A GREAT MYSTERY: MESSIAH AND THE CHURCH

Eph 5:30-32; Gen 2:20b-24   This is a great mystery (raz) (see also 1Tim 3:16), but I speak concerning Christ and the Church:  for we are members of His body – of His flesh and of His bones
      –vital union
      –If we grasp the high calling of the marriage relationship, it can transform our whole attitude
        towards our own marriages – towards our wife or our husband.  

1Cor 12:12-14,20,24b-27   For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Messiah.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews of Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact, the body is not one member but many. . .But now indeed are many members, yet one body. . .But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or, if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are the Body of Messiah, and members individually.
      –Each person is significant.
      –The collective/corporate whole gives significance to each part.
      –Messiah is the Head; we are His body.

Eph 5:21-29   . . .submitting to one another in the fear of God.  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Messiah, so the wives to their own husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church.  [Masochism is, therefore, sin, and also demonic.]         

Gen 2:18-25   And YHVH God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’  Out of the ground YHVH God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them.  And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.  So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.  And YHVH God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. (Jn 19:33-34)  Then the rib which YHVH God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my fleshShe shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
      –When we are honest with each other about who we are, and love each other, there is no shame between the  husband and his wife in their ‘nakedness’.  

Ps 45:11-12,18 (10-11,17 Eng)   Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house.  So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your lord, worship Him. . .I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.
     –wives given to their husband and to his position in life
     –the honor of the wife/Queen bestowed upon her from her husband/King, and she honors him (Pr 31)

Jn 15:4-5   Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing. Christ in us, and we in Him! 

Lawsuit Update – 24 May 2010

We are still waiting for the Judge’s verdict in our lawsuit. The customary 30 days have passed, but he is under no legal obligation to have given it during that time. The times are in the Lord’s control, and so we trust Him for making the best use of this time to bring forth the verdict He wants, and the consequences of it. Please continue to pray for Judge Iddo Ruzin, who is understandably under much pressure.

Lawsuit Update – 17 May 2010

We are still waiting for Judge Iddo Ruzin to deliver his verdict on our case.  It is possible that he has already decided and posted it in the mail, or it may be that he is still deliberating on it.  In any case, we hope to receive his decision in the coming days.

This may be a good time to say plainly that we have not gone into this suit as a civil liberties issue, nor on the basis of Israel being a democratic country.  There are many who would deny that Israel is a full democracy, nor do we want to defend the right of ‘sinners’ to parade themselves as a ‘basic civil right or liberty’.  It is no sin to be born Jewish or Arab or black; it is not a sin to be Israeli, Korean, or Mexican; it is a sin for any person to break God’s holy and righteous laws, and the laws of a society which have been enacted to protect the general welfare of its citizens, residents, strangers, and aliens.  We know that it is the righteousness of God to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  For the Jewish people as a whole, that is the unforgivable sin!

Democracy has served certain countries well; it is not suited for  others.  The Word of God tells us to pray for all in authority who rule over us; He does not differentiate between forms of government in this commandment for believers in Messiah Yeshua.  God’s government, though, is not a democracy, however much freedom He gives to those under His rule and authority.  God’s government is a KINGDOM, with the Lord Messiah as the KING, which Yeshua has come to restore…and will restore at the appointed time the Father has set for His coming again.

Interestingly, Laodicea means “rule by/of the people”, or, “democracy”!  It’s inherent and fatal flaw — it’s ‘original sin’ — ultimately brings forth compromise and indifference to truth and moral absolutes, and places God OUTSIDE its borders.  Democracy ultimately insists on rule by, for, of the PEOPLE (whatever that may mean) — not by, for, of YHVH GOD.  In this generation, we see the foundations of civil society broken up; ungodly people ‘lording over’ the people; unrighteousness increasing rampantly:  all this on so-called grounds of ‘basic human rights’ and ‘free and democratic elections’, no matter how many do NOT vote, or how ignorant the voters, or how many empty political promises are made, or how corrupt the system.  The enemy of righteousness and peace takes advantage of this falling away (apostasy) when discernment is at a low level, and when the means to hold the flood back are greatly weakened or lacking altogether.

This generation prides itself on its great knowledge and technological brilliance.  Man’s view of itself and his achievements are not quite the way the God of Heaven and Earth assesses reality.  (Look again at the letter of Jesus to His church in Laodicea.)  In the book of Daniel, the image of King Nebuchadnezer’s dream depicts the historic Gentile kingdoms, qualitatively descending  in value from the head down to the feet, until the Kingdom which shall not pass away knocks the whole thing down from underneath.  In God’s estimation, this last non-cohesive clay-mixed-with-iron kingdom of our generation before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory to re-establish the Kingdom of God in this world is the LEAST, the POOREST in quality and value!

