Digging His Own Hole

Moshe Katsav was not a king, although he sometimes felt like one - even yesterday, at the courthouse, where the remnants of his royalty were trampled.

Had Katsav been a king and attempted to relinquish the honor due him, he would not have been able to do so. Since he was only a nasi - the modern Hebrew word for president, which means "prince" or "ruler" in ancient Hebrew - Jewish tradition allows him to relinquish the honor.

Except that the former president insists on trying to salvage his lost honor - as though there were something left to salvage - and it is even harder to forgive him for that.

The Book of Leviticus says: "When a ruler ("nasi") sinneth, and doeth through error any one of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a male without blemish."

This is, if you like, nothing but a biblical-style plea bargain or, according to the classical Torah commentator Rashi, "fortunate is the generation whose leader takes care to bring an atonement sacrifice even for an inadvertent act on his part, because then the leader will certainly repent for his willful sins."

But that doesn't describe the Katsav case; our generation is not one of the fortunate ones.

Katsav refuses to atone or express remorse. He seems to be filled with a feeling of self-righteousness.

And his full battery of lawyers trick and swindle, whether on their own initiative or on Katsav's capricious orders, and it seems that they are digging him a pit into which to fall.

It would have been better had the plea bargain never been struck, but now that the deal has been made, it would have been better for Katsav to stand up and say, "I admit." He should admit his guilt and quit public life forever.

Now there will be a trial, and the skinned carcasses will raise a stink.

One can only hope that as the repulsive stench spreads, we will find the truth - even though it has been so cruelly abused.