Columns - 2005

    Harry Plotzer and the Sanhedrin's Stone

    Harry Plotzer was far from a perfectly normal boy, thank you very much. He lived a dreary life, serving the whim of his aunt and uncle, and suffering at the hands of their intolerable son.

    But on another dreary day, which happened to be his eleventh birthday, his life changed forever. Haggid, a giant of a man, appeared with a giant of a story about Harry, his long-lost parents, and his past: "Harry, you're a kabbalist."

    Now that he was two years from reaching the age of bar mitzvah, Harry was to enroll in the Hogschwartz School of Mystics and Kabbalah.

    But Harry knew nothing of Kabbalah, or of his parents' being mystics. His aunt and uncle sheltered him from all that "getting back to nature" mysticism.

    "Tradition says," Haggid told Harry, "that only the most educated should study Kabbalah, and even then not until they turn forty. But a few are born with special gifts, and must learn how to use them at your age."

    Then Harry asked the unthinkable, whether this was related to the star-shaped scar on his forehead which he'd had as long as he could remember.

    Haggid told Harry, "Not all mystics are good. One went as bad as bad can go. His name, which we try to never say, was Voldybbuk. He killed your parents soon after you were born. He tried to kill you too, but couldn't. Something about you stopped him, and you were left with that six-pointed scar."

    On the Hogschwartz Express, Harry met the rather disheveled Ron Wiesel and the extremely booksmart Harzione Granger. They quickly became the best of friends.

    Upon arrival at the school, the firstyears donned their ribbons and were led to the great hall by Professor Magilgulim. There they faced a long grey beard, attached to a long grey man.

    "That's Professor Dorledor," Harzione told Harry. "He's been the headmaster of Hogschwartz from generation to generation."

    In the great hall, the firstyears were sorted into four different houses, each founded on the oldest and most diverse Jewish traditions: Griefnmor, Huffnpuff, Ravnlaw, and Slithering. Just from the name, everyone should have known which house would produce the most lawyers and corrupt executives, but certain influential alumni made them keep it around.

    Harry, Ron, and Harzione were all placed, appropriately given their destinies, in Griefnmor. Then the students all started their studies, each class catering to different explorations of scripture, nature, and delving into their relationships to it all.

    During his first Defense Against the Dark Schwartz class, taught by Professor Quarrel in a manner that belied his name, Harry wished someone would use some dark arts against his new nemesis, the slithering Slithering, the pretty boy blond Malgoy. Malgoy offered to help Harry meet the "right people." He helped, but not in the way he intended.

    As the school year continued, Harry noticed strange things happening at Hogschwartz. Mysterious corridors and attempted break-ins led to only one possibility. Someone was trying to steal the mythical Sanhedrin's Stone.

    But Harry didn't know what the Stone was. "The Sanhedrin," Harzione explained, "was a supreme court. Seventy-one great Torah sages convened to decide the most important cases.

    "They met near the Great Temple in Jerusalem, in the Office of Hewn Stone. There the Sanhedrin's Stone was created. Whoever possessed the Stone would live forever, carrying forth the wisdom and rulings of the Sanhedrin."

    But the Stone was lost, and the Sanhedrin didn't last long after the Temple was destroyed.

    Harry learned that Professor Dorledor now had the Stone at Hogschwartz. But Professor Quarrel, a disguised fallen angelic, was trying to steal it, to help bring Voldybbuk back to life and power.

    While Dorledor was called away from the school, another attempt was made. But Harry revealed Quarrel in time and stopped Voldybbuk's plans. At least until the sequel.

    Harry asked the headmaster why the Stone was then destroyed, rather than used by someone known to be good.

    "Who can say," asked Dorledor, "who is truly good?

    "Besides, Harry. Instead of providing eternal life, the Sanhedrin has provided laws and writings that it would take an eternal lifetime to read. So you'd best get back to your homework."

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley. Watch this space for the next installments: Harry Plotzer and the Chamber of Shpielkis, and Harry Plotzer and the Prisoner of Ashkenaz. For more information, past columns, and other writings, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.