There have been no better times for Israel than these days when he is due to come back. Those who have heard or seen him report that there is "electricity in the air" when the saintly man enters the room. And not a soul will pull out the plug and save the guests from being electrocuted. During the week there were additional testimonies from people who were walking in the dark and suddenly saw the light; the glow at the end of the tunnel reflected in their faces.
He is returning and the attorney general, how annoying, is still probing the trivial question of when exactly the invalidity expires and he will be kosher again.
Let us assume he had been found guilty by seven judges in three different courts of other offenses - for example, undermining state security, heaven forbid, or robbing elderly people in their homes, or assaulting children in the playground, or harassing women in the women's gallery of the synagogue. No, thank God, he was not found guilty of any of these but merely of bribery and embezzling millions, after sticking to his right to keep silent for three years. And, after all, bribery and embezzlement are the kind of offenses that people in these parts take lightly and then forget about, the kind anyone can play around with, the kind about which people say: Only bribery? Is that all? Let's not exaggerate.
He is not the only one who will return and bring back the former glory; other great people who behaved corruptly in small ways will return home after the border is breached for a moment. No one must be discriminated against, and there is still the issue of moral turpitude to deal with. Let them rise up and come, these colleagues of his over the generations who have received bribes, who were caught in the act and have had time to pay their debt to society. Let those whose sentences have only recently been handed down rise up in another four or five years, when the scent of moral turpitude is no longer so strong, the scent they bought as public figures who fly first class in the atmosphere of duty-free. Will those who are planning to return soon set up a new movement stressing integrity in government? There are rumors to that effect.
This time, the close associates whisper to the journalists close to them that he will not make do merely with his little party he is dissatisfied with. He is no longer interested in a party for disconsolate and misled poverty-stricken followers. This time he is aiming high and going for the entire jackpot. It was not in order to inherit from his successor that he sat for seven lean years in quarantine so as not to become infected. And those who had reservations about him as a minister can now enjoy him as a prime minister. The people want him, and the people can get him.
So it is already possible to begin imagining the headlines all over the world: "Former convict elected Israeli prime minister," and the political analyses will stress that this is unprecedented around the world.
At long last we are able to understand the puzzle of a passage in the Gemara, which to this day we found difficult to interpret, the one in which Rabbi Yohanan discussed how one does not appoint a public official unless he has a bad record, so that if he becomes smug, he can be told, look back at your past and know who you are. That is the way we prefer them, our leaders - contaminated.
The sages were not dumb; they understood the soul of their beast and they understood who, in his conceit, would best be able to take the beast out to pasture, and that man is no better than his beast.
That is also the reason, according to the same passage, Saul's kingdom did not last longer: "Because he had no flaws," that fool.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now