We did not go to court to perpetuate or to affirm or to take over a world system which is against YHVH and against His Anointed One!  We went to battle for the honor of the name of the Lord Yeshua and of those who believe in Him in connection with the legitimate right for us to lawfully assemble together to worship together on privately owned property — all in accord with the existing laws of the State of Israel, whatever kind of nation it is deemed to be — against those who have disregarded these laws, acted illegally to hinder us from doing so, and then publicly belittled both the event and us who believe.  What we were doing is legal; what they did is not.  Had they done what they did against us against Muslims at a mosque, rather than being in a beit mishpat (court of justice), they would have found themselves in a beit kevurot (a graveyard).  Had what they did against us been done against Jewish people in a synagogue anywhere else in the world — especially the western, Christianized world — there would have have been public outcries by the victims, and a reasonable expectation, even insistence, that religious and political leaders denounce such anti-semitic incitement, acts, and violence.  But here, in Beer Sheva — the City of the Fathers —  and throughout Israel, there has been a virtual news cover-up and no visible intervention by public officials to express their regret over the infringement of our ‘rights’ of religious freedom.

Our battle is not carnal, but spiritual, and will not be won by any arm of the flesh, but only by the Arm of the LORD of Hosts!  We are salt and light in the world, and are to impact it for righteousness sake, for the gospel’s sake, for the Kingdom of God’s sake, for the name of Yeshua’s sake.  If, as a result of our lawsuit, it helps to strengthen the freedoms we do enjoy under the form of government we do have, praise the Lord.  It may also result to serve further efforts to restrict our liberties as believers in Yeshua here in Israel, as was done against Daniel in Babylon, and against Mordecai and the Jews in Persia.  In the world there is tribulation, but praise God, Yeshua has overcome the world!  Harassment and persecution will not end yet as a result of our lawsuit, but more people may come to realize the love of the truth, and call upon the Name of the only One who can deliver and save.

Lawsuit Update – 18 Apr 2010

Shalom to all.  This evening Israel commemorates Memorial Day for all those who have been killed during the years of wars and rumors of wars.  It is a true statement that we must fight for liberty and peace.  Tuesday is Israel’s Independence Day, and God is working to sanctify His name amongst His people whom He will cleanse from all their ungodliness  and uncleanness.  We praise and worship our great God and Savior that He has paid the greatest price and won the war, and gives His peace to those who believe it!

Here is a more detailed report of where things stand in our lawsuit against those who still do not believe:

In accordance with the instructions of Judge Iddo Ruzin, the three sides to the lawsuit prepared drafts of a proposed compromise and submitted them to the court.  At that time, we, Nichalim BaNegev [Streams in the Negev – the registered, non-profit society that provides legal coverage for Kehilat Nachalat Yeshua/Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation, and me, as plaintiffs, along with  Beer Sheva’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Yehuda Deri, and the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L’Achim/Hand to the Brothers, as defendants, faced the judge for the final time.  Our lawyers, Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian, have faithfully represented us throughout the more than four years since we first decided to file a civil suit against those defendants for the illegal demonstration, trespass and violence against us on 24 December 2005 (which was the second time that the same two parties have worked together and were involved in a massive demonstration against our congregation).

When we appeared in court, the Judge submitted his own version of a proposed compromise, and submitted it to us for review.  None of the parties was willing to accept the compromise as drafted by the Judge.  Despite efforts to reword and revise the language, we were not able to reach agreement.  We said that a public apology for the event getting out of control would be acceptable, since they publicly lied and ridiculed us in the media.  We did not even insist that they accept ‘guilt’ in order to apologize, but rather that they would express remorse and apologize for their actions, which resulted in a riot which got out of control.  The defendants were not willing to apologize, and it became very clear that there was no regret or remorse from either of them.  From the tone and content of their words in open court, we realized that we could not accept the court’s proposed compromise, as in our opinion, it contained untrue statements, and our faith would not allow us to say that wrong was right, or agree to compromise on a fundamental premise, namely, a public apology.

There were other aspects of the proposal that we also could not agree with, such as a request by one of the defendants for an order directing that any compromise reached would not be allowed to be publicized.  At the end of the hearing, Judge Ruzin said that he would prepare his decision and send it to the attorneys in the mail.  We hope to receive it within 30 days.

