your fathers religion and the Synagogue for the deceiver, Jesus, and therefore a curse will be upon you." This letter wounded the son deeply although he knew that anyone who decides to follow Jesus has to give up everything for Him.
The more his people hated and despised him, the more fervently he loved them and prayed for them. After three weeks he was able to send his mother a kind and loving reply to her letter, and could only long for the day when he would be able to take the message of salvation through Jesus to his dear ones.
His one desire was then to become a minister of religion and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a desire that was realised through the help of God. And for many years he served his Master faithfully.
Rabbi Max Wertheimer, D.D.
Born of Orthodox Jewish parents, my earliest childhood impression was of my parents rising very early in the morning to spend a long time reading the Hebrew prayers. Even in the cold winter, before fires were kindled for their physical comfort, they carried on faithfully these early devotions. Insofar as their knowledge of God was concerned, they were a devout and God-fearing couple.
From the age of five to fifteen my training was in a Jewish school, in Orthodox Judaism. A scholarly Hebrew instructed me in the five books of Moses. I went to the Gymnasium for my classical training and was later apprenticed to a manufacturer, doing office work. My associates at that time led me into the sinful pleasures of the world and, although I attended synagogue and read my Hebrew prayers on the Sabbath, I drifted from the faith of my fathers.
A parental decision to send me to America to pursue my classical education brought me to Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I graduated in seven years, having meanwhile taken my degrees in letters and Hebrew literature, and four years later my Masters degree. We studied the Hebrew Scriptures, translated it from Hebrew into the vernacular, went through Jewish history from the beginning to the present day, and learned the Oral law.
After finishing the rabbinical course we were publicly ordained and inducted into the rabbinical office. My first call was to Dayton, Ohio, where I officiated as Rabbi for ten years, during which I made many friends and received many tokens of love which I treasure highly. In my Friday evening lectures I spoke on social, industrial and economic questions, monotheism, ethical culture, the moral systems of the Jews, etc. In the Saturday morning addresses I took weekly sections of the Pentateuch, followed by a corresponding section of the prophets. On Sunday I taught Sunday School from eight in the morning until five in the evening with a one hour intermission for dinner.
Having it All
In I895 a series of meetings was held in the Christian Church of Dayton, with various denominational pastors giving addresses on their religion. I stood proudly before that audience of professing Christians and told them why I was a Jew and would not believe in their Christ as my Messiah and Saviour. I gloried in Reformed Judaism that acknowledged no need of an atoning sacrifice for sin, a religion of ethics, which quieted the qualms of conscience through self-righteousness. In the audience sat a humble aged woman, a devout Christian who was deeply stirred as she listened. "O God," she prayed, "bring Dr. Wertheimer to realise his utter need of that Saviour he proudly rejects. Bring him, if necessary, to the very depths in order that he may know his need of my Lord, Jesus the Messiah."
How perfectly satisfied with life I was that day: I had a young, attractive, accomplished wife, I was Rabbi of the Bnai Yeshorum Synagogue, I had a beautiful home, a comfortable income, a place of prominence in the community, had become an honorary member of the Ministerial Association, was a member of the Present-Day Club, served as chaplain in the Masonic lodge, and was a popular speaker before womens clubs, schools, civic organisations, etc. Had you visited my library at the time you would have found a wide range of reading. I had every book the infidel Robert Ingersoll wrote, read them, and corresponded with the author. I was an oft-invited guest speaker in every denominational church in the city. I was satisfied with life! My wife and I enjoyed the musical treats, we had a large home, two servants, and a beautiful baby boy and daughter, Rose.
