Israel Orthodox Rabbi Comes to Yeshua
More Who Thought For Themselves
Rabbi Joseph – Israeli Orthodox Rabbi Comes to Yeshua
Following is the story of an Israeli rabbi coming to the Lord. His Israeli accent makes him rather difficult to understand, so a radio interview was not realistic. He was happy to share his story with us, however, and we interviewed him over the telephone. We’ve tried to leave in much of his own expressions in order to preserve the colorful way he speaks. So you’ll be ‘hearing’ his accent as you read. Enjoy the story of Rabbi Joseph.
I was born in Morroco, and came to Israel at 9 years old. As a man I went to Yeshiva (seminary and place of rabbinic study) and became a rabbi. On the Day of Atonement in 1973, a war started at 2:00 pm in Israel. All the Jews were in synagogues. I was the rabbi of a synagogue as well as being in the army for many years. I was called up and had to go. I was sent to the Golan, in a tank, the Captain of a four man crew in the tank. It was very difficult. The Syrians had mines planted everywhere. It was hard to advance. Lots of explosions and people getting killed. Altogether I went through four wars, seeing many terrible things in the army.
One of the tank crew, a Sabra (native born Israeli), said he has to pray to the Lord. I said, “We prayed all day in synagogue. Why do you have to pray now?”. He says, “I have to pray by myself.” He prayed to Jesus: “Messiah, come help us.” I was shocked. “Are you crazy? How can you pray like that?” He was very serious. I didn’t want to receive it. “You are not a Jew. Why did you come to war in Israel? Jesus followers persecuted Jews for thousands of years. So many killed.” This was the man who put the explosion in the tank, the bomb. He loads it. When he did that, each time he sent a bomb he pushed the button and said, “In the name of Yeshua.” We had lot of problems. Many were killed, I saw a hand here, the legs there, the head over there. Terrible.
He had to pray again. He was crying with tears and I said to myself, What is an Israeli, young, 21 years old praying to this Yeshua? When he finished praying, I don’t know, from heaven came a very strong wind and that wind moved all the sand, the earth, and uncovered all the mines. The soldiers – many people, gave thanks that the way was prepared to avoid the mines. We continued on. Fire and explosions everywhere. Big fire of the bombs. Very difficult. You can’t imagine.
Then unfortunately, one time our tank was hit with a shell from Syria. Two were killed of the crew. I was injured. I lost consciousness. They took me to the hospital at Haifa. I was unconscious for 3 weeks, in a coma. My body was in a cast, walking like a robot. I was there for 9 months. There were good doctors there. One day in the hospital in the bed, that same praying young man he came to visit me. I was shocked. I thought he was dead too. But he was not touched at all. How, I don’t understand. He came to me and he said, “I asked about you and the army told me where you were.” He looked at me in the cast and began to cry and couldn’t stop. He cried with me. His name was Raphael. He visited me for 2-3 hours. Then he came a week later. The next time, he left a Brit Hadashah (New Covenant) in Hebrew and told me, “Remember I was praying in the name of Yeshua? That faith saved you.” He wanted to see me so I would know he was right and he was saved because he prayed in Yeshua’s name.
A yeshiva rabbi came in to visit me in the hospital, bringing me kosher food. He’s a rabbi. I can’t let him see the book. All my life I’m studying Torah in Yeshiva. Now a New Covenant is on my night table. I was afraid to read it. So I kept it under the mattress, and when I was alone at night I would read it. My mind, my spirit couldn’t keep me from reading it. But I was afraid that anyone visiting would see it. Or the workers would see it, the nurses or doctor giving me medication. So I stopped reading the book. When I went back home I left it there under the mattress. Never read it again.
Eventually I got married and started having babies. Now I’m 62, then I was 25. In 1986, 13 years later, I came to Tel Aviv and was walking in the bus station. And suddenly somebody came to me from behind, and touched me. I turned around. He yanked me and kissed me. Raphael! Now a man. I cried. “Ma shlomcha?” (How are you?) Each of them had 6 children then. I told him, “Please, I’m living near the Lebanon border, (In the last war this home was destroyed by Katusha rockets. He had no money to fix it.) Come and do Shabbat with us. Bring the children; we have a big house.” He came. We had a good Shabbat. We were singing and were happy. He said nothing about Yeshua. I thought he forgot about Yeshua. The next day he said, “I want to talk to you about you and me. We have a family near you from England and they believe in Yeshua. We have to go to see them.” I had seen them in the street but never knew they were believers. I thought, it’s only one block away. It’s Shabbat evening. Because of all we were together in the army I wanted to make him a pleasure. What I’m going to lose? I went.
