Criticize Well

If you are one of those people who is preternaturally compelled to criticize faiths and the faithful, that is your right (in America, anyway).

If you want your critique to be taken seriously, however, try focusing on one faith at a time. Indiscriminately lumping all religions together and then opening fire is lazy, imprecise, often wrong, and readily dismissed by anyone who does not already agree with you.

We all may look the same to you, and there are always similarities. But if the differences are important enough to keep us in our separate houses, they are important enough for you to understand before you join the conversation.

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C-food

Hong Kong seafood markets make me happy that I keep kosher.

R.I.P. Philip Roth

Portnoy’s Complaint was a revelatory book for me, not only a point of literary connection to Jews living far away, but also a comforting reassurance that I was not the only one dealing with very deep issues fitting into gentile society.

I have two other volumes of Roth’s work on by shelf, and I have yet to read it. I will get to it all eventually, but the great Tosafists must come first.

Goodnight, Mr. Portnoy. And thank you.

 

Age and Tolerance

As I age, I am finding myself turning into a bit of a grumpy old man. I dismiss it as mostly harmless, but sometimes I wonder.

As I swim in the works of the Mussar greats like Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona and Rabbeinu Yisrael Meir Kagan, I am gently reminded that the irritability I am acquiring cannot be too easily dismissed as an earned and slightly endearing privilege of age. I catch myself (or my wife catches me) starting to allow simple crotchetiness evolve into the kind of intolerance, anger, and venom against which Torah, the Prophets, and the learned rabbis inveigh.

I am working on it. I woke up this morning and realized that I would do better to be a cheerful old geezer than a grumpy old man.

Age carries with it many perils to our physical and mental healthy. Old Grouch Syndrome, gone unchecked, carries the greatest peril to our souls.