Losing it All
Suddenly my wife was taken seriously ill and, in spite of many physicians and specialists, she died, leaving me a distraught widower with two little children. After the funeral, I put Rose in the care of my mother-in-law, advertised for a housekeeper for myself and the boy, and found myself the most miserable of men. I could not sleep. I walked the streets, striving to forget the void in my heart and life. My dreams of a successful career and serene domestic life were all shattered. Where was comfort to be found? The heavens were brass when I called on the God of my fathers! How could I, as a Rabbi, speak words of comfort to others when my own sorrow had brought me to despair? I investigated Spiritism, but found it an utter fallacy. I attended meetings and read the literature of Theosophy and Christian Science, only to find it futile and hopeless. My experience was comparable to Jobs when he cried: "My days are swifter than a weavers shuttle, and are spent without hope" (Job 7:6). The tenth year of my rabbinical office drew to its close. I decided not to accept re-election, and resigned. I wanted to think things over! I would study. Where is the spirit and soul of one who was such a gifted pianist, who gave charm to life, who made existence so sweet? What had become of all the faculties, the intents and purposes of that active, keen mind? I turned to the Bible!
I studied about Judaism but it answered no questions, satisfied no craving of my heart. Then I began to read the New Testament and compare it with the Hebrew Scriptures. Many passages were read, pondered, meditated upon. One made a definite impression: the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, eleventh verse, last clause: "By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities." Here was the only mention of that phrase, "My righteous servant" that I could find. It is found nowhere else in the Word of God. We find: "David, my servant"; "Isaiah, my servant"; "Daniel, my servant" but here was "My righteous servant."
I said to myself: "Who is that righteous servant? To whom does the prophet refer?" I argued: "Whoever that righteous servant of Jehovah is, of one thing I am sure, he is not Israel because the prophet declares Israel to be a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a leprous nation. The righteous servant of Jehovah must be One Who is holy. If it isnt Israel, who could it be?"
I decided it must be Isaiah. But in Isaiah 6 I found that the prophet confesses himself to be a guilty sinner and "a man of unclean lips" in Gods sight.
"My righteous servant." Who could it be? Then I began to study the context of the fifty-third chapter and found in Isaiah 50:6, "I gave My back to the smiters." I pondered that: "Who gave his back to the smiters?" At the beginning of the chapter it says: "Thus saith Jehovah." Jehovah is the only speaker in the chapter. Jehovah gave His back to the smiters? Had God a back? When and why was it smitten? Who smote it?
Further, I read: "Who gave His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair." And, still further, "I hid not My face from shame and spitting." What did all this mean? Who had been so abused? When? Why? Did Jehovah have all these human characteristics? I studied more and more various prophetic utterances. In Psalm 110 it is written : "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." Here was David speaking of his own seed and calling Him "Lord." How did He get up there? Why didnt God specify? Why didnt He speak so plainly to Israel that every Jew could understand?
In confusion I decided to begin at the first chapter of Isaiah and read the book through. I stopped at the ninth chapter: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Here was a most incomprehensible thing!
I was faced with the doctrine of the Trinity. We Jews have a popular monotheistic slogan: Shema Yisroel, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echod. The word echod means "one". Upon that word the doctrine of unity of Jehovah is rooted and grounded, the entire philosophy of Judaism is based, taught by the Rabbis that the word echod means "absolute unity". I could not believe it. My teaching was wrong! I began to study the word and I discovered it meant, not "absolute unity", but "composite unity". Adam and Eve became "one flesh"; the Hebrew for "one flesh" is bosor echod, a composite unity. Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan, and they returned bearing a gigantic bunch of grapes. That cluster of grapes is called in Hebrew Eschol-echod. With hundreds of grapes on the stem it could not have been an absolute unity: they are called in Hebrew, "one cluster". Composite unity. There was wickedness committed in Gibeah of Benjamin which disgraced Jehovah and His name and character. The other tribes were indignant and "all the people arose as one man". At that time the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were 400,000 men of war, yet they were "knit together as one man (Ish echod)." Here again is composite unity: thousands acted as one! These and other Scriptures showed conclusively that echod cannot be an absolute unity.
God revealed Himself to Abraham as God Almighty (EI Shaddai). The first letter of this word is schin; it has three strokes joined as one. This letter is on the top of the tefillin and on mezuzot. Jews have always taken this letter as symbolical of the Godhead because it had three strokes (one for each Person in the Trinity) joined together as one, to show unity.
But another question troubled me: if He Who was crucified was truly an incarnation of Jehovah, then who was in Heaven? I turned to the eighteenth chapter of Genesis. Abraham had three visitors; two angels and a third he addressed fourteen times as Jehovah, Later, two went away,, but the third said to Abraham, "Shall I hide from Abraham that which I shall do? I am going down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see whether or not they have done altogether according to the report which has come to Me. If not I will know or I am going to destroy the cities." Abraham interceded for them, the Lord went His way and Abraham went home. We find Jehovah inspecting the moral condition of Sodom and Gomorrah and refusing to spare them because not even ten righteous citizens could be found within their borders. But in this same chapter we have this statement: "Then Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of Heaven." How and why could there be two Jehovahs, one walking the streets of Sodom and another in heaven? It must be one omnipresent Jehovah! Then if that were true, He could have been simultaneously in Heaven on the cross.
Another problem succeeded it: "Why is the name Jesus never mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures?" I studied this question. Imagine my surprise when I found that 275 years before Christ, King Ptolemy Philadelphus summoned men from Palestine and bade them translate the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek vernacular. They took the Pentateuch first and when they came to "Joshua" they translated it the book of "Iesous", written with a circumflex over it to show there had been a suppression of Hebrew that could not be expressed in Greek. When Joshua went into Canaan with the other eleven spies, he was called "Yehoshua" (Jehovah is the Saviour). That is exactly what the word "Jesus" means.
Finding it All
I could no longer remain in unbelief. After months of searching I was convinced that Jesus was the righteous servant of Jehovah (Jehovah Tsidkenu), "The Lord our righteousness!" I cried: "Lord, I believe that Thou as Jehovah Yeshua hast made the atonement for me. I believe that Jehovah Yeshua died for me! I believe Thou hast made provision for me! I believe Thou hast the ability and power! From henceforth I will publicly confess Yeshua as my Saviour and Lord!"
On March 30, I904, I publicly confessed Christ in the Central Baptist Church and having been licensed to preach, doors readily opened to me. I was persuaded to enter Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, from which I graduated after a year of study. Mr. Icenbarger, at my request, called a council of Dayton Association of ministers, and 35 Baptist pastors assembled in Central Church questioned me relative to my personal faith and doctrine. My ordination took place that evening, and my first call came from Ada, Ohio, where I served as pastor for five years. From there The New Covenant Mission in Pittsburgh, of which Maurice Ruben was founder and superintendent for many years, called me to be their pastor- evangelist. After two-and-a-half years of this ministry, I was convinced that God was calling me to a wider sphere in preaching the Gospel to both Jew and Gentile, depending upon the Lord for the support of my family. In 1913, we returned to Ada, the little flock over which I had been under-shepherd for five years, being very dear to our hearts.
I started teaching the Bible and God was ever faithful. Were I to write of all the manifestations of His goodness and grace, it would fill a book. Critical operations, publication of my books, supplying all our needs, He never failed to care and provide. In Messiah Jesus I have found my only abiding comfort for every sorrow.
As a Rabbi I had yearned to give the bereaved some hope on which to lean, but how could I give that which I did not possess? I gave sympathy, but in times of heartaching grief and tragedy, sympathy is of little comfort. But to the heartbroken how satisfying and glorious are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die." And again: "Verily, verily I say unto you: He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath (possesses now) everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life."
There is but one eternal life. There is but one source of eternal life; that is Gods Son. What a great and glorious message we, His redeemed ones, are commissioned to deliver.
