Monday, March 31, 2008

The Problem With Posthumous Haggadot

Before I get to the point, I think it's funny that Bill Clinton can give a speech in which he makes the remark that this primary is allowing a lot debate in the Democratic Party, which is a good thing, "And Republicans are participating in it, too!" he adds in that annoying joking-reproving way he has. The crowd, of course, eats it up- anything to bash Republicans and, of course, Rush.

Leave aside that there isn't much of a debate here- the candidates have pretty much identical views and are just fighting out identity politics, nevermind that neither is really a member of their "group"- but isn't the ex-President being just a wee bit ungrateful, considering that the primary beneficiary of Rush's "Operation Chaos" and Republicans voting in Democratic primaries is, well, his wife?

Anyway, to the point. I visited the local Judaica store today to check out new Haggadot, and one in particular I'd heard about. (I won't name it, to protect the innocent, but you should be able to figure it out.) First, I saw an interesting one: A sort of "Seder Leader" edition of the IDF Haggadah I really like. But then I found the one I was looking for. And although I'd really been planning on getting it, after flipping through it, I decided not to. The simple reason? It's basically a plain-vanilla Haggadah with a comment or two every few pages. I counted it all up, and it's about two dozen total pages of commentary with lots of pages with just the standard Hebrew/English text.

Now, don't get me wrong- you can pack a lot of good stuff into those pages, and there are many worthwhile Haggadot that are similar to this (I own some). But I have a sefer of Pesach thoughts, including Haggadah insights, from the same author, so why get this as well? And therein, I think, lies the issue: Some people do Haggadah commentaries when they're alive. They're specifically going through it, line by line, delivering insights that can fill a whole book.

But another type of Haggadah is one done posthumously. Very often, someone will die without ever making a formal Haggadah, and one of their talmidim will do it for them. Problem is, they have to hunt and pick for insights. Often, they're not even giving Haggadah insights, but Pesach insights they're fitting into a line from the Haggadah. And, in cases like that, there's going to be a lot- and sometimes not quite so much- on Maggid, and virtually nothing on the rest of the Haggadah. Worth it? Yeah, sure, sometimes very much so, but it wasn't enough for me today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance, Funny and Not

How's this one? Two tiny experimental electric cars, festooned with the logo of the manufacturer, parked on a side street. People walking by pause to admire them. One is still sitting on the back of a large flatbed truck; the other seems to have just been offloaded. The truck is just sitting there, engine idling.

News (paraphrased): Obama called for an end to racial obsession. Obama's voice itself: "We can't ignore the issues of racism." (Okay, again paraphrased.) Maybe I'm too much of a libertarian on this (and most other) issues, but am I the only one who notes the difference here?

More on Obama and his crazy uncle later, I hope.

Finally: You're sitting at work, relaxed, not a worry to the world. (OK, maybe a few.) The case involves a product made in Israel. (The Israeli company is in no way at fault, don't worry- quite the opposite, in fact. But the fact that that entered my mind when the case came up should tell me something.) And then you come across a document: "Jerusalem, Israel marked on labels might cause marketing problem in Emerging Markets [i.e., the Third World- NL]. Overlabelling program to be implemented."

That one really got to me. They still hate us. Boy, do they ever.

The product in question, by the way, is an implanted live-saving medical device. Oh, they'll take the help, but God forbid they should know where it's from. I hope the Israelis carved a tiny Magen David into them, so whichever fat, terror-supporting Saudi prince is benefiting can have a tiny visible piece of Israel inside him, whether he knows it or not. And hey, an Israeli company- and Israel and its economy- benefit anyway. Nyah nyah.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


I have to admit, I was pretty annoyed at the primaries this year: For a while, I've felt that it's simply illogical to allow people to vote in the primary of a party they never bothered registering for- isn't that the whole point of registering? (The same goes even more so for those registered for another party.) This year, with the guy(s) I wanted losing due to this very practice, I was doubly annoyed.

But now that Republicans have turned this on Democrats- in Texas, for example- and helped keep the Dems going through the convention (come what may, that can't be good for them), I'm a little more positively disposed toward it. Selfish of me, perhaps, but I'm even seeing the logic of subjecting candidates to a wide range of voters early and getting the one with the widest appeal come November. Well, we will see. Onward...

P.S. Why does the Amazon certificate always come right after I've ordered something from them?

P.P.S. That was some winter, huh? Global warming my foot.

P.P.P.S. Much more to come soon, I hope, including many reflections on Jonah's book.