Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Photo: Eli Elgarat

Put a tampon in the ballot box?

Why are Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's promises any more absurd than those of secular politicians?

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's promise of heaven to those who vote Shas next Tuesday, brings out deep feelings of rebuff, a certain odor of bad taste and even real, significant question marks.


But these reservations are not necessarily side affects of rational enlightenment, a la Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish, who placed strict limits on the option to broadcast party temptations by use of whispers, amulets or blessings. Really.


In my opinion, the sweeping opposition to Rabbi Yosef's offer can be dissected simply and rationally, and leads to two resolute conclusions:


1. There is no clear relationship between political affiliation and God.


2. It is a promise that can only be validated by a visit to the Garden of Eden itself after the elections – a journey most of us will try to stave off as long as possible. Even we journalists would forego the scoop of a lifetime in order to avoid that journey.


Back to reality


The pointlessness of dreams about opportunities to enjoy the riches of the next world bring us back, then, down to the real world. They remove Shas' amulets and guarantees from the agenda and allow us to deal seriously only with the promises made on the nightly election ads by other parties - the earthly, logical, rational promises, rich with real promises.


It's not nice to admit, but in contrast to most of the public, I actually enjoy the sights and sounds of this annual charade. Yes, I enjoy it, despite the fact that the local bon ton requires us to take the ads with a few grains of salt and to rage against them because they "insult the voter's intelligence."


You remember the hurtful phrase, "It's too bad this pleasure only lasts five days," from the excellent ads for feminine hygiene products? This is exactly how I feel when faced with all these promises, imparted to us each day by the power hungry from wall-to-wall.


Why does this pleasure have to end on Election Day, I ask myself sorrowfully. Why don’t they let the public in on all the wonderful secrets, on all the things that will happen if only we use their tampons? Oops, I mean if they vote for our party?


Election promises


Why don't they give us more than a couple of hours a day about how e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e will fight corruption, raise minimum wage, lower taxes,
eliminate terror, bring peace, give out benefits to the elderly, fix the economy, take care of single parents, improve education, wipe out poverty, help the Ethiopians, deal with battered women, ensure men's rights, reveal who really killed Yitzhak Rabin, fight crime, fight religious coercion, restore past glory, give out a few green leaves, make medicines cheap and everything else under the sun?


Once upon a time we had a leader who warned voters that "the fate of Netzarim would be the same and the fate of Tel Aviv." Some people even believed him.


So what is the substantive difference between these promises that no one has any intention of keeping, and those of Rabbi Yosef?


On second thought, I think I just might gamble after all on a ticket to paradise.


Batya Melamed is a journalist


פרסום ראשון: 03.23.06, 11:30
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