This month’s excerpts from the yet-to-be published Moishe Rosen biography gives a glimpse into what happened after his wife Ceil came to faith in Jesus…
[Moishe] hoped the rabbi would not think badly of his wife. Ceil is an intelligent person,” he said. “I just need you to give me the intellectual reasons that will convince her she made a mistake.”
Rabbi Bryks welcomed Moishe into his office warmly, and… began to explain how Christians had gotten the Hebrew Scriptures all wrong. “The Christians say our prophets predicted that a virgin would conceive and that Jesus fulfilled that prophesy. But the verse is only talking about an almah, or young woman giving birth. The Hebrew word for ‘virgin’ is betulah.”
This sounded promising, but Moishe wanted to be certain, so he asked, “Is almah ever used to mean ‘virgin’?” To his dismay, the rabbi replied, “Yes. Sometimes.”
Each time the rabbi explained that the Christians misunderstood the Hebrew prophecies, it was the same. There was more than one possible meaning.
Finally Moishe shook his head and said, “Rabbi Bryks, these arguments will not convince Ceil, and frankly, they don’t even convince me. There must be better reasons why we don’t believe.”
The rabbi paused for a moment. Then he said, “Well, think on this. It takes two to tango.”
Moishe wasn’t sure what dancing had to do with it so he simply replied, “Huh?” The rabbi went on to explain that when it came to the virgin birth, it simply was not possible.
Moishe later recalled, “What Rabbi Bryks didn’t know was that in that one statement, he completely undermined the case—not only for Christianity—but for Judaism….” For Moishe, the rabbi’s reasoning created more problems than it solved, because if God could not manage this one miracle, how did he manage to create the world, or part the Red Sea, or do any of the other miraculous things the Bible claimed? And if God couldn’t perform miracles … then the Bible must be wrong. And if the Bible was not true, then being Jewish meant no more or less than being Italian or Greek or African or Mexican and why should it matter whether or not Jews believed in Jesus?
Moishe felt he had been cut adrift. Nevertheless, in a last ditch effort, he started reading atheist writers. He then tried out their arguments on Ceil, but to no avail….
For weeks, Ceil prayed for her husband. She’d pray silently while washing the dishes, tears sometimes mingling with the soapy water. She had given up discussing her new beliefs with Moishe. She felt she had done her best to explain her faith, and did not want to provoke him any further. She didn’t realize that there was a new softness, a new sweetness in her demeanor that continued to speak to him of Jesus, even when her words did not.
As for the tracts that Ceil often left around the house, Moishe recalled, “Some of them were serious, and talked about Messianic prophecy from the Jewish Bible. I could not ridicule our own Scriptures, so I ignored those pamphlets or threw them away. But if I found a pamphlet that I could ridicule, I would read it out loud in a sarcastic tone of voice so that Ceil would know that I was making fun of it.”
Ceil stopped leaving so many pamphlets around the house. But one day she deliberately left a little booklet about heaven lying on a table.
It was a Saturday night when Moishe picked up that little booklet…. Seeing the hyper-literalist interpretation of heaven—where people would enter through pearly gates and actually walk on streets of literal gold—he almost laughed out loud. He thought to himself “Heaven’s not like this at all—uh oh!” The “uh oh” was the shock of realization…. Until that moment, he didn’t have any notion that heaven even existed.
At that point Moishe began to unpack his thinking, and was surprised to find faith. He not only believed in heaven; he believed in the Bible. He believed… exactly what he’d fought so hard to disbelieve! …And, he reminded himself of his mother’s maxim: The man who lies to himself is the biggest liar in the world. He had chosen to look away from Jesus for as long as he could. But once he caught a glimpse, he could not deny what he saw.
Ceil recalled, “That night, Moishe turned to me in bed and said, ‘I believe all this stuff that you believe about Jesus. What do I do now?'”