Columns - 2009

    By Any Other Name

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    Thanks to the expiration of the statute of limitations, this column returns a recurring feature from previous years.

    Originally intended as an Ask the Rabbi feature, a contractual typo led this column to instead provide the very best in traditional Rabbitic wisdom: Ask the Rabbit.

    Lettuce continue, by answering questions conceived by and received from people just like you. ("People like you" is defined herein as "sharing a similar number of limbs and facial features, even if he writes a popular Jewish feature column." And the number of people is approximately one.)

    Is it true that the reason the Big G changed Abram's name to Abraham was to make him more holy by adding a letter from the Big G's name to his?

    No. In fact, it was to humble Abram. He was becoming the father of The Chosen People (tm). Changing his name to Abraham actually was intended to take him down a peg, by adding "ham" which is treif.

    Don't you mean, "take him down a pig?"

    Leave the jokes to me.

    What about changing Jacob's name to Israel after wrestling with the Big G in his dream? After all, Israel means "Wrestled With the Big G," and fits better on business cards than its translation.

    Changing Jacob's name was a prescient move, to declare to neighboring nations intent on its destruction that the Jewish state Is Real.

    Is there a Judaic requirement to celebrate Father's Day?

    Read the fifth commandment. Of course, Jews didn't establish Father's Day. If we had, it would have been in the month of Av.

    In a recent Torah reading, we heard about the spies sent ahead to scout Israel. This episode results in the Israelites being forbidden to enter the Promised Land until forty years passed, after all those who actually left Egypt died. There's great debate as to why. Can you enlighten us?


    Will you?

    Sure, I'll throw you a carrot. Twelve spies were sent, one from each tribe. They returned quickly so obviously it shouldn't take forty years to get there, even if you're moving about 1.5 million Israelites without passports.

    1.5 million Israelites?

    Yes. The book of Numbers earlier counted 603,550 adult men. Figure just as many women and about as many kids.

    But what if I don't count women for a minyan? Do I count them here?

    Yes. So, ten spies returned saying they'd get their butts kicked if they go to the Promised Land. Lots of Israelites believed them. Some say this is why they had to wait, so that generation would die off. And there's other views, because where there's Jews there's opinions.

    But those opinions are all hare-brained. It's not about punishment. The Israelites were in the desert for forty years because the spies lost the map.

    Isn't it a terrible example for modern times that King Solomon had seventy wives?

    It's a terrible example my lucky foot! You have something against a harem? That's rabbit discrimination.

    People don't think that Jewish authorities are up on popular culture. Let's try sports. Can you tell us the longest rain delay in history?

    That's easy. The flood that led to Noah's Ark.

    They didn't have baseball back then.

    Sure they did. We just don't have the details because all records prior to the flood were expunged up.

    What about theatre? You know that West Side Story was originally going to be Lower East Side story before it was rewritten around Hispanic characters. Could someone come along and rewrite the story of the Exodus the same way?

    Impossible. The story just wouldn't work. Look at flour tortillas. They're just as flat as matzah. Nobody would believe they didn't have time to make them as they fled Egypt.

    What would you say to health experts who claim that the Big G set a bad example condoning smoking, given the pillar of smoke that protected and guided the Israelites in the desert during the day?

    I'd say to get a life.

    Do you think they'll ban fireworks next for the smoke they cause?

    No. There will definitely be fireworks this summer.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who will sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the San Jose Giants' first Jewish Appreciation Day in August. He also wants you to become a fan of The Beholder's Eye on Facebook. He's very demanding. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.