Recently I was waiting for the bus to Jerusalem when two young men asked me for directions to a synagogue. I gladly told them the way. One replied, “We want to pray, but we have already been to that synagogue, and it is locked up tight.”
I asked, “If every synagogue were locked, would you not pray?”
They looked at me strangely. Then one asked, “How can you pray without a minyan?” A minyan is the quorum of 10 men required to conduct a Jewish worship service.
I replied, “God is not looking to see if you pray in a synagogue. He looks at your heart. If you pray to Him from your heart, your prayer will be heard in heaven.”
God is not looking to see if you pray in a synagogue. He looks at your heart. If you pray to Him from your heart, your prayer will be heard in heaven.
The young man asked, “How can you pray without a tallit and without tefillin?” A tallit is a prayer shawl, and tefillin are phylacteries.
I replied, “Those things are not important. The Lord wants our hearts. When we give God our hearts, we give Him our very lives”
As we were talking, more people joined the conversation. Some of the men belong to the synagogue that was locked; and, because they know me, one asked, “Why are you always against everything we do? Who are you to say our traditions are not true? Why are you trying to brainwash these young men?”
I told them my duty is to bring them closer to God—not according to the old traditions but according to what the Holy Scriptures say in Zechariah 1:3: “‘Return to Me,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will return to you.”’
“Zechariah,” I said, “also refers to your old traditions”:
“Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the LORD (v. 4).
It was like a small miracle to be able to give them facts from the Bible. It was also a small miracle the bus was late, giving me more time to share the truth with them.
All were surprised. This was the first time most of them had seen that the Jewish prophets spoke about the New Covenant.Eventually the two young men said they wanted to repent, and they asked me to take them to the rabbi. I said, “If you really want to repent, you do not need a rabbi. Go before the Lord and open your hearts before Him. Then you will know you are saved from your sins, and you will not have to wear the clothes the ultra-Orthodox wear, thinking they are pleasing God with them. God is pleased when you come before Him and say, ‘Lord, save me!’ You can say, just as King David did in Psalm 25:1–2, ‘To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed.’”
I read the remainder of Psalm 25, along with other passages, including Jeremiah 31:33: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
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I then showed them some Old Testament passages that clearly speak of the Lord Jesus.
I thank God He has given me many opportunities to meet with young men like these and tell them how they can truly repent by putting their faith and trust in the Messiah.
—The Friends of Israel Archives, 1997
Zvi Kalisher (1928–2014) was known for his unswerving faithfulness to the Lord and his bold witness in Jerusalem. He was with The Friends of Israel for more than 55 years.