Thursday, February 20, 2014

Before the big news, two more Jerusalem anecdotes:
I suppose we've gotten so used to the fact that any junk we want to get rid of will be gone within minutes of being placed on the wall outside our house that not only didn't it register that our semi-broken toaster (it needs some good whacks to get going, in case you're the new owner) was gone that quickly, but...well, I noticed that a slice of bread (untoasted) had been left in its place. I even threw it out. But it wasn't until almost a whole day later that the hilarious fact that our toaster had been replaced with a slice of bread sank in, and I laughed and laughed.
Number two:
I was waiting for a bus at Tzomet Pat yesterday when a tour bus stopped and disgorged some elderly tourists, secular Israelis, who joined me in waiting for a Rechavia-bound bus. Some of them began conversing. Eventually:

"There's a free seat at the shelter."

"No, no, the bus will be here soon."

"Mashiach will be here soon too, but that's no reason not to sit down."
And now the big news: We are proud, happy, and full of gratitude to Hashem as we welcome a new addition to our family; as of his brit yesterday, his name is Hoshen Golan. An explanation to anyone who requests. :-)

Monday, February 03, 2014

OK, one more...

Everyone's a comedian, which is appreciated, but even more so when there's that touch of Biblical/Talmudic humor in it.

I went for a haircut at my usual place yesterday. When the guy was done, I touched the top of my (rather bald) head to see if he'd cut enough there. "Oh, you want that cut as well?" the barber asked. "Sorry, I'll take care of it. I thought you wanted to leave it, you, know, zecher l'mikdash."

I didn't stop laughing until I was well on my way home.
(Hmm, two pate-related stories in a row. I really don't think about it that much, honestly.)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

And So Facebook Slowly Does Away With Blogs

...but for those of my loyal readers who follow me mostly here and not there, and I love you all, here are some recent posts from Facebook. For the comments, some of which are quite good, see there. (I leave out one post about Facebook itself.):
I'm used to people coming up to me in shul and telling me my tefillin are too low. I usually try to wave them off, but some of them are insistent.

They say R' Kook used to adjust people's tefillin, but at least he was the rav- and he knew what he was doing. With me, it's usually some ignoramus. To make matters worse, they usually have full heads of hair (lucky dogs) and simply can't grasp what the phrase "my hairline isn't where it once was" even means. (I suppose the language barrier doesn't help.)

None of that prepared me for today. Today, it was someone who- I kid you not- runs an entire organization (in Brooklyn, naturally) devoted to this topic. He had a spiral-bound book and glossy fliers all about his cause. And he kept going on about how I'm violating a d'orayta, need to take care of this today, and how- I'm quoting here- "I'm doing you a big favor." (The Karaite myth didn't come up, alas.) All this in the middle of hagba. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think talking during davening ranks a bit higher on the no-nos.

When faced with that sort of lunacy, you just nod, smile, and try to slowly back away. While saying your "V'Zot HaTorah," "Acheinu," and Amens, which, as I said, I think God is a bit more interested in.

 (This is from last week, and so a bit dated, but not much:)
So here's a timeline of headlines:

Sunday: Bibi announces that he won't remove any Israelis from their homes. Subtext, not picked up on by me then: Settlers are free to live under the PA if they want.

Monday: Bennett blasts Bibi, saying this is a stupid idea. (It is, on a number of levels.) On the same day, in a different paper, the headline informs us that the PA rejects the idea out of hand. Their future state will be Judenrein, thank you very much.

So, Monday night, Efrat and I decide that Bibi may well be being devious- offer the PA a deal which they'll inevitably reject (because they're evil and, thankfully, stupid), and thus expose them as a bunch of anti-Semites, not that it will convince anyone who doesn't like Israel or Jews anyway.

Sure enough, Tuesday's headline: Bibi blasts Bennett for ruining his perfect opportunity to expose the Palestinians as a bunch of "racists and anti-Semites" (which seems to have worked anyway, but maybe he wanted to make it "official"). Bennett's people respond by complaining that Bibi never told them it was part of a big plan.

You just have to laugh sometimes. (As Tom Wolfe once wrote, "It's a great life, if you don't weaken.") But it leaves the following questions: Are Efrat and I officially smarter than Bennett? (One of us voted for him, a decision still not regretted overall.) If so, why is he so much richer and more powerful than us? Was Bennett just playing to his base? Or, frighteningly, does Bennett perhaps know that Bibi really is the squish we think him to be? Or is all this really part of some huge plan? (On the last, at least: Nah.)

Finally saw The Hobbit Part Two (yeah, I know that's not its name) yesterday. Probably one of the last showings in theaters, so I had to go with the 3-D, which doesn't work for me, but I enjoyed it. So long as you don't expect Jackson to stick to the book- and he deviates wildly, oddly enough not only (obviously, for long trilogy) adding whole plots either from other Tolkien writings or from his own imagination, but ironically making some very clear omissions (I can only assume they'll be in the extended versions, but whatever)- it can be fun. Sometimes inadvertently funny, as in some of the over-the-top fight scenes, but what's wrong with a laugh? I guess I'm not a purist, especially if the result isn't bad.

Another year till the next...I'm having flashbacks to LOTR in 2001 and 2002.

I may have mentioned this last year, but it's certainly odd having to follow along constructed languages such as Quenya (Elvish), Khuzdul (Dwarf language), Black Speech, and Orkish in Hebrew subtitles. Same for Klingon last year.

One more thing: I know they tailor trailers to the main feature, but three of the four trailers were for Marvel movies. Wow. (The fourth was the Robocop remake, Hashem Yerachem.)

My English teacher in the seventh and eighth grades (twenty-five years ago!) was Mr. Harvey Brodsky. He was amazing. (Note added for blog: Most of my classmates, unlike me, had younger and not older brothers in the school. Mr. Brodsky would assign all sorts of "risky" books- like "To Kill a Mockingbird"- there would be howls of outrage from parents, and the books would not be assigned the next year. Fortunately, I got to read them before the hissy fits.)

My parents send regular "care packages" of articles and the like I might find interesting. What a delight to discover, in the latest one, an article showing that Mr. Brodsky is still going strong. May his tribe increase.