Shabbat Goy: It takes a saint

Mrs. Goy still hasn’t quite forgiven me for ruining the romance of Valentine’s Day for her.

lovesongs 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
lovesongs 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Early on in our relationship, I conned Mrs. Goy into believing that Valentine’s Day was a crass celebration of consumerism rather than a festival of love.
My affection for her need not be anchored to a date on the calendar, I told her; If I truly loved her, I would demonstrate it to her in my own way every day of the year, not just on February 14.
She still hasn’t quite forgiven me for ruining the romance of the day for her. As for me? I get to save the cash I would have squandered on inept public foreplay – sorry, I mean flowers, presents, a romantic candlelight dinner – each year. But perhaps it’s all swings and roundabouts. The savings to my wallet are offset by the loss to my sanity.
Her: You don’t love me anymore. You take me for granted.
Me: What rot. I live here because of you, don’t I? Do you think I moved to Israel for my health? Actually, I did move here for my health.
I suffer from a variant of seasonal affective disorder (well, I know I do, even if successive doctors have refused to diagnose it). Living in a country with 300 days of sunshine a year must do me some good.
Of course, I’m not going to admit as much to her.
Her: You only moved here for the sunshine.
I silently point out the window. Rain, bucket-loads of it, gushing down. I might as well be in England.
That said, I do have unimpeachable evidence of my love for her these days. It’s blue, has 32 pages and fits neatly in my back pocket.
Me: I took out Israeli citizenship for you.
Her: You took out Israeli citizenship for the benefits.
The benefits? What on earth is she talking about? We immigrants get such a bum rap nowadays.
Industrious, hardworking people we are, looking to improve our lives through hard honest toil, and what are we told in return? That we’re destroying the national fabric, taking Israeli jobs and stealing Israeli women.
Mrs. Goy cuts across my romantic reverie.
Her: You’ve never done a hard day’s work in your life. You wouldn’t recognize honest toil if it walked up and slapped you across the face.
In any case I was thinking about other benefits. Like the fact that wherever I am and whatever I’ve been up to, the State of Israel will always do whatever it can to rescue me from existential peril...
Me: You sure about that? I mean, it’s not like I’m Jewish or anything.
Her: Oh.
But she refuses to wilt in the face of impeccable logic.
My lot has improved since I took up Israeli citizenship, my patriotic wife insists. Take Ben-Gurion International Airport, for example. Hmm. She is right about that... hang on a minute, beside the the point. I wouldn’t be flying through Ben-Gurion if it weren’t for her in the first place. See? The things I’ve done for her. And she has the cheek to claim that I don’t do anything to prove my love.
But she’s gone off on a tangent, as is her wont. Now she’s talking about the electoral process.
Her: Well, you can vote now, can’t you? Influence the shape of future governments. If that’s not a benefit, I don’t know what is.
Me: Oh, yeah.
A confession: I am fascinated by the Israeli electoral system, inasmuch as it often presents as a classic study in absurdity. But the right to vote in Israel? A benefit? Let’s look at the possibilities. In no particular order, at the next elections I will have the choice between: the TV show host who studied the art of eyebrow-raising at a postgraduate level (but without a bachelor’s degree); the man who once (allegedly) dyed his hair gray to give himself gravitas; the head of a party without an ideology (actually, it does have an ideology, but he’s been lying comatose in a hospital bed these past four years) other than her gender and the interesting issue of what she did for the Mossad in Paris; a bunch of superannuated leftists who spend their time squabbling amongst themselves; the rightists who, now that they’ve dealt with the Palestinian question to their satisfaction (they think) are now turning their attention to those of us unfortunate enough not to have been born Jewish; the Arab parties, which presumably aren’t interested in my vote anyway since they only campaign in Arabic; the soldiers- turned-statesmen (I use the word “statesmen” advisedly) who have forgotten that organized violence remains the prerogative of men in uniform.
And so on and so forth.
Me: I think I’ll pass on voting this time around, to be honest.
Her: Shameful. People have died for the right to vote.
I remind her that in the last general election, she cast her vote for a party that... well, suffice it to say that none of the good readers of this newspaper would have made the same choice as Mrs. Goy, I am certain. If nothing else, her vote was as effective in the scheme of things as would have been ripping up her ballot sheet and flushing it down the toilet.
That’s not the point, she retorts. It is one’s duty to... blah blah blah. The word duty flicks the automatic “off” switch in my head, and so I don’t notice when she returns to her original grouse.
Her: I said, so what have you done for me lately?
Me: What have you done for me lately? That shuts her up for a bit. Just a bit.
Her: Well, I married you.
You make it sound like an act of charity, I say. But then she reminds me of a conversation at dinner with a friend the other week. According to said friend, if we ever get divorced and Mrs. Goy decides to do what she should have done all along – i.e. marry a good Ashkenazi boy from North Tel Aviv – the Rabbinate won’t cooperate.
Why on earth, we both ask. Well, the thing is that because she has... erm... had relations with a goy, she won’t be allowed to marry a Jew anymore. Not true, I say. That’s just kohanim, I say. But Mrs. Goy prefers the wider interpretation, of course.
Her: ...and if that isn’t the ultimate sacrifice...
But a plan has hatched in my mind. With diligence and a bit of charm, I could actually undermine the whole anti-immigrant rhetoric, one illicit relationship at a time. Goodness knows, it’ll be much more effective than throwing my vote away after some incompetent “anti-Zionist” party.
Her: (smirking) Don’t delude yourself. Who would have you? Lightning doesn’t strike twice.
Charming. Who said romance was dead?