The Ninth Commandment
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.