As Jews, we daily face a wide variety of dangers.
Many are physical in nature. Terrorist groups throughout the world continually plot to attack us. Our brethren in Israel face very real existential threats from a potentially nuclear-armed Iran and from Arab countries. These dangers are written about and discussed on a regular basis — as they should be.
We also face numerous potent and extremely dangerous spiritual threats, some of which are frequently addressed, others less often.
Among the latter group are missionaries who prey on Jews who, through no fault of their own, have no knowledge of their heritage. The missionaries lay clever traps, determined to snare Jews who for a various reasons find themselves at the fringes of society.
Often, they try to deceive their victims by claiming to have some connection to Judaism themselves. They expend significant resources in their attempts to accomplish their goals.
Recently, one missionary group went so far as to hand-deliver packages that included a booklet and a DVD to Jewish homes in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, only the latest in a long list of efforts to ensnare Jews and tear them away from their roots.
Not surprisingly, a particular target is the Russian Jewish community. Though more than two decades have passed since the fall of the Iron Curtain, seven decades of communist rule have insured that generations of Jews were left without the most elementary knowledge of Yiddishkeit. These missionaries are taking full advantage of it.
We must internalize the fact that missionaries are just as dangerous to our souls as terrorists are to our bodies, and do all we can to protect our brethren from the clutches of these spiritual terrorists.
The most potent anti-missionary tactics are education and outrach. A Jew who is aware of the principles of Judaism, who has experienced the beauty of learning Torah and the glory of a Shabbos kodesh, and feels valued by friends and family, will be quick to reject the overtures of missionaries and will promptly hurl their materials in the nearest trashcan.