(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem) Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Shlita spoke …about the ongoing papal visit by Pope Francis to Israel. Rabbi Eliyahu commented … there is no need to argue with him, calling it a waste of time and energy. “We have good reason to be angry but it is difficult to build amid feelings of frustration and revenge”.
Rabbi Eliyahu adds that “one cannot erase thousands of years of repression, killing and robbery as they have done to us and it is difficult to forget what occurred during the Holocaust but we must adopt the teaching of Rabbi Akiva – to look ahead with courage and happiness and build. Not with feelings of frustration and revenge for it is difficult to build with those feelings’.
The rav speaks of the visit of Pope Paul III in 1994 and how his uncle, the brother of HaGaon HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu ZT”L accompanied him and looked out for him.
“They climbed the summit of Mount Tabor and looked at all the Jezreel Valley. The pope asked who built the towns and fields and when they told him ‘Jews’ he got angry. He sent away the deputy who told him ‘Jews’ and asked the commander of the Druse patrol who was there. When he said the same thing is also asked my uncle and as he too had said ‘the Jews’. That goy, that Bilam began to speak to God and said ‘you probably forgave your people. Renew the covenant with them’. “His secretary distanced the photographers but the fact that it was impossible to erase. That individual just completely changed”.
“That’s what (will) happen (with) this pope,” said Rabbi Eliyahu. “He will come to Jerusalem to see the beauty and size and realize there’s no point to fight the people of Israel. I believe he will see the blessing of G-d is in everything and realize there’s no point to war.”
When asked if one may look at the pope, from a Halachic perspective, he said “…One should know one may not bow down before him (but) one should not get carried away with it. We have no reason to confront him.”