Rabbi Bears Israel's Heart to the Pope
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Many in Israel felt Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich expressed the nation's heart at ceremonies welcoming Pope Francis to Judaism's most revered site.
Following is a translation of his address to the Pope and his entourage.
Distinguished guest, Pope Franciscus
Welcome to the Holy City, Jerusalem.
King David, the pleasant singer of Israel, wrote in the Book of Psalms, "When the Lord returns the returnees to Zion, we shall be like dreamers." The Jerusalem to which you have arrived, Your Holiness, is not just the realistic Jerusalem. It is also the Jerusalem of dreams -- the dreams of millions of Jews throughout the long 2,000-year exile. Jerusalem is a dream that was fulfilled, and we continue to walk in it like dreamers.
There is a famous etching on the victory arch that Titus built in Rome in honor of his victory over the Jewish nation and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The etching depicts Jewish captives carrying the stolen treasures of the Temple into exile. The truth is that Titus managed to plunder the Menorah and the Temple utensils, but the light of faith and the hope to return to the land of our forefathers, he did not succeed to extinguish.
We traveled a long road on our way home. We wandered the four corners of the earth. For 2,000 years we suffered scorn, had our full share of sorrow, but every single day we prayed and believed "Next year in Jerusalem." We were privileged and in recent centuries we returned to our land and reestablished the Kingdom of Israel. And again we are masters of our fate and can meet the goal and the challenge daily to fulfill "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation."
The Nation of Israel, which sits in Jerusalem, is the highest proof of the power of faith to change reality. Faith is what brought Nahmanides, Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, from Spain to Jerusalem to re-establish Jewish settlement 400 years ago. Faith is what brought Rabbi Yehuda Hassid and his students to immigrate to Israel from Poland 200 years ago and make their home in Jerusalem. Faith is what empowered thousands of Jews to immigrate to the Land of Israel and to Jerusalem.
The rebuilt Jerusalem is a miracle that took place by the strength of faith. Blessed is He Who did for us a miracle at this place.
We believe the Jewish nation has a special role in this world. Even during the most difficult years, when anti-Semitism persecuted and beat us without mercy all over the world, we continued to believe in the ancient verses, "You are sons to the Lord your G-d." Not out of pride, heaven forbid, but out of a deep sense of mission and out of a desire to repair the world in the kingdom of G-d. Indeed, the contribution of the Jewish nation to the history of the world is immeasurably greater than its relative numbers in the population.
Jerusalem is the place where we must rise above every dispute.
Jerusalem is the place where we must raise our eyes to the heavens and lower our hearts in humility.
For too many years, faith was at the root of disputes, hatred, and pain around the world. From here, from this site, which is sacred to you, to me, and to millions more around the globe, I wish to turn -- together with you -- to the faithful of all religions and to convey to them from Jerusalem a blessing of Shalom -- peace.
For out of Zion shall come forth Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.
On behalf of us all, I will recite from the Book of Psalms, chapter 121.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even forevermore.