"I personally regard Him as one of the greatest spiritual teachers the world has ever known." (J.L. Levy, Rabbi)
We Jews honor the Nazarene as our brother in faith, sprung from our loins, nurtured at Israels knee, a teacher of sweet and beautiful ideals, a preacher whose influence has been and still is among the mightiest spiritualizing factors in the world." (Rudolph Grossman, Rabbi)
"Jesus is the most important Jew that has ever lived, to whom the sinner and the outcast age after age, have owed a great debt of gratitude." (Dr. Claude Montefiore, President of the Jewish Religious Union)
"Christ was sent to teach not only Jews, but the whole human race; and therefore it was not enough that his mind should be accommodated to the opinions of the Jews alone, but also to the opinion and fundamental teaching common to the whole human race; in other words, to ideas universal and truth." (Baruch Spinoza, Philosopher)
"Who can compute all that Jesus has meant to humanity? The love He has inspired, the solace He has given, the good He has engendered, the hope and joy He has kindled-all that is unequalled in human history." (H. G. Enelow Rabbi)
"His profound and holy words, and all that is true and heart-appealing in the New Testament, must from now on be heard in our synagogues and taught to our children." (Constantine Brunner, Philosopher)
"Spotless walk, unselfish love for mankind. Thousands of Jews adored Jesus, their teacher and friend." (Dr. J.M. Jost, Historian)
"No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." (Albert Einstein, Scientist)
Of these Messianic claimants, only one, Jesus of Nazareth, so impressed His disciples that He became their Messiah. And He did so after the very crucifixion which should have refuted His claims decisively. But it was not Jesus life which proved beyond question that He was the Messiah, the Christ. It was His resurrection. (Ellis Rivkin, Professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College)
"The pupil of Moses may ask himself whether all the princes of the House of David have done so much for the Jews as that Prince who was crucified. Had it not been for Him, the Jews would have been comparatively unknown or known only as a high Oriental Caste which had lost its country. Has not He made their history the most famous history in the world?" (Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister)
No ethical system or religious catechism, however broad and pure, could equal the efficiency of this great personality, standing, unlike any other, midway between heaven and earth, equally near to God and to man Jesus, the helper of the poor, the friend of the sinner, the brother of every fellow-sufferer, the comforter of every sorrow-laden, the healer of the sick, the up-lifter of the fallen, the lover of man, the redeemer of woman, won the heart of mankind by storm. Jesus, the meekest of men, the most despised of the despised race of the Jews, mounted the worlds throne to be the earths Great King." (Kaufmann Kohler, Rabbi, President of Hebrew Union College)
"Scores of men have believed themselves to be the Messiah and have convinced many of their contemporaries, but those who believed Jesus to be the Messiah have built a great church upon the rock of their belief. He is still the living comrade of countless lives. No Moslem ever sings, "Mohammed, lover of my soul", nor does any Jew say of Moses, the Teacher, "I need thee every hour." (Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof, Rabbi, Scholar and Author)
"I would even go so far as to declare that perhaps no gentile can come to God the Father otherwise than through Jesus Christ The Christian who according to his belief, comes to the Father through Jesus Christ... stands before the same God in whom we Jews believe, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of Moses our teacher, to whom Jesus also said 'Father'." (Hans Joachim Schoeps, Theologian and Scholar of religious history)
I have the suspicion that Jesus was more loyal to the Torah than I am as an Orthodox Jew. (Pinchas E. Lapide, Senior Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University)
"I do not think that many Jews would object if the Messiahwhen he camewas the Jew Jesus." (David Flusser, Professor of Religious History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem)
"Every Jew should be proud of the fact that Jesus is our brother, flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood. We desire to put him back where he belongs." (Dr. Chaim Zhitlowsky, Jewish scholar and author)
What is this? Is it only the Jew who is unable to see and hear? Are the Jews stricken with blindness and deafness as regards Christ, so that to them only he has nothing to say? Is he to be of no importance to us Jews? Understand then what we shall do: We shall bring him back to us. Christ is not dead for us-for us he has not yet lived; and he will not slay us, he will make us live again. His profound and holy words, and all that is true and heart-appealing in the New Testament, must from now on be heard in our synagogues and taught to our children, in order that the wrong we had committed may be made good, the curse turned into a blessing, and that he at last may find us who has always been seeking after us." (Constantine Brunner, Philosopher)
Eight Jewish authors give surprising new answers to an age-old question...
