How a Rabbi Views Blessed Escrivá

Opus Dei Founder´s Ideas About Work Linked to Talmudic Tradition

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2002 (Zenit.org).- How does a rabbi gauge the ideas of Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer?



At a congress held last week in Rome on the centenary of Blessed Escrivá´s birth, the participants found out.

Angel Kreiman, international vice president of the World Council of Synagogues, addressed the congress, relating the concept of work in the Talmudic tradition with Blessed Escrivá´s preaching.

Rabbi Kreiman elucidated a central point of the Jewish tradition: "Work is not a punishment, but man´s duty, a blessing from God that allows us to fully enjoy the sabbath and allows us to be in the image and likeness of God."

The rabbi noted the centrality of work in the teachings of Blessed Escrivá, who saw it as an original vocation of man and blessing from God.

According to Kreiman, "to meet God within ordinary occupations and serve others through one´s work is one of the principal nonviolent battles to be won."

The rabbi mentioned that in Hebrew "the word ´work´ is also applied to religious worship, taking it to mean adoration as a holy action and, in turn, work as a holy adoration." Similarly, he said, Blessed Escrivá "never tired of repeating the necessity of transforming every occupation into prayer."

"Many of Josemaría Escrivá´s concepts call to mind the Talmudic tradition and reveal his profound knowledge of the Jewish world, as well as his passionate love, as he openly repeated, for two Jews, Jesus and Mary," the rabbi said. "Moreover, that which most likens his teachings to Judaism is the vocation of man to serve God through creative work, perfecting creation every day, through perfection in work."

The rabbi expressed satisfaction over the interreligious prayer meeting for peace, scheduled for Jan. 24 in Assisi. These meetings "help us to often remember that we all have the same common Father," he said.

Kreiman also remarked on the need that Christians and Jews have to "work together in favor of the principal humanitarian causes: social order, unemployment and poverty, drugs, hunger, and the fight against a consumerism empty of spirituality." He expressed his hope that "working and praying together, all according to our own tradition, will arrive unified at the table of the Father."

Angel Kreiman, chief rabbi of Chile between 1970 and 1990, is a member of the executive committee of the International Council of Christians and Jews, and chairs a foundation that promotes Christian-Jewish interreligious dialogue. The foundation is dedicated to his wife Susy Kreiman, who in that year was assassinated in Buenos Aires during a terrorist attack against the Central Jewish Community Office for work and unemployment, which she headed.

In Germany last August, Kreiman was elected as a member of the executive governing body of the International Christian-Jewish Confraternity. The rabbi, who is a cooperator of Opus Dei, wanted to demonstrate his special affection for the organization founded by Josemaría Escrivá.

"Opus Dei members helped me, right from the beginning of my seminarian studies, to persevere with my vocation," he said, "and I have also seen them do it with other rabbis for which I am deeply grateful."