web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 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 the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Torah-Hakehillah-121914

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

Pruzansky-Steven-NEW

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.

The Wall Street Journal last month featured a front-page article titled “After These Jewish Prayer Services, Things Come ‘To Life’ at Open Bar,” with the sub-heading, “To Woo Worshippers, Synagogues Compete with Food and Booze.”

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: