The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef once had an amazing meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Here’s a short vignette of the meeting in the rabbi’s words:
“I had a meeting with Putin the President of Russia. I thought we’d have a short meeting with a few pictures for a few minutes but I was surprised; he sat with me for an hour and a quarter! Where did he have the time to do this? He spoke the whole time, he doesn’t know Hebrew and I don’t know Russian but we had our ambassador there who was interpreting between us.”
“He started explaining what Greek culture is, what Egyptian culture is and what Roman culture is. He kept explaining and expounding on the topic and I’m listening to what seems to be a history lesson. Then he turned to me suddenly, surprising me and asked me: “Honorable Rabbi, tell me… all the other cultures disappeared. Who remembers Greek culture today? Who knows what Roman culture or Egyptian culture is today? Nobody knows what these are anymore. You the Jewish nation, you remained! Can you explain to me how is it that you remain and all those other cultures were erased from the world? Rabbi, please give me an explanation for this! I started trying to explain like in outreach seminars which explain basic concepts in Judaism, but he interrupted me and said: “Don’t answer me, I’ll answer you.”
“What did he tell me? Remember he is not Jewish and not someone who came back to Judaism; he is the non-Jewish president of half the world, of Russia and what did he tell me? He told me: “You remain in the merit of your rabbis and of your Torah! Your rabbis spread Torah and in merit of this you remain.”
“To hear such an answer from a non-Jewish president… he knows the truth! He acknowledged the truth that we remain in the merit of our Torah. The nation of Israel exists only in merit of our Torah! Therefore let us all strengthen ourselves in our Torah. May the merit of the Torah help to build the Holy temple speedily in our days, May the Torah protect you all and grant you good health and clear vision and a long life. May we merit seeing the final redemption speedily and in our days, Amen!