I’m not going to reprint it (although, if you’ve got two and a quarter seconds, it’s easy to Google), but following Obama’s visit to the Western Wall last Friday before Shabbat, a student filched the note that he wrote to God and stuck in.
The ensuing saga has been pretty wild to follow. The Israeli daily Maariv published the note. Predictably, Maariv’s rivals slammed it, as did the international media. The chief rabbi of the Western Wall decried both the theft and the publication, which is actually pretty cool. And then the yeshiva student who stole it went on TV and apologized.
Shall we count the ways that Israel is like no other country in the world?
- People actually pray! Constantly!
- People pay attention to other people praying!
- People condemn other people for brute invasions of privacy that, compared to American tabloids, are like child’s play.
- (And that, compared to British tabloids, are like freakin’ baby’s play.)
- Public officials speak out against trashing political candidates!
- People apologize when they did things that are wrong!
Rabbi Yonah just wrote up an intriguing and impassioned piece about the letter–saying, in effect, that, whether or not it was a publicity stunt, it was a credible testament to Obama’s beliefs:
Cynics will say that the letter is too good – that he must have known, or in fact even set up this whole thing. They will say that he used Judaismâ€™s holiest site to pursue more votes from Jews with this letter. Well duh, as my kids say. Every politician that has ever visited the did it with an eye to Jewish votes. What is more impressive are the contents of the letter.
So, yeah. That’s the difference between American scandals and Israeli scandals. (Now insert your favorite Olmert/Peres/Omri Sharon/Moshe Katsav joke. Sigh.)
Edit: Ma’ariv has just announced that the note was pre-approved for publication by Obama’s campaign. So….
Pronounced: KOH-tell, Origin: Hebrew, Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site.
Pronounced: yuh-SHEE-vuh or yeh-shee-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, a traditional religious school, where students mainly study Jewish texts.