An age-old Jewish tradition suggests that the wildest fantasies usually end up coming true. This week, there was a talking ass in the Torah portion, it turned out that Jesus never wanted to start a new religion, and world leaders’ admiration for the Communist Bloc — rest its soul — was resurrected in Israel. Yes, indeed, the most far-reaching imaginative fantasies could end up coming true.

During the time of the Mishnah lived a wise man named Flimo. One day, Flimo came to Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi with a halachic problem that had been bothering him. If a Jew happened to have two heads, on which head should he put his tefillin? As expected, the rabbi became angry at being bothered with such nonsense (and probably also at the insinuation that there was something wrong with the method of teaching), and he instructed Flimo to choose one of two harsh punishments.

A moment after Flimo left the room, a man arrived and asked the rabbi: “I have just had a son who was born with two heads. How much do I need to pay the cohen (for the traditional redemption of the first-born son)?”

The moral of the story is that there are no illegitimate questions, because even the most far-fetched possibilities, the ones that seem the most unlikely, end up happening at some point.

Since anything is possible, even a two-headed creature, the following issue should be given some attention: At the beginning of the week a proposal was raised for a law that would grant benefits to Israelis who served in the Israel Defense Forces or national service programs. The benefits include preference in job applications, precedence in university dorm placement and in allocation of land for housing.

In short, anyone who dedicates three years of his or her life for the public good will enjoy the public’s gratitude.

But the attorney-general opposes this proposal, and he fears that the High Court of Justice will strike it down as illegal. Racism and all that garbage. As I’ve already said, anything can happen.

Now, pay attention:

A) Justice Minister Tzipi Livni voted against a bill that would grant benefits to people who contribute to the state.

B) Livni explained that she is in favor of compensating those who contribute, but that it must be done “within the confines of the law.”

C) Here’s the point: Would the justice minister please explain to Livni that in order to do something with the “confines of the law” there needs to be a law — or perhaps those two are not on speaking terms?

On the other hand, this may not be a case of a two-headed baby but a case of that famous Polish riddle:

Question: What do you call the neighbor’s son in Polish?

Answer: The son of that woman I will never, ever speak to.


Don’t the extremist settlers who perpetrate price-tag attacks against Palestinians realize that they are getting a raw deal? The state classifies them as terrorists, but they don’t get the 72 virgins.

Disability benefits

Welcome to the country of the two heads, Flimo-land. Until not too long ago, it was agreed by all that it was best to grant benefits to those who risk their lives for our security. Now it turns out that even gratitude is racist discrimination.

Well, a recent investigation revealed that soldiers in the IDF receive three meals each day, and that there is even a mechanism in place to ensure that these meals are tasty.

According to the attorney-general’s and justice minister’s logic, this is racist discrimination. Since there are nearly no Arabs serving in the IDF, the meals constitute a discriminatory benefit enjoyed mainly by Jews.

Pretty soon the justice minister (and possibly Tzipi Livni too) will try to revoke this benefit. As far as those two are concerned, either soldiers will stop being fed or the state will start providing meals to Arab youth.

If everything goes well, soon afterward there will be a discussion about possibly revoking the benefits granted to the families of fallen IDF soldiers. After all, it is unthinkable that the Arabs won’t enjoy similar benefits. How long will the discrimination go on?

And so, we approach the end of the 19th century in Europe, the time that was documented in the writings of Alter Druyanov:

One day an officer entered the barracks and, wondering whether the cadets were sufficiently absorbing the daily lessons, he stood up and yelled, “Cohen, why does a soldier need to risk his life for the sake of the homeland?”

Cohen replied: “Your honor, sir, I have been asking myself the same question.”

The rabbi’s remarks

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is in for quite a bit of embarrassment this Shabbat. The Torah portion this week, Balak, will reveal to him how curses can become blessings. In any case, the words of disgust that he recently directed at the candidate for chief rabbi, Rabbi David Stav, raise some important questions:

1. Yosef claimed that members of Habayit Hayehudi had come to him and told him terrible things about Stav. In the past, Yosef called Habyait Hayehudi a house of goyim. So now he believes the testimonies of goyim?

2. Yosef said that if Stav was truly a wise Torah scholar, he would be reviled. Well, since Yosef reviles Stav, does that make Stav a wise Torah scholar?

The members of Shas argue that Yosef’s words are the words of a living God. Well, in anything having to do with God it would be best to reference the chronicles of Transylvania, namely the chapters on the wars against the Ottoman Empire. Those were days when Transylvania’s ruler, Dracula, used to impale Turkish captives, and later Romanian captives. One day, God looked down from heaven onto Romania and decided that it was time to put an end to this habit of impaling people.

God turned to those around him and his eyes first rested on Jesus. “Maybe you could descend to earth and try to talk to Dracula, convince him to stop impaling people,” God said.

“The moment he sees me,” Jesus replied, “he may want to impale me too. I won’t do it.”

God turned and spotted Moses. “Maybe you would be willing to approach Dracula in my name and ask him to stop impaling his people?” God asked.

“He will immediately impale me too,” Moses replied.

“You’ve left me no choice, said God. “I will have to descend myself and appeal to Dracula’s merciful heart.”

God rose from his chair and headed out of heaven, but within seconds he turned around and ran back to his seat.

“What happened?” Moses and Jesus asked.

“I started to leave but then I realized that if I left my chair, even for a minute, that Romanian Dracula would come and take my seat,” God said.

The lion’s roar

After price-tag vandals spray painted racist slogans on a wall recently, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri remarked that this behavior reminded him of the Nazis. This proves that just to prevent ignorance, it is imperative to obligate ultra-Orthodox students to study core subjects.

The weekly Torah portion

This week’s portion is, among other things, about Balaam and his ass. It may possibly be the most important Torah portion for anyone who does what I do. The lesson of the portion is that anyone can talk, even an ass.