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Coping with the Pope

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Topic: Christianity, Success; G-d's Purpose for

Karen from Miami, FL wrote

Dear Rabbi,

With the Pope visiting Israel and all the fanfare, it brings to mind a question I've often pondered: Why did Hashem allow Christianity to become such a major religion?

Dear Karen,

Jewish ideas such as "brotherhood of humanity," "love your neighbor," and "age of peace" are taken for granted today by much of mankind. But when Judaism first introduced these ideas to the world, they were revolutionary.

These Jewish concepts have been spread largely by Christianity (and by Islam). Christianity came to a world in which people were slaughtering to Zeus, Apollo, and a host of other idols, and taught some basic ideas of Judaism, albeit in a distorted form.

The great 11th century scholar Maimonides writes: "Even J... of Nazareth, who thought he was mashiach (messiah), was the subject of a prophecy in the Book of Daniel: "Also the renegades of your people will exalt themselves to fulfil the vision, but will stumble." Is there a greater stumbling block than this? For all the prophets spoke of the mashiach who will redeem and save Israel, who will ingather all its exiles, and who will strengthen them in the observance of the Torah's commands, while he caused Israel to be killed by the sword, their remnant to be dispersed and humiliated, the Torah to be swapped for something else, and most of the world to worship a god other than the G-d of Israel!

"All these activities," continues Maimonides, "are all for the purpose of paving the way for the true king mashiach, to prepare the whole world to worship G-d together, as it is written: 'For then I will convert the nations to a pure language, that they may all call in the name of G-d and serve Him together.' "

"By then," continues Maimonides, "the world will already be filled with the idea of mashiach, Torah, and commandments, even in far-flung islands and in closed-minded nations, where they engage in discussions on the Torah's commandments...When the true king mashiach arrives...all people will immediately realize that they had been taught lies by their forefathers, and that their ancestors and prophets had misled them."

  • Maimonides: Hilchot Melachim 11,4 [Frankel Edition]
  • Book of Daniel 11, 14

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