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The Jews Must Leave Italy

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A few hundred years ago, the Pope made a decree that all the Jews must leave Italy.

There was, as you can imagine, a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope proposed 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 debate, then the decree would stand and the Jews would have to leave.

The Jewish community met and picked an aged Rabbi, Abraham, to represent them in the debate.

There was however a minor problem. Rabbi Abraham could not speak Latin and the Pope could not speak Yiddish. After a lot of thought, a solution was found and it was decided that this would be a “silent” debate.

On the day of the great debate, the Pope and Rabbi Abraham met in the square outside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where they sat opposite each other in silence for several tense minutes before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers to the Rabbi.

Rabbi Abraham looked back at the Pope and raised one finger.

Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.

Rabbi Abraham pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope then brought out a communion wafer and chalice of wine.

Rabbi Abraham 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 in Italy”.

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 Abraham, asking him what happened.

“Well”, said Rabbi Abraham, “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 Abraham. “We broke for lunch”.

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