Throughout the course of the lawsuit, we felt not only the burden of representing ourselves, but also recognized that we were taking a stand for the believing community as a whole here.  Our decision to risk accepting the judge’s verdict over a meaningless ‘compromise’ was done in the belief that this lawsuit is approved by the Lord with His blessing.   The fact that so many of you have stood with us — not only in prayer, but also in appearances in court, in coming to Beer Sheva to worship and to intercede, to give financial contributions towards the cost of the case — has greatly encouraged us that this is not our personal issue or battle, but God’s!  We know that the outcome is in His hands, and we continue to pray that His righteousness will prevail.

We all thank you all very much, and praise God for this opportunity to work together towards accomplishing His purposes at this time.

Howard and Randi

Lawsuit Update – 8 Apr 2010

Greetings in the name of Yeshua, who is and who was and who is to come!

This is a reminder to please remember to continue in prayer for the outcome of our lawsuit against Beer Sheva’s Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L’Achim.  Our next and “last” scheduled appearance before the Judge Iddo Ruzin is next week on April 15 at 11:10 that morning.

We have submitted to the judge and to the two defendants our position regarding what we expect from them in issuing a public apology for the violence and unpleasant ways during their illegal demonstration and trespass against our congregation on December 24, 2005, and in doing all that is in their power to do to prevent any such recurrence of illegal acts against believers in Yeshua in the future.  We have also stated that we will continue to act within the laws of the State of Israel, as we have done all along.  (Should laws be changed to work against the gospel even more, then we will, of course, in the love of the Lord and by the power of His grace, do our utmost to honor Him and, if necessary,suffer for His name’s sake.)  We walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before, and we follow the Lamb wherever He leads us.

Their responses to the judge and to us is expected by Sunday.  If there is anything I can update you on before the day in court, then I will.  Your prayers and other tangible support through coming together as one Body around this case have been a source of much hope, and I pray that none of us will be disappointed in whatever verdict of the God of all encouragement.  It is not certain that the judge will give his decision next Thursday, and he customarily has up to 30 days following to make his judgment known.  How the Israeli general public will know anything is still a question.

And once more, let us remember:  This lawsuit is not against Israel or against the Jewish people. It is not to be used in any way to foment or promote anti-Israel or anti-Jewish actions or reactions. It is already known through the Scriptures that Israel at present is opposed to the good news of God, so we are not out to make them an enemy. Nor is our legal action intended to be used by any other minority or religious groups in Israel to encourage or affirm anti-Israel/Jewish sentiment. For the sake of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, Israel and her people are beloved by God the Father for His honor and glory, and for the honor and glory of His Son.

Thank-you for your part in carrying this case through to its end for the righteousness of God to rule, and for many in Israel who have fallen to repent and believe the gospel, that they may rise again to serve the living God!

For the peace of Jerusalem above to be upon you already, even as we look to that day when the Jerusalem that now is will know her peace in Messiah our Lord,
Howard

Lawsuit Update – 10 Mar 2010

Shalom upon you!  (Shalom aleichem!)

My apologies for not being able to get this out sooner, since I know that many of you were and have been praying for our day in court yesterday.  Also some of you even called, or SMSed, or sent e-mails, and we are very encouraged by such attentive support.

Up to about 30 also met at Ha-MaKoM for worship and intercession during the course of the court session, which went on till about 1:00pm.  Once again, the defendants displayed a disrespect for the court and for the entire proceedings by showing up late or not at all.  This is the attitude taken by the religious authorities in other cases involving believers in Yeshua here, that the authority of the civil courts are not fully recognized, if at all.  (I would say that believers, who find themselves in court over legal matters in any country, need to be careful not to show contempt of court, since we are commanded to submit to the civil authorities, and not to curse our rulers.)

I still stand amazed how little bearing false witness (perjury) seems to carry much weight in court.  Maybe I am myself pre-judging, but ‘oaths’ to tell only the truth go unchallenged when lies are clearly stated as if true.  Again, I thank God that we have and Advocate in Heaven who intercedes for us!  That we have Someone to call upon who is the Righteous Judge of all the Earth, and who is also the only one who forgives sin, that people would fear Him.

God honors human beings, whom He created in His image and likeness.  Each one, even those who will be sent away from His presence forever, will stand before Yeshua face-to-face for His righteous judgment.  In our present case, the judge has said that the defendants do not even have to show up in court for our next session (April 15), only to be available by telephone!  To me, this only strengthens the attitude of belligerent people to disrespect the legal system.

