This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Da' Mah LeHaShiv LeApikoros" (Eng: "Know what to respond to [one who attempts to challenge your faith]") ~ Pirqei Avoth

I was posting a comment on my friend Shu's blog, and I began telling a story, which I realized I should post on my own blog. I was saying that in general, poor, crack-addicted, wannabe missionary types tend to have a fairly dark complexion, if you catch my drift, but that I once had to fend off a very WASPy wannabe missionary on a flight to Edmonton. Here is the story.

I had basically debunked his entire belief system and for some reason he kept coming back for more. I should have started earlier, I think, but I spent the first hour or so trying not to get into a fight with the guy so I just tried to get him to agree to disagree. When it became clear that he would not be satisfied just to disagree, I went on the offensive, so that I would not appear to be defensive, as I thought that looking defensive might make him feel superior. By the time we landed he was wishing he had agreed to disagree when he had the chance. He avoided me while we were getting our luggage, staying on the other side of the conveyor belt. I think it was because he had two or three little WASP children, with almost platinum blond hair and ice blue eyes, all under the age of 8 or 9, and he (or more likely his wife, who was also there - and also very very WASPy) probably didn't want the evil Jew to make them question his idolotrous faith.

I'm sorry if anyone out there thinks that this was wrong of me, by the way, but frankly the guy started it (actually I'm not sorry, because he had started it) - he began the entire conversation by whipping out a King James Bible and trying to prove to me that Yushkie was the Messiah, because I was learning Gemara in the seat in front of his. I had sat down in my seat, minding my own business, and he sat in his seat behind me. I got settled and pulled out my Gemara, and he asked if I was studying Talmud. I said yes, and then he whipped out the King James.

I think I tried hard enough not to make him feel like his religion was a sham, but when we would not let up after an hour, I felt it was appropriate to finally respond politely but with strong confidence. I knew what I was talking about and he did too, to an extent. He knew which passages to quote and which ones to avoid, and which partial verses to cite out of context, and even used the famous mistranslated verse from Isaiah, and I took advantage of every hole in his argument. He failed, thank G-d, and I am also thankful that he had probably never met a Jew before and will probably never meet one again, which means that he will never, I hope and pray, have the opportunity to try his skills on a weaker minded Jew.

I think that my story (and Shauli's too) shows that we are constantly under attack, for one reason or another, from one segment of the world's population or another, and we have to be ever vigilant and educated. We need to stay one step ahead, which is really not as difficult as it might seem. If we know the fundamentals of our religion, we can easily counterpoint any attack. Baruch HaShem.


Blogger DonutsMom said...

Well, I am just glad the guy in Shu's story wasn't there to bomb us. :)
And way to go Seth, way to tell the Missionary man. :)

4:03 PM

Blogger Just Shu said...

When ever I hear you're about to tell a story, I always hope it has to do with 7-11 :)

7:00 PM

Blogger Just Shu said...

ps. this one is good also

7:01 PM

Blogger 2R said...

Way to go SethJ, where'd you find all the answers?
Don't you know rule number one is not to talk to them, they're never going to agree...

5:08 PM

Blogger Koppie said...

Way to go Seth!!
Where I come from, most Jews (even those who went to Sunday School) have no idea how to defend themselves against a missionary and they usually end up taking the line "well, I believe something else and I'm going to stick to it." That's commendable, but I wish every Jew was as knowledgeable as you (at least when it comes to defending their own faith).

About six weeks ago I had some Jehovah's Witness missionaries come to my door, I invited them in and sat in the kitchen and talked to them for half an hour (while Yelena hid in the bedroom). Predictably, they started in with Isiah and I immediately countered by telling them how Christian translations are incorrect because they use the Septuagint, etc. etc. I didn't go so far as to show them why their faith was invalid, or how the very name of their religion is based on nothing more than an intentional mis-pronounciation.
I feel that with great power comes great responsibility. You and I (and probably some of your other readers) know why Christianity does not logically lead off of Judaism, and that if you start with the foundation (the Old Testament) it does not allow for Jesus being the messiah. But people who have a black belt in karate do not pick fights, and if someone tries to pick a fight with them they try to avoid it if possible, because they don't feel it's their job to permenantly damage the other person. Similarly, I am usually hesitant to go all the way and show the Christian why their faith is really invalid. Granted that Christianity has been responsible for some horrible things in this world (such as the Crusades), but I think Christianity has also been responsible for some very good things. I think any mainstream religion has the potential to you a better person, and I try to encourage everyone to embrace something, even if it is not the same faith as me. From that standpoint, I'd rather not destroy someone's Christian faith if I don't have to.

That being said, I bow to your victory, Seth-sensei! < gong >

12:59 PM


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