Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy holidays!

Happy Chanukah, everyone! What a wonderful time of the year.

For some. But that old fat S.O.B. refuses to put any gifts under my menorah. So you're welcome to send me Chanukah gifts; if you don't know my mailing address sending email will do. Have you ever sent an email as a present to yourself when your inbox was empty just so you had something to read? No? I guess it's just me, then. I'm a jolly old fellow.

My daughter asked yesterday if it's true that the fat man with the long white beard used to be Jewish at one point in time. But of course! Can't you see his long white beard? However, when he heard the rumors about him running the biggest elf sweatshop ever discovered and his odd proclivity for visiting prepubescent children in the dark of the night and leaving them gifts, he, like any good Jew should, converted to Christianity to avoid the inevitable wave of anti-Semitism. Unlike this Bernie Madoff fellow who didn't have the sense to do that before confessing to running the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world. What was he thinking? Doesn't he realize that now we'll have to find a nice crypto-Goy willing to take one for the team and start an even bigger Ponzi scheme? I'm sure some wall-street execs are lining up for the job as we speak.

The children's school started teaching some real history and biology and math, finally. Only in very general terms, but still more than I once imagined possible. The government is tightening the screws and something had to give. The teacher hit on a novel solution: she reads the history of agriculture as it appears in the text, but then warns the students to disregard anything that contradicts the Torah -- without pointing out exactly what those things are. I relish the times when I'm asked, Are we allowed to believe that? and I get the opportunity to hit home the message that you should NEVER listen to someone trying  to tell you what you should or should not believe. You believe whatever seems to you to be the truth. A concept you'd think is self-evident, but somehow isn't. Logic? people will wonder. What, you rely on LOGIC!?!? Are you crazy or something? Deranged? All the while, I thought logic is the most ranged thing to rely on. And I still do.

For some light holiday reading some fellow bloggers have written about shame, castration, cold-blooded murder and secretly lesbian mikvah women in the Hasidic community. Really.  I think the holiday eggnog should be better stirred, myself. But who knows? I'd be afraid to enter those search terms in Google, as some will no doubt do. A search string of "castration murder secretly lesbian women banana" should provide much holiday amusement. ('Banana' for the potassium; what did you think?)

Go easy on the latkes and doughnuts, and may the Chanukah candles provide much warmth and light for whatever lies ahead. And the same for the Christmas spirit or Chanukah bush, if you're so inclined. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let It Snow

Oh the driving outside is frightful

But the weather is so delightful

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Love Poem by Yehuda Amichai


There is joy that weeps for seven days and seven nights. There is
a wedding wherein the bride and groom
are so far one from the other
that the wedding canopy does not suffice to cover the both of them
together. And the voice of the Rabbi who weds
and the voice of "harei at" ["I take thee"]
is lost in the speaker's desert.

Harei at, rat, tat, rat-a-tat tat,
like a solitary machine gun
before the start of battle or after its end.

There is a wedding wherein your night
is my day. Your days are getting longer
while mine, shorter. And the Rabbi who wed us
despaired here and is delivering eulogies there.
That is a safer bet.

--Yehuda Amichai
Translated from the Hebrew by myself (with some help from Yehuda Amichai)



יש שמחה שבוכה שבעה ימים ושבעה לילות. יש

חתונה שבה חתן וכלה

כל כך רחוקים זה מזו,

שהחופה לא תספיק לכסות אותם

יחדיו. וקול הרב המקדש

וקול "הרי את"

יאבדו במדבר של המדבר.

את, את, ת, ת, ת ת,

כמו מכונת יריה בודדת

בפתיחת הקרב או אחר סיומו.

יש חתונה שבה אצלך לילה

ואצלי יום. אצלך מתארכים הימים

ואצלי מתקצרים. והרב שקדש אותנו

כאן התיאש ומספיד הספדים שם.

זה יותר בטוח.