Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Hunger Games And Religion/Judaism

Yes, the Hunger Games is a young adults book. Yes, I'm currently writing a PHD. However, I'm enjoying the books, and will sooner or later probably see the movie. Jeffery Weiss points out something I've missed about the books - the total lack of any religion:

So what about religion? There isn't any. Not a prayer. Not an oath. The word "god" does not so much as appear in any of the books. Nobody even says "oh my gosh."
There's no ritual that isn't totally grounded in some materialistic purpose. Not a hint of serious superstition. Unless I missed it, there's not a remotely idiomatic reference to the supernatural.
The story is plenty busy without it, but such an unequivocal expunging can only have been intentional. We learn fine details about fashion and food and weaponry and the shape of furniture and the color of dust and so on and so on. She [the author] easily could have dropped in a couple of casual references to faith.

It's hard for me to imagine a real human future where either use of religion vanishes without a trace. But for her own reasons, Collins went in neither direction. It's a curious incident, a dog that should have barked.
A friend of mine who has read the books asked me a much more interesting question than "where is the religion." Where, she asked me, was God in this story? Had he abandoned humanity?

Weiss doens't actually answer the question, of why God is absent in the "Hunger Games". To be honest Suzanne Collins "world building" is fairly weak. The Hunger Games does not paint a full society (which I guess is why both the left and right have been able to claim the series for their own) - other than the "Hunger Games" themselves we know next to nothing of the post apocalyptic society the books take place in. Regardless, I accept Weiss point that Collins must have intentionally kept God out of the Hunger Games.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Medieval Pesach Tunes

What did Pesach sound like 400 years ago? recently On The Main Line wrote about the "Rittangel" Hagada:

In 1644 Johann Stephen Rittangel published a Haggadah with Latin translation and commentary, called Liber Ritum Paschalium. Rittangel was without a doubt one of the most proficient Christian Hebraists of his time, so much so, that later scholars were divided as to whether he was born Jewish....
Without a doubt what makes Rittangel's Haggadah so interesting is that he included musical notation for two songs! (Modern notation can be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia as in, e.g.,here.) 
The National Post has a lovely story of how Rittangel's tunes were brought back to life by the " Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy high school choir" (CHAT Choir) after being spotted at Onthemainline by the aptly described "Paul Shaviv, a Jew, a history nut and the head of the Tanenbaum academy. "
It is rehearsal time. Tuesday night is the big night. Kids are asking questions, moving music stands, checking to see if the piano is tuned, straightening chairs and straightening their yarmulkes.
“We want you to sing so Rittangel can hear you,” Mr. Shaviv says. “Remember: Rittangel has been dead for 400 years.”
Jacklyn Klimitz, a music teacher, is the conductor.
“I want a quick posture check,” she says. “Hands behind your backs. Backs straight. Sing to the back of the wall.”
And … they sing, a pair of tunes in tremulous, teenage voices that gather strength and confidence on a second take. The words to the songs are familiar to the singers, and to any Jew who celebrates the Passover Seder. The actual words have not changed, not in a few thousand years.
But the music has evolved through the centuries. And the music filling the theatre is a definite throwback.
“It is not exactly what I would describe as jaunty,” says Zev Steinfeld, a Jewish Studies teacher. “It is more of a dirge than a toe-tapper, but it is an interesting way to look at our peoples’ history, to engage with it, rather than just read about it in a book.”  
Here is a short video of the CHAT choir singing the two songs:

Monday, March 26, 2012

When did the Hard Matza Originate?

I've been wondering when did our standard matzah - i.e cardboard crispy - originate? as most of us know, the Haggadah mentions that Hillel used to "wrap" - with his matzah - implying that at least at some point in the second temple, the matzah was soft. So just when did the Matzah become so hard? I was somewhat surprised to learn, that it is modern technology that we have to blame, rather than some crazy rabbis in Volozhyn.

According to this source I found online, the problem of "Hard" matzah, started when Matzot were mass produced. Since they had to make the matzah ahead of Pesach (so they won't risk having Hametz) - and they had no way of keeping the soft matzah fresh, they started making the cardboard like dry matzah. The dry stale matzah, we all know and love, can keep for many days - and hence was perfect for mass production.

