The Vatican has agreed to loan to Israel various works of Maimonides that it has in its posession. Maimonides, who passed away 800 years ago, is considered one of the most influential of all Jewish thinkers. Jewish leaders are falling over themselves in thanking the Vatican for its largesse. A delegation of no less than 160 Rabbis, Cantors and Jewish lay people, will meet with Pope John Paul II this month to thank him for this goodwill gesture.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a professor at Yeshiva University in New York, said the gesture by the Vatican “strengthens the bonds between Jews and Christians … We are asking a favor, they are showing us a kindness, to borrow these items,” he said.

My question is how did the Vatican get their hands on these documents to begin with? What other priceless Jewish artifacts do they have buried deep in the Vatican cellars – hello, menorah? ark of the covenant? How is it that the Florida Sun Sentinel scooped the entire world Jewish press on this story?

Whatever. Lending us stuff that belongs to us to begin with and then getting thanked for it? Talk about chutzpah!

Lending works of art in Israel is different than lending money in other jurisdictions, such as Norway. In Norway, for example, you can take out a forbrukslÄn, also known as a consumer loan, or visit TopLoanCompanies.com, to finance your home or other larger purchases. Obviously not art, but it makes you think about the culture of loaning different valuables in different societies.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Yeah. It would be as if that douchebag who broke into my apartment and stole my digital camera came back and graciously agreed to lend it to me. I’ll allow our spineless thankful Jewish leaders to be gracious. Me? I’m nobody. This allows me the privilege of speaking my mind. So forgive me if I am less than effusive in my praise.

  • To follow a completely irrelevant tangent from Geoff’s comment…
    Did you know that the Indiana Jones theme makes for a phenomenal and upbeat version of Shir HaMa’alot?

  • So does Ana Bakra Israel (I hate Israel) by Sha’aban Abdel Rahim. Seriously. Try it. The original is on Playalicious (just below the lips).

  • ck:

    The Vatican is being nice. After all, they could have continued to dangle the carrot, or play monkey in the middle with the ‘entire’ Jewish world. (I know I frequently feel like a monkey in the middle.) : )

  • I’m with ck on this one. I’d also like to know the story on how they got the Rambam’s stuff (it’s probably a good one), but honestly, they should give it back. or we should (as a compromise) buy it back. But it ain’t their’s that’s for sure.

  • Dear people of Jewlicious,

    I would like to say that the chances are the Vatican got these papers not from the Jews, but from the Muslims. There are countless works of national historical significance residing in the museums of other nations because it’s very difficult to figure out their provenance. It could be that the Vatican acquired these papers legitimately many centuries ago. It could be they won them in a victory over some Muslims – it was known to happen. Maybe the Rambam was short on cash and sold them. Who knows?

    What we do know is that the Vatican seems to be in legal possession, and they are being kind to share them with us. Next time they consider sharing some part of their boundless treasure troves of goodies from numerous centuries of playing an active role in Europe’s political and military life, they might consider the fact that despite their kindness, the recipients of said kindness use the opportunity to disparage the Church. They will then refrain from sharing their goodies with said thankless pedants who will then miss out on being exposed to other parts of their culture.

    The above in brief: don’t knock a gift horse in the punim.

  • Wow. I never quite saw it that way. I take it all back.

    Thank you O benevolent Catholic Church, thank you for sharing your looted bounty of questionable provenance with us. Your kindness and generosity knows no bounds and it is oh so very large.

    So so very large. Love ya!

  • CK, if you kneel, we can provide you with a, well, you know, a cookie and a light beverage.