On the occasion of the papal visit to Israel, Rabbi Ginsburgh re-released the following statement (first issued prior to Pope John Paul II’s visit to Israel in March of 2000).
We all believe that Divine Providence directs every detail of each and every one of our lives. (Here is not the place to discuss how this does not contradict the principle of free choice inherent to the human soul.) Even when a person chooses to follow a certain course of action for his own reasons, it is G-d that is directing his steps from on high for His own purposes. In most cases, this direction remains entirely hidden from man. In the words of King David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, “Man’s steps are established by G-d, and He desires his path” (Psalms 37:23).
True for every detail of every private person’s life, this becomes immensely more significant for those whose lives have proven to be of crucial influence on the overall history of mankind. Here, too, there is both the individual’s revealed, conscious intention and the hidden dimension, which is revealed only to G-d, as He wondrously directs the fate of the world that He created for His glory.
Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, chapter 11) writes that Jesus of Nazareth imagined that he was the messiah. He tried to actualize this, but failed. Instead of redeeming Israel and the entire world, he caused Israel to be slain by the sword, their remnant to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to be deceived and serve a god other than G-d.
Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for [to paraphrase Isaiah 55:8] His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. [Ultimately,] all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him [i.e. Mohammed] will only serve to pave the way for the coming of the Messiah and for the improvement of the entire world, [motivating the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written [Zephaniah 3:9], “For I shall then make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.”
How will this come about? [As a result of these religions,] the entire world has already become filled with talk of the Messiah, as well as of the Torah and the commandments. These matters have been spread among many [formerly] spiritually insensitive nations, who discuss these matters as well as the various commandments of the Torah. Some of them [i.e. the Christians] say: These commandments were true, but are not in force in the present age; they are not applicable for all time. Others [i.e. the Moslems] say: Implied in the commandments are hidden concepts that cannot be understood simply; the messiah has already come and revealed them.
[The stage is thus set so that] when the true Messianic king will arise and prove successful, his [position becoming] exalted and uplifted, they will all return and realize that their ancestors endowed them with a false heritage; their prophets and ancestors caused them to err. Let us look at the situation of the world today: Nearly two thousand years have passed since the establishment of the Christian religion. During these generations, the suffering and pain of millions of people have not abated despite the great strides made by civilization, especially in the fields of science and technology. Every passing day, the heartfelt cry for G-d’s salvation intensifies, the cry for the true and ultimate Redemption to be ushered in by the Messiah. In the words of the prophet Daniel (who according to the Sages of Israel was a clear messianic figure): “How long until the end of these awesome things!” (Daniel 12:6).Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh