At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Bereishis, psook 41:9 "vayedaber sar hamashkim et-Paro, lemor 'et-chata'ai ani mazkir hayom'" (then spoke the chief steward to Pharaoh, saying 'I make mention of my sins today...').

In 1999, when I was in England, I had a glass of beer at a pub (that being something many visitors to England do).

While there, I overheard another patron with a very plummy uppercrustian way of speaking and an authoritative 'I-know-what-I'm-talking-about manner' say the following "Oh, Americans..., Americans have no taste whatsoever".

It struck me as odd at the time, because the gentleman in question was wearing a sportscoat with a plaid pattern loud enough and ghastly enough that even Ronald Reagan would not have been caught dead wearing it - and Ronnie was no stranger to bad clothing, you will recall.

There was a disconnect between the coat and the accent. As I said, VERY uppercrustian.

A while later I ended up in conversation with him, and when, after talking for nearly half an hour he found out that I was American, he said "Oh but you can't be an American! You talk like a civilized person!".

From his point of view, that was probably a compliment.

[The same thing happens in the Netherlands..., because I speak Dutch with a nice civilized Den Haag accent. It flabberghasts people when they find out I lived in North Brabant (home to goofy dialects and odd accents), and am not even a Dutchman to begin with.]

I mention this for a particular reason. And that is, that without giving it much thought, I may have been guilty of both supressio veri and suggestio falsi.

Specifically, you may have jumped to the conclusion that I am Jewish.

Which is not the case.
I was not born Jewish, I have not converted, and I do not intend to convert.

Conversion might make some sense if there was something to convert away from, such as Christianity or daemon-worship (and no, they're not quite the same).
But I do not belong to any creed or cultic grouping, and am perfectly happy not joining up with anybody, as I am not social enough to feel comfortable within a community of the faithful.
I am also too much of a cynic to fully believe in anything.

I see the constant tension between wanting desperately to believe, and refusing to be convinced, as the one thing absolutely necessary for religious faith. The very act of converting would demand that I trade faith for certainty.

Or, if you will, exchange hope for gnosticism (and a warm, gooshy feeling).

The GodolHador says "Unlike DovBear, a practicing Christian, I do believe in Judaism and Torah Min Hashmayim, though I think some of the details are a little murky."
[from : Torah Min Hashamayim, again! ]

Disregarding the snarky comment about DovBear, I find myself emunah-wise in between DovBear and GodolHador - but with a generous measure of Mis-nagid's point-of-view.

Please note that none of these three is a Bahble-thumpin' Baptist, and draw your own conclusions.

I'll be glad to attempt to answer any questions you might have, but as I never considered non-affiliation to be my most significant characteristic, or even particularly important (I do not define myself by my religion or lack thereof, even though I am seriously glad that I am not a Catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist, Mormon, or Muslim), I am rather hoping that you won't make a big-deal of it.

[There should be a bracha: "Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha olam, shelo asani Catholic, ve lo asani Lutheran, Calvinist, Mormon, Muslim.... ]

--- - --- - ---

Why didn't I mention this before?

Well, I didn't think it was that important, as I am not in the habit of qualifying my statements with a reference to my beliefs, personal philosophy, or ethnicity - either what I say stands on its own merit, or fails and falls by its own inherent goofiness.

Also, I kinda thought it obvious that I was a heretic.

Labels: , ,


  • At 1:15 AM, Blogger Lipman said…

    Given the stance you describe, and which you haven't hid from you readers, I don't think this makes much of a difference for the discussion of your blog posts, comments etc.

  • At 2:52 AM, Blogger Lipman said…

    So, about that Englishman - what a stupid, uneducated, or completely self-contained person must he have been, if he doesn't know an English from an American accent.

    Another issue is his taste. It's a question of conventions, and England has a tradition of mixing fabrics that others would say don't match, such as different patterns, or colours that are too close to each other. Not that I like it.

    For many people, it's a difference if you criticise from within or not. (Talking about Americans here, not broad-hinting to Jews.) So, while most of the tiny, tiny minority of US Americans that have seen another country would speak badly of the gaps of American education, and freely generalise at it, they'd still be offended to hear it in this form from an outsider.

  • At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.

  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger boneman said…

    No religion? Like the hospitaler in KINGDOM of HEAVEN? Areally cool movie, and quite able to help you re-evaluate your stance on Jerusalem, whatever it may be.

    On the other hand, about the "American" thing....

    I went to Canada to escort a fellow with Cerebral Palsy and while in Canada, folks refered to me as the American, to which I would reply, "Well, unless there's been a continental divide, you are also Americans..."
    And I stuck with that concensus. We are all Americans if we are on this continent.
    That's why I feel that bush really overstated his victory stance by saying that America had given him a mandate.
    No. A crowd of extremely organized republicans gave you your mandate, and with the help of too many apathetic citizens who feel that there is no way to control the government. It is too powerful.
    Too dominant.

    Too wrong.

    Just get yourself stepped on bigtime if you make the wrong noises here.
    Freedom of speech? Only if you own the paper or media you want to be heard on, or you kowtow to their every whim and wisp...