The family they received us well and there were other people, and someone talking in English about Yeshua. I didn’t understand anything. Someone was translating. Then I saw the situation. — prophesying from the Bible. I knew the Bible by heart. We were there till midnight. I read all the references. When I came home I started to look up the references in the Tenach (Old Testament). They gave me a book, Yeshua and the Talmud. I came to the Talmud Sanhedrin section. By myself I said, who knows, maybe they’re right. He’s a Jew, Messiah? Well, Yeshua means savior.
I came home. Nobody knows but it’s like something pushing me,. My heart was moving. It’s like I’m sitting outside and inside I’m jumping in my spirit. Raphael the next day is gone and the English family is calling me to come to visit them. I tried to go so no one would see me. I would lose everything if people knew. I have a family, a house. I start to study. And said, you know what, maybe they’re right. The situation was, I start to come to the English family. Now they took me once a week in the night. Many were coming from Haifa and from everywhere to hear the man speak. Someone translated for him. He spoke from his heart. He said something that touched me. He was seeing something. I was going like 5-6 times each week.
In the evening I used to go to the Kotel Yeshiva (where rabbis study, near the Wall) and also was teaching there. No longer am I going to Yeshiva. It’s a big Yeshiva. One time, 2-3 months go by, someone came to my home and asked my wife where he is, he’s not coming to Yeshiva. She thought, Of course he’s going to Yeshiva. So when I came home she confronted me. So I told her the truth. I tried to take her with me. But her father’s a rabbi from Morocco too. She came to Israel at 7 years old. She didn’t want to know nothing about it. She said, “My family would never come here to our home if they heard that.” She said she couldn’t be with me anymore or sleep with me. The situation was not good. We have six children. The picture would be very dark. Very difficult decisions had to be made.
I thought, if Yeshua is really there, He will help me. If He’s really there, He will fix the situation. I started praying. I was worried. It’s a big problem. Two years we were separated but in the same house in separate bedrooms. Between her parents and my position in the Yeshiva, it was not easy. The chief rabbi and me knew each other for many years. We went to the rabbi for a divorce. She said, “Leave me and go.” If I be divorced I can’t be in my town. I have six children. I can’t leave them. During that two years, the first year, there were a lot of problems. Then my children heard in the school that somebody from the Yeshiva knew where I was going. The secret was out. The family could not help us. I left my job as the rabbi. There wasn’t any more work in this city for me. The word was out: The rabbi became a goy.
Then I came to the truth, because I had to make decision. The army wasn’t any help. I was also sick. I saw the truth, only Yeshua ha Mashiah is coming to save me. He is the savior. He will save me. Now what happen? I start to pray, one week, sitting all the time reading the Psalms, the New Covenant, I cried to the Lord to see if He’s there, “God if you’re there, like you came to Abraham, Yeshua come to save me from the situation with my wife and children.”
The same week, Thursday, we received a letter to come to the rabbinate and get the divorce. We had to come to Haifa next Sunday. That Shabbat was a terrible day. I prayed to the Lord all day Friday. It was even like that still keeping Shabbat. I said, “God, please, my beautiful wife and children, don’t destroy my family. If you are there, come and if you can, come to my wife.” Friday my wife was in the kitchen cooking and our home is near the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a big window you can see the sea. My wife at 3-4 in the afternoon she stopped everything and went to her room and called my daughter, my oldest. She came with her husband. She saw my wife was very sad, crying. She thought it’s because of the divorce. They took her to their home.
It’s Friday and they took her and they’re gone. Saturday morning she’s back. When I saw her I thought maybe God did something. In the evening. I went to the balcony of the house. I have been sleeping on the sofa, near the air from the sea. But it was like after Shabbat, like 7-8 pm my wife comes to me and sits near me, hugging me and kissing me. I didn’t understand. What happened? She told me, “I want to talk with you. Let’s go near the sea and walk near the water.” She starts to cry. She said I’ll tell you the story. Friday when she received the letter she went by herself downstairs into the sea. No one was there. By herself she’s crying and crying. She said how can I divorce the father of six children? When she went to cook on Friday at 3:00 pm she turned her face toward the sea and saw a man standing on the water with long brown hair and she thought she was dreaming. This upset her. So she called my daughter to come get her. “Then at 5 am” she said, “I saw a vision. The same man came to me and called me by my name and said, ‘Don’t divorce your husband because your husband is on the right way.'” She cried. I cried too. Now we are together believing in Yeshua. Soon all six children came to believe in Him too.
The road was not always easy for Joseph and his family. Hardships faced them including losing their house to Katusha rockets. But God has always provided for them. His faithfulness is everlasting.