I am very thankful that yesterday’s proceedings ended with us (including me personally) being able to state our position once again, just as we did at the outset of the pre-trial hearings — but this time before the Judge in the courtroom — that we are willing to accept a public apology from the two defendants, rather than ‘demanding’ from the Judge a verdict that he is unable and perhaps unwilling to give.  I truly felt the Holy Spirit give me a peace that this is our way of seeking to show His way:  “In wrath remember mercy”.  Whether or not the sides will be able to come to an agreement that satisfies each of the parties is still uncertain.  Should the defendants not appreciate the grace being shown by not judging themselves, our Father in Heaven knows how to deal with wayward children who would be His children, and He knows how to deal with those who are determined not to submit to His holy and righteous ways for true peace.

Here, I want to please ask that any reports you may receive about the case not be taken as ‘official’ until you have heard from me or from our lawyers.  If not, there is potential for mistaken analyses, or for misinformation being used as if accurate, and could also be used against us, or be used to suggest that we are not holding ourselves to the standard we would expect from others.  In the event any of you have received reports before this one, here is a clarification by our attorney, and if any of you have used previous information, please correct whatever you may have passed on to others or posted on blogs or websites:

“. . . After completion of the closing arguments by the respective attorneys, the court asked whether there was still any possibility of concluding the dispute by agreement. This led to various discussions with the attorneys for the different parties in the lawsuit, during the course of which we, on behalf of the plaintiffs, pointed out that we want a public apology from both of the defendants. The judge encouraged all of the attorneys to try to meet together (but did not order us to do so) to work out language agreeable to all parties, to which the court would give validity as a judgment. In the absence of agreement, each of the parties would submit a proposed text to the court. A further hearing was set for mid-April for the purpose of trying to conclude the matter without the judge rendering a decision. If agreement cannot be reached, he will issue his judgment after that.

There was no “order” to “Rabbi Deri and Yad L’Achim to issue a public apology to the Messianic congregation within 10 days or suffer more court costs”. Nor does the record reflect any warning to “Yad L’Achim against further violence”. . . .

We need to be careful about reporting what took place and what was said in court and stick to what appears in the transcript. The case is not over until it is finally over and [unauthorized] statements . . . can end up hurting us. . . .”

God bless you all, and may He find us faithful and in the faith,
Howard and Randi

Lawsuit Update – 28 Feb 2010

Hag Purim sameach!  The God of Israel continues His sleepless watch over His people. . .and because of such sovereign grace and power, we are not consumed but prevail!  Hallelu-Yah!

Next Tuesday, March 9, at 9:00, in Beer Sheva Court Shalom, 4th Fl, Room #44, our scheduled last appearance before Judge Iddo Ruzin takes place in our lawsuit against Beer Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri and against the organization Yad L’Achim.  Alex Artovsky, their director for the department, The Struggle Against The Mission, is scheduled to testify, after which the three principal attorneys will present their closing arguments before the judge, who will then have up to 30 days to give his verdict in our civil suit.

The courtroom is very small, holding at most 20 people on a first-come basis.  For Hebrew speakers who would want to be in the court, it is advisable to be at the court building by 8:15; the building opens at 8:30.  Go up to the courtroom and be in a position to enter when it is possible.  We do not know whether friends of our adversaries will also want to attend the hearing, but, again, it is on a first-come first-in basis.  In any event, we do not want any provocations on our part, whether inside the courtroom or outside.

For those who do not want to, or can not, enter the proceedings, but would like to still join directly into events, please participate in the prayer and worship gathering at Ha-MaKoM.  Whether present or absent, we would all very much appreciate your remembrance of us in your thoughts and prayers before the Throne of Grace that morning.  Our hope and trust is in our Heavenly Advocate and Intercessor, even as He works through each of you and us simultaneously.  (Wonderful, isn’t it!?)

Although our case has been in process for three years now, and arises out of the illegal events from more than four years ago, I believe the over-riding sovereignty of Yeshua has been at work.  It is interesting that it is the time for Yad L’Achim to give testimony, now that more light has been shed in their works of darkness, “Jewish terrorist” Yaakov Teitel’s active involvement with them, and the Jerusalem Institute of Justice letter to the Attorney General to outlaw and to dismantle the organization.  YHVH, God of Hosts, is aiming at His target from within His people, with the intent that more Israeli Jewish people be set free to hear, repent from unbelief, and to believe unto salvation in the glad tidings!