 Note: I'm slightly limited in my book library at the moment, so I've not been able to find any of the sources quoted..


Paintball with the Hezbollah

You shouldn't miss this article - Paintball with the Hezbollah..

We figured they’d cheat; they were Hezbollah, after all. But none of us—a team of four Western journalists—thought we’d be dodging military-grade flash bangs when we initiated this “friendly” paintball match.

The battle takes place underground in a grungy, bunker-like basement underneath a Beirut strip mall. When the grenades go off it’s like being caught out in a ferocious thunderstorm: blinding flashes of hot white light, blasts of sound that reverberate deep inside my ears.

As my eyesight returns and readjusts to the dim arena light, I poke out from my position behind a low cinder-block wall. Two large men in green jumpsuits are bearing down on me. I have them right in my sights, but they seem unfazed—even as I open fire from close range, peppering each with several clear, obvious hits. I expect them to freeze, maybe even acknowledge that this softie American journalist handily overcame their flash-bang trickery and knocked them out of the game. Perhaps they’ll even smile and pat me on the back as they walk off the playing field in a display of good sportsmanship (after cheating, of course).

Instead, they shoot me three times, point-blank, right in the groin. ...

Read the whole article..its one of the funniest things I've read in months.

Bad Hasborah of the Day Award #2

Well, technically not Hasbara, but silly enough it should get an award..

MK Danny Danon receives the award for suggesting that France should extradite those responsible for the Toulouse murders. While the general feeling - that Israel should protect all Jews, is admirable, actually calling on France to extradite the killers (brother) and hence implying that France can't punish/try/understand the killers themselves is certainly going about it the wrong way..

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How To Get A Job Interview

Spotted this at the always fantastic "Letters Of Note" - not sure I'd ever try this myself, but I appreciate the courage needed to do this:

When copywriter Robert Pirosh landed in Hollywood in 1934, eager to become a screenwriter, he wrote and sent the following letter to all the directors, producers, and studio executives he could think of. The approach worked, and after securing three interviews he took a job as a junior writer with MGM.
Pirosh went on to write for the Marx Brothers, and in 1949 won an Academy Award for his Battleground script.
(Source: Dear Wit.)

Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024


Parking As A Human Right

Rex Murphy on convenient parking as a human right:
Well, all of us know what a trauma it can be when one or more of your side-mirrors gets dinged. On the scale of oppression and misery it’s even worse than a flailing, about-to-fall-off wiper, and just short of an oil pan leak - milestones of grief and torment both. So… the much beset Ms. Howson went to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, pleading - obviously - a diminishment of her human rights. Ms. Howson is herself a former investigator for the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, so she brings to this matter an expertise that only first-hand exposure to the nebulous clouds of current human rights thinking can supply… We begin with the idea that here in Canada, nothing is too small or, on the face of it, too ludicrous to be matter for a human rights complaint… I would offer it as an axiom that if a human rights complaint even contains the word “Mazda 5,” someone has stepped off the bridge of reason altogether.

E-Books and Memory

I love my Kindle. For Anglos living in Israel, there really isn't a better solution to solving the "no library - no decent bookstore" problem (Ignoring the Shabbat downside). However this article makes one of the first logical and strong arguments against Ebooks:

My personal library serves as extension of my brain. I may have read all my books, but I don't remember most of the information. What I remember is where in my library my knowledge sits, and I can look it up when I need it. But I can only look it up because my books are geographically arranged in a fixed spatial organization, with visual landmarks. I need to take the integral of an arctangent? Then I need my Table of Integrals book, and that's in the left bookshelf, upper middle, adjacent to the large, colorful Intro Calculus book.
And once I have found the book, the static non-shifting text inside allows me find the right page and spot on the page. If books were uniform horizontal streams of text, there would be a dearth of visual cues for inside-the-book navigation. But books aren't like that. At a minimum, the paragraph structure creates large block shapes on each page, with different sizes, often unique in patterns. And inside each paragraph are words of varying size, sentences of varying length, and letters which dip down between lines here and there, all creating a look of their own. And most books also have figures, images, and tables, which provide marked cues for navigation to the piece of knowledge I possess. All these cues rely, though, on their fixed spatial placement within the book and on the page.

