Columns - 2007

    Gelt trip

    Thanksgiving came early this year. Like many of you, it snuck up on me like a turkey with its head cut off trying to sneak out of a Barry M*nilow concert.

    That's not to say many of you are headless turkeys, even if you feel that way every month after reading this column. Of course, if you were at that concert all bets are off.

    But like many of you who quickly scrambled to deal with Thanksgiving once you realized it was inexplicably before the Iron Bowl this year, I did not notice at all that Hanukkah was closely following on its tail feathers.

    That's not to say the Iron Bowl has tail feathers, but judging by the Alabama game against Louisiana-Monroe that crawled to an end hours (and several memorial double vodkas) before this writing, turkeys are there to be found lately.

    Hanukkah is supposed to be forbidden from entering the radar before I've even made Thanksgiving plans yet. It's in the Talmud, look it up. But since it did this year, this column was caught unawares and unprepared.

    The only Hanukkah-related news to report is that, inspired by recent successes at the United States mint, there was a short-lived plan to introduce states gelt - Hanukkah gelt with unique seals for every state.

    Two significant problems undermined states gelt. Israel has only one state, the state of Israel itself. Studies showed that over sixty percent of students would be able to collect all one of the coins with little effort.

    The second problem was that the gelt would squish when pressed into the coin collection folder. Chocolate everywhere.

    Because of the aforementioned holiday sneakiness, we now shift to ensuring we cover another holiday before it's too late.

    Passover celebrates the exodus from Egypt, as predicted in the famous Hollywood film, The Ten Commandments.

    Why mention Passover this early, in the month of Kislev? Passover was originally intended to fall in December, not April.

    Need proof? Ki is Hebrew for "because." Obviously, Kislev is so named, "because we were slevs in Egypt."

    Need more proof? As two or three of you know, according to the Torah, the new year was to occur in Nisan, the big automobile sales month when Passover is currently observed. If Rosh Hashanah were in April and Passover did a similar shift of months, Passover would move to December.

    Do the math. Then let me know if I was close.

    Of course, Passover would have to move like the other holidays. Who would want to have Rosh Hashanah on Nisan 1st, Yom Kippur on Nisan 10th, and start eating perforated shirt cardboard for eight days on Nisan 15th?

    So, in honor of the biblical season of Passover, we analyze a part of the Passover seder that's received an unusual amount of commentary and interpretation in recent years.

    The fourth son is traditionally The Son Who Does Not Know How To Ask. Of course, we all know that this son does not exist in modern times. The closest we have is The Son Who Does Not Know How To Talk Yet.

    While it seems in the seder that this son is of concern to parents, he is actually of lesser concern than the other five finalists to take his spot.

    See if any of these other contenders sound familiar.

    The Son Who Does Not Know Who To Ask. This boy will ask the rabbi, "did you see the third quarter in the game last Saturday?"

    The Son Who Does Not Know What To Ask. This boy will keep asking questions that seem to make no sense, but keep trying because your answers don't match the question he hasn't figured out yet that he's really asking. Any questions?

    The Son Who Does Not Know When To Ask. This boy will ask you at the table during a dinner party about the birds and bees.

    The Son Who Does Not Know Where To Ask. This boy will ask you during the sermon about the birds and bees.

    The Son Who Does Not Know Why To Ask. This boy will ask the four questions at the seder, but only because of being taught by rote. Since they're not his own questions yet the answers hold no more meaning to him than the questions did. The answers therefore won't register yet, but give it time.

    At least The Son Who Does Not Know How To Ask is quieter.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who... don't ask. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit his new website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.