"We shall never get the future straight until we disentangle the past. To disentangle the past means to re-examine the trial of Jesus - myths woven purposely by our leaders around the greatest and most noble personality in history, only that we may not see and recognize the real Jesus. To us, my brethren, in this our day is given the privilege to reclaim the Christ we have lost for so many centuries. Has not the crucified Christ more than fulfilled the highest and noblest of our greatest prophets? Is not he the incarnation of the essence of what the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets taught?" (Israel Zangwill, Novelist)
"I am constantly, amazed at the naivete of our teachers and leaders who are surprised when I tell them that the best of our youth, our intellectuals, become Christians out of conviction ... Our leaders do not believe it. To them a Jew never becomes a Christian unless he wants to better his position. That Christianity has drawn to itself such noble souls as Pascal, Novalis, Kirkegaard, Amiel, Dostoyevsky, Claudel, etc., etc., and that it exercises a most overwhelming influence on the most earnest truth-seekers among us, of that our teachers know nothing." (Max Brod, Author, Poet, Composer)
"The movement for the recognition of Christ by the Jews is not a phantasy arising from (my) brain. In the hearts and minds of many men, ordinary men like myself, traders, men of affairs, the fact that Christ is the only leader who can take us anywhere worth going to is coming to new recognition." (Gustav Lazlo, Author)
"[Jesus] felt within himself the call to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel ... He, by word and example, raised the sinner and the publican, and filled the hearts of those poor, neglected, thoughtless beings with the love of God transforming them into dutiful children of their Heavenly Father. He animated them with his own piety and fervor, and improved their conduct by the hope he gave them of being able to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Heinrich Graetz, Historian)
"No Jewish prophet before Jesus ever searched out the miserable, the sick, the weak, and the down-trodden in order to pour forth love and compassionate service. He went out of his way to redeem the lowly by a touch of human sympathy that is altogether unique in Jewish history!" (Ernest R. Trattner, Author)
"Jesus Christ, to me, is the outstanding personality of all time, of all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything he ever said or did has value for us today, and that is something you can say of no other man, alive or dead... Every act and word of Jesus has value for all of us, wherever we are. He became the Light of the World. Why shouldnt I, a Jew, be proud of that? No other religious leader, either, has ever become so personal a part of people as the Nazarene. When you understand Jesus, you understand that he came to save you, to come into your personality. It isnt just a case of a misty, uncertain relationship between a worshiper and an unseen God; that is abstract: Jesus is personal." (Sholem Asch, Novelist)
"I regard Jesus of Nazareth as a Jew of Jews, one whom all Jewish people are learning to love. His teachings have been an immense service to the world in bringing Israels God to the knowledge of hundreds of millions of mankind ... We are all glad to claim Jesus as one of our people." (Isidore Singer, Ph.D., Managing editor of The Jewish Encyclopaedia)
"Without Jesus and without Paul, the God of Israel would still have been the God of a handful, the God of a petty, obscure and insignificant tribe Let the Jew, despite the centuries of persecution and suffering be thankful that there was a Jesus and a Paul. Let him more fully appreciate that, through the wonderful influence of these heroic characters, the mission of the Jew is being fulfilled, and his teachings are being spread to the remotest nooks and corners of the world by Christianity." (Harris Weinstock, U. S. labour leader and author)
"Christian missionaries prey on weak, vulnerable people" says Rabbi Shmuel Arkush
Can Jewish people really believe in Jesus? According to some, only the weak and inadequate turn to Him.
Below are a few successful, intelligent, highly motivated Jewish people who looked at the evidence for Jesus and came to the conclusion that He is the Messiah of Israel.
Gil Alon - a young Israeli who was searching for Truth.
David Baron - who was in great spiritual darkness until he saw the light.
David Block - described by Patrick Moore as "one of the world's leading astronomers
of the younger school".
Richard Ganz - a brilliant psychoanalyst who saw Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Sarah Geffin - a talented potter who discovered that there was nothing to hold onto in New Age philosophy.
Marie and Sheila Hyams - two successful businesswomen who could not escape Jesus.
Eitan Kashtan - an Israeli soldier.
Joseph Steinberg - who discovered that being Jewish is more than not believing in Jesus.
Stan Telchin- a successful Jewish businessman whose daughter challenged him
to read the Hebrew Scriptures. He did and now Yeshua is his Messiah