In other words - a large part of our memory is spatial. As anyone who read a "improve your memory" book knows, one of the classic methods of improving your memory is using spatial cues (i.e putting memories in an imaginary vault/palace etc..). in Ebooks however there is next to nothing distinguishing one page from another. Additionally the pages themselves change somewhat depending on your settings.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Admiring The Great Man With A Horrible Flaw

Is greatness together with a great flaw, still great? Can we not appreciate a person for his achievements, when there is a gorilla sized skeleton in the closet?

This topic keeps coming up, in various mutations. What has recently gotten me thinking about this issue, is the campaign being waged to deny Rabbi  Haim Druckman from receiving the Israel Prize. The prize committee, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ya’acov Turkel, said that the state’s highest civilian honor is being awarded to Druckman for his “many important activities in the field of education for national-religious youth.” and that:

 “With his national perspective, he was among those who founded the hesder yeshiva program which combines military service and Torah study. With his sensitivity and love for Israel he worked to bridge social gaps and absorb immigrants from Ethiopia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly members of the Soviet Union).
The prize committee said that Drukman is “attentive and a unifying influence for all social groups, is involved in resolving serious debates at the core of Israeli society involving issues of religion and state, and serves as an address to which state leaders throng to for advice and ingenuity.”

The campaign against him receiving the prize is focused on his actions concerning one famous case of sexual abuse that occured in a Yeshiva-High School in Jeruaslem called Nativ Meir. Failed Messiah summerised the story as:

Druckman was told then that Rabbi Ze'ev Kopilovich, Netiv Meir's rosh yeshiva, was sexually abusing students. Druckman failed to report the allegations to police and protected Kopilovich, keeping him in his job and allowing him free access to students.
Kopilovich later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

This wasn't the only case where Rabbi Druckman went soft on alleged sexual abusers. Rabbi Druckman famously allowed Harav Motti Ellon to teach in his yeshivah, long after Harav Ellon's was openly accused of sexually abusing some of his students, and long after he became a pariah in the Dati-Leumi public. These two stories together, would seem to make a reasonable case that Rabbi Druckman fails to appreciate the severity of sexual abuse by rabbis.  But does this disqualify him from receiving the Israel Prize?

Were we to argue the point ad absurdum, the question become easy. No one would give an Israel Prize to a brilliant scientist, who is also a rapist. However, arguments ad absurdum are rarely useful in real life. So when does a serious flaw, overshadow a lifetime's achievement? Can we not have flawed role models? Is that not the very lesson of Rabbi Meir and  Elisha ben Abuyah ?

The Forrest Gump Of Israeli Advocacy

A good friend of mine posted this interesting op-ed:

The Forrest Gump of Israeli Advocacy

Last week, one of Israel’s most under appreciated defenders was touring Canada. Ironically, the individual in question is French pro-Palestinian activist Frank Barat, who appeared in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, and Ottawa as part of “Apartheid Week.” Barat lectured about the role of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” (RToP) – a troupe of self appointed individuals who theatrically put Israel on trial to promote the boycotting of Israel and propagate the use of Israel-apartheid analogy.
Inexplicably, and almost certainly inadvertently, in the past 18 months Barat has been at the center of some of the biggest embarrassments for the BDS and “apartheid” movement. In a manner that would have been impossible for an Israel advocate, he has helped expose the hypocrisy of anti-Israel BDS campaigns and the falsehood of the Israel-apartheid analogy. Like the hapless Forrest Gump, Barat has found himself in the middle of a surprising number of key moments – although presumably he would not appreciate what they mean for supporters of Israel.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An AIPAC Moses?

Spotted this cartoon in the New Yorker:

The cartoon is funny, though I can't quite explain why.

