The Ten Sons of the Times

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank, recently issued a rabbinical ruling that 'it is permissible to burst zits on the Sabbath' - I swear this is so.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank, recently issued a rabbinical ruling that "it is permissible to burst zits on the Sabbath" - I swear this is so. And if this is the case on the Sabbath, how much more so before the Sabbath: Let the zit of corruption that has developed into a pimple that has developed into a carbuncle full of sebum burst. And it would not be fair if Accountant General Yaron Zelekha, and he alone, will drain the pus when only the state comptroller dines with him.

Every time a cloud hovers over the head of a suspect, there will always be the duty weather forecaster who will report clear skies for the coming days. This is also what happened this week when the case against Avraham Burg was closed, to our delight. Apparently it has been proven once again that the rule-of-law gang, that absolutely very secret band (as in the Hasamba books for young readers) is in pursuit of wearers of immaculate white collars; for no reason at all, they are making false accusations about them. Even former justice minister Yosef Lapid has girded his loins to write an article refuting the impression that Israel is a corrupt country. "It is not," he asserted. "Not everyone is corrupt." But has anyone ever said that everyone is corrupt? The prevailing assertion has been, and remains, that there are too many corrupt people here and even a very few constitute a big danger if they are very important people. After all, in Sodom itself, the number of righteous men was not entirely clear, and God was prepared for it to have the benefit of the doubt until it proved its total wickedness. At this stage at least, there is no certainty that Israel has already descended to the level of Sodom.

To say that "not everyone is corrupt" is to state the obvious; it is like saying that not every day of the year is a rainy day or, alternatively, sunny. The problem is that every year the International Corruption Index ranks Israel in a less flattering and more disgraceful place. And the index only photographs our presidents and prime ministers who roam between police stations accompanied by a whole retinue of Knesset members, local council heads, rabbis and other top people. The citizens of Israel, for their part, do not need the international ranking to know from their own experience that there is no place here that is free of the suspicion of corruption. "Not everyone is corrupt" - do all the apples have to be rotten for the entire crate to rot?

Though Israel does take care to present the appearance of equality before the law, in fact there is not one law for everyone. For the important people, they have invented something called "the psychological element," which was not invented for small pickpockets. The courts, including the Supreme Court, assume that leaders are extremely busy people, the nation's concerns are their only concerns and they have no leisure for small change. One of them is concerned only about the public and didn't notice he bought an expensive sofa for his home at the public's expense; a second didn't notice he received a loan with no interest; a third wasn't careful and approved forged receipts; a fourth didn't notice he traveled, lodged and went out without paying a cent; a fifth was not alert and accepted contributions several times larger than what the law allows; a sixth distractedly appointed close associates; a seventh got into trouble because of members of his family and not because of himself, heaven forbid; an eighth unintentionally saw to his wealthy friends, in the absence of impecunious friends; a ninth saw to his own home, or homes, because even a public figure is a private person and he has a wife and children; and a tenth again forgot to pay, for four years he forgot, even though he had already been burned and reprimanded. Ten sons of the times.

High and mighty people don't pay attention to small things. Everyone knows that. They will always find extenuating circumstances for themselves. Are they not deserving of special consideration? Will we not find them innocent? Is ingratitude second nature to us?

In his article the former minister mentions the little black notebook of legendary finance minister Pinhas Sapir, which sinned and led to sin. Coming to cool the enthusiasm of investigators and prosecutors, Lapid wishes to stress that it used to be no better here, and perhaps it was even worse, and there is no need for nostalgia. For the sake of his friends he will not stay silent. Even without an overdose of nostalgia, let us note that Sapir had only one small home, that his furniture was the kind the Jewish Agency gave to new immigrants and wasn't purchased abroad at the Jewish Agency's expense.

And if we are already talking about the way things used to be: It used to be that we knew that having a lot of property means having a lot of worries; and today we know that having a lot of worries means having a lot of property.