Count Zinzendorf was expelled from Saxony, and found himself in Romseberg, the hometown of Rabbi Abraham. There the two met, and struck up a friendship. The count was invited to join the Rabbi and his family for the Shabbat meal. That evening, apparently amazed at this generous hospitality, the count asked Rabbi Abraham if anyone had ever abused his hospitality. “No”, said the Rabbi, “I shall not be tired of giving as long as my hand has something to give. It has been my custom from my youth up; and even an apple never tastes as good as it does when I have given a half to one poorer than myself. Besides, the habit has been of great service to me.”
The rabbi then told Count Zinzendorf how, one Sabbath day, a rough-looking man came in and asked for alms. The rabbi could not touch money on the holy day, and so he invited him in to eat with the family. The man ate with them, and left with a word of thanks. Not long after that, the rabbi was set on by robbers and almost killed. When he thought that he was to die, and as he was praying to God, another robber came up to him and said, “Rabbi Abraham, don’t you remember me? A man who fed me when I was hungry shall not die like this.” He drew his fellows away with him and left the rabbi alone.
The Count and the rabbi became close friends, and the Count was given opportunity to talk to the Rabbi of his Messiah. It was inevitable he would do so, because he had a deep love for the Jewish people and taught his own followers of the importance of sharing the Gospel with the Jews through words and deeds, by love and humility. Indeed, he foresaw the day when Jewish believers would establish their own congregations, keep the Sabbath and circumcise their children .
The Rabbi became a believer and joined the Count’s fellowship of Moravian brethren, but refused to be baptised.
On his death bed, years later, he said: “My end is near; so is my salvation.” He asked a fellow believer, “Will the Lord accept one who comes to Him at the last hour, even though he approaches his throne without the sacrament of baptism?” The answer he received, that Christ would not cast out anyone who came to him, caused him to say “Blessed be the holy One of Israel for that word.”
He died after blessing his son, Zadok, and with the word “Hallelujah!” on his lips.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. London, 1909.
(may be read on the Internet Archives; or purchased in print from Keren Ahvah Meschichit, Jerusalem.)
Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism Århus, Denmark 2007
Jewish mission to Hungary
Rolf G. Heitmann, General Secretary, Norwegian Church Ministry to Israel
Zinzendorf und Lieberkühn. Studien zur Geschichte der Judenmission. Von Professor D. Dr. Gustaf Dalman und Diakonus Adolf Schulze (Schriften des Institutum Judaicum in Berlin. no. 32.) (Unknown Binding)