From the pages of


Why a Boat Trip?
by Martin Lewis
(First published August 18, 2000)

For those pondering why Al and Joe elected to take a boat trip for their first post-convention campaign swing - rather than 1992's bus - or the ever-popular whistle-stop train - might find the answer in the Talmud.

Orthodox Jewish law - which was handed down a few thousand years before the invention of the combustion engine - has always held that assisted travel on the Jewish sabbath (the Saturday) is forbidden. Hence Lieberman's insistence on walking on Saturdays rather than taking a D.C. cab (or a Jerusalem donkey as it would have been in biblical times.)

However - the sole exception to that rule has always been travel by water. Jewish law states that if a journey on water is commenced before the beginning of the Jewish sabbath (Friday night) then the journey may continue during the sabbath.

Of course there are varying degrees of application of these laws but if Lieberman's recent comments are anything to go by - he will not be joining Al Gore in campaigning during the day this Saturday until the end of the sabbath - which is at sundown. He will stay on board and be reflective. Which many would see as a bonus for a politician.

Lieberman has made clear that matters of state would of course take precedence over his religious beliefs. It will be interesting to see on the final Saturday before the election if the state of the polls counts as a matter of state. Either way - we can expect a lot of weekend water travel by Joe Lieberman during this campaign. Perhaps whistlestop yachting on Lake Eyrie and campaign swings in catamarans skirting close to the Pacific coastline in vote-rich California.

(Note: The interpretations of Jewish law in this e-mail are based on dim memories from my bar-mitzvah lessons three decades ago. My elderly parents in London confirmed most of these points - and were just over-joyed that their religiously wayward son in California remembered ANYTHING from his theological instruction classes.)


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