Israel Stories

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Scottish Play

Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble.’ Three witches stand around a boiling cauldron quoting ingredients for Elizabethan chicken soup (including liver of blaspheming Jew). Keeping your head when all around you are losing theirs is a very admirable trait. Not flying off the handle, getting mad or whatever local expression you have for just boiling over, is, however, easier said than done. Last week, through no fault of my own, I was both a boiling cauldron and very nearly a blaspheming Jew.

“Hello, directory, I would like the number of the office of the former Sefardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, you know the Rishon Letzion, Rav Mordechai Elyhau.”

“Hello caller, I have Eliyahu Mordechai, who lives in Rishon Letzion”

Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!

“No sorry directory, maybe I wasn’t clear I need Rav Mordechai Eliyahu former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, he is called the Rishon LeTzion, its not where he lives.”

“Hello caller, what’s his family name?”

“His office is called Lishkat Mordechai Eliyahu”

“Is that in Rishon LeTzion?”

“No Rishon Letzion is his name, like the Chofetz Chaim or Sfat Emet.”

“Which town?”

“What do you mean which town?”

For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

“Which town does family Chaim Chofetz live in?”

“Radin, in Poland, but that’s not the point, I want the number of the office of the former Sefardi Chief Rabbi, Harav Mordechai Eliyahu.”

“I am sorry but we do not have international numbers.”

“What are you talking about? I think his office may be in Jerusalem”.

“But you said the Chofetz family live in Poland. I am sorry caller but please could you be more specific. Please give me the family name, first name and city of the person you want”.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

“OK, lets start again, by the way what’s your name?”


“Hi Liat, tell me are you Sephardi.”

“Yes, my family is from Morocco, via France.”

“So your French, well that explains most things. Do you know the name of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi?”

“Yes it’s Rav Shlomo Amar.”

“Correct, now his predecessor’s name was Rav Eliyahu Bakshi Doron, and his predecessor was Rav Mordechai Elihayu and I want the number of the office of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.”

“Oh you mean the Rishon LeTzion, why didn’t you just say you wanted the number of the office of the Rishon LeTzion.”

“Yes, yes, do you have his number?”

“I’ll check.”

“Nothing listed under Rishon LeTzion, maybe Harav Mordechai Eliyahu. Nothing, do you have his family name?”

“No, but that won’t help, I need his office.”

“Oh, you want Lishkat Mordechai Eliyahu.”

“Finally! Yes, yes please.”

“Wait caller, I have also found Chaim Chafetz, in Beer Sheva. Do you want me to look for Family Emet in Sfat?”

Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.