“You’re crazy , you’re absolutely out of your mind. You cannot be Jewish and believe in Jesus.” I said. ” Oh Daddy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” she said. “I don’t! –you don’t know what you’re talking about!” I returned. That’s the way it went for 8 or 9 days.
Then she said something that was very significant. ” Daddy, would you do something for me? She said, “Would you read the Bible for yourself?” See she knew that I had never read the Bible. I mean what do you have to do to be Jewish? You just had to be born. Born of a Jewish mother, biblically it was a Jewish father, but Levitically it was a Jewish mother. All you had to do to be Jewish was to be born. Then you go on and if you’re a male you have your brisk and your circumcision and then later on you have your bar mitzvah, but what else do you have to do? This is America, this is not Russia, what do you have to do to be a Jew? What do you have to do to be part of the Jewish people, a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob? You just had to be born.
I’m sitting there shaking my head looking at this kid, but you see, she knows that I’ve never read the tanach. I had 4 really good friends growing up but we never talked about God. We went to the synagogue on the high holidays, we went to the bar mitzvah, we went to the synagogue when our parents took us, but we never talked about God. We talked about Jewish issues. We went on the subway to collect money for the Jewish national fund. We did what a good Jew is supposed to do, but we never talked about God. None of us, to the best of my knowledge, had never read the tanoff, beginning at Genesis and ending at Malachi. Don’t get mad, but I don’t know any Jewish people who have? I don’t think my Grandfather ever did. My Grandfather knew the prayer book, my Grandfather knew the Talmud. My Grandfather, as religious as he was, I don’t think, ever read through the Bible from Genesis to Malachi, nor do I know any other Jewish people who did.
So I’m dealing from complete and absolute ignorance and my daughter is saying,” Daddy, read the Bible for yourself”. What I hear her saying is Daddy, read it for yourself and come get me, cause I’m out on a limb here and you’re sawing that limb off and I’m scared. Come get me.
We took her to the airport that Sunday morning and Sunday night I sat down in the den and for the first time in my life I picked up the New Testament. I’m a very fast study. I got my BA, my MA, part of my PHD. I’m a fast reader, good comprehension, so I thought, I’ll read this thing. I’ll make my notes, I’ll read this thing through in about two or three days. I’ll get all the information I need and prove to this kid that she’s nuts. Jesus could not possibly be our Messiah. He may be their Messiah but He’s not our Messiah. Give me a couple of days and I’ll take care of it.
Sunday night I sat down to read the Gospel of Matthew for the first time. I expected to find a book of hatred against the Jewish people. I mean how else do you explain the anti-Semitism of the last 2000 years. They don’t get if from their mother’s milk, they have to get it from their Bibles. How else could you possibly explain the hatred that continues to flow. I wasn’t prepared for what I read. I found a book written by a Jew for other Jews about the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob and about the Messiah He sent. I wasn’t prepared for that.
I’m building notes on my yellow pad and I came in for a cup of tea about 10:30 that night and Ethel asked,” How is it?”. I said, ” I’ll get there, you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, give me some time, I’ll do it.” Tuesday , the next gospel, Wednesday, the next, and by Friday night I’d finished the Gospel of John. Saturday morning I sit down in my den and I begin to read the Acts. All is well, it’s interesting, until I get to chapter 10. Here’s a story about Peter who’s on this rooftop in Joppa and he has a vision that somebody’s going to come get him to go with him to see somebody. Somebody does come get him and they go to Caesarea and they wind up in this house of this Gentile, Cornelius a Roman Centurion.
Peter is saying to himself, I don’t know why I’m here. I wasn’t expecting this, to come into the presence of a Gentile. I don’t even know if I should come into your house. If you understand the Law, the Torah, you understand that we’re not even suppose to touch Gentiles because who knows what they may have touched. They could be unclean, and if we touched them, we could be unclean. We’re not supposed to eat with them because they don’t eat kosher food. We’re separated . God in His wisdom separated the Jewish people from all of the peoples of the world by His commandment, not by our commandment. So Peter is saying,” Whoa, baby.” But Cornelius is saying,” I know how you feel Peter, but I too had a vision to get you and you would come to be with us, the people in my home and you’re going to tell us about God.” Peter said,” Well if that’s your vision, we’ll go with it.”
He begins to talk about the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Moses, the God of Daniel, and then he begins to speak about the Messiah of Israel. Then an absolutely unbelievable thing begins to happen, the Holy Spirit descends upon Cornelius and all the people in Cornelius’s house. Peter is banging his head and saying “How can this be? It’s our Messiah. The Messiah is for the Jews, He’s not for them. How can this be?” And then in the 11th chapter of the book of Acts, Peter has to go up to the Jerusalem counsel and they give the what for. What are you doing going into the house of the Gentile? What are you doing sharing our Messiah with the Gentiles? Then Peter gave an explanation of what happened.
That’s not what was important to me, because at that time, I closed the Bible and I lit my cigarette and I said,” How could this be? How is it possible that Jesus was only our Messiah, and not for the Gentiles then, and now He’s their Messiah and not for us Jews now. How did that happen?” At that point everything that had to do with Judy went right our the window because I was no longer concerned about disproving the Messiahship of Jesus. Now the Holy Spirit had His hook in my jaw. Now I had to know, not for Judy’s sake, but I had to know for my sake.
And so I began to read and read and read and I would talk to anybody who would talk to me about the time of the Messiah. Books about Him, books of prophecy, I began to read and finally I saw that it was impossible. I went to my office one day and I told my secretary “Look, an emergency’s come up and I don’t know when I’ll be back but I’ll come in to sign checks and stuff but otherwise don’t call me, I’ll call you. OK?” She said,” OK” and she thought I might be gone a week. I thought I might be gone a week, remember, I’m a very fast study but it took a lot longer than a week.
