Which Temple are you from? by Rabbi Zalman Marcus

Full Text Sharing

This week I received a call from the local hospital asking if I was available to visit one of the patients who requested a visit from a rabbi. I took down the information and that evening I headed over to the ICU. As I was walking through the corridor I wondered to myself how the patient would react to seeing me. Yes she asked for a rabbi but she probably was not expecting one that looked like me. I offered a prayer to G-d to help make the visit a successful one.

As I entered the room the nurse was just finishing up and I heard the patient say to the nurse "this must be the rabbi". After I came in they both said "perfect timing". The nurse left and now we were alone. She was hooked up to every machine imaginable was having a hard time breathing but otherwise looked ok. She looked me up and down and said which temple are you from? When I answered Chabad of Mission Viejo I could tell she was not too thrilled.

She started by asking me about what to do with her daughter who had converted and became a born again Christian and was trying to convert her and the rest of the family. Being that she was facing a life threatening surgery she was quite nervous and her daughter telling her that she was going to go to hell because she was not a believing Christian was scaring her.

She told me that she believed in G-d but did not consider herself religious and frankly she thought that Chabad would be very judgmental of her and that was why she was not too pleased to see me.

I told her that actually I would try to answer both of her concerns with one answer. The Chabad perspective is that you are Jewish by virtue of your soul and that regardless of your practice or lack thereof you can't change your Jewishness. So your daughter is still Jewish regardless of what she is practicing and you are as Jewish as I am. And therefore you have nothing to worry about. Every Jew and every person for that matter should do Mitzvot because G-d needs them, not to avoid going to hell. It is hard to believe in a G-d that is so harsh and punishing that if you are a good person but you are just missing one belief you go to hell.

She liked what she was hearing and I could see that she was warming up. She started to tell me about her life and her families past experiences with religion and Chabad.

I asked her why she was in the hospital and what was going on with her health. She shared with me what she was suffering from and what was needed to fix it but she was not too positive about the outcome. When I told her that her attitude and beliefs would have an impact on her recovery she changed her tune and began to speak positively about making a complete recovery.

Then we got back to her daughter and what to do when she tries to push Christianity? I suggested that she tell her that since she (the mother) is not a scholar of religions she does not feel that she is properly equipped to make such a decision. If she wants you to believe in a new religion she needs to first convince your rabbi and if he agrees then you will convert.

She thought it was cute but she had a problem she did not have a rabbi. I told her that if she wants I could be her rabbi and represent her. She responded that she is not a member. I told her that at Chabad everyone is automatically a member. She responded that she did not know how to reach me. I told her that I could easily fix that and I gave her my cell phone number.

It was getting late and as I prepared to leave I asked her what her Hebrew name was and her mother’s name so I could add her to my prayer list she was very thankful.

Then I asked her if I she would like to say a prayer and she said ok. I asked her if she knew the shema and she said I am not sure. As I started saying the shema she joined in for the first line as she knew it by heart. The rest of it I said in English. As I was saying it she closed her eyes and began to cry when I was done she thanked me profusely and said that really what she wanted was to pray but she had a hard time asking for it.

She thanked me for coming and for helping her so much.

As I walked through the hospital to visit the next patient I thanked G-d for helping me to be able to help this woman and for giving me the great privilege of being able to serve the community. And then I thought of all the partners that we have, all those who so generously continue to partner with us financially and by volunteering and make it possible for us to do this important work.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov (today and tomorrow we celebrate the new month of Mar-Cheshvan)

Rabbi Zalman Marcus

Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

About Us

The idea is simple: creating an open “Portal” where engaged and committed citizens who feel to share their ideas and offer their opinions on development related issues have the opportunity to do...


Please fell free to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

Empowered by ENGAGE,
Toward the Volunteering Inspired Society.