Rabbi Responds to Jehovah's Witnesses

by DevonMcBride 33 Replies latest jw friends

  • DevonMcBride

    The below message was e-mailed to a friend of mine who then sent it to me.


    On the subject of Jehovah's witnesses: They don't visit us anymore, They used to come by regularly. The last time they came by might explain why they haven't returned.Two women appeared on our doorstep and, seeing that I had four children ranging in age from 2 to 11, one asked: "Do you like to study the Bible?""Yes," I replied politely."Do you like to study the bible with your children?" she inquired further."Yes, I do," I replied."Would you be willing to study the Bible with us?" she asked.Oh, do you study Bible?" I asked innocently and then continued, "Where did you learn Hebrew?""Oh, I don't know any Hebrew," she protested, "I use a translation.""Do you believe that God wrote the Bible?" I asked."Yes! Of course God wrote the Bible, every word of it, that it why it is so important to study it," she affirmed."Then I am amazed that you would use a translation," I offered, continuing, "If the Bible is God's word, every bit of it, then it seems to me that you should read it as God wrote it. A translation is someone's interpretation, not God's word. If you REALLY believe God wrote the Bible, word for word, then it is unfathomable to me that you would trust a translation written by a mere human being." She sputtered an answer about her translation being authoritative, but I pressed my point.Then she protested, "Hebrew is so difficult to learn. I couldn't possibly do that."At this point I turned to my then five-year-old daughter, Naomi, and said, "Sweetheart, run and get a chumash from Ema's shelf."Little Naomi trotted off to fulfill my request. I noticed that my older children, 8-year-old Danny and 11-year-old Rachel, were watching and listening in rapt attention, smiles broadly pasted on their faces; they knew precisely what their mother was up to.Naomi returned with the Beraishit (Genesis) volume of a rabbi's Bible; it contains the Hebrew text and traditional commentaries, but no English translation. I opened the book to the first chapter of Genesis and asked Naomi to read a few verses. She cheerfully did so.Then I turned to our "visitors" and said: "If a five-year-old can learn Hebrew and read God's word, who are you to canvas the neighborhood claiming you speak for God on the topic of the Bible? If you want to study the Bible in THIS house, you'll have to study it as God wrote it."The missionaries bid us goodbye and haven't visited since.Now, to be honest, I have no objection to a good translation and use them all the time in teaching. (I especially commend Everett Fox's translation of the Torah because it captures so much of the flavor and nuance of theHebrew.) However, I am deeply offended by missionaries because their fundamental premise is that my religious tradition is inadequate and theirs is innately superior. I find that an inexcusably intolerant attitude.My children still enjoy telling the story of the last time the missionaries stopped by our house.Shalom and a sweet Pesach to all,

    Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

  • gitasatsangha

    I like Beowolf, but I am not about to go learn Anglo-Saxon to get a better understanding of it. The rabbi's arguement seems a bit weak. Then again she might view the bible as infallible, wheras I don't.

  • joannadandy

    Thanks for posting that Devon...very interesting insight I had never thought of JW's from a Jewish perspective...I found this especially interesting...

    I am deeply offended by missionaries because their fundamental premise is that my religious tradition is inadequate and theirs is innately superior. I find that an inexcusably intolerant attitude.

    I think it's true that a lot of christians do look down their noses at the Jewish faith, which always baffled me considering it is all Jewish history that they teach their children with the famous Bible characters. It also baffles me how most of them say that the Jewish people, just took a turn for the worse in their failure to recognize Christ, meanwhile to say nothing of the fact that Christianity is as factioned and varied as Judiasim.

    I think that's my whole displeasure with all religions tho...everyone is convinced they are the expert. Where does humility figure into the grand scheme of things?

    (umm...my only side-point to this, did the five year old actually know what she was reading? I mean just because you can read the words doesn't mean you can comprehend what you're reading.)

  • asleif_dufansdottir


    I used to be a secretary for a Chassidic synagogue. Sure gives a person a new perspective on the Bible and Christianity! Love how she pointed out the arrogance of (any) Christian missionaries. Wish more people would do stuff like that.

  • DJ

    I think that the lady rabbi was rude. I don't like the dubbies either but she was not polite at all. As far as I read, the jw's didn't say anything arrogant or superior to her..............yet that is. I also don't agree that speaking Hebrew is the key to a solid understanding. After all, the rabbi ought to know better than to be rude to strangers. She should have clinched them with something that wouldn't make her look like a loon.

  • onacruse

    As hard as it is for adults (especially English-as-a-native-language adults) to learn another language, it pays for itself in spades. Greek and Latin used to be part of the standard curriculum for grade schools! I'm self-taught in Greek, Hebrew and Latin (read ok, speak with effort), and took a couple of terms of German in college. Simply in the process of studying the languages, I learned so much about the cultures, the traditions, the philosophies, the reasons that other people think and act the way they do.

    DevonM, thanks for posting this e-mail. The lesson it contains is almost beyond words.


  • minimus

    That vasn't a rabbi...that vas a voman. .....end of story.

  • gitasatsangha

    lmao minimus. Now go play gin.

  • wasasister
  • wasasister

    minimus, are you saying that women cannot be Rabbis? Because I know several. The Reform movement of Judaism allows women to serve as Rabbis.

Share this