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.
The Jewish people met and picked an aged, but wise Rabbi Moishe to
represent them in the debate. However, as Moishe 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 Moishe sat opposite each other for a
full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.
Rabbi Moishe looked back and raised one finger.
Next, the Pope waved his finger around his head.
Rabbi Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.
The Pope then brought out a communion wafer and a chalice of wine.
Rabbi Moishe pulled out an apple.
With that, the Pope stood up and declared that he was beaten, that Rabbi
Moishe was too clever, and that the Jews could stay.
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 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. He pulled out an apple to remind
me of the original sin. He had me beaten and I could not continue."
Meanwhile the Jewish community was gathered around Rabbi Moishe "How did
you win the debate?" they asked.
"I haven't a clue," said Moishe. "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
"And then what?" asked a woman.
"Who knows?" said Moishe, "He took out his lunch, so I took out mine."