Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm!"

Yes, I know it's a complicated subject, and the speaker may have just been quoting others, and that this is his style, and that YU, to its great credit and benefit, is home to many different views and voices. But the rationalist in me cringed just a bit when I heard this line in a shiur- a very good shiur, don't get me wrong- on YUTorah:
...the commentators say that perhaps the source of the Rambam is the Zohar...
I'm thinking of Walter Sobchak for some reason:
...You see, it all goes back to the concept of "aish." Many learned men have disputed this over the centuries, but in the Fourteenth Century, the Rambam...he...
Later in the shiur, he says, when discussing the Hebron Yeshiva,
...unfortunately it was challenged by the riots of 1929...
Well, that's certainly one way of putting it. (Link not for the tender-hearted.) I always liked the way Meir Kahane put it in "Never Again". After describing the riots, he adds, parenthetically, "(The white flags came out quickly in Hebron in 1967.)"

Friday, December 03, 2010


Not sure how funny this one is, but it made me smile. I'm about to cross Ramban Street at Kikar Paris (thanks for the jelly doughnut, Chabad of Rechavia!) when I hear to girls talking English next to me:

"I think we turn here."

"No, this is Ramban."

I'm about to offer help when one turns to me: "S'licha..."

Well, at least I can pass for an Israeli physically, at least to foreigners. In English: "Yes?"

"Where's Keren Kayemet?"

"Up that way, to the left," pointing behind us.

"Whoops! OK, I'm embarrassed."

They turn around and head up. I start wondering if, in fact, they wanted Keren HaYesod, which is in front of us. Sure enough, a few seconds later, they're back.

Me: "You're sure you didn't want Keren HaYesod?"

"OK, we're lost. She said it's by a bank...King George becomes it?"

"Yep, that's Keren HaYesod. Right ahead."

They thank me and head off. Too bad I didn't have a chance to tell them the ridiculous historical reason why there are two easily-confused streets so close to each other- it may have made them (and me) feel better. (In short, the Keren HaYesod [United Israel Appeal, in charge of foreign fundraising] was jealous that the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund, in charge of land buying] had a street named after it, and by the building which they share. So they cut off the end of King George and named it after them. Or so the story goes.)