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Parshas Balak (5774)

Missionaries at Walmart

By Rabbi David Zauderer

A funny thing happened to me on my way into Walmart….

I was living in Dunwoody, Georgia (a northern suburb of Atlanta, which is part of the so-called “Bible Belt”) at the time, and I was headed into the local Walmart to purchase a few items. A gray-haired gentleman named Edmund (he had on a name-tag) greeted me at the door. [You know the “greeters” at Walmart …the ones who are paid by the company to make believe they are happy to see you!]

He then said to me, “Here, let me show you something ...” and he proceeded to pull out of his bag a Hebrew/English Artscroll Edition Tehillim (Psalms)!! My eyes immediately lit up as I realized that this Edmund fellow had to be Jewish. After all, who else in Dunwoody but a Jew would even know about Artscroll, an Orthodox-run publishing house based in Brooklyn, NY, the second homeland of our people!

Edmund then asked me, “Do you know Psalm 22? It’s a prophecy”. At that moment – thanks in no small part to the few anti-missionary pamphlets I read way back when - I realized what Edmund was trying to do. He was attempting to missionize Jews and to get them to believe in Jesus while greeting them at Walmart!

I promptly told Edmund, “Oh no, you don’t! I know what you’re trying to do, I’m a Rabbi and it won’t work on me!” He knew he lost this battle so he quickly put away his Artscroll Tehillim and shuffled off to greet the next person coming into to the store.

You see, Psalm 22 is one of those oft-quoted “proofs” used by dishonest Christian missionaries to show that the Torah prophesies about the crucifixion of Jesus.

King David writes there (in verse 17): “For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers have enclosed me; like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet.”

The King James Version of the Bible deliberately mistranslated the Hebrew word ka’ari (כָּאֲרִי) as “pierced,” rather than “like a lion,” thereby drawing the reader to a false conclusion that this Psalm is describing the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Hebrew word כָּאֲרִי does not mean pierced but plainly means “like a lion”, and this is how ka’ari is always translated throughout the Scriptures. See, for example, in this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Balak, where the wicked Bilaam prophesies: “Behold! The [Jewish] people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself – ka’ari – like a lion…” (Numbers 23:24).

The end of Psalm 22:17, therefore, properly reads “like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.” Had King David wished to write the word “pierced,” he would never have used the Hebrew word ka’ari. Instead, he would have written either daqar or ratza, which are common Hebrew words in the Jewish Scriptures.

[FYI, this infamous mistranslation has since been corrected in many more recent Christian translations of the Bible. To learn more about this topic, click on: .To learn more about why Jews don’t believe in Jesus, click on: or]

So what’s the moral of the story? Boycott Walmart? Don’t believe anything you read or hear? I am not exactly sure.

One thing I do know is that the more ignorant we are of our own Bible and religion, the more likely we (and especially our children) will fall prey to the many missionaries out there whose only goal is to get us to accept their Bible and religion.

Knowledge is power, folks. So let’s get ourselves educated … before it’s too late.

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