Jerusalem – Rabbi: Pope Shouldn’t Wear Cross at Kotel


    Jerusalem – Ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s May visit to Israel, the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, has said that it is not proper to come to the site wearing a cross.

    The pope wears a cross in all public appearances and is slated to visit the Western Wall on May 12 after a meeting with Muslim religious leaders at the Dome of the Rock.

    After the visit, which will include a meeting with Rabinovitch, the pope is slated to meet with Israel’s two chief rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar.

    “My position is that it is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross,” said Rabinovitch in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post Monday. “I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a church.”
    Rabinovitch is responsible for religious decorum at the site.

    “In coming days I intend to discuss the issue with the pope’s people,” Wadie Abunassar, media coordinator for the pope’s visit to the Holy Land, said in response to reports that the pontiff would not remove his cross. “I cannot imagine the Holy Father removing his cross.”

    Rabinovitch also opposes security arrangements that would prevent worshipers from reaching the Kotel for several hours before and during the pope’s visit.

    “For the past 42 years, no one has ever been prevented from praying at the Western Wall and, God willing, no one ever will. A solution needs to be reached that provides adequate security for the pope without infringing on the right of everyone to pray. The Western Wall belongs to everyone.”

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      • This rebbe is not a tzadik…he is a madman….he is making EY look like some type of bananna republic and making all yiddin look like jerks……his behavior and words are a real chilul hashem

      • I have great respect for the Pope and his recent actions in removing the bishop who denied the holocaust but I would not use the term “tzadik” to describe the Pope. Conversely, this rabbi seems to be a loose cannon and hopefully will be ignored.

        • He hasn’t removed to holocaust denying bishop – in fact just the oposite he reinstated him! That’s what caused these problems… Also don’t forget this pope was a member of the Hitl@r youth in nazi germany

          • Reinstated him as what? All he did was take him out of cherem. He never gave him a license to practise as a clergyman.

            And enough with this Hitler Youth nonsense. Yes, he was signed up in that organisation; it’s not as if he had a choice in the matter. He says he never wore the uniform or attended a meeting; I see no reason to doubt him, but even if he’s exaggerating so what? What was he supposed to do, get arrested just to make a futile gesture? There’s not a commenter on this blog who wouldn’t have done the same.

            As an individual, Benedict is a decent person, a philosemite, an intellectual, and I know of no reason at all not to respect him. But the office he holds is that of Avi Avos Hatum’ah, his Avodah Zarah’s “vicar on Earth”, and that has implications for how we must relate to him in his official capacity.

    1. Let him wear the tsaylem – it’s not something to make a geshrei over. It’s not for us to care – at least he wants to make a respectful visit.

      • Avodah zarah isnot something to make a geshrei over? Then what *is* worth making a geshrei over? For huamad tzelem bahechal we fast.

        The Avi Avos wants to come to the kotel, nu, we can’t prevent him; but at least he should tuck his tzelem inside his clothes for the duration of his visit.

      • No he doesn’t! He wants to make a political statement and “prove” that is sorry for his past of being a Hitler youth. He shouldn’t be allowed to wear his cross at the Kotel- it is not the place for it. This is a JEWISH holy site- not necessarily for the whole world, even though they think so.

    2. Of the two issues. It is vital that the voice of Jacob should not be stilled at the Kotel. To make the Kotel Judenrein even for a short time for the benefit of another faith seems contrary to the whole purpose of establishing the State The Pontiff is visiting.
      The only way for Israel to take its place among the nations is to stand proud and with the attitude Here the world conforms to Torah and Jewish sensibilities

      • The Chief Rabbi of Rome is the posek whose opinion is the one that matters regarding this issue. And he and his predecessor both attended the funeral of the previous Pope. (He might or might not permit a hedyot to enter the Vatican.)

    3. Who cares if he wears the cross or not? I don’t. There are millions of visitors every year who visit the Kosel wearing crosses. Big deal. He’s a Christian, that’s what Christians do.

    4. A Yarmulka is a mandated religious article. The cross is just a rligious statement. There is no halacha that the pope cannot walk daled amos without wearing it!!

    5. The Pope can wear a coat or jacket that conceals the cross, just like many of us wear Tsitsit under our shirts. He doesn’t remove it, and we don’t see it. Everyone is happy!

      • Lehavdil bein hatume lehatuhir. Have people lost their feeling to hashem to compare the holiest thing tzitzis to the most tomey thing a tzelem. Moshiach please!

      • You are correct. While most frumme yiddin will wear a yarmulke or hat, many reform rabbonim and some conservative rebbes as well do not wear a yarmulke. However, I cannot imagine the Vatican telling either of the Chief Rabbis of EY (both of whom are orthodox) whether or not they should wear a yarmulke if they were visiting the Pope.

    6. Let it be known that the comment that used to be here at #2, which was in my name, was not posted by me. Someone has been forging my name. Thank you VIN editors for removing the comment, but many posters have seen it and there are two comments that reply to it, so I feel the need to make this announcement.

    7. I’m not sure how you can expect him to remove his cross if you dont want to be forced to remove your yarmulke or hat in other situations. I dont think the pope considers his cross as stam a piece of religious jewelry. It is a constant reminder to him of what he worships, lehavdil, just like yidden cover their heads as a constant reminder of what is above us.

      • First of all, we should NEVER be in similar situations. We do not belong in churches, and should never enter one, even just to look at the art.

        Second of all, the Yarmulke or hat does not symbolize anything offensive to other faiths. Heck, the pope himself wears one. It is only a symbol of the existance of Hashem, admitted by both the pope’s church and by the Muslims.

        The cross represents a TRASHING of our G-d. It symbolizes that G-d came down to Earth, and created an offspring with a human (who was betrothed to a man), and that He, G-d, gave this “son” divinity, and allowed him to be killed as a “sacrifice” such that the spilling of his blood on the cross should be… never mind, I don’t want to elaborate on their beliefs, as I can’t without mocking it here, which is not the proper place.

        But, let’s just leave it that I believe the cross mocks Hashem! And that the cross mocks our Torah. Remember, they believe that the sacrifice of G-d, in the form on “his son” on the cross, NULLIFIES all the mitzovs and commandments in the Torah, to be replaced by belief in their stuff!

        The cross is the NULLIFICATION of Judaism.

        And some of you are okay with this man, the human symbol of Earth of all this, should be allowed to go to the kotel DISPLAYING the symbol of our NULLIFICATION?????.

      • UH …the story of purim took place about 100 years before JC was even born so why would Haman be wearing a cross?? (another yeshiva education wasted!)

        • Howard Johnson stice to Ice cream… Haman wore an Avoidah Zara around his neck and insisted that everyone including Mordechai bow down to him. The Megillah actually says that Haman wanted people to bow down to him, it doesn’t mention that he wore anything.

      • The cross/tzelem is a Roman symbol and Mordechai was in Persia. You got your history mixed up. My nephew survived Hitler in a Belgium monastery which was full of crosses and his father was gassed in Auschwitz. To start dictatating to the Pope is foolish. All you chachomim should known Yerushalayim is full of monasteries and churches. You will wait until moshiach to correct this situation.

      • For some reason, this wasn’t quoted in the article: “On a historic visit to the Holy Land in 2000, Pope John Paul II prayed at the Western Wall, stuffing a written prayer between the cracks. Pictures from the visit clearly show him wearing a golden cross while praying.”
        – from the same jpost article

    8. If he opts for the cross I hope he wears it on top of his Hitler Youth Uniform booth are equally offensive to Jews.The cross reminds me of the Crusades when the cross was the symbol of murdering Europe’s Jews on the way to the Holy Land

    9. The cross or zteilim represent 2 thousand years of jewish persecution. show a cross to a jew in spain in the 1400s and see the reaction.

      and in general, why does the pope have to go to the kotel when he is going to the dome of the rock?

