Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu? Oy!

Just when I thought that things were getting a bit more real in the Charedi world, I read about the first act in response to a potential health crisis by Charedi Kenesset member Yakov Litzman. He was given the Health Ministry portfolio by Benjamin Netanyahu. He has declared the word swine to be off limits.

The swine flu that suddenly appeared on the world radar screen has invaded Israel. There are supposedly two confirmed cases there now. Though it is unlikely the swine flu can be deadly. Flu epidemics can become pandemic. So the health ministry is justifiable concerned.

So what’s the first thing the Charedi head of this ministry does? He renames it. That’s right. This is what is important to him. The idea of saying the word ‘swine’ is so bad that he refuses to use that word.

Swine flu?! Heaven forfend! Let's call it the Mexico Flu.

I cannot imagine a more foolish first statement than that. It can do little else but bring laughter and ridicule against the Jewish people. This is what is important to Jews?! - The word swine?!

How absurd! If that word is good enough for the Torah then Rabbi Litzman ought to be able to bring himself to say it. After all we are not honoring a pig by naming a disease after it. It was named ‘swine flu’ because that animal is the source of the virus.

If he thinks that Jews should only utter words that are positive – even when we are talking about disease - why call it the Mexico Flu? Mexico is not a particularly positive word. Charedi is a positive word. How about calling it the Charedi Flu?