Oops, Sorry, Just a Little Mistake
What is considered a little mistake for which an apology is sufficient and what is a real whopper deserving dire consequences?
An historical example of both is provided in this weeks Torah portion. The Royal Chamberlain of Cupbearing reminds the Egyptian ruler of the trial which he and the Royal Chamberlain of Baking faced a couple of years earlier for crimes committed in their service in the palace. The outcome of the trial was that the cupbearer was pardoned and reinstated, as Yosef had predicted in his interpretation of his dreams while they were together in prison awaiting trial. The baker was less fortunate and was condemned to hanging.
What was the difference between the crimes committed by the two? In the wine served to Pharaoh a fly was found and in the bread prepared by the baker a pebble. Both of them were guilty of negligence but the degree of culpability was not the same. A fly can enter the royal goblet unnoticed at the last moment but it is difficult to avoid detecting a pebble in the dough for the rulers bread. One could therefore be forgiven with an apology while the other faced dire consequences.
Israel was shocked the other week by the disclosure of a mammoth goof by the governments highly regarded Central Bureau of Statistics. A while back this office had released a report that the government spends three times as much on pupils in religious schools than on those in secular ones. The anti-religious politicians and media exploited this report to counter the complaints of the religious parties about the budgetary discrimination from which religious schools suffer. Now it has become clear that the government statisticians simply left out from their tallying the salaries of teachers in the secular schools which are paid by local councils through which the government channels those funds. This "little" mistake changes the entire picture and proves that the religious complaints are justified. For the chief statistician to simply say, "Oops, sorry" is not enough. No one is suggesting that he meet the fate of the baker. But perhaps hanging may not be good enough for those who exploited his mistake to do some religious bashing without even bothering to check on such an obvious error.