Two For One, One For All

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2 for 1
03 Nov 2010

Did you hear about the latest two for one? The UN decided to define BOTH the Cave of the Patriarchs AND Rachel’s Tomb as Palestinian. Israel’s Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu called it “absurd”, and the Orthodox Union, via it’s Institute for Public Affairs, commended him for protecting these important Jewish sites. After all, they were rightfully purchased by our forefather’s and recorded in the Torah. They weren’t on sale either!

But whenever the seasons change in Israel, and plenty of other times in between, the whole country seems to go on a two-for-one promo. The Jewish mass marketing intelligentsia, of course, would never dream of billing this as a half-off discount special, oh no. Why do that when it’s so much more inventive to call it a two-for-one, buy-one-get-one-free campaign in order to get all that surplus merchandise moving out the doors of those big city retailers? Just take a look at any Israeli billboard, storefront window, shopping mall advert or Super Sol shelf and you’ll find some version of the “2 b’machir 1” (two for the price of one) or “2/1 chinam” (take two, one is free) offer.

And you better believe this is serious business in Jerusalem, where my better half-off once tried to buy two bottles of canola oil from the local green grocer in Beit Ha-Kerem. The girl at the check-out counter refused to ring it up because, as she explained with an extremely high degree of earnestness, “zeh lo b’mivtzah!” (it’s not on sale), which is just a shorthanded way of saying, “if it’s not two-for-one, why in the world would you consider buying two identical items? This is simply not allowed here in the Jewish homeland, so will you please revise your purchasing strategy or come back a little later if you happen to need some particular thing in duplicate?” And if you think I am making any of this up, you are wrong!

But there are a plethora of obvious examples of the two-for-one, Yiddishe-kup mentality, just catch a flight to Israel and have a look around. Aw, come on! When was the last time you saw a Sabra businessman with just one cell phone clipped to his belt, or how about a Tel Aviv teenager with just one hole in her ear? Are there really any divers in Eilat with just one tattoo, shoppers in Mea Shearim with just one tote, Shephardim in Ashdod that are satisfied with kissing you on just one cheek, a synagogue in Jerusalem running just one minyan, or how about a baal t’filah who doesn’t include the repitition of shmoneh esrai (musaf) as a freebie? And think about all those Israeli rental cars with redundant, built-in security code panels. You know what I mean? The ones where you have to use your key and still punch in a four-digit sequence before the engine will agree to start? That’s also a two-for. You generally have to enter your security code twice (the second time very, very politely and with a great deal of savlanut) before the car is willing to go anywhere once, OK?

But two-for-one, just to jog the collective ancestral memory, is NOT a new-fangled idea or modern brainchild of the twenty-first century Zionist economy. It happens to have been G-d’s very own invention back in the days when our forefathers were doing their forty arid years of desert hard time on Sunday through Thursday. You probably recall that on Fridays there was always a two-for-one weekly outdoor special going on manna, so obviously there is absolutely nothing new these days in the Middle East under Solomon’s sun.

But all of this two-for-one thinking has left me wondering about the Arab politicians who assume they’ve got our numerical sales logic down pat. The radical fundamentalists have a unified “field” theory about driving all of us Jews out of our fields and into the sea, which is minimally understandable because at least it’s a clearly defined and unambiguous position. What’s really frightening is our more moderate enemies, pretending to be oh-so-friendly, and then dangerously trying to negotiate a two-for-one with us, in reverse. For every one dunam of Holy Land that belongs to us, they think we’re going to give two back…for free!

Sorry guys, but we’ve learned all about the Arabic version of two-for-one in Gush Katif. That little bit of land economy only left us with a war in Lebanon and rockets in S’derot. From now on, let’s refer the Arab politicos to that cashier girl from the green grocer in Beit Ha-Kerem. Because whether or not it’s bottles of canola oil or birthrights, our response ought to be the same. There’s no weekly special this time, it’s just like the lady said. We aren’t going to ring things up on a cash register, forget about using the checkout lane. There’s no two for one, it’s just one for all.

The Land of Israel, zeh lo b’mivtzah!

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.