Bye Bye Baby Bamba,

I'm happy to announce that public outrage in Israel, has succeeded to make Osem, and the Israeli Olympic Committee, reverse their decision on having the Bamba Baby be Israel's mascot for the 2012 Olympics. I'm hoping that the third mascot Israel announces, will prove more successful than the other two..

Some ideas for the third place mascot...A bronze medal? An ice cream cone? (פעם שלישית גלידה)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Please Tell Me This Is A Purim Joke

Ha'aretz (amongst others) is reporting that Israel has finally chosen its new mascot for the London Olympic games - The Bamba Baby:

Bamba is one of Israel's most popular snack foods - and this charming baby pictured above is the famous logo of the snack food made by Osem. In other words - Israel has chosen a commercial brand as its Olympic Mascot.
Even worse - this is Israel's second try, after the first mascot they chose - a cactus character, strangely familiar to Israeli viewers as a 50's tv show character, was retracted by the order of the court:

I'm hoping at the very least, that Osem is going to sponsor the Israeli team.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I have no ancestors of that gifted people

From the blog "Letters Of Note":

In 1938, some months after the initial publication of The HobbitJ. R. R. Tolkien and his British publisher,Stanley Unwin, opened talks with Rütten & Loening, a Berlin-based publishing house who were keen to translate the novel for the German market. All was going well until, in July, they wrote to Tolkien and asked for proof of his Aryan descent. Tolkien was furious, and forwarded their letter to his publisher along with two possible replies — one in which their question was delicately side-stepped, and one, seen below, in which Tolkien made his displeasure known with considerable style.

It is unknown which reply was sent.

(Source: The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien; Image: Tolkien in 1955, via; Thanks to William Vodrey.)

25 July 1938
20 Northmoor Road, Oxford

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not ofAryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and

remain yours faithfully,

J. R. R. Tolkien

The sad thing here, is that there is even a question of which letter Tolkein sent. Of course, he appears to have both a high appreciation of Jews, and a strong dislike of Nazism. However, the very fact that there are two versions of this letter, makes me feel, he didn't dislike Nazism enough..

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Was Esther a Research Assistant?

Famously Chazal argue about whether Mordechai was Esther's uncle or husband, however this year, someone showed me a new explanation. Esther was, Mordechai's research assistant. The proof?

  "ואת מאמר מרדכי אסתר עושה ..."
(אסתר ב, כ)
(sorry, no way to translate the joke)

Happy Purim!

(This genius Purim Torah courtesy of David W..)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Worst Hasbara of the Day #1

I've decided to start a new segment on this blog, called "Worst Hasbara of the Day"- Delegitimizing ourselves. 

To start things off, there were two prime contenders for today's award. 

The second place winner goes to Rafael Castro, for his op-ed in Ynet "Zionism will only cease being demonized when West stops to demonize colonialism":

Zionism will only cease being demonized in the politically correct corners of the West once our schools and film industry cease to demonize colonialism. The politically correct depiction of the colonialist as a racist and covetous brute must give space to the majority of well-meaning administrators that helped build roads, schools, and hospitals for the natives.

Great, all we need is to rebrand colonialism!

Today's first prize goes to Yisrael Hayom for the title "'Downtrodden' Palestinians love their cellphones"
"As the Christ at the Checkpoint conference gets underway in Bethlehem, efforts to paint the Palestinian Arabs as downtrodden equivalents of Jesus himself suffering at the hands of a sinful Israel are at a peak.
And yet, despite allegedly being the most pitiable of people on the planet, the Palestinians seem to enjoy many of the same modern comforts as the rest of us. Like cell phones, which, in spite of their widespread usage worldwide, are still a luxury in many places."
Great - there is no apartheid because they have cellphones! those lying downtrodden Palestinians!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is Netanyahu More Attractive Than Esther?