Some specific prayer points until the verdict is given:

–for our lawyers, Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian, that they know how to question Artovsky, and in a manner acceptable to the judge in his courtroom, and that the closing  arguments will be convincing to Judge Ruzin to aid him in ruling in our favor

–for Judge Ruzin, that he would pay attention to not only what he hears and sees, but to intangibles that help him to discern who is of the truth and who is not; that God would  strengthen his heart to rule sufficiently in our favor that the two defendants will know and feel that they have been held accountable to existing law, for him to fear God more than man or devil

–for the unholy alliance between Rabbi Deri and Yad L’Achim is broken; that they would not be able to trust each other, even if they continue to have similar objectives

–REMEMBER:  This is a spiritual battle; no arm of the flesh can defeat a spirit. . .it will simply find another outlet until Yeshua Himself puts away the evil one and evil-doers.  But in the meantime, we can submit ourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us.  We are called to be salt, light, and a fragrance of Messiah in the world, ant to believe the Lord to use us to help set people free in a redemptive way.  We have a prophetic gifting and calling to speak on God’s behalf and to call people to repentance and to righteousness from the sin of unbelief in Yeshua for Who He Is.

–for the Lord’s intervention to make known to the general Israeli public the issues in these lawsuits by believers against those opposing our legitimate liberties–that our case will have a positive effect upon the believers in Arad, and in other cases now proceeding, such as Pnina Conforti, the Ortizes, and before the Attorney General

–that no matter the verdict, if we have believed and supported this lawsuit to be obedience to the Lord in this particular situation, then that we accept the verdict as also being His for His own purposes beyond our own knowledge and understanding.  If the verdict seems favorable to us, that we guard against pride in whatever form it may try to uncover itself; should we feel that the judge ruled in an unjust way against us, that we would commit it to Him who judges righteously, and guard against criticism against any of us.  The devil wants to sow discord amongst brethren, and, if he can not defeat us one way, he will subtly and craftily look for another way to make us fall to the dishonor of ourselves and especially of our Father in Heaven and the Lord Yeshua, in whose name we trust and whose name is upon us.  When Yeshua was crucified, even His closest companions and chosen vessels to proclaim Him to Israel and to the world, all thought that He had lost and that their hope had been in vain.   Let us, too, learn to let God work through the appearance of defeat (if that should be the case) to show, in truth, that He has won!

Shalom upon Israel, and we thank-you and bless you for your support in the battle,
Howard

Lawsuit Update – 7 Feb 2010

Shalom,

This is a reminder about our next and last day in court in our civil lawsuit against Beer Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the Shas-related ‘counter-missionary’ organization, Yad L’Achim.

On Tuesday morning, March 9, in the Beer Sheva Magistrate’s Court Shalom (Room 44, 4th Fl), testimony will be heard by Rabbi Alex Artovsky of Yad L’Achim.  Following his testimony, the lawyers representing the parties will each give their oral closing arguments before the Judge, Iddo Ruzin.  The judge will have 30 days in which to render his verdict.

The case arises out of an illegal demonstration and trespass on to private [‘church-owned’] property, which developed quickly into a riot, requiring about 70 policemen to bring order after about 3 hours of disturbances preventing lawful assembly for the purpose of conducting lawful religious activities.  All this occurred over four years ago, on Dec. 24, 2005.  The police did not follow up with the case; we filed suit in February 2007.

We are represented by attorneys Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian.

“For the vineyard of YHVH of Hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.  He looked for justice (righteous judgment), but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.”  (Isaiah 5:7 Hebrew)

In the fear of God,
Howard

Lawsuit Update – 2 Dec 2009

MAOZ Video of Lawsuit 

Blessings,

Here is a link to a well done video by MAOZ regarding our going to court:

For those who could not open the link http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/971/819.html to the original online Maariv newspaper article, it seems to work if you copy and paste, and then click on the Hebrew word at the left side of the page which comes up.

Here is the Caspari Media Review English translation of part of the article: it seems to indicate that the article says we are suing for slander because of being accused of trying to convert Jews. I had not noticed that in the original, but if that is what it says, please know that we do evangelize whomsoever that they may believe the gospel and be born again, and be conformed to the image of the Son of God.

