Monday, August 31, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

I think I saw Ted Kennedy once in my life, and that was more than enough. It was at an OU "Mission to Washington", and he (and, of course, some Republican senator) got a plaque or something at the luncheon. I remember hoping I wouldn't get close enough for him to offer me his hand. I'm kind of picky about coming into personal contact with murderers. (The more I read, the more troubled I become, by the way. I'm not one for conspiracy theories and all that, but when it comes to a Kennedy being a drunken lout and possibly doing something far worse than what people think they know about the whole thing...I become gullible, sue me.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Strange how the brain controls the brain!"

I once read- in "The Oxford Book of the Year"- that different people cope with obviously incorrect statements in different ways. They were discussing dates: If you were told, for example, to be someplace on Friday, August 20th, would you assume that "Friday" or "August 20th" were incorrect? Apparently, women tend to follow the feria (day of the week) while men, the date. (I think I'd follow the day, but that's another discussion.)

Anyway, this occurred to me today at the checkout line in the supermarket. I suppose the following is more true because the clerk was speaking Hebrew (Yup, I'm here in Israel! Hooray!) and I...don't, so much. But here's the problem: She tells me, "Me'ah ve-shishim agorot," which literally means, "One hundred and sixty agorot," an agorah being one-one hundreth of a shekel. I immediately began looking for one hundred and sixty shekalim. Why?

Because of the comment from Sherlock Holmes that appears as the title of this blog. Without realizing it, my brain told me two things: First, she said "one hundred and sixty" as a block of speech. Second, she said "agorot," which is impossible, as my purchases could not have totalled only 1.60 shekalim. So my mind told me to look for one hundred and sixty shekalim, which is a bit more reasonable. As it happens, we cleared it up quickly and I gave her 105 and got change, but there's material to be mined by the neurologists there.

Of course, like I said, had it been in English, it probably wouldn't have been a problem. I suppose I have received a valuable lesson that the word "shekalim" is often elided in speech, and that agorot never total more than ninety-nine. It reminds me of the German spy who entered a bar in England during World War II, having just snuck in by boat, and was told his order totalled "Eight and six." He whipped out eight pounds and six shillings, which is well over twenty times the real price, which was eight shillings and sixpence. His career for the Nazis ended shortly thereafter. :-) Fortunately, my transaction didn't have the same repercussions, and I'm enjoying some hummus right now.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Congregation Etz Chaim

Last night was our annual shul dinner. I chipped in on an ad on behalf of the daily morning minyan (one of the honorees, and his ten-year-old son, are regulars), and so attended. It was really very nice- the MC mentioned that the shul has, as its guests of honor at its dinners, not big donors (it's not that sort of shul), but people who add to the life of the shul and community. And how true that was last night- some magnificient honorees, speeches, food (you have to mention it!), and time spent with the wonderful people who make up the shul, a pillar of the community.

And then, the rabbi got up and, assuring everyone I had no idea what was coming, spoke about how great it is that I'm making Aliyah, called me up to present me a sefer (the very appropriate Em HaBanim Semecha), and spoke about what I've contributed to the shul over the years (not much, I assure you, or so I thought) and how they will miss me. Wasn't that nice of them? Ah, there are things I'll miss here, and will strive to replicate in the Holy Land.