A feel-good video of Pope Francis dancing with a group of rabbis at the Vatican didn’t feel so good to some haredi Orthodox Jews, whose criticisms drew an apology from one of the rabbis who took part.
Rabbi Dovber Pinson, a Chabad rabbi and the dean of the Iyyun Yeshiva in Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote a letter of apology to students and friends.
Following the wide dissemination of the video from Monday’s meeting, contributors to the haredi Orthodox Yeshiva World News website debated whether the group of rabbis should have met with Pope Francis at all. One concern was the large cross worn by the pope during the audience, which suggested the rabbis were in the presence of “idol worship.”
Critics also questioned whether rabbis should have engaged in music and singing during the days of semi-mourning leading up to Lag b’Omer, a minor festival to be marked on Sunday. Pinson wrote that the singing and dancing began “spontaneously without my foreknowledge or consent.”
Others questioned the appropriateness of the psalm that was sung. Psalm 91, whose verse “With long life I will satisfy him and I will show him my salvation” is directed at God, could be interpreted as extolling the virtues of the pope, a critic wrote.