The Talmud (see Sanhedrin 38b) imposes upon the leaders of the Jewish People an obligation to respond when the representatives of other thought systems or cultures make public declarations which run counter to the Jewish understanding of Biblical law and morality. Indeed it predicts (ibid. 98b) that at the end of history, there will come a time when the Jews will make a case to resume the ethical leadership of humanity that it ceded to Rome. At that time, it is foretold, the clash between the two worldviews for dominance will be echoed by a similar conflict between great spiritual forces visible only in the heavens and not on earth.
Sadly, there is no evidence that Jewish leaders intend to vie for this role. Nor that they are prepared to fight very hard for their worldview in the public sphere. They have grown accustomed to Rome fighting the battles once entrusted to Jerusalem. But the Talmud teaches (Megilla 6a, in slightly encoded language) that Rome was built from the collapse of Jerusalem, and when Rome will falter, Jerusalem will rise again.
Most recently, it was astonishing to behold that a small movement favoring homosexual marriage managed within one decade of raising the issue, first to win referenda and legislative battles in several states, then to convince the Supreme Court to declare it a Constitutional right.
According to Jewish history, recorded in the Midrash (published at least 1500 years ago), homosexual marriage was commonplace in the early societies of mankind. It required great effort to establish the notion of marriage being limited to the union of man and woman. This was a vision the Jewish People taught the world as part of its multigenerational drive to civilize humanity.
Thus one of the great achievements of the Jewish People, one which had been preserved for thousands of years under the aegis of Rome, has now been undone within a short while. The Catholic Church challenged this initiative slowly, weakly, hesitantly, almost inaudibly. Still, there was at least public clarity; the man in the street knew the Church stood in opposition. Yet since the Supreme Court retroactively wrote the right to such unions into the Constitution in a brazen grandstand, the Pope has been curiously taciturn. No cries of outrage, no public demonstrations, no eloquent defenses of the millennia which cultivated the modern human being.
Well, we thought, there is a clever bit of timing involved. It happened that John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, had earlier invited the pontiff to address the Congress of the United States. This had never before occurred in history. Clearly that was the opening, the moment, the chance, the opportunity; it would be premature to pontificate from far off Rome when the message could be delivered directly into the heart of the United States government. The Vicar of the Vatican could be the Wise Man of Washington. He could stand before God and the entire world to speak truth to power, to tell the President and the Supreme Court they had abused their callings, they had betrayed thousands of years of painstakingly constructed human civilization.
He could stand there fearlessly and call for them to return to their chambers and seek the truth, the truth that was not only given in the thunder of Mount Sinai, but was also implanted deep into the conscience of the human spirit. Go back and honor your Creator, honor your fathers and mothers, do not swear falsely in the Name of God, do not steal from the patrimony of the human family, do not commit idolatry and adultery with false gods and ideologies, do not murder the image of God in Man achieved in the marriage of man and woman, do not bear false witness to your fellow man. Go back, justices of the greatest court in the world, don your robes and speak the truth of history.
And then he came, Pope Francis did, and he said nothing. He cowered before small men and their big trumpets. He mumbled something about appreciating the beauty of the family and then he was off on safer terrain.
There is no excuse, nowhere to hide before the blinding glare of the spotlight. When a first time in two thousand years (yes, all the AD era) revolution against civilization is followed by a first time in the history of the country address to the government of the offending nation, and that nation is not a small principality but the most powerful and most influential on earth, that is a miraculous convergence engineered by God. You cannot get up there and cite the protocols of diplomatic syntax. You cannot wink and whisper that major machinations are afoot behind the scenes.
This is a steel trap moment. This is the moment predicted by the Talmud. God gave the Pope an ultimatum: “Lead or your days are numbered.” Instead of leading he chose to embrace the pathetic platitudes of a group of scientists trying to gull mankind into feeling guilt for its own progress and prowess. And a few words about the downtrodden and the unfortunate, redundant words in the most charitable nation in the world.
To complete the prophecy, a Jew somewhere must stand up to bring the heavenly lawsuit. There are greater Jews than myself everywhere, smarter, holier, more courageous, more trustworthy, more energetic, but I think of Theodore Herzl, a journalist who spotted at its nadir the arc which arrived at its zenith with the creation of the State of Israel. He petitioned the world to give the Jews a country, and he confided to friends, “I have begun a process which will culminate in the founding of a state in fifty years.” Historian Paul Johnson, a friend of this publication, points out in History of the Jews, that the state of Israel opened for business forty-nine years after Herzl’s pronouncement.
In that vein, I have seized a staff and declared myself the Jewish pontiff, just for one day. In the absence of competition, the title is mine by default. In that capacity, I appeal to Pope Francis to abdicate the spiritual scepter and return it to the Jewish People. Fifty years, my friends. The countdown begins now.