THE GREAT DEBATE
Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had
to leave Italy. There was, of course, a huge outcry from the
Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal. He would have a
religious debate with a leader of the Jewish community. If the
Jewish leader won the debate, the Jews would be permitted to
stay in Italy. If the Pope won, the Jews would have to leave.
The Jewish community met and picked an aged Rabbi, Moishe, to
represent them in the debate. Rabbi Moishe, however, could not
speak Latin and the Pope could not speak Yiddish. So it was
decided that this would be a "silent" debate.
On the day of the great debate, the Pope and Rabbi Moishe sat
opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his
hand and showed three fingers. Rabbi Moishe looked back and
raised one finger.
Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head. Rabbi Moishe
pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope then brought out a
communion wafer and chalice of wine. Rabbi Moishe pulled out an
apple. With that, the Pope stood up and said, "I concede the
debate. This man has bested me. The Jews can stay."
Later, the Cardinals gathered around the Pope, asking him what
had happened. The Pope said, "First I held up three fingers to
represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to
remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions.
Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around
us. He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was
also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the wafer to
show that God absolves us of our sins. He pulled out an apple to
remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What
could I do?"
Meanwhile, the Jewish community crowded around Rabbi Moishe, asking
what happened. "Well," said Moishe, "first he said to me, 'You Jews
have three days to get out of here.' So I said to him, 'Up yours'.
Then he tells me the whole city would be cleared of Jews. So I said
to him, 'Listen here Mr. Pope, the Jews ... we stay right here!"
"And then?" asked a woman.
"Who knows?" said Rabbi Moishe. "We broke for lunch."