Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2 + 2 = 4: A Memory

Bored on a bench in the hallway of the Federal Courthouse, I am 5 years old, swinging knobby knees, ankle socks and fuzzy black oxfords. My older brother is running in the lobby near the elevator with our cousins, killing aliens or super criminals. Eleven adult children with spouses plus baby bumps, and about 20 grand kids aged 17 and under,  we are one huge tribe impatiently crowding around the heavy, closed doors of justice. We are waiting for Grandpa to become a US citizen. We're trying to keep it down to a dull roar so the bailiffs don't make us all move into the lobby with the aliens and super criminals.

My Uncle Ali, skinny with bushy kinky hair and black horn rimmed glasses sits down on the bench with me. Probably he's come to rest his feet but to be polite he strikes up a conversation with me.

So how old are you? Kindergarten? Yes? Reading yet?
A little.
What about counting?
Counting? That's for babies. ( look of disdain)
Really- so how high do you go?
100, even more.
And by 2's and by 5's, also to 100.
Honestly? You must demonstrate.
2, 4, 6, 8, 10 (and so forth.)
Very impressive. So what of arithmetic?
(Eyes rolled.) Easy peasy.
Demonstration? 1 + 1?
1 + 2?
1 + 3?
4. That's too easy ( boring, for babies, etc)
I see, something harder, then?
2 + 2?
(frown, scorn even, sigh.) 4
(Question mark frown) Why what?
Why are 2 + 2 = 4?
(Deep concentration. Fingers produced. Two on the left hand, two on the right)
Here, see? because they are four, not three or five, four.   Look.
(Indulgent smile, some self-satisfaction) No, four is the answer. I want to know the reason why the answer is four. Explain why 2 + 2 = 4, and not 3 or 5.
Because they are 4 and not something else.
But that doesn't explain why. Everything has a reason, everything can be explained why it is what it is. Even 2 + 2 = 4.
(frustrated waving of fingers)
It's never enough to say it is simply so. You have to know why. Think about it. If you find a reason, come tell me.
(Twinkling eyes, kind smile, slight chuckle)

And he got up and walked away having planted the seed of a concept that formed the rest of my life.

It's never enough to say it is simply so; you need to know why.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Be A Jew

The root of the word "jew" is from the Hebrew to thank.

I want to say thank you to CS, SL and Jill Sadowsky:

For encouraging me, trusting me and being my fellow traveler in this world of writing.

Water From A Well

The women of Israel are like deep wells.

The water that comes from them is pure.

The water is cold and clear and pure: the source of life. 

The depth of the well and the steep sides protect the water.

It's hard to get to this water, so it can't be dirtied.

To bring water out of a well like this, you have to reach down, with the help of a long strong rope, but it is worth it.

If You Know Only One Thing, Know This

Sometimes someone just knows how to communicate a huge idea in so few words and with such tremendous impact and effectiveness, that there isn't much more to add.

Charlie Harary is one such person.  G-d's marketing man for our times.
There are many more videos by him at

Please don't watch this---absorb this message and everything is transformed. 
Olam Chadash Yebanai  ve tikun olamainu ki sof maasei u'makhshevah techillah.