The Economist states the following about Netanyahu's visit to America:

With brain-cudgeling predictability, Mr Netanyahu marked his meeting with Mr Obama by presenting him with a copy of the Book of Esther. That book concerns a plot by Haman, vizier of King Ahasuerus of Persia, to massacre his country's Jews, and the efforts of the beautiful Esther, Ahasuerus's secretly Jewish wife, to persuade the king to stop them. It is a version of the same narrative of repression, threatened extermination and resistance that Jews commemorate at Passover in the prayer "Ve-hi she-amdah": "Because in every generation they rise up to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands."
It almost seems that the Economist is unaware that other than the historical significance they note, the book of Esther is a fitting gift, due to it being days before Purim. However the Economist redeems itself with its next observation, which is certainly true:

Mr Netanyahu is less attractive than Esther, but he seems to be wooing Mr Obama and the American public just as effectively.  

Did Leibowitz Skip Purim?

There is a famous story that Yishayhu Leibowitz used to "skip" Purim. Ostensibly, Leibowitz felt uncomfortable with celebrating a festival that celebrated the Jews slaughtering other people on mass - no matter what the justification for the slaughter.

Since Purim is celebrated in Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar, and in the rest of Israel on the 14th, Leibowitz would travel to Tel Aviv on the night of the 14th. In this manner, he would never be in the city where he would be obligated to celebrate Purim.

BUT is this story true? I've been hearing it for so many years, I assumed it must have a reliable source. However, I've yet to find anyone giving a source for this story. In fact, at least searching online, I constantly come across people doubting the historical validaty of the story. For example Rabbi Nagan tells this same story about Akiva Simon (a peace activist). The Jerusalem Post has an editorial attributing claiming the story is falsly attributed to both Ernest Simon and Leibowitz. In one post on a forum dedicated to Leibowitz, a claim is made that his grandson has recounted celebrating Purim with Leibowitz - but the person does not provide a source for the claim.

This "myth" is so far being rated as "unlikely" but is not yet busted, until I can find a reliable source.

Misreading Purim - Not Celebrating Genocide

Rabbis for Human Rights, a rather extreme left wing NGO in Israel, is asking people how they can celebrate the "mass killing" performed by the Jews against their enemies as told in the Megilah (book of Esther)?

Rabbi Sherlow responded to their question (on his website), with an answer that is not only convincing but I believe is actually the pshat (literal meaning) of the biblical text.  The correct reading of the Megillah isn't that the Jews were allowed to murder whomever they wanted. Rather Ahasuerus first edict - allowing the Jews to be killed, was never rescinded. It couldn't be rescinded, as famously the decrees of the Persian kings could never be reversed. In this reading the second edict was limited to granting the Jews the right to self defense:

וַיִּכְתֹּב, בְּשֵׁם הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרֹשׁ, וַיַּחְתֹּם, בְּטַבַּעַת הַמֶּלֶךְ; וַיִּשְׁלַח סְפָרִים בְּיַד הָרָצִים בַּסּוּסִים רֹכְבֵי הָרֶכֶשׁ, הָאֲחַשְׁתְּרָנִים--בְּנֵי, הָרַמָּכִים.10 And they wrote in the name of king Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, riding on swift steeds that were used in the king's service, bred of the stud;
יא  אֲשֶׁר נָתַן הַמֶּלֶךְ לַיְּהוּדִים אֲשֶׁר בְּכָל-עִיר-וָעִיר, לְהִקָּהֵל וְלַעֲמֹד עַל-נַפְשָׁם--לְהַשְׁמִיד וְלַהֲרֹג וּלְאַבֵּד אֶת-כָּל-חֵיל עַם וּמְדִינָה הַצָּרִים אֹתָם, טַף וְנָשִׁים; וּשְׁלָלָם, לָבוֹז.11 that the king had granted the Jews that were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, and to slay, and to cause to perish, all the forces of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,

Of course the words "their little ones and women" slightly spoils the picture of innocent self defense. However it should be pointed out that this is the word of the edict - i.e it does not reflect what actually happened. The Megillah has this account of what actually occurred:

