Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova

The Jewish new year is upon us so I would like to take the opportunity to wish my readers a happy new year. May you and yours enjoy a year of health and bounty, spiritual as well as material.

I would also like to share with you a few things I learned this year:

1 - There exists a surprisingly large number of people that believe that genocide is a favorable solution to political problems, as long as these problems involve Jews. In the West these people are called "liberals". I guess that's because they want to liberate the world from Jews. In the Middle-East we just call them "Arab-Muslims".

2 - Bibi Netanyahu can give one hell of a speech, but he is still a wimp and he is married to Sarah, a perfect combination of wickedness and stupidity.

3a - Being Jewish means being a symbol - a symbol of God's existence and a symbol of God's morality. The establishment and existence of Israel, which is quite a miracle,  is a symbol of divine intervention in our world. Every Jew is such a symbol, whether he want's it or not, whether he acknowledges it or not.

3b- The world is divided into those that acknowledge God's existence and morality and those that oppose it. These two forces are embodied by the Jewish culture that embraces life, and Palestinian-Arab-Muslim culture that embraces death.

4- These simple truths are terrible to acknowledge. I know it took me many, many years to admit this.

5 - Making jokes about death and laughing about the precarious position of Jews in the world is an age-old Jewish tradition. Here a few examples taken from the "Great Book of Jewish Humor", edited by Prof. Adir Cohen. It's in Hebrew but highly recommended if you speak the language or know someone who does. You can buy it In Israel at this link.

- A woman is grieving for her lost little one. "Yossel'eh," she cries out in pain and sorrow. "When you go to heaven, be an emissary for us and pray for all of us down here."
Her husband heard this and said: "On such an important mission you send a little boy? Why don't you go there yourself...?"

- An old woodsman was carrying on his shoulder a large bundle of firewood when suddenly the heavy burden overcame him and he collapsed to the ground in a daze. Immediately he began crying out for the angel of death: "Oh Death, I beg of you to please come quickly and release me from this terrible life."
No sooner had he finished his wish and the Angel of Death was right there by his side. "Did you call for me?" said the Angel with a terrible grin.
Awestruck and terribly frightened, the old man began to stammer: "Ummm, errr, ehhhh, yeeees...you see, perhaps in your kindness, you can help me lift this bundle of wood and put it on my back?"

The book also has an entire, large section devoted to jokes about Nazi Germany:

- A Nazi inspector is making his rounds in a school in Germany and he asks one of the children: "Who is your father?"
"Adolf Hitler," the boy dutifully answers.
"And who is your mother?" the inspector asks
"Nazi Germany"
"And what do you want to be when you grow up?
"An orphan!"

- A Nazi woman enters a  butcher shop in Berlin. She looks around suspiciously and then asks: "Is this a pure, German, butcher shop or a filthy Jewish one?"
"My dear lady," said the butcher, "How can you even think of such a thing? Of course this is a pure, German butcher shop - only pigs come to buy here!"

- Three Brownshirts waited for Mr. Zilberstien to close his shop and then they jumped him, beat him with great vigor, and humiliated him. After they were finished they asked the poor man: "So, who was responsible for Germany's defeat in World War I?"
"The Jews and the popcorn-sellers," the poor man replied.
"What do the popcorn-sellers have to do with it?" the Brownshirts asked.
"Well, what do the Jews have to do with it?" was the reply.

-Hitler had a chance to send a direct request to God. He wrote: "Dear God, please turn every German into a wise, honest Nazi.
After several days the reply came: "Your request cannot be granted for the following reasons: An honest, German Nazi  cannot be wise; a wise, Nazi German cannot be honest; and a wise and honest German cannot be a Nazi."

Sadly, this joke can apply perfectly well today, with a slight change of names. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

I didn't have the time this year to write a special post for the holiday, but if you haven't read it yet, and Jewish mothers being what they are - a constant thorn (and occasional source of comfort) in our lives - then you may enjoy reading this holiday post. It was written about the Passover trauma, but I think it applies equally well to Rosh Hashana and basically, any large, dysfunctional family gathering.

Finally, once again, to all the wise and honest people: happy new year and thanks for reading!
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