By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, January 14, 2010

With the swine flu inoculation campaign in full swing in Israel, it is a good time to look at the Hebrew word for inoculation: chisun.

The Psalmist asks, (89:9) “Who is chasin (mighty) like You, O Lord?” The specific connotation ofchasin is a type of strength that is stored up, a powerhouse of might (chosen). Chosen not only refers to muscle but also to wealth or treasure. Therefore, Proverbs warns us, “Chosen does not last forever”. Isaiah mourns God’s seeming lack of empathy with Israel’s suffering (63:15) “Your yearning and Your love are being withheld from us.” Rashi comments, “Your mercies have resisted and nitchasnu from yearning for us.” He uses chosen to refer to a type of emotional blockage or immunity.

The connection between storing treasure and emotional numbness maybe that increasing one’s possessions can shut one off from the rest of society.

Taking all three meanings together, chosen is a build up of strength either physical or material that shields — the perfect word, then, for inoculation.

In a recent interview, MK Roni Bar-On declined to answer a certain question, claiming that he was not chasin impartial. This same politician, as well as all members of Knesset, enjoys chasinut medinit — political immunity.

Last updated: 10:42am, January 14 2010