    I'm going off on bad government again. I already found myself apologizing to a fine lady once for this infraction,....I'm not going to fall into the trap again.

    There are THREE major parties in the USA, and they are...
    Republicans, who don't have the power nor have they had the power for several decades.
    Democrats, who also don't have the power, and lost it somewhere around the time of Truman.
    Finally, there are the PROFESSIONAL POLITICIANS. They have the power. They will not be giving up the power anytime soon.

    They are in charge.

  • At 7:41 PM, Blogger Habib said…

    Fascinating and courageous self-revelation.

    It reminds me of a joke. Sam and Joe have a havrutha, and study every gemara every Shabbat afternoon; Sam is impressed with Joe's erudition. After many years, they are studying one afternoon. Joe says "Sam, there's something I need to tell you". Sam replies "what is it?" Joe says "well, we've learnt Torah together for many years. And I need to tell you something. Sam, I'm not Jewish." Sam replies "really? That can't be. You know rishonim, halacha and everything better than me. Is this true?" Joe replies "yes, it's true. I'm interested in Judaism, but I never wanted to convert". Sam thinks for a minute, and says "hang on -- I've seen you every shabbat for the last three years. You have never done ANY melacha on shabbat at all. You know the prohibition on non-Jews keeping the shabbat, it's in the Mishne Torah."
    Joe retorts "not true. You haven't notice, but I carry things. I have a handkerchief in my pocket right now."
    Sam replies "Not so fast Joe -- we're inside an eruv."
    Joe frowns, and says "the eruv? Who do you think I am, do you think I hold by the eruv??"

  • At 7:50 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Hee hee hee.
    - - - - - - -
    Actually ran across that one before....

    A Goy who keeps shabbos is also chayav misah.

    What does this mean? A maise shehoyo: The Baal Ha Turets had an old friend with whom he would go out drinking during the week. One year he asked his friend to join him for Peysach, but his friend declined, saying that he could not come as he was not Jewish.
    “You’re not Jewish? We’ve been studying Toireh together for years – whaddya you mean you’re not Jewish?!?!”
    “Well”, says the Goy, “who else should I discuss tiefe sheyles with in this farkakte village filled with ignorant mediaeval peasants, prior to the invention of printing, widespread literacy, and the internet?”
    “but you’re shomer shabbes! A goy who keeps shabbes is chayav misah!”
    “Actually, I never kept shabbes – I always put my keys in my pocket when I went out.” “But we have an eruv!”
    “Myeh…., I don’t hold from that eruv”

    ---From the mefarsha of The RABAM

  • At 8:28 PM, Blogger Habib said…

    Specifically, you may have jumped to the conclusion that I am Jewish
    Actually, I claim never to have. There were one or two things that you said at various times that made me think that maybe you were not strictly-speaking a Red-Sea-pedestrian. Nothing specific I can point to, just a hint.

  • At 8:30 PM, Blogger Habib said…

    However, that may just have been stupidity on my part. In many parts of the world, others seem to not be able to get over the fact that I am a Hebrew from Aotearoa. "Really? There are Jews there?!"; "but how did your grandparents get there?" etc

  • At 8:34 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I thought it was somewhat obvious, but the other day I met one of my readers, who said "I never knew you were Jewish".

    Well, neither did I. And the person who said it, was.

    So, given that there was some confusion elsewhere also, I thought it best to clarify.

    [Although when my downstairs neighbors (seventh day adventists) asked my religion, I told them 'Grelzakian Toad Cult'. They're still baffled, but they have not tried to talk to me about 'bahbul' since. Sometimes confusion must be encouraged.]

  • At 8:45 PM, Blogger Habib said…

    Although when my downstairs neighbors (seventh day adventists) asked my religion, I told them 'Grelzakian Toad Cult'.

    Funny thing about America. People expect someone to belong to a religion. Not like Europe.

  • At 1:44 AM, Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said…

    interesting thoughts-you are certainly different

  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why is everybody paying attention to this turkey? He's just a pathetic California liberal who thinks hes' intresting.

  • At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Asshole, you outed yourself. You are your own purim parody.


  • At 5:44 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    That's rich coming from a guy who signs himself 'Nebbish'.

    Oh well, I guess you too wallow in self-knowledge, Reb Nebbish.

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger morfel01 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 7:20 AM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said…

    So what's the story of the "old BT guy" you've been hhevruta'ing with? Is it like those jokes, or are things a bit more obvious in person? ;-)

    Funny thing about America. People expect someone to belong to a religion. Not like Europe.

    What about Aotearoa?

  • At 10:51 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…


    Reb Reuven (to use his Hebrew nomen) knows that I am not Jewish.

    He comes from an extremely secular and non-religious family background. In the sixties he discovered Kaballah, but not untill the late nineties did he start seriously re-discovering his Jewishness.

    He's not part of a kehal (yet), knows no rebbeim (yet), and is not particularly concerned about kashrus.

    I think that since he and I started going over the Torah, he has probably read more Jewish material in two years than in the previous 78 years.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older