Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ad Mati Till Thailand

v'Nafshi nivhala mi'od, v'Ata Hashem, ad mati?
My soul is utterly confounded, and You, my G-d, how long?
Psalms 6:4

How long, cries David in the psalm I recite twice daily in my prayers [the Tahanun prayer], how long will You watch my suffering and not save me? David's cry, Ad Mati, echoes across the landscape of the Israeli army, bringing together Jews of European and Arab descent, lost tribes from Ethiopia and India and Bedouin and Russian immigrants no matter their religious persuasion. In IDF slang, the two word phrase Ad Mati means "how much longer is this godforsaken army experience?" Or in other words, "Fmylife."

Whether Ad Mati is uttered in jest or misery, soldiers get in trouble if overheard muttering the forbidden phrase. Officers don't like the "screw this" mentality the words convey, no doubt because they at times share the shame frustration as the troops. The ban likely adds to the enduring popularity of Ad Mati, ensuring that no day or bathroom stall escapes a cry or spray-painted scrawl of Ad Mati.

Ad Mati is joined in the list of forbidden phrases by at least two other terms: Kama Ode and Aifo Kulam. Kama Ode, "how much more?," shares the same virulent message of Ad Mati. Aifo Kulam, "Where is everyone?," is a problem when posed to officers, since the unstated answer is Thailand, namely the exotic land the rest of the officer's draft class has escaped to while he/she remains mired in the military.

1 comment: