Mexican Flu? (But What Would Rabbi Gamaliel Call Baconnaise?)

Mexican Flu? (But What Would Rabbi Gamaliel Call Baconnaise?)

It's good to know there is still a voice of reason in this swine flu shanda: While high schools bring in Mexican cleaning crews to disinfect their auditoriums, world leaders declare travel bans, and Matt Drudge screams at us through our computer, Israeli authorities have been arguing about what to call the killer disease.

On one side of the debate is religious deputy health minister Yakov Litzman, who the BBC reports came down from Mt. Sinai to declare, "We will call it Mexican flu." On the other side is pretty much every one else. (Israel's actually quite secular.)

I know you thought it was settled, but Vive La Mishna! NOTHING IS EVER SETTLED, so let's discuss. Here's the crux of the issue: Swine flu has the word "swine" in it, and Jews aren't supposed to eat swine, and everyone knows that just saying "swine" turns you non-Jew, and it's very incredibly extremely exceedingly important that Israelis not turn non-Jew, so you see the dilemma. It's positively Talmudic!

This afternoon, the normals won. Swine flu it is, even in the Promised Land. Global pandemic solved!

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