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Friday, January 30, 2009

Baba Sali: The Messiah Is Coming

The Internet has been around for a while -- and, while the immediacy of the medium is unsurpassed in spreading news stories and viral videos of nose-picking politicians and lightsaber duels, the most emotion that's most commonly associated with retrospective looks at internet viral memes is one of acute, painful embarrassment. For every "ZOMG Look At This" that us bloggers have posted, and then proudly bragged to our colleagues that we broke the story, there are a thousand things that would have made the world a better place if we'd totally ignored it in the first place.

And then there are the truly sad ones. The Heaven's Gate cult, originally thought to be harmless -- hey, they weren't recruiting, and they weren't affecting anyone but themselves -- who were among the early Web presences and whose site endures as a testament to their mass suicide.

Okay, but I wanted to talk about something that also has elements of pathos and sadness, if on a totally different level. It's all about a watch.

The great Moroccan sage the Baba Sali ostensibly gave a couple of watches to Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most important Sephardic rabbis in Israel. One was silver, one was gold. The watches are broken -- or, rather, they move much slower than normal watches. According to Mishpacha magazine (quoted here), Mordechai Eiliyahu's son relates how the watches work:

"One day, the Baba Sali's son came to my father and presented him with a watch. He explained that his holy father had come to him in a dream and told him that he should look in a certain drawer in a certain desk, where he would find this watch. He was to give it to my father and tell him that when the watch reached twelve o'clock, then Mashiach would come. At that time, the watch hands showed twenty minutes to eleven. Since then, my father keeps a very close eye on the watch, and found that sometimes it goes and other times it just stops."

Recently, I stumbled across, this post on another blog, which reported that one of the watches had struck twelve -- that the Messiah's arrival was imminent. Then I noticed the date of the post, August 2005.

Another Heaven's Gate, I thought.

My stomach sunk. I've always been an insufficient believer in the Messiah -- our sages say we should be ready for Mashiach's imminent arrival at all times. I always want to be. Messiah stories thrill me. But I haven't been able to get my head around the concept that the world might be changing, that I might actually see my grandfather and my dead best friend again. Shlomo Carlebach says that that's the kind of thinking that keeps the Messiah from coming. But, hey, I can barely believe that Obama is president -- and there he is, tellin' off the fat cats of Wall Street on the front page of the New York Times.

baba saliSo, what of it now? Well, it turns out that the watch that struck twelve was only the silver watch -- and, as of November, there was a report (though unconfirmed) that, while Rav Mordechai Eliyahu was in the hospital, his son had custody of the watch, and it had moved to twelve. Or almost twelve?

I haven't been able to find anything more recent. But, as the Baba Sali Facebook group commemorates, today is his 25th yahrzeit. And I can't think of a better way to honor it by thinking that the Messiah might come today. Hey -- there's still hours before sunset. In New York, anyway.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


A ridiculous amount of music stuff.

First of all, new music column up on Nextbook: Israeli hip-hop and Bible Belt punk-rock.

patrick of can canHadara Levin-Areddy is a one-woman cultural steamroller. She’s a secular Jew living in Jerusalem, a pianist who plays rock music, a determined iconoclast who’s at once playful and dark-humored—think early Bruce Springsteen meets early Alanis Morrisette. She's carved out a niche for her own art-pop music in Israeli radio that’s not exactly Top 40, but still holds down a demographic of her own, roughly equivalent to that of NPR listeners. Hadara's seventh album, K’ilu Ain Machar ("Like There’s No Tomorrow"), finds her branching out both musically and lyrically, abandoning pop songs for hip hop. more...
And then I talk about it on MJL:
The launch of Jewish Music Report probably has nothing to do with the upcoming Event, starring Lipa Schmeltzer — but I’m sure the timing couldn’t hurt either. Since last year’s sudden cancellation of the Big Event due to rabbinical warnings, Lipa has blown up from a wacky-but-talented opening act into a full-fledged major with wacky Youtube rap videos into a major Hasidic media star. The coverage provoked a profile in the New York Times, and, in many ways, backfired on its organizers — some rabbis who authorized the ban later admitted to having been coerced into signing, or signing without really knowing what was going on. It also propelled Lipa’s fame into uncharted waters. Whereas before, everyone in the Hasidic world kind of knew about the singer who did holy parodies of secular songs in Yiddish, now everyone — even non-music listeners — knew that he was a good Jew who just happened to ire the wrong rabbi.
And I am so, so lucky -- I can't believe that I am related to these people (courtesy of JMR):

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jazz Is the New Klezmer

I know, I know -- I talk about Yoshie Fruchter a lot. But he's worth it -- and he's doing so much stuff that it would be hard not to talk about him.

On Jewcy today, I talk to him about his new band, his new album, and why his parents are so damn cool:

Yoshie Fruchter gets around. Besides being a member of half a dozen bands, from the children's parody band Shlock Rock to guesting with Pharaoh's Daughter, he's made a name for himself in the few short years since he moved to Brooklyn from his hometown of Silver Spring, MD.

It's easy to chalk Yoshie's existence until that point up to the classic story of small-town-boy-makes-it-big. But between the lines, Fruchter has a lot of stories--his mother is a full-time arts educator in the yeshiva system, and his father is a versatile musician who, among his own accolades, was babysat by Elvis as a child.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Open Mic & Neil Gaiman in New York (but not together)

Tomorrow night: open mic with me at the 92Y Tribeca! 200 Hudson Street, right near pretty much every good after-show bar and restuarant in the city. Featured readers are Jen Hubley, senior style editor for and wild blogger in her own right, and Megan Bruce. Everything moves quickly, and everyone there pretty much rocks. Which is why you should be there. Cause you rock, too. Oh, and it's free. Sign-up and coctails 7:00, show at 7:30.

And, oh, cool -- Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book won this year's Newbery. Although, as a friend pointed out, what awards left has he not won? After a certain point, I feel like people should be immune from awards (which, in NG's defense, he's very good at withdrawing himself from competitions that he wins too much) and create, I don't know, like a hall of fame or something -- a center-of-the-universe Neutral Zone where writers and musicians are recognized as the coolest people ever, and therefore are disqualified from competitions, because you already know that everything they touch pen to is going to be really smoking good. I'm thinking of Maurice Sendak, mostly, although pretty much everything Lydia Millet writes is amazing, as well.

Oh, and in prep for the new movie (courtesy of Alisha at Harper's), you can (and should) read the entirety of Coraline online here for free. If only to prepare yourself.

Oh, and -- he's in New York today!

Hating “Loving Leah,” But Loving The Orthodox Girls

I never thought I'd say it -- at least, in this context -- but thank God that Matisyahu wears good clothes on MTV.

On The View yesterday, Susie Essman -- who plays the Lubavitch mother of the eponymous character in the Hallmark Hall of Fame special Loving Leah -- served as hot chanie watchingthe world's authority to Orthodox Jews. Do you know how many people watch The View? Do you know how many of those people have never met an Orthodox Jew in their lives? And, thankfully, someone as knowledgeable and as accurate a researcher as Susie Essman is their only dose of exposure to Orthodox Jews.

BARBARA WALTERS: What did you learn in your course of researching the Hasidim?
SUSIE ESSMAN: I learned they're not very good dressers.
Sara Ester Crispe, webmaster of, just told her off on JTA. And there's definitely no shortage of articles about hot Orthodox women -- including a whole Hot Chani Field Guide and a blog -- to the contrary. I don't know if the fact-checkers for The View didn't get a chance to do their homework, or if it all just happened too quickly to edit, but there's something wrong in View-land.

I can't believe that not even Whoopi Goldberg called her out on it. I mean, she starred in the COLOR FREAKING PURPLE. (What she's doing on daytime TV is a total mystery -- I mean, it's not, everyone needs a good paycheck -- but I figured she'd be using her role to better the universe, not be Barbara Walters' funny-glasses'd sidekick.)

Fortunately, it's the easiest thing in the universe to send a comment to The View just telling them that Susie Essman was gross, inappropriate, and doesn't know what she was talking about -- but that Sara Ester Crispe is funny, charming, and a laugh riot. Put her up next to Barbara -- then we'll see who's better-dressed.

In actuality, what offended me most about her comments wasn't that -- it was the intimation that Orthodox men are perverts who are uncontrollably turned on by a woman's hair. (Not yours, honey.) Okay, I don't expect anyone (least of all Susie Essman) to understand the finer points of Jewish mysticism, but check this out: ONLY MARRIED WOMEN COVER THEIR HAIR. If hair is that sexually arousing, and that's why crazy Orthodox people cover it, then wouldn't all women's hair be covered? Anyway, Susie: If you're reading this, next time, do a little research. You don't even have to meet a real Orthodox woman -- just read about it on MyJewishLearning. I promise, the entire article will take you less than 5 minutes, flat.

In any case, here's the video. Susie's bad side comes out right at 3:00, if you want to skip the kibitzing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Boys Boys from Brazil

Not a typo: There's a village in Brazil where one out of every five births produces twins, most of them blond-haired and blue-eyed. If you can guess who might have been behind them -- or what experiments may have set the stage for this sort of medical tampering -- you win a cookie.

According to a new book, Mengele: the Angel of Death in South America, the head doctor of Auschwitz shuttled himself between German colonies in Paraguay and Brazil, avoiding capture by the authorities until his death in 1979. (There's a pretty intense article about his background and evasion of post-war capture here.) But Angel of Death sheds new light, so to speak, on his Brazilian activities and suggests that he might have succeeded in creating a race of perfect Aryan children.

mengele's twins
For years scientists have failed to discover why as many as one in five pregnancies in a small Brazilian town have resulted in twins – most of them blond haired and blue eyed.

But residents of Candido Godoi now claim that Mengele made repeated visits there in the early 1960s, posing at first as a vet but then offering medical treatment to the women of the town.

Uh....if a strange man showed up in town claiming to be a veterinarian but then asking to see the inflated stomach of your pregnant loved one, would you let them? The Telegraph article continues:

"There is testimony that he attended women, followed their pregnancies, treated them with new types of drugs and preparations, that he talked of artificial insemination in human beings, and that he continued working with animals, proclaiming that he was capable of getting cows to produce male twins."

If you're pregnant, and you're going to a German animal doctor with a shady past for pregnancy advice, Mengele's new biography probably isn't the book for you -- but maybe this one is.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Orthodox Jew s  for Obama

Last night, the Orthodox Union called me in a frizzle -- they wanted to run an article on Inauguration. Did I have anything to say? Could I have anything to say?

I don't know how well-acquainted you are with me, but, uh, yeah. Throw me a party, and I will fill the house with ruminations on the Obamanation. I wrote about it once, in this book about chicken soup and Democrats, and I didn't think someone would be nice enough to ask for more. But here's what I said.
I have a friend, an underground playwright, who hates Obama. He's convinced that, six months after Inauguration, nobody's going to notice anything different from the past eight years of George W. Bush's administration -- we'll be paying just as many taxes, our troops will still be mired in war, and everything will be much the same. Nothing will have changed.

But he was one of the first Philadelphians in the poll booths.

Why? "Hope," he said. "The man's all about hope. He believes in something. It's a nice change from all the politicians who believe in nothing."

Brave New Candy

I should not be getting this excited over a cover, but please believe me, it is hard to contain myself and restrain myself from writing more. Today at work I received a huge box of somethings, which is usually computer parts or promotional keychains or some bizarre food product.

But, today, it was Candy.
candy in action
That's right: Candy is in paperback.

I am utterly fetishizing the cover, and I don't feel apologetic about it at all. Richard, my publisher, said that if I could get a new cover done, and it didn't cost them anything, they'd do it, and the comic artist Fred Chao pulled through amazingly. (His own Johnny Hiro: Half-Asian, All Hero is a remarkable book...and, as I keep pointing out, he tied with Joss Whedon for the most Eisner nominations this year, which in itself testifies to how much geek cred he should be going on right now.)

And, boom, we have this.

I love the split-screen cover. The quote from Melissa Walker on the front, if you can't read it, says "Part James Bond, part Bond girl, Candy is one unforgettable heroine!" And the rose bleeds across the spine and onto the back, which is great. The title font stretches off the cover, kind of that old-school Superman logo feeling, but in an understated way, like a natural evolution after the credits to "Smallville"...and just the sheer number of drawings that Fred uses (there's another one on the back of Candy looking badass with a hair dryer) is astounding. Especially in this world where most cover designers choose one picture from a clip-art file and paste it around the book a bunch of times....with the amount of Candys that Fred drew for the cover, he might as well have made a whole comic. Hey, there's still time.

The spine, though, is what really gives me shivers. The way that Candy in Action snakes down with little circles and blips is just crying out for another book to stand next to it. It's stirring up all these primal urges within me to write a sequel. And, dammit, I just might.

Monday, January 19, 2009

G-dcast! D'oh!

Have you ever worked on something for forever, fallen asleep with your head on the keyboard, and then realized that your nose had somehow hit the SEND button? It's half past noon on a Monday, the morning having long gone and evaporated, and I realized: holy crap, I wonder if there's a new G-dcast.

Most of my work comes in the early stages -- working with the G-dcasters, writing scripts and talking through doubts and beliefs and names and dates, coordinating recording sessions. And then talking with the animators about what to draw. It's kind of like writing down a few lines of conversation, leaving it alone, and when you come back -- poof! -- somehow it's a comic book.

Or a cool little three-minute movie.

Here's Rabbi Katie Mizrahi talking about the Ten Plagues. And some really neat bulldozing frogs.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ten Bests

My editor, the ever-loving David Levithan, asks -- well, pretty much everyone who's ever sent him an email to pass on a list of the top ten albums of the year. This year, because it's the tenth time doing it, he's asked us to compile a list of the ten best of the past ten years.

I know I am damning myself to doom. I also know that it's 3:30 AM, I just spent five hours wrestling with medieval commentators on the Bible, and I'm not thinking clearly. (I just had to remember to delete two albums because they were actually books.) So, with that in mind, here are my almost-weigh-ins for this year and this decade. Please, if I've forgotten anything mercilessly important, let me know -- and a gadillion thank-yous to you Twitter and Facebook people who jogged and jagged my memory.


The Sway Machinery, self-titled
Mirah, (a)spera
Tender Forever, Wider
Jeremy Jay, A Place Where We Could Go
Y-Love, This Is Babylon
Nine Inch Nails, The Slip
The Roots, Rising Down
TV On the Radio, Dear Science
Northern State, Can I Keep This Pen?


Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope
Ani Difranco, Knuckle Down
CocoRosie, La Maison de mon Reve
OutKast, Love Below/Speakerboxxx
Loretta Lynn, Van Lear Rose
Kanye West, College Dropout
Architecture in Helsinki, Fingers Crossed
Liz Phair, Liz Phair (i know. i know. but it just keeps showing up.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Flying Freak Flags

Back on Nextbook: Blanket Statementstein revolutionizes jam-band music for punks (not to mention synagogue fashion fause pas), Y-Love loves Obama, and Nosson Zand comes off tour with Matisyahu for his solo debut:

Blanket Statementstein is a band that shouldn’t work as well as it does. When you put 12 hippies on stage, you don’t expect them to play their instruments in sync, much less make actual music. Not even their name makes sense.

Collected on stage, the band resembles the kitchen of a Manhattan apartment during a particularly crowded party. But there must be some Nightmare Before Christmas-like magic that makes everything turn out perfectly at the last second. The violinist in the knee-high cowboy boots is perfectly in time with the drummer, for whom Animal the Muppet is probably not only a musical guide but a fashion icon.

Through it all, lead singer Ahron Moeller — who sometimes wears a junior high school gym uniform, and sometimes dresses as Alec from A Clockwork Orange — acts as a barely-in-control MC, introducing the numbers with random stream-of-consciousness thoughts as well as occasionally kicking a rhyme or a hip-hop verse.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Boxing for the Lord

Dmitriy Salita is a Ukranian-born, Brooklyn-raised boxer who, at the age of 26, has an undefeated record over 26 career bouts. He's also an observant Jew. A recent documentary, Orthodox Stance, has just been released on DVD -- it's available at regular DVD stores or at IndiePix, and it follows Salita over three years of his always chaotic and often inspiring career. MJL had a chance to speak to the director, Jason Hutt, who spent three years of his own life chasing after Salita on an unending junket of press conferences, training, and fights, punctuated only by the once-a-week time-out for Shabbat -- often spent in hotel rooms, where Salita's omnipresent "religious trainer" cooks him improvised dinners by cutting up vegetables on a George Foreman grill.

Where did you discover Dmitriy?

My parents live in the DC area and in September 2002 my mother clipped an extensive article on Dmitriy from the Washington Post. orthodox stance, dmitriy salitaBecause I had been a highly competitive Jewish athlete myself and had recently moved to Brooklyn, she thought I'd be interested in the article. It mentioned that Dmitriy was affiliated with a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Brooklyn, so I called the Chabad rabbi I knew from college and asked if he would contact Dmitriy's rabbi for me.

After reading the article and meeting Dmitriy, I was really interested in these diverse and wholly original characters and cultures—an elderly African-American trainer, a Hasidic rabbi, a Las Vegas boxing promoter—all intersecting at well as the diversity of Dmitriy's experience as a Russian immigrant, religious Jew and top boxing prospect.

I had no idea what the film would be like. I just knew I wanted to see how Dmitriy experiences these very different worlds, and one day share that experience with an audience.

It seems like there are three forces competing for prominence: Dmitriy's boxing, his Judaism, and his Russian identity. The third often gets lost between the first two, but there's still a huge Russian presence in the film--from Dmitriy's stoicism to that scene in the Russian synagogue where people say he's never going to find a wife. Was it hard to get in with the Russians?

I shot Dmitriy wherever he went but his family, except for his brother Michael, were definitely camera shy. You can actually see this in the film when Dmitriy’s father is interviewed by Russian television at the Times Square press conference. You can see and hear how nervous he is in the spotlight—literally and figuratively. So, while I wanted to shoot more with Dmitriy’s family, I had to respect their feelings so I didn’t push it. Of course, when the shooting was finished, Dmitriy told me that his father was finally feeling comfortable with being filmed!

Dmitriy is very much a Russian immigrant, but he’s been here since he was 9 years old. I think you’re right about his personality being very Russian but he grew up in Brooklyn, and when you grow up in New York—whether you’re white, black, Russian, Hispanic, Chinese, whatever—I think you kind of end up being interested in many of the same things, while maintaining your family’s culture and identity at home.

Continue Reading

Friday, January 9, 2009

Torah Commentary For the Rest of Us

This is the kind of commentary that the world needs more of. Last night I was at dinner with a friend from Washington Heights. As far as Orthodox Jews go, they're kind of the opposite of my Crown Heights world -- modern, shaved faces and striped shirts. While the Hasidim are overly concerned about things like the kabbalistic ramifications of our actions -- aah, what if I don't take on a new stringency this year? -- the folks in WashHeights are more troubled by the black-and-whiteness of it all, and will freak out for hours if they do something un-halachic, like touching the bottom of their shoe and not washing their hands immediately afterward.

These might sound like the same thing, but they're not -- think of the difference between breaking the rules of your mother's cleaning regimen and breaking the rules of a really intense game of Risk.

Anyway -- the fact is, that's the way people in each community are supposed to be. How this plays out in real life, however, is quite different. More often than not, people are more concerned about the surfaces of things, less about what they're doing and more about whether they look like they're doing it.

That's why I love Frum Satire. He looks at the texts, not in a classical way of commentary, but how they're being utilized today. It's like a daily dose, not of MyJewishLearning, but of MyJewishLiving. Here, he's talking about kiddush levanah, the sanctification of the moon ritual that Jews perform every month.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Last night Ethan and I got lost at the Strand for a while. I'd never been in their graphic-novel section -- and, I found, with good reason. I didn't buy anything, but the struggle was a hard one. The gorgeous special edition of Ghost World was $25, still expensive but more respectable than the $40 cover price; and my current lust, Kramer's Ergot #7 -- a coffee-table collection of comics that's the size of a coffee table -- is $99, listed at $125.

Not to bore you with the money thing. Some people love porn, and some love fast cars. I am addicted to nice-looking books, the kind with bindings that could have been in the Library at Alexandria. This is why I spend so much of my time reviewing books for places that pay dismally -- because, if I wasn't getting a couple of bucks for a three-hour review, I'd be spending massive amounts of cash on the same books.

I've always been wary about where i spend money on books and music -- well, music not as much, I'm fine with used record stores -- but in general i try to mostly buy small-press books and books of new & unknown authors. (hence me always bugging you for, oh, star wars mass-market pop-up books and the such.) i have a huge appetite for books, and not much budget for it, but I'll always buy Stephen King used (and thank you l*rd, there is so much to go around) but i won't buy, say, a Manic D Press book for $.01 on amazon.
it's a hard balance. and i think it especially sucks that so many people who love reading are in industries that don't make money. so the total capital of editors-and-librarians-and-authors-who-buy-books is steadily small, and feeds back into their salaries, which are also small -- whereas, say, pro basketball games are not mostly attended by basketball players and basketball editors (uh, managers? ticket-sellers? I don't know what the equivalent would be).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Taqwacore wisdom

All weekend I've continued my obsession with Michael Muhammad Knight's book The Taqwacores, which follows a bunch of young Muslim Punks living in a group house in upstate New York. The setting is often just an excuse to explore the dynamics in Muslim culture, but those dynamics are insightful and often brilliant. In one part, the main characters (all single, all roughly college-age) are arguing over whether or not they're going to raise their children within Muslim tradition:

"I'd just give my kid a Quran," said Fasiq, "and tell him to be on his way. Go find your own truth, you know?"

"I dont' need my kids saying 'Allahu Akbar' when they pray," said Rabeya [who wears full-body burqa and sings Iggy Pop covers]. "That works for me, and I would teach it to them so they know me and who I am and where they're coming from, but if they found something else, cool."

"I wnat my kids to be smart," said Muzammil. I admit it took me a second to remember that homosexuals do raise families. "If I was ever a father I'd take my kid to every kind of temple, real early on. By the time he or she was eight years old they'd have been to a masjid, a church, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple, a Sikh gurudwara, whatever we could find. I want a worldly child. Buy second or third grade my son-slash-daughter will have more appreciation for diversity and the beliefs of others than most adults."

"I believe in teaching my children Islam," I offered. "Just as Pakistan is part of their heritage, so is our religion. You can't separate it. I don't know how strict I'll be; maybe we'll just go to the masjid for Eids and that's it. I doubt we'd pray five times a day, though we wouldn't admit that outside the house. I don't know how I'd be if I had a daughter who wanted to go to the prom...or if my son came home drunk one night. But my own values are constantly changing, so it's hard to say. I honestly have no idea but I have a nice little image in my head of what Islam can be for them.

And, bonus: A startling, impassioned, and sometimes violent Al-Jazeera video segment that profiles the Taqwacore movement:

Friday, January 2, 2009

depression and prayer

A few years ago, right about the time I was becoming religious, I started getting hit with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's a condition with possibly the dumbest acronym in the universe (sound it out, kids), but it was very real -- I'd graduated college, I was taking on all these new social restrictions (no more random hook-ups, no Friday night concerts) and I didn't have much in the way of happiness coming in.

I asked a rabbi about it, and he said to start regularly praying Mincha, the afternoon service. Ideally, you're supposed to pray right at sunset, which creates a separation (like one Jewish prayer says) between light and darkness, daytime and night. And that way, the sixteen-hour darkness doesn't seem overwhelming and like it's stealing from your day; instead, it feels like a new, unexplored territory.

From this comes the really cool site of the day: Borei Hoshech, a blog that examines the relationship between prayer and depression. At first it may seem like two arbitrary ideas thrown together -- or, on the contrary, two opposites (prayer=hope! depression=sad!) -- but the blog's anonymous author takes a non-judgmental, open approach to both depression and praying, dissecting the liturgical texts piece by piece to see if s/he can find deeper truths, connections, and hope.

In a series of entries on Modeh Ani, the prayer that's said first thing in the morning, Borei Hoshech agonizes over not wanting to get out of bed, and tries to find validation and hope from the words of the prayer:

So even though I am in the pit of a deep, dark depression, and certainly will not or cannot daven this morning, I will say these brief few words, as I struggle out of my pajamas and into work clothes and down a handful of M & M’s in an effort to propel myself out the door.

For Chanuka, Borei Hoshech quoted a disturbingly awesome passage of Talmud:

“Our rabbis taught: When Adam saw the days becoming shorter, he said: ‘Woe is to me, because I have sinned and the world is returning to chaos!’ He prayed and fasted until the winter equinox when he noticed the days becoming longer. ‘This is the way of the world,’ he said, and he established an eight day festival.’”

The author oscillates into and out of depression, and those entries with a distance from depression give a whole different perspective, equally insightful. Both are totally worth reading.

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