      • No, the tzeilem does not represent persecution. It represents AVODAH ZARAH. That’s much worse. The cross did not persecute us, its worshipers wanted us to share their “truth” and their “salvation”; we were the ones who chose to die rather than embrace it, because Hashem told us “lo sishtachaveh le’el acher”.

    10. I just don’t get it. Why does anyone who is not Jewish visit the Kosel and put a “kvitel” into the wall? Do they believe in Hashem? Do they believe that the Bais Hamikdosh was once standing there and this wall is a remnant of that?
      The only reason the Kosel has any value to the world at all is because the Yidden daven their and proclaim it as holy. Why do they believe the Yidden about this but not about the rest of Eretz Yisrael?

      • During the times of the Beis Hamikdash didn’t goyim come to daven there as well?
        There is somthing very special about davening there and perhaps others feel it too?

        • Every goy is welcome to come there and daven to Hashem. “Ki veisi veis tefiloh yikorei LECHOL HO’AMIM.” “Amim har yikro’u, shom yizbechu zivchei tzedek.”

          But that is only if they are coming to pray to Hashem. He is coming to pray to his god. In that way Xianity is worse than other avodah zarahs. Pagans believe in many gods, so they have no problem believing in Hashem too; a pagan who would come to the beis hamikdosh would pray to the god of this temple, believing Him to be one of the many gods that exist. But Xians believe in only one god – theirs; and they falsely believe that their god is the same one that we worship, and Whose Presence is constantly on Har Habayis. So his prayers will be directed to his avodah zarah and not to Hashem. If it were possible to prevent him from visiting it would be good; but that’s not possible, so at least he should be asked to hide his tzelem from view.

    11. Such hisgarus be’ummos. Disgraceful. This rabbi or whatever he calls himself is trying to get some cheap publicity by cheppening with the pope. Who cares what he wears, and it should be nobodys business either. he is coming in a peaceful way, and should be welcomed rather than attacked.

      • What chutzpah. “This rabbi or whatever he calls himself” is the moro de’asro of the kosel; it’s his job to defend its kedusha, and not allow avodah zarah to be brought there.

        As for “hisgarus bo’ummos”, what do you say about Mordechai?

    12. Why are people making such a big tsimmis about the Pope’s cross? More important, someone should watch him when he is writing a kvittel for the kotel and make sure that he doesn’t say anything bad about the Jews. If he starts to write in Latin or German, then we’ll know that we have a problem.

    13. Unless there is a rule that does not allow “anyone” to wear a cross at the Kotel, it is absolutely a chilul hashem to be discriminatory against the Pope and a chilul to make an issue about this because the Rav wants to make one. Saying that the Pope cannot wear a cross that represents his religions when any number of christians/catholics visit the Kotel on any given day wearing their livush, rosary beads and crosses is absolutly ludicrous. Would it OK then if non religious jews who visit the historical sites of italy or go into the catholic quarters of Israel be made to take off their mogen dovid or kipot if they wear one? One thing has nothing to do with the other.

      Will the Rav also say the Pope can not pray to JC at the Kotel, but he can only pray to OUR eibishter and use only OUR prayers? What does the Pope know about praying to Hashem and using our tefilos, that would be sheker. He knows and does what he knows to do, and Hashem listens to his tefilos the way HE chooses to because he is still one of HIS creations.

      So lets respect others for who they are and leave politics out of it. We are not going to be mekarev the Pope or teach him to believe differently about the trinity. Trying to remove his religious vestments at the Kotel would be akin of HIM telling a Jew what they could wear in his presence and not the RAV telling another Jew what HE should wear in the Pope’s presence. And if the Pope were to say that a Jew should remove his kippah or tuck in his tzizis in his presence all “h” would break loose.


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