Thursday, September 19, 2019

Our weekly column (delayed) from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

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Shas PartyGehinnom, September 19 - A criminal who died this morning after casting his ballot on Tuesday for a party representing Jews of Mizrahi heritage found himself among the damned, even though the party leadership assured the public that supporting them in the election would guarantee a place in the Garden of Eden.

Shimon Levy, 54, perished Thursday in a car accident, just two days after voting for Shas in Israel's parliamentary elections. Shas leaders had repeated a campaign tactic from previous contests, telling their voters that voting for Shas guarantees the voter will enter the Coming World. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Levy, who had served six years and paid numerous fines for various corruption and racketeering offenses, ended up in Hell.

"I don't understand," gasped the small-time organized crime associate as his flesh was raked from his body, only to regenerate so it could be raked off once again, over and over. "They said if I voted for Shas I'd go to Gan Eden! I did exactly what the Rabbi said! This isn't fair!"

Shas campaign tactics featured posters and images of the late Rabbi Ovadya Yosef, the party's leader and inspiration until his passing at age 93 in 2013. The campaign invoked the Rabbi's words and messages again and again, including statements that anyone who votes for Shas cements a place in paradise - though such statements run afoul of laws that bar inducements on the part of candidates to get voters to cast ballots in their favor. The party aims to appeal to ethnic solidarity on the part of Mizrahim who feel both proud of their heritage and marginalized by the dominant Ashkenazi cultural elite. That strategy results in the use of tropes that often fuse culture and religion, in a manner that stirs loyalty even from many Mizrahim whose lifestyle departs from religious strictures in significant ways.

Representatives of Shas declined to comment on the discrepancy between the campaign promise and Mr. Levy's posthumous fate, as well as on such promises violating electoral laws. Experts point to various Talmudic passages as possible sources of resolution, noting in particular a section toward the end of Tractate Yoma discussing the circumstances and combinations of repentance, Yom Kippur, and various forms of suffering that can atone for different types of sins.

"All the sources seem to agree that interpersonal sins require that the victim consent to forgive," observed Rabbi Mendel Luphol. "That may be what made the difference in this case, considering all those directly and indirectly affected by Mr. Levy's crimes over the years. I have to wonder, then, about the afterlife prospects of someone who promises people Heaven without disclosing the fine print governing the terms and conditions."

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