Monday, August 29, 2011

Weighing In On the Glenn Beck Debate

Glenn Beck is a Christian. Glenn Beck supports Israel. Is Glenn Beck good for the Jews? Is Glenn Beck bad for the Jews? The debate has been ongoing since Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally took place in Jerusalem last week.

So was Beck’s rally good or bad for the Jews? I’ve read caustic words by some Jews about the immense threat Beck is to the souls of Jews. And part of me thinks, “Geez, beggars can’t be choosers. Israel is sorely in need of people who support her. So let Beck do his thing!”

The other side of me pauses to ponder. Beck is a huge fan of the Jews . . . as he sees them. Would he remain a fan, an avid supporter of the Jews, if he saw them for who they really are?

In the book, “Once Upon a Shtetl,” Chaim Shapiro sites a story about the man who was assigned to be Adolf Eichmann’s chaplain. Shapiro states, “When the State of Israel captured Eichmann, a leading Nazi murderer, the Israeli government assigned the Reverend William Hall, a Canadian missionary living in Jerusalem, to serve as his chaplain. Hall later told the press that had this murderer of Jewish men, women, and children accepted his “Savior” before he was executed, he would have immediately entered the gates of paradise. Hall was then asked, ‘And what of the souls of his six million Jewish victims?’ Hall replied that they would certainly not have entered paradise, for they had not accepted the Church’s ‘salvation.’”

During Beck’s pre-rally event held for 3,000 mostly American-Christians at the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea, Beck told the audience to, “ . . .not only love Israel, but love the Jewish people as they are."

What does he mean “as they are.” Does he see them in the same boat as Reverend William Hall did? It seems obvious that Beck sees the Jews as G-d’s chosen people. But if Beck is like the majority of Christians, then he also believes that the Jews are blind. Blind to G-d’s ultimate plan of “salvation.” Hence, loving a Jew “as they are” would translate in most Christians’ minds as “loving the Jews despite the fact that they are blind and condemned to hell unless they accept Jesus as their Savior.”

I think Beck is a good cheerleader. It’s obvious that he rallied support for Israel and the Jews. But frankly, Israel and the entire world are past the point of needing emotional arousal and boosts of enthusiasm from a spiritual pep-rally. Israel needs one message and one message only. Return to Hashem and to His Torah.

Moses’ parting words to the Jews made it pretty clear what would happen if the Jews lived their lives according to G-d’s directions in the Torah. They would live prosperously and peacefully in the land of Israel. And when the Jews do that, prosperity and peace will spill over into the rest of the world.

Perhaps one small hitch in the Torah’s instructions to the Jews, that might bother Beck and other Christians, is what will eventually happen in the land of Israel. There won’t be any places of idolatry left. Meaning, ahem, dare I say it? There won’t be any churches left standing in Israel. That being the case, will Beck, along with other Christians, still be a big fan and avid supporter of the Jews? I sincerely hope so.

I hope that Beck and millions of other Christians will merit taking part in the prophecy foreseen by Zechariah so long ago. “Thus said Hashem, Master of Legions: In those days it will happen that ten men, of all the different languages of the nations, will take hold, they will take hold of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you!”

I have heard Christians try to explain away this verse in various ways. I even heard a well-known Christian TV personality say that Zechariah didn’t have a word for “Christian” yet, so that’s why he went ahead and used the word “Jew.” Sigh. Obviously, it is far beyond the comprehension of most Christians to think or believe that the entire world will eventually look to the Jews to find out Who G-d really is.

Perhaps Beck is already to the point of seeing the Jews as the standard-bearers of Who G-d is and I have misunderstood what he meant by “loving the Jews as they are.” But I’m afraid he represents what most Christians believe about the Jews. In their minds they condescendingly pat the Jews on the head and think to themselves how sad it is that G-d’s chosen people are still so blind. Yet, according to Zechariah, the pat will soon turn into a grasp. A grasp for the knowledge that the Jews have carried with them for thousands of years. That Hashem is the only G-d and that Torah is the only “doctrine” of truth that will be taught to the entire world from Jerusalem.

If any courage needs to be restored, it is the courage for Christians to accept the words of Moses, Zechariah, and the other Prophets of Israel. And among the Jews, courage needs to be restored to implement the instructions left to them from Moses and the other Prophets of Israel. G-d's words to Joshua still ring true today. Beck got the first part of the message right. But the second part is the most important: "Be very strong and courageous, to observe, to do, according to the entire Torah that Moses my servant commanded you; do not deviate from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may succeed wherever you will go."