web analytics
March 26, 2015 / 6 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Papal Visit: Heavy On Hoopla, Short On Substance

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Pope's visit to Israel.

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Pope's visit to Israel.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

“Turn the other cheek” is great advice in theory, but Christians have never practiced it and Jews have not fared well under those regimes that advocated it. Mourning the Holocaust and proclaiming “Never Again!” – as the pope did, and even sincerely – will not prevent the murder of one Jew, or for that matter, the murder or terrorization of Christians who are also targets of radical Islam across the world, in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Yet this new custom of every pope visiting Israel will endure, and these encounters do buttress Israel’s self-image. Pope Francis is a man of contrasts – CEO of a multi-billion dollar enterprise who embraces a simple lifestyle, and yet advocates for a redistribution of wealth that plays well in the Third World but would undoubtedly harm his major donors.

As an outsider, it is interesting for me to watch the aura that surrounds him, in which the faithful immediately ascribe perfection to him and deem him a welcome improvement over his predecessor – who of course received the exact same treatment when he was invested with the office.

This is an observation, not a criticism. It is an office that is replete with symbolism, and at the top of the list of symbols on this trip was the pope laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, a sort-of apology for the dismissal of Herzl and his vision by Pope Pius X in 1904. I am not sure the wreath did much good for Herzl, or, for that matter, the course of Jewish history in the 20th century, but I assume he meant well.

It is fascinating that for all the disruptions and all the hoopla, nothing changes. The pope has come and gone, the hopeful rhetoric enunciated but just as far from realization.

Ironically, for some Israelis less committed to Torah, the pope represents a religion they can take seriously. I still recall Leah Rabin visiting John Paul II in Rome, demurely covering her head with a scarf in his presence – a courtesy she certainly never extended to Israel’s chief rabbis. Shimon Peres actually fawned over Pope Francis, and it was somewhat unsettling to see that, on the receiving line at Ben Gurion Airport, the only person wearing a yarmulke was the Catholic.

But perhaps, amid all the diplomatic theater, the pope’s visit will cause some Jews to better tend to their own vineyards, take a second look at the Torah, and recall that God’s Word emerges from Yerushalayim and nowhere else.

It is that Word that shapes, sustains and enriches Jewish life, not the slings of our foes or the praise of our friends.

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and author, most recently, of “Tzadka Mimeni: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2014). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Papal Visit: Heavy On Hoopla, Short On Substance”

  1. Kathy Boling says:

    He needs to keep his crap out of Israel

  2. obliviousness – great word, one that politicians are subject to all the time.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jon Karl of ABC asks White House Press Secretary, "Yemen is a model of US strategy?"
White House Insists Chaotic Yemen a ‘Model’ for Obama’s War on Terror
Latest Indepth Stories
Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Bibi0303.jpg

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

InsideIL targets MBA students at 12 of America’s top programs for its paid Israel summer internship

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Pruzansky-Steven-NEW

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

The brilliance of Yaakov’s approach – and by extension, any type of individual or group effort – is that it appealed to three different modes of salvation.

There is a certain unwordliness to the pope’s call for a two-state solution, an obliviousness to the reality on the ground.

One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.

Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.

A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.

With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-papal-visit-heavy-on-hoopla-short-on-substance/2014/06/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: