Monday, July 02, 2007


Did you know "we" eat onions on shabbos for "a reason." I do. This new and valuable information was imparted to me, ben gavra l'gavra, by a polite but insistent gentleman who wished for me to know that this onion business is a "big inyan," one that can be traced all the way back to the very old days when all Jews lived comfortably and happily under one central authority. (no snorting, please.)

In brief, the story goes like this: In the desert, we were treated to the marvelous mon, a fabulous substance that, per the verse, tasted like, honey cakes. In Jewish imagination, however, the mon could taste like anything the eater imagined - anything! - aside for 6 things: fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlick. Therefore, onions were mandated by the wise and holy central authority as a rememberance of the mon and/or its limitations. (now you can snort.)

Anyway, I chatted politely with this fellow for a few minutes, and endured being called a "cynic" (me?) when I asked if the minhag was announced and implemented via pashkevil or phone tree. But the whole thing bothered me. Why is it that people (and non-people like Ed) have no difficulty believing that all these customs were prescribed by a great man at a discreet moment in time. Why do they act with such anger when some non-cynic like me suggests politely that the customs swelled from the ground up? Why is it so important for them to cling to the unlikely idea that they were ordained from above?

A friend supplied the answer: Dovie, it's because people are generally not that bright, deep, or complex, and tend to find security, stability, and comfort in thinking and behaving like sheep. Particularly when it has been implied or stated outright by their shepherd(s) that doing so carries some inherent significance and merit, which will not only fundamentally enrich their lives, but which makes them better than other people AND brings about bliss in the World To Come.

I think that's about right.

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