Is he considered either a king or a great non-Jewish scholar?

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    Hi, Aaron Ross, and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Thanks for the bringing this question here. Although they do not directly answer your question, you may be interested in the following (somewhat) related questions: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/39040 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/39045 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27159 and this answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/37737.
    – Fred
    Mar 1, 2015 at 19:47
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    On a lighter note, what's the proper blessing for the Czar? youtube.com/watch?v=TKnOhjH1-9w
    – Fred
    Mar 1, 2015 at 19:48
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    Additionally, consider the possibility that even if he is considered a monarch of sufficient caliber that a blessing would otherwise be recited, perhaps his status as head of the Catholic religion would render such a blessing inappropriate.
    – Fred
    Mar 1, 2015 at 22:02
  • @Fred, the Queen of England is in a similar situation vis-a-vis the Anglican Church, so she would also have to be disqualified if that were the case. judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/55929/…
    – Yishai
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:32
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    @Yishai I guess that's possible, but I'm more inclined to think that that case may be different because her primary and most distinctive role is not that of a religious leader. Further, I don't think she usually wears conspicuous symbols of her religion. So reciting the blessing wouldn't carry the appearance of reciting a blessing over someone in their role as leader of a foreign religion.
    – Fred
    Jun 4, 2015 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


The Pope is the head of state and government of the Vatican City, which is an internationally recognised nation-state. As the Vatican even controls a small military (The Swiss Guards).

As an absolute monarch, he has the capacity to exert control over the military (if he desires) and is technically capable of enacting capital punishments in accordance with Canon Law (Catholic Halacha). We may liken this with the President of the United States who has the power to execute or commute capital punishment, for whom one says the berachah for seeing a king, according to R' Ovadia Yosef זצ”ל (see above linked answer).

  • I intentionally avoided probably his greatest power thereon, which is of course pursuant to being Catholic. I'll edit in my other rationales. Mar 2, 2015 at 16:08
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    Can you cite a source for the existence of capital punishment within Canon Law and the Pope's discretion thereon?
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 2, 2015 at 16:30
  • For the scholar blessing, the commentaries on Shulchan Aruch clearly say it has to be a wisdom classically recognized by Judaism, e.g. mathematics, medicine, or music; "not an expert on a foreign faith."
    – Shalom
    Mar 2, 2015 at 17:08
  • @Shalom, what I meant was that his greatest power over life and death is the ability to damn or save individuals (through Yoshke) Mar 2, 2015 at 18:23
  • @IsaacMoses, I've never learned hilchot haCatolikim, but I know that there are capital punishments for heresy, among other things in the Canon Codes. I would be more accurate if I had better knowledge of the sources. Mar 2, 2015 at 18:25

You said correctly that one makes a blessing on a king and on a great non-Jewish scholar.

A king is a head of state. The Poskim debate if one recites this blessing on a president or prime-minister. The blessing is definitely not recited on a powerful person who is not a head of state.

A great non-Jewish scholar is defined as one who has exceptional knowledge in one of the sciences. See Blessings on Wise Men and Kings.

The pope does not meet either condition. There is no blessing for a respected religious leader of a (non-Jewish) religion.

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    The pope is the king of Vatican city Mar 1, 2015 at 20:32
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    @ClintEastwood, the Pope is the monarch of Vatican city, but as Prince not King. IIRC though, the beracha on seeing a king was recited for reigning German Princes pre-unification. Mar 1, 2015 at 20:51
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    [Vatican City] is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population. It is an ecclesiastical ... state ruled by ... the Pope., so this answer is suspect on the facts. Is his status as ruler sufficient to reach the Halachic definition of a King for the purposes of this Bracha? I don't know.
    – Yishai
    Mar 1, 2015 at 20:59
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    @J.C.Salomon. There does seen to be a popular conception that princes serve under kings, but this is not necessarily true. Both Monaco and Andorra are principalities, ruled by a princes who are monarchs in their own right. (Andorra is a bit of a special case, mind you.)
    – TRiG
    Mar 1, 2015 at 21:15
  • Sure, @TRiG; halachikly he's a melech whatever the title is—which is why (as I said) the Reichsfürsten would have the bracha made for them. Mar 1, 2015 at 22:48

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