ה  וַיַּכּוּ הַיְּהוּדִים בְּכָל-אֹיְבֵיהֶם, מַכַּת-חֶרֶב וְהֶרֶג וְאַבְדָן; וַיַּעֲשׂוּ בְשֹׂנְאֵיהֶם, כִּרְצוֹנָם.5 And the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter and destruction, and did what they would unto them that hated them.
ו  וּבְשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה, הָרְגוּ הַיְּהוּדִים וְאַבֵּד--חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת,  {ר}  אִישׁ.  {ס}6 And in Shushan the castle the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. {S}
י  עֲשֶׂרֶת  {ר}  בְּנֵי הָמָן בֶּן-הַמְּדָתָא, צֹרֵר הַיְּהוּדִים--הָרָגוּ; וּבַבִּזָּה--לֹא שָׁלְחוּ, אֶת-יָדָם.10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jews' enemy, slew they; but on the spoil they laid not their hand.

As you can see there is no mention of the women and children - barring those of Haman.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Any Color Hassid, As Long As He's Black

I saw this Purim costume leaflet, at a the blog "A Mother in Israel" who adequately focused on the fact that the girls faces had been  erased. However, I couldn't help but notice something else. These kids really have very few choices of costumes. They can dress up as: A black Hassid, A white Hassid, A black and gold Hassid, and a White and gold Hassid. This is clearly a tough choice. The next thing I notice is that the girls can only choose from Rivka and Rahel - what happened to Leah and Sarah? are they not frum enough?

Useful Programs - Dropbox

I've been using Dropbox for over a year now, and it has become one of my "can't live without" programs. Dropbox creates a folder on your computer, which is automatically backed up by the server. Even more importantly Dropbox syncs the folder on every computer that you install it on. In other words, you can save a file at work, and it will automatically be available at home. You never have to e-mail a file to yourself again!

I highly recommend Dropbox for anyone who works on more than one computer!

 Perhaps the biggest recommendation for it I can give, is that I'm approaching the limit of the 2GB free storage that is the standard version. Dropbox will increase my storage if people click on this link, and install the program!  So while this isn't an interest free recommendation, those of you who enjoy this blog, can feel free to support me in this manner.

From the Talmud To Don Quixote - A Stick of Gold!

The following story is found in Tractate  Nedarim 25:

A man with a monetary claim upon his neighbour once came before Raba, demanding of the debtor, 'Come and pay me.' 'I have repaid you,' pleaded he. 'If so,' said Raba to him, 'go and swear to him that you have repaid.' Thereupon he went and brought a [hollow] cane, placed the money therein, and came before the Court, walking and leaning on it. [Before swearing] he said to the plaintiff: 'Hold the cane in your hand'. He then took a scroll of the Law and swore that he had repaid him all that he [the creditor] held in his hand.2  The creditor thereupon broke the cane in his rage and the money poured out on the ground; it was thus seen that he had [literally] sworn to the truth.3

An eerily similar story is found in Don Quiote chapter XLV - After the fool Sancho Panza is appointed (as a joke) as the governor of an Island:

At this instant there came into court two old men, one carrying a cane by way of a walking-stick, and the one who had no stick said, "Senor, some time ago I lent this good man ten gold-crowns in gold to gratify him and do him a service, on the condition that he was to return them to me whenever I should ask for them. A long time passed before I asked for them, for I would not put him to any greater

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Evolution of Purim During Your Lifespan

I believe this list accurately captures the evolving meaning of Purim through a normal guy's life:


3-10: Purim for you is focused on what costume you will wear, and what candy you will get.
11-16: Purim is focused on firecrackers.
16-23: Purim is focused on getting drunk. Not embarrassing yourself while drunk is also a plus, but not the highest priority.
23-26(some flexibility here): Purim is focused on Bar-Ilan parties (girls).
26-36: Purim is focused on what costumes your children will wear and figuring out who is likely to give you Mishloach Manot, that you have to give them back. A sub category here is the first three years of being married you prepare home made Mishlochei Manot. 
36-42: You are worried your children will harm themselves with firecrackers. This goes on for some years after your children have actually stopped being interested in firecrackers.
42-49: Worried about your children harming themselves while drunk.
49-??: Worried your children aren't at a Bar-Ilan party meeting girls. Alternatively worried that they are. Alternatively worried about the type of girls they are meeting. In other words, just plain worried.