Columns - 2004

    A mighty wind

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    This week I'm coming to you live at the scene to report on the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Of course, by "at the scene" I mean "the exact location from which I was watching CNN and The Weather Channel when the storm hit two thousand miles away."

    But we'll take a moment before I present you with storm aftermath, which is so named because, after storms, the government, media, and insurance companies spend so much time calculating loss of life, livestock, property, and propriety.

    So first, I present a timely anecdote. I helped some friends move into a house a few weeks ago. This involved such things as squeezing furniture through angled entryways and small doorways leading into smaller, inconveniently angled hallways at the top of stairs. A highlight was lowering a sofa over the edge of a second floor patio down to two patsies (I mean, "receivers") on the ground awaiting certain doom and possible concussions.

    Since neither of them was concussed, they are holding a housewarming party. It happens to be the Friday night that also happens to be Kol Nidre. Of course, I want to go, and would any other day. But I didn't give it a second thought.

    They even offered to set up a Room of Atonement far from food and water for those of us who needed it. But I took the opportunity to do what more of us should do more often. In the interest of education and understanding, I explained some of the deeper theology of Judaism to some who were simply unaware.

    I explained the holiness of Yom Kippur thusly (and, yes, ended several more sentences with adverbs). If I go to a party after Kol Nidre, and let's not put aside that it's a Friday night too, when I get up Saturday morning to go to Yom Kippur services, the Big G will look down upon me and say "yea, don't even bother."

    Anyway, back to devastation, destruction, and loss of power when the Western Carolina game was on cable.

    (Incidentally, this columnist will not indulge any of the fanatical naysayers who believe that Croyle was injured to start the second half in some twisted payback for playing the game while so much of the state was licking its wounds. I also firmly believe that Coach Shula was in the right, and the injury occurred only to jeopordize the LSU game so I have to suffer more at the hands of some friends who are also, unfortunately, Bengal Tigers.)

    As many of you know, because you're suffering from ASW (Annual Sermon Withdrawal), a great and mighty wind ripped through the Gulf Coast and up through the eastern United States on Rosh Hashanah. We have been led to believe that this was just another massive, destructive, Class V hurricane. But think again.

    In an exclusive to this column, an unnamed source (he hasn't had his bris yet) revealed what really caused the storms that moved not mere mountains, but several major sporting events.

    The Big G, in His Wisdom, told one of His Middle Managers that this Rosh Hashanah he wanted the sound of the shofar to carry through the four winds like never before.

    The Middle Manager thought (which is often the first mistake of Middle Managers) long and hard (which is never very long or appreciably hard, for Middle Managers) about how to get the sound of the shofar to a) carry through the four winds, and 2) do so like never before.

    And what exactly are the four winds, anyway?

    The Middle Manager created a subcommittee comprised of archangels and arch-rivals. After all, football season had begun, and the pennant races were still running strong, despite the Mets.

    The subcommittee thought long (because that's how long it takes) and hard (because that's how difficult it is for them) on both questions. Of course, this was only after they'd had two meetings to discuss a regular meeting time, scheduled three group lunches, and evaluated five designs for the project t-shirts.

    To answer the first question, it was decided that a swirling wind would be sufficient to carry the sound in all directions, not just four. For the second question, the subcommittee determined that simple logic dictates that the stronger the wind, the further it will carry the sound.

    Of course, they miscalculated a little. With a strong enough wind, very few people went to temple to sound the shofar. The great wind silenced the great sound before it could be rammed into a single ear.

    There is also an unconfirmed report that rabbis around the nation have been instructed to advise that the timing of the hurricane could also serve as a reminder to observant Jews. Specifically, anyone who decided to put up their sukkah before Rosh Hashanah, instead of waiting until after Yom Kippur, should know better.

    If early sukkah assembly merits a class five hurricane, you have to wonder just how naughty everyone was being when the Big G knocked on Noah's door and told him to start gathering some gopher wood and a whole bunch of Thompson's Water Seal.

    Of course, the onset of Ivan the Terrible was foretold in the Bible. No, this isn't another false credit to Nostradamus, the Irish soothsayer who founded a large midwestern university second in football tradition and success only to the Crimson Tide.

    The sages who wrote the long-lost Mishnah tractate Bava Gump, in a statement that was both prescient and pre-science, foretold that "a mighty wind blows stones in glass houses." In other words, if you're too full of hot air for a living, you're likely to lose your house.

    Some modern scholars say that this is a direct lesson that should be heeded by certain variety columnists. And I, being one of the other variety columnists, could not agree more.

    Doug Brook is a technical publications program manager in Silicon Valley who will someday get his, by getting his butt kicked by an earthquake. But it won't be because of the party during Kol Nidre. For more information, past columns, other writing, and other current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.