The Ninth Commandment

January 27, 2009 at 13:18 3 comments

In this post-modern day and age few things hold society (I’ve spent too many years as a graduate student to comfortably take the word “civilization” in my mouth) together. A part of this eroding foundation is the Ten Commandments. They are supposed to be the rock of morality on which all human interaction is based, and most of us try to stick to them in our day-to-day lives — in one way or another. 

I was reminded of this ancient wisdom this morning when I went to the Tax Authority on one of my many visits to this grand example of Levantine Bureaucracy.

For those of you how might not know, anyone who’s got more than one employer needs to go to the local branch of the Tax Authority and file a form confirming this fact, and asking the state to instruct the employers to adjust the level of tax they need to deduct from one’s gross income. Why can’t the employers and the Tax Authority take care of this automatically without involving me? Why do I have to go through with this ridiculous ritual, not once every time I start a new job, but annually — even if I have no changes to report?

But I digress. These are all good questions, but beside the point.

The point, instead, is the fact that the Tax Authority in Jerusalem caused me to transgress against the Ninth Commandment today. It might seem serious to lie to the Tax Authority, but to my defense I need to stress that I did it ex post facto.

At the entrance, the security guy asked the regular question about whether I was carrying a gun. This is standard procedure at any government office, museum or restaurant.

But then he went on to ask:

“Do you intend to attack anyone inside this building, either physically or verbally?”

At first, I thought he was joking, and answered negatively with a smile.

However, after some time in the crowded waiting room, brooding over the stupidity of the exercise, I started to realize that the question might have been serious after all. And then, after two hours of waiting, when we were all told that their printing system had broken down and that we couldn’t get the proper documents required to get a salary this month, I caught myself entertaining exactly the kind of intensions I had promised not to harbor when I entered the building.

I apologize, Mr. Bar-On.


Entry filed under: Judaism, Life.

Northern Exposure All Publicity?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Avichay  |  January 27, 2009 at 13:53

    I have to see this to believe it.
    You’re a hero in the virtual space, not in daily interactions with service people…
    Or maybe you did manage to justify your right to vote here after all….

  • 2. Reasons to Leave Sweden « A Blog of Two Cities  |  January 27, 2009 at 13:54

    […] I can actually live in Sweden. Sometimes, like this morning when I went on one of my too frequent visits to the Tax Authority, I ask myself the same […]

  • 3. Mikael Tossavainen  |  January 27, 2009 at 17:34

    Obviously, I didn’t actually do anything. But I had promised not to intend to do anything — and that promise I couldn’t keep.


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