So I was telling Hymie… you remember Hymie… yeah, the one with the hacking cough… like a freight train, you say… ha, more like the Hindenburg colliding with a dining needle… he recently lost his job at the pickle store… what’s that, how do you lose a pickle job… I guess he couldn’t do math on the brine-ary system… anyway, he was thinking of taking a correspondence course in taxidermy… so I ask him if he likes dead animals… what dead animals, he says, I’m hoping to get a license to drive a hack in New York City… unrealistic, nah, nothing compared to his mother, Aunt Sadie, she still is pushing for medical school… excuse me for a minute, telephone… oh, it’s my editor… something about Hanukkah… hasn’t he ever heard of heartburn… okay, I’ll be right back….
Leaving the family to fester for a while, let me share a theory. A theory that may shine a light on the social impulses of all mankind and how they may be refined in spiritual settings.
The Biblical calendar includes a series of festive observances, covering a seven month period from spring to early fall, Passover to Tabernacles. The meals on these days can be very uplifting in an edifying sort of way, wholesome yet freighted with formality. You might bring a new fiancee into that atmosphere without too much fear of embarrassment occurring in either direction. Grandpa might choose to impart tales of the old country and for once you find yourself gaining an appreciation.
The chill five months then went Biblically unrelieved. It must have been a grim slog through those first thousand or so winters, battling the sludge and the drudge. Then came Purim, when an exilic Jewish population based mostly in Persian provinces escaped the clutches of Haman. A couple of centuries later it was joined by Hanukkah, as the tyrannical suzerainty imposed by the Greeks on Israel was deposed by a guerrilla war. The unique element was that rabbinic powers of legislation were deployed to fashion national days of celebration.
Looking closely at these new holidays, we notice two key elements. Each brought a special food, not a dish with gravitas like turkey, but a playful snack. Purim had the hamentash, a triangular cookie with a fruit-filled center, designed to mock Haman’s pointy hat. Hanukkah introduced the latke, fried dough (later potatoes) to commemorate funnily the oil that was said to have burned miraculously for eight nights. (My joke was that one night of oily latkes gives eight days of heartburn.)p>Each also came with a toy invented especially for the occasion. The Purim “grogger” is a hand-operated noisemaking device to drown out the evil name of Haman. The Hanukkah dreidel is a sort of children’s top with one letter on each of four planes, which can be used to gamble by wagering which side will be facing up at the end of a spin. In Don McLean’s lovely song, Dreidel, he notes wistfully: br> /p> blockquote> em>I feel like a spinning top or a dreidel br> The spinning don’t stop when you leave the cradle br> You just slow down. br> Round and round the world you go br> Spinning through the lives of the people you know. /em>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?