A close friend had mentioned a young girl JJ who was in need of some answers about her Judaism. After reading her sentiments, I fear there are many others who have had similar incidents, and would also benefit from the response below.
Taking the elevator together one day, JJ looked at her Christian friend, and saw she looked sad. JJ asked her why she was upset. The latter said to JJ, “I am sad we won’t be in heaven together. Being Jewish, you are destined to be in hell.” The Christian girl proceeded to cite Biblical passages in support of her claim. JJ had attended a school that was 80% Jewish, but no one - before this Christian friend - made her question her Jewish identity. Later JJ pondered, “What does it mean to be Jewish? Do I end up in hell or not?”
We cannot fully appreciate what disturbing feelings JJ must have experienced. How does a teenage girl deal with such issues?
What is certain is that her schooling did not provide her with a solid foundation in basic, Judaic tenets. Of course, no school can cover every idea during a student’s four-year term, but why do not schools equip Jewish students with a basic knowledge of the flaws of all other religions, and the knowledge of how to respond? Are they playing politics? Are there non-Jewish secular studies teachers who might be offended at such classes? What must win out, politics, or preventing our children from leaving Judaism? The answer is obvious to me, but evidently, those running our Jewish schools have not yet come to terms with this issue.
What might be some initial words to help JJ and others appreciate the basics of her Jewish identity, and arrive at solid answers? We cannot answer every specific question, but perhaps some general rules can help. To JJ and others I say, “Be mindful, and be firm, you are seeking ‘proven truths’, and you must not relent from questioning anybody until they have proven their point beyond any doubt, or until you have shown their error. You need not be a genius to see through the false religions, and I don’t suggest you initiate a debate. But if approached by other religionists, the following are some rules of argumentation will help to expose falsehoods”:
Request Rationale – When you hear other religious
views, request those speaking to validate their statements with clear reason.
When they cannot, their own words will testify to their foolish beliefs. Other
religions will attempt to claim either, 1) events that took place, or 2) that a
certain belief is a good belief. With no or few ‘witnesses’ in their written
stories, an event is not proven to have occurred. So we don’t accept it. And
when they try to suggest a belief is a good, ask them, “how is this good for
me”. When they suggest an answer, ask them for proof. Here’s an example:
Christian: You should be Christian.
Christian: It is better for you.
Christian: Jesus will forgive your sins.
You: How will he do this, he is dead? I thought G-d is the one who forgives?
Christian: Just believe.
You: Why should I believe this and not Judaism?
Christian: Because you will burn in hell.
You: So is it because its better, or to avoid burning?
You: Prove it.
Christian: I cannot prove it - you just have to believe. Faith is better than proof.
You: Do you ask your boss for proof that he will pay you, or would you work with no contract?
Christian: I’d want a contract, maybe he will stiff me, and I’ll work all week and have no proof he owes me money.
You: But your religion is less important?
You: But you don’t seek proof for your religion. You contradicted your very principle.
Christian: You’re twisting my words.
You: But you said belief is better, and then you said it isn’t, it seems you are twisting your own words. And what if want to believe in Judaism? Why is that “belief” worse than belief in Jesus? Without an explanation, you are without a reason for being Christian. You should really deny Jesus, G-d will forgive your sins! He was a false prophet, and your own Bible says a false prophet deserves death.
At this point, the Christian has a problem. He uses conflicting rules. A great tool for learning how to argue is to study Talmud. Regardless of your level of religiosity, you must learn to think clearly, and Talmud will help you. Ask your school to create a class, or find a teacher.
Lesson #1: Stay focused on demanding rationale; don’t let the conversation move off of this.
Reason Rules – If some idea you hear does not conform
to reason, it is false. Reason Rules! Make sure you see clearly where they are
following some notion without proof. When you understand they have no proof,
you will not be impressed.
Lesson #2: When you don’t hear a rational explanation for believing in the dead Jesus, and you won’t, dismiss all they say. We don’t live based on blind faith, that’s foolish.
Fact Focusing – As your conversation proceeds, you must
focus on the facts, and do not forget what the other party said 5 minutes ago.
You will find, many times, that to defend themselves, they will change their
mind. You must show them they have done so if you are to expose their error. In
such a manner, the other person will refute himself, as he abandoned his first
line of reasoning. This is proof that his first argument failed. Continue in
this fashion as you discuss further.
Lesson #3: Make the Christian stick to a given point until he has no way to prove himself. Don’t let him or her move to another point. Forcing them to remain on one subject, and demanding reason for their arguments will expose their irrational positions.
Argue the Abstract- A Rabbi offered a good suggestion:
don’t debate verses. Christians and others can quote very well. What you should
debate are his principles, such as faith, man-god, reward and punishment, and
Trinity. Whenever he tries to steer you into a particular, abstract the premise
he is working on and refute it, and in this manner he will eventually come to
realize that the strategy of citing verses
will not bear fruit.
Lesson #4: Don’t allow them to get you confused over numerous verses, make them state a philosophical position, and then force them to show proof. They cannot, and you will see their positions are nonsense.
Fearing Frowns – One issue that might get your gut, is
that maybe you will upset another person when you ask so many times that they
prove themselves. They will frown at your determination, and maybe even get
angry, but this must not shake your determination. In fact, it should assure
you that you are following a good line of questioning: as they have no rationale
for their position, they revert to anger. Anger is a sign of defeat. If you
desire truth, you must stand firm.
Lesson #5: Don’t allow your emotions to interfere.
Blind Belief - Do not accept the opinion, “you just
have to believe”. Since you desire truth, and belief does not prove something
as true, belief is not an acceptable argument in their defense. This alone will
disarm most of their statements. Your viewpoint should be that of consistency:
“All else in the world follows provable and rational laws, such as math,
science, and justice. Religion, which is even more important, should certainly
be based on what makes sense.” If they say that blind faith is better, ask them
to ‘prove it’. If they attempt to give you a reason, then you say, “Aha, you
are trying to use REASON, to prove faith. You therefore agree that reason IS
Lesson #6: Whenever you hear them say “believe”, repeat yourself: “I don’t believe anything. The world operates by reason. Prove it - or do not waste my time.”
Popular isn’t Proof – Although other religions have
attracted more numbers than Judaism, do not be misled into thinking, “if so
many follow it, it must be true.” Numbers of followers do not make their
religion any truer. If one million people say it is good to kill innocent
people, is their view any more correct, than if only one person said it?
Numbers prove nothing other than how emotionally attractive a belief is.
Christianity allows you to feel guilt free, that Jesus died for your sins. This
is a reason for its popularity. But such a position is nonsense, as it is not
based on proof or reason, and it also goes against G-d’s Torah. “Each man in
his OWN sin will die.” To say Jesus died for other people is a direct
contradiction to G-d’s very words. It is also simply unjust to kill John, if
Jack was the evil person! Reason will steer you towards what is true.
Lesson #7: Mass believers prove nothing.
Written Words – Humpty Dumpty. That’s all you need to
remember for this one. What I mean is that just because you find a belief, or a
religion in print, this has no bearing on its truth. Humpty Dumpty is also
found in books. If something is true, it does not matter if it is written or
not. I can be in traffic today, and that’s true, even though it’s not written.
When I write it, it doesn’t make it truer. And if I was not in traffic, and I
write that I was, again, writing does not change what actually happened. Don’t
be impressed with religious books, ideas, or beliefs. Follow reason.
Lesson #8: Written words can also be lies.
Age & Authenticity – Many people feel if they find
something really old, and there are inscriptions on it, then the words are
true. But you must ask yourself, “Aren’t fictional stories and fables like the
Greek gods all false?” So you see, age does not make a story authentic and
true. Again, use your right to question and force others to prove their
positions. You will see that they cannot. And when they fail to prove their
point, that’s it. You need not prove anything. If they failed to prove their
position, then you don’t have to accept it. And don’t feel obligated to prove
your position. Your goal was to show them as false, and you did. Don’t get
suckered into their arguments like, “Well, I may be wrong but how do YOU prove
YOUR position?” Just because you can’t right now, this does not make them
right. They do this often as a method to defend their crushed egos, so be on
Lesson #9: Just as there are old idols, and they are false, so too there are very old histories and books. Age cannot prove a point as true.
Rehearse Refutations – When you see you have lodged a
question against another religious belief, and they cannot respond, make note
of your new knowledge. You will help others with your reasoning. The Talmud
goes so far to teach that we must know responses to other religions, and not
fumble in our responses. Rashi teaches that we are to learn the other religions
to teach our children what is false.
Lesson #10: Commit your newly gained knowledge to memory, and teach others the truth of Judaism, and that all other religions are not based on any proof or true ideas.
