Text size

The undersigned has never been part of the business world, but he's had plenty of good business ideas. He actually tried to scatter them like seeds, but his efforts were in vain and they floated away in the wind.

One of these ideas will be retold here, in anticipation of the Purim festival. It comes back to bug me every time Purim draws near.

Back in the days when we lived on Moshav Margaliot, on the border with Lebanon, we would go hiking in the area every Saturday, drinking in the scenery and never getting enough of it. On one of those Saturdays, we went further out than usual and arrived at the Baram Forest. Suddenly we came across a sign - Mordecai and Esther were buried here. We were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. How was it that we'd never heard that before?

Until then, we'd been under the mistaken belief that their graves were located in the town of Hamadan in central Iran. We apparently had not realized that, at some stage, their bones had been brought to Israel for reinterment, perhaps at the same time Ze'ev Jabotinsky's bones were flown in from New York. Or perhaps it had been part of some secret operation; so is it even permitted to reveal this?

The Zaka rescue and recovery organization clarified that Mordecai and Esther had actually been granted a double burial, both here and there, a schizophrenic event that is hopefully not disturbing their peace. And if it doesn't disturb them, then why not? Let there be as many saints' graves in Israel as possible.

And indeed those graves grow more numerous and fill the land. In particular, they fill the Galilee region, where all kinds of absurdities are accepted willingly. As we continued to hike, we came across more and more sites where the names of righteous men can be found. Every ruin has a name given it by entrepreneurs, and it is quite a lucrative source of income.

The first thing to do is give the place a clever label, every grave must have its own particular folk remedy. Women who have not been able to conceive venture to one, where they wrap themselves in prayer for the fruit of the womb; unmarried virgins who wish to find a match head to another. There is a righteous man somewhere who will bring peace to a household, and there is a most righteous woman who can provide a cure. The righteous understand the nature of the beast and if they do not exist, they invent them; the graves of ghosts soothe and cure, and living people cast themselves upon them with spiritual necrophilia.

Not every grave is meant to serve the needs of individuals; there are also national graves that serve the needs of the general public, and these grow in number mainly in the territories. Here even the skies are not the limit and for God's sake any sheikh's grave will be enshrined. Travelers to the Orient in the Middle Ages based their writings on the tales of some old local shepherd, and we've learned from their travelogues that Joseph the Righteous is buried here and Simon the Righteous is buried there. From one righteous man to another, our strength increases and our hold there deepens.

This is the reality of death with which we live, the same reality that gave birth to the idea: Why should we not also find some ruin near our home? And if there is no ruin close-by, why not build something and destroy it with our own hands? It would be labeled the site of national shrewdness, where all the blind people could go to make fools of themselves and prostrate themselves.

We had already succeeded in enlisting one of the good neighbors, who in return for a small sum of money and several appearances on TV was prepared to swear that he'd been saved in an instant. He would bear witness with his greedy eyes; and we had not given up hope of finding another partner who would bear witness with his mind's eye.

The preparations were going well, and we'd already decided for ourselves on the name of a righteous man free to take on another superstition, when suddenly everything collapsed. My wife, who was supposed to run the business with the children, and stuff the contributions into our own pockets, suddenly started repenting. The whole business didn't seem right to her. In a country strewn with real graves, she claimed, where every week fresh graves appear from yet another calamity, there is no place for graves parading as something else - which themselves cause disasters and produce more victims.

Not every Jewish orphan and her selfish cousin are Esther and Mordecai, and not every day is a happy day of Purim.