Ultimately, the way my mind works, I had to ask myself, and answer for myself in the privacy of my own skin, 5 questions. The questions were No. 1-Would I believe in God? Because you can be Jewish and not believe in God. You can be Jewish and be an atheist. You can be Jewish and curse God. Would I believe in God or was he a fantasy that the Jewish people had invented. I knew a lot of people who didn’t believe in God who were Jewish but when push came to shove, it was just easier to believe that there is a God who created the universe than to believe the Big Bang Theory. Because how do you get from the Big Bang Theory to Einstein. How do you do that? So if God created the Universe and God chose us as his people, then God equips us. From my decision, I decided I did believe in God. If you get a “no” from the first question there’s no sense in going on the next question. You take one question at a time, if anyone of them is no you can’t go forward, but if it’s yes then you keep going until you fully discuss the subject.
My first question was did I believe in God? Yes. The second question was even harder for me. Did I believe that the Bible, our Bible, the Tanach, was the divinely, inspired, Word of God or was it merely the story of the Jewish People? Do you think that was easy? That was not an easy question to answer. In my book, if you choose to get it, there is much discussion about what I went through before I could answer the question. A lot of experiences that I’d had in my life, a lot of things that I had read in my life that disturbed me and made me extremely uncomfortable on the question of the scriptures. Was this the divinely inspired Word of God? Our God? or was this just a bunch of guys that sat down and wrote a book. What do you believe Telchin? I never thought about it but now I had to think about that. Please read that portion of the book and you’ll get much more of that information.
Than I had to go to the 3rd question well obviously the answer to the 2nd question was yes. You know when we went to Israel for the first time in 1973, it was our 25th wedding anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the state of Israel. And I remember that our guide said that with each shovel put into the ground was found verification of the scriptures. How am I going to throw that truth away? How am going to throw the truth of the scriptures which taught that the ancient waste cities shall be born afresh, that Israel shall be born in a day, that the language shall be restored. I mean there are so many things that the scripture talks about that are being verified. How can they have been written so many years ago and be fulfilled today unless there’s truth here? It’s easier for me to believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God than that 4000 monkeys sat at IBM typewriters and in 6 months they came up with the Bible.
And then came the next question, that was not nearly as charged emotionally. Does our side of the Bible prophecy about a coming Messiah for us? Does it or doesn’t it? Fact. I began to search the scriptures looking to find out whether it did. But you see before I did that I had to find out what a Messiah was. What’s a Messiah? I go looking through all kinds of books and I read some books that talked about a messianic age but when I looked further into the guy who wrote the book, he was completely secular. He didn’t even believe in God. That’s not the opinion I’m looking for. I’m looking for the opinion of a man who believes in God, a Jewish man, who’s a scholar, who’s going to tell me about the Messiah of Israel. That’s what I want to hear about.
I finally came across a book by Joseph Klaasner and He talks about the Messiah as a personal Messiah. He refers the fact that in much Jewish tradition there is a thing about a Messianic age but certainly not on orthodoxy. In orthodoxy they speak about the One who shall come. That One, sent by God, who shall come to deliver His people. He talked about the concept of the Messiah being the crowning jewel, the brilliant jewel in the crown of Israel. I loved that. It sounded great to me. I liked to hear that. It made my heart feel very warm. He’s talking about a personal Messiah that is going to come to the Jewish people.
I’m beginning to study. I’m looking up prophecy after prophecy about a Messiah who will come for us, for us Jews. I don’t know how many prophecies there are? Somebody said there are about 350 prophecies in the old covenant about a coming Messiah. I never counted that many. But let’s say there are fifty, let’s say there are seventy, let’s say there are one hundred and fifty let’s say there are forty. I list forty in my book. I did some research on this and if you want to take one man, one event, in the course of history, taking place at a specific time and a specific place and under certain circumstances where this would be the condition of the mother, this would be the condition of the father. These are the circumstances that would be involved in the birth of this individual. If you want to know the probability of that you can take silver dollars and cover the state of Texas, one foot high and have one of those silver dollars have a big red X on it. That would be the probability of one man fulfilling these prophecies. And I tell you, that got to me.
And of course the next question, if there is prophecy in the old covenant about a coming Messiah, the next question is did anybody ever fulfill those prophecies and does His name begin with J. If you’ve done enough research to come to the conclusion of yes to the first three questions, then you got to go to that fourth. The pressure was unbearable. My wife tells the story about how blurry eyed I looked at that time in my life. My eyes were red from reading. I was putting in 10, 12, 14 hours of reading. I couldn’t stand it.
I had to get away and fortunately I was invited to come to San Francisco. I used to be in insurance and the state planning business. They were having a conference at the million dollar round table in June of 75. I was going to be on a panel with some other guys. I had a wonderful excuse to leave. I remember on the plane probably flying over Denver and I sitting there sipping my Jack Daniels, smoking a cigarette, and reading the book of Revelation. And the stewardess is coming by doing double takes and I don’t care. We get to San Francisco and we have a rehearsal of our panel. Then we all went out for lunch. We asked each other what we did for hobby and I asked this guy what do you do besides this business and he said, “I’m secretary of a Bible school”. We spent the next 2 1/2 hours sharing what happened in my life and what had happened to Judy and how upset I was. We finished the meeting and I head back for Washington and finished the book of Revelation. I have to come to the conclusion that has anybody ever fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah and does his name begin with J. Is his name Jesus? You have to remember that we lived in a golden ghetto and 85% of my clients were Jewish. I was the trustee of the United Jewish Field. I was man of the year for the Hebrew home for the aged. I was on this board, I was on that board, what can I tell you? I told you my mother-in-law was proud.