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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

One-Handed Receipt and Change -- The Anti-Customer Service

I'll admit it: I'm in a pissy mood, and I have been for the past week or so. But this is something that has irked me for about 20 years now, and I was just wondering whether anyone else shared my annoyance.

It used to be that you'd go to a store, pay the cashier, and he or she would give you your change. You'd put the change in your wallet, and the cashier would hand you your receipt.

But then something changed. Somebody came up with the idea -- and I don't know, maybe it was to save time, or something; maybe out of concern for repetitive stress of some sort -- that the cashier should take the change out of the register, then grab the receipt with the same hand, and hand you the whole bundle.

So there you are, standing there, with your wallet in one hand, taking your change+receipt with the other, and you have no way to conveniently deal with any of it. You have to put everything down first to sort it out. Or else stuff everything into your wallet, indescriminately, and deal with fixing it later.

This morning, I stopped at the CVS near my work. The cashier actually started to hand me my money, bills and coins, and then remembered, and went to grab the receipt with the same hand. I put my hand out, and as she dumped the wad into my hand, caught the coins and let the bills and receipt drop to the counter. While I put the coins in the coin part of my wallet, she picked up the bills and receipt, and again handed them to me together.

I took the bills and let the receipt drop to the counter, and said, "Do they tell you to do that?"

"Hah?" she grunted.

"I'm holding my wallet, right?" I tried to explain as she held out the receipt again while both of my hands were involved with putting the bills into the wallet, closing it up, and returning my wallet to my purse. I held the bag open so that she could put the receipt in it, and continued, "So what am I supposed to do with a handful of bills, coins, and a receipt?"

She sort of dropped the receipt near the opening of my bag, but seemed confused. And looked past me and called, "Next person in line!"

I know that cashier isn't a job that calls for rocket scientists, but I wonder whether it's even the fault of the cashiers. Are they instructed to do this to customers by their bosses? How did this ridiculous custom spread in the first place?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Makes you wonder

I walked into the kitchenette at work, and someone has placed a standing frame in front of the toaster with the following notice on it in large letters:


It's one of those things that can give you a headache just thinking about what caused it.

Monday, June 05, 2006

DH Idiocy 1

I'm going to start a subsection of this blog (rather than a new blog) to deal with the various idiocies in the joke known as the Documentary Hypothesis. You may know of it as the JEDP Hypothesis. It's the idea that the Torah is actually a patchwork of documents written by different people in different places, clumsily patched together by a Redactor some time either towards the end of the Kingdom of Judah, under King Josiah (according to Finkelstein and Silberman), or early in the Second Temple Period, under Ezra (according to most people who take this theory seriously).

For today, I'm going to mention two of the very obvious idiocies in the theory. But as the number in the title of this entry indicates, there'll be more.

1. "The place where God will put His Name"

Shavuot is over, and during the leyning on the second day, the continual repetition of the above phrase kept jumping out at me. As we know, the Torah doesn't identify Jerusalem as the eventual site of the Temple. It simply alludes to it in this way. Advocates of the Documentary Hypothesis actually see all of these references as material added by the Kohanim-priests in Jerusalem, who were pushing for centralization of the sacrificial cult. They argue (for no solid reason) that originally, there was nothing wrong with bringing sacrifices in your backyard. This is actually an idiocy that deserves its own entry, assuming that because a lot of people broke the law, that the law didn't exist.

In any case, all of this material supposedly stuck in by people who wanted Jerusalem to be the center of everything... and none of it mentions Jerusalem. Why? That's just really dumb. Putting Jerusalem into the text would have been a very minor thing, compared to some of the alterations the Documentarists want us to believe in.

2. The Samaritan Torah

You know who the Samaritans are, right? Back a little over a century before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, the Assyrians conquered and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. They deported its inhabitants to various places, and then settled the land with tribes they'd conquered elsewhere. This reshuffling was supposed to prevent rebellions, since cutting people off from their homelands would leave them with only an Assyrian subject identity.

When they got there, they decided to adopt the local religion, and wound up with a mish-mash of worship of God and some goddesses.

The Samaritans claim that they are actually the descendents of the Israelites who lived in the northern kingdom, but that doesn't actually make any difference to this point. Either way, they have a version of the Torah, and it differs very little from our Torah. A few letters, here and there, for the most part.

The thing is, the Samaritans and the Jews... we never got along. At the time of King Josiah, we campaigned into their territory and destroyed various idolatrous shrines. We dug up and burned the bones of Jeroboam I, first king of the northern kingdom. Later, when Cyrus let us go back to Judah, the Samaritans wanted to be included in rebuilding the Temple, and we told them to go away. There wasn't much love lost between us.

And yet, the Patchwork Torah, created at one of these two points in history, is something they also think they got in one piece.

Leave alone the preposterous idea of some Redactor convincing an entire nation of stubborn Jews that not only was the Torah given to their ancestors, but that they'd always known the Torah was given to their ancestors... now we're supposed to believe that our arch-enemies fell for the gag as well.

The Documentary Hypothesis is something that can only be taken on faith. You have to start from a devout belief that the Torah cannot be what it purports to be. It cannot be something that was given to Moses and Israel in the desert. Once you start from that a-rational belief, you have to find some alternate source for the book. And the Documentary Hypothesis isn't all that much nuttier than "someone spilled a jar of ink, and the words of the Torah just happened to appear on the page."