A crook from the past and a crook in the present

I came upon a citation in Talmud Sotah 3, a statement attributed to a highway bandit about the year 270 of the common era.

The man responsible for the remark was Shimon Bar Lakisha, better known in the Babylonian Talmud as Resh Lakish, born in 200 before the common era and who died 75 years later in 275 in the village of Tzippori.

In his early years he made his living as a gladiator in the circus due to his immense physical strength. Later, he discovered that it was easier to make a living by becoming a bandit, a criminal who took from others illegally.

He spent many years patrolling highways in search of victims to rob. But somehow, he was redeemed through the efforts of Rabbi Yochanan who taught him the wisdom of the Torah. Eventually he became a very great amora of Talmud in the third century before the common era.

It was his statement that brought me from the ancient past into the immediate present.

“No man commits a sin unless he is struck by momentary insanity”.

Applying the past scenario into the present one, it is clear that prime minister Netanyahu has been struck by momentary insanity which has kept him in that state of insanity for the past few years.

Resh Lakish and Binyamin Netanyahu have much in common, in my opinion. Resh Lakish was a gladiator in a circus and Netanyahu is a clown in the circus of Israel’s political darkness.

Both practiced a life of crime for personal gain. Resh Lakish as a robber of wealth from those who traveled unprotected on highways and Bibi Netanyahu who stole honor and dignity from the people of Israel who he was elected to serve.

Resh Lakish robbed people of their possessions. Netanyahu robbed citizens of Israel of their trust.

Eventually, Resh Lakish was redeemed by the loving spirit of Rabbi Yochanan. There is no one to redeem prime minister Netanyahu.

Resh Lakish repented before God for his early life of crime. Netanyahu defies God in the later years of his crimes… fraud, breach of public trust and finally, bribery for personal gain by refusing adamantly to admit his guilt..

The first criminal lived in the wilderness. The second will live in Caesarea before or after a prison cell.

Resh Lakish believed crime to be a sin of momentary insanity. Netanyahu believes crime is something he can get away with. One repented. The other one has not.

One sought redemption. The other one has not.

It astounds me to read the testimony of truth of Resh Lakish whereas the testimony of Netanyahu is “fake news”.

Thousands of years have passed between the two of them. But momentary insanity has recently proved to be more long-lasting.

Resh Lakish had a Rabbi Yochanan. Netanyahu has a Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a foul-mouthed religious leader who calls Ethiopian black Jews “monkeys” and who denigrates the lives of hundreds of thousands from the former Soviet Union who made aliyah to Israel and who made and still make great contributions to our cultural, medical and scientific lives.

Momentary insanity is temporary. With the present leader of the State of Israel it seems to be permanent.

Once we had a crook from the past. Now we have a crook in the present.

Yochanan—Yochanan—where art thou?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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