Date: Wed, 02 Dec 2009 06:01:24 -0500
From: Caspari Center
Subject: Caspari Media Review – December 2, 2009
December 2, 2009

An article published in Ma’ariv (November 27) featured the congregation in Beersheva (Nachalat Yeshua) as its law suit against Yehuda Deri, the city’s chief rabbi, was finally heard. Entitled “He Encountered a Determined Jew,” its subtitle read: “Howard Bass and the Messianic Jews in Beersheva organized a baptismal ceremony. Rabbi Yehuda Deri heard about the planned event, arrived at the premises with his people, and started a riot. They broke Bass’s glasses, threw him into the pool, and destroyed property. This week Deri gave witness in court. ‘I acted as a rabbi is supposed to,’ he explained. ‘I deserve a medal.'” The pastor of the local congregation, Howard Bass, “waited a whole year” before deciding to bring the case against Deri. “‘It’s not easy to bring charges against the chief rabbi of a city,’ he said. ‘We’re talking about the highest spiritual authority in the town. We wanted to do this with care, but we also wanted people to understand that they can’t take the law into their own hands.” Bass is suing Deri for 60,000NIS [approx. $16,000] for damage to property, the breaking of his glasses, and slander.

According to the suit, Deri waited outside the premises while his followers ran amok, only entering three hours later and attempting to calm down the ruckus. Bass claims that the consequences witness to the fact that the demonstration was orchestrated rather than spontaneous. “At present, Bass and Deri face off against one another, each one fortified by his faith and convinced that he did the right thing for his community. Each views the events from the point where he stood when the event occurred: Bass was inside the congregational compound, whereas Deri entered only toward the end of the incident. Whatever the outcome of the trial, the rashomon they represent [i.e., their individual subjective perception] will never be reconciled.” Although Deri insisted that the prayers held outside the building included no violence – “‘Anyone who says otherwise is lying,’ he declared; ‘people came, prayed, sang – nothing else'” – “media reports concerning the demonstration describe disturbances which calmed down only with the intervention of the police. Deri himself, in an interview with ‘Erev Chadash’ [on TV], replied in response to a question concerning why the demonstrators had thrown stones, that the phenomenon of Messianic Jews is a modern twentieth-century form of the Inquisition. ‘We shall not rest or cease,’ he then said.” In defending his decision to call people to pray outside the congregational building, Deri asserted that he wanted the community to “‘think twice about what they were doing, when they saw Jews praying nearby.'” “‘When Jews take on Christian customs,’ he wrote, ‘the chief rabbi has the right to conduct prayers whose purpose is to get that same public to consider their actions. Freedom of religion works both ways.’ At the same time, he was certain that the event would not deteriorate into violence. According to his statement, he emphasized that prayer must be conducted without any disturbance. ‘I’m against violence; any act of violence will gain the opposite effect.'”
Bass, on the other hand, claims that this is a “‘false plea of innocence’ … The dozens of demonstrators who broke into the compound were indeed determined to act, and did so within the framework of an illegal demonstration.” Deri himself claims that he witnessed no violence, maintaining that he cannot be held responsible for people who acted on their own judgment, that he did not call for anyone to demonstrate nor expect people to show up earlier, and that what was done was performed contrary to his call. “‘From the time I arrived, there was no violence,’ he stated in court. ‘I cannot be held responsible for the actions of the demonstrators. The rumor of a baptismal ceremony of Jews reached the ears of others apart from me and the rabbis with whom I consulted, and they decided to trespass and act provocatively. I never expected that anything would be done to desecrate Shabbat; it’s unthinkable that I would incite anyone to desecrate Shabbat.'” Bass, on the other hand, claims that Deri could have entered the compound much earlier than he did (and thus ended the disturbance much more quickly), and that if there was no violence what need was there for seventy policemen to arrive? His demand for 50,000NIS for slander is based on the fact that the following day Deri stated in a radio interview that the congregation was engaged in converting Jews: “‘This is one of the most serious accusations a Jew can make, and no one with Jewish blood in his veins can tolerate listening to such a reproach.'” In response, Deri argued that he was innocently doing his job of making people aware of what was happening.

The court’s ruling will be handed down in a couple of months’ time. “Deri is convinced that it will exonerate him. ‘The person who brought order to the situation was me,’ he said. ‘The person who prevented violence and ordered the people to return to their homes was Yehuda Deri, the chief rabbi of the city. Everything happened before the time scheduled for the prayer assembly. I didn’t hear about any violence. The claims are false … I was the only calming influence there … I acted as a rabbi should.’ [Interviewer:] ‘A rabbi is supposed to bring hundreds of demonstrators to a Messianic congregational service?’ [Deri:] ‘Baptism is a very serious matter. When I receive a report about the baptism of children I must call a prayer assembly. It would be unimaginable for me not to do so. I did my duty. A rabbi cannot be responsible for this or that disturbance. In this matter, I deserve a medal.'”