Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Humor

I've been planning for a while now to redirect this blog into posts of Jewish humor that shed light on Jewish religion, history and culture. With election day upon us, I thought this was a good time to start. I promise, this joke includes no one currently running for office, or even anyone in office today.

George H. W. Bush (the elder) and Dan Quayle were in a plane with a priest and a rabbi. They came upon rough weather, and the plane was in trouble. The pilot made an announcement: "This plane is going down, and we only have four parachutes. I'm taking one, and you can decide who gets the other three!" The passengers saw the pilot jump from the plane with one of the four parachutes, leaving four people behind with three parachutes.

Bush said, "I'm the President of the free world! I have to survive!" He grabbed one of the parachutes and jumped.

Quayle said, "If anything happens to George, I'm next in line! I have to survive!" He grabbed another parachute and jumped.

The priest turned to the rabbi and said, "Let's let our Creator decide this. Let's flip a coin."

The rabbi said to the priest...

"That won't be necessary. There are two parachutes left. Dan jumped with my tallit and tefillin."

* * * * *

Like a lot of Jewish humor, this joke tends to evolve over time. I've heard it with different casts of characters, with different politicians in the not-so-bright Dan Quayle role. In the 2000 election, I heard this one with Bush, Cheney, Gore and Lieberman, where Gore jumped first as the last hope for the Democrats, then Bush as the last hope for the Republicans, but Bush jumped with observant Jewish Joe Lieberman's tallit and tefillin. I like it that way, even though it doesn't make much sense for Republican and Democratic candidates to share a private plane.

The image of somebody parachuting with the large, full-length tallit preferred by many men and the long leather straps of the tefillin always amuses me. The tallit and tefillin are familiar to most religious Jews, but completely unknown to most non-Jews, which is certainly part of the humor of this joke: ah, those silly goyim, they wouldn't know a tallit from a parachute. If you've never seen tallit and tefillin before, you can get some idea of what they look like here: Tzitzit and Tallit; Tefillin.

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