When is something “proven”? Let us first itemize what is subject to proof: there are 1) events, and there are 2) ideas. That is, there are physical things and occurrences, and there are non-physical things. All else falls under one of these headings. How may we prove that an event truly took place? Witnesses of easily comprehendible phenomenon prove an event. Sinai included millions witnessing a mountain ablaze. People know what mountain is and they know what fire is. And if the story describes masses at such an event, it must have happened. How else could the story reach us today as truth? Sinai contained both - masses, and comprehendible miracles. Another example of provable events would be the existence of Caesar. Although no one alive today ever met him, we know that stories about him could not have been accepted the world over, had they never existed.
But how do we prove if a belief is true or false, or if a religious belief is true? Observing the natural world and the universe can help you arrive at many truths, like the idea that there is a Creator: we realize that something cannot create itself, so something else (G-d) must be responsible for its existence. With such reasoning, we may arrive at many truths. Abraham is the prime example of how even someone steeped in idolatry, when examining the universe, can arrive at truths about G-d. Asking questions, and discussing issues with learned people is essential to our growth. But since G-d gave us the Torah, as proven by His miraculous Revelation at Sinai, we have a great tool, provided by the Creator. As all truth is based on what He did, and as He created everything, we have an exact science that determines truths for us – it is the Torah. With Torah, we also learn what is considered “evil” and “good”. Without learning from the Creator of life whether murder is an evil, we really don’t know when we should or shouldn’t kill. It is only through our realization that a Creator made life, that we can say what is truly right, and what is wrong. Without studying the Torah, we are almost assured a distorted view of the correct morality. With the Torah, so many truths are revealed to us, that we could never come to on our own. Torah study is indispensable if we are to know for certain; is there a hell, is there a heaven? Are the Christians right, or are we? How do I know there is a G-d? Why do I need to follow so many laws? Commence your studies immediately.
What must happen is that Jewish schools start teaching the flaws of the other major religions, while teaching the rationale of Judaism, and the fundamental tenets of our G-d-given law. There are so many essential resources readily available, that it is a crime if other considerations prevent such study and teaching. If such classes are not implemented, by what means do you think Jewish students will remain Jewish? Many Jews already convert and intermarry...for no excusable reason. It is worth the scorn of secular studies teachers and others, to make such classes mandatory. We must teach our children and students the basic flaws in Jews for Jesus, Christian proselytizers, idolatrous principles, and all other fallacy. This is not an option.
Some Alarming Statistics
o Orthodox: 3%
o Conservative: 37%
o Reform: 53%
o Unaffiliated: 72%
· 52 percent of Jews do NOT believe in God.
· Over the past decade there has been an alarming increase in the influence of evangelical Christianity. This growth has been accompanied by an astonishing increase in Christian missionary activities, which target Jews for conversion.
· The annual budget for one such missionary group, "Jews for Jesus," is over $12 million.
· Well over 1,000 missionary groups, which actively work to convert Jews worldwide, spend over $250 million each year on their efforts. They sponsor hundreds of full-time missionaries, as well as television and radio programs, and have created over 400 "Messianic synagogues," which strive to appear Jewish but are, in fact, Christian.
· Most authorities say that there are over 275,000 Jewish converts to "Hebrew Christianity" worldwide.
Everyone, in some manner, is connected to a school, a student, or a child. Standing by idly will guarantee more Jews leaving Judaism. Do something. Demand that your schools initiate classes on this vital issue. Failure to address this issue is both foolish and deadly. There are many articles on our site that you may use for this important purpose. You need not contact us for permission; use the “Search” feature on www.Mesora.org to locate articles by keywords. If you fail to find an article addressing any topic in specific, please write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will endeavor to assist you.
Do not think that we have overly dramatized this concern. For how many of you - parents and teachers reading right now - could successfully disprove a Christian who approaches you? Could you prove to him exactly why Christianity is false and an evil, and how Judaism is the only correct religion and G-d’s only word to man? Well, if your honest answer is “no”, then consider this: your child is less knowledgeable than you, and has less confidence. He or she is most certainly subject to the emotionally, compelling arguments of professional, Christian proselytizers, or even everyday Christians they will invariably meet in life. And the numbers of Christians proves just how attractive their religion is.
And not only in confrontation with Christians is there a danger. The greater danger is when young Jewish adults ponder their religion on their own. Teenagers are at the most delicate and instable period of human life, where social approval and self-image are their primary concerns. Combine this with questions that will arise in their heads about why Judaism is better than other religions, and you have a volatile mixture. The only way to insure your child’s unwavering commitment to Judaism is to teach them yourself, or make certain your schools equip them with solid answers. There is something you can do, right now. Don’t allow your child to be next.