About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Jewish people had to leave Rome. Naturally, there was a big uproar from the Jewish community.
So, the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the representative won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave. The Jews realized that they had no choice. They looked around for a champion who could defend their faith, but no one wanted to volunteer. It was too risky. So, in desperation, they finally picked an old man named Moishe, who spent his life sweeping up after people, to represent them. Being old and poor, he had less to lose, so he agreed. He asked only for one condition to the debate. Not being used to saying very much as he cleaned up around the settlement, he asked that neither side be allowed to talk. The Pope agreed.
The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised his index finger. The Pope waved his hand in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope pulled out a communion wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.
The Pope stood up and announced, "I give up. This man is too good. The Jews may stay.'
An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what 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 hand around me to show him that God above was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us, in our midst. I offered the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from 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 had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, somewhat feeble man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! "What happened?", they asked. "Well," said Moishe, "first he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of the city. I told him that not one of us was leaving. Then, he told me that this whole city must be cleared of Jews! I let him know that we were staying right here." "And then?" asked a woman. "I really don't know," said Moishe. "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."
So what is the moral of this story? There is their story. There is our story. There is the real story. They are seldom the same stories. We simply shouldn't believe everything we think.
(Originally posted to Multiply August 14, 2008)