The Religious Debate:
Several centuries ago, the Pope decreed that all the Jews had to convert or leave Italy
There was a huge outcry from the Jewish community, so the Pope offered a deal.*
He would have a religious debate with the leader of the Jewish community. If the Jews won, they could stay in Italy
, if the Pope won, they would have to leave or convert.
The Jewish people met and picked an aged, but wise, Rabbi Bernie to represent them in the debate.*
However, as Bernie spoke no Italian and the Pope spoke no Yiddish; they all agreed that it would be a "silent" debate.
On the chosen day, the Pope and Rabbi Bernie sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.*
Rabbi Bernie looked back and raised one finger.
Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head
. Rabbi Bernie pointed to the ground where he sat.
The Pope then brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine. Rabbi Bernie pulled out an apple.
With that, the Pope stood up and declared that he was beaten, that Rabbi Bernie was too clever and that the Jews could stay in Italy.
Later, the Cardinals met with the Pope, asking what had 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 is still only one God common to both our beliefs.*
Then, I waved my finger around my head
to show him that God was all around us.*
He responded by pointing to the ground to show that God was also right here with us.*
I pulled out the wine and wafer to show that God absolves us of all our sins.*
The Rabbi pulled out an apple to remind me of the original sin.*
He had me beaten at my every move and I could not continue."
Meanwhile the Jewish community was gathered around Rabbi Bernie.
"How did you win the debate?" they asked.
"I haven't a clue," said Bernie.*
"First he said to me that we had three days to get out of Italy, so I gave him the finger!
Then he tells me that the whole country would be cleared of Jews and I said to him, we're staying right here."
"And then what?" asked a woman.
"Who knows?" said Bernie. "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."
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