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“Things That Drive Me Nuts: Jewish and Otherwise”

11/12/2023 11:40:47 AM

Nov12

Rabbi Peter H. Grumbacher

   Certain words and phrases bother me. I once wrote in another publication that “reach out” has, in my humble opinion, a specific meaning, namely, to offer help. Today we don’t call, text, email, visit, rather we “reach out” to everyone and everything. Hooey!

   “No worries” and “No problem,” two phrases that make me particularly crazy. When someone says, “Thank you,” replying with those popular phrases says to me, “Hey, I’m really going out of my way for you but I’m such a nice person that I will.”  Heck, what happened to the simple, “You’re welcome”?

   Oh, you want to know what drives me to madness? The waiter who says, “Are you still working on that?” pointing to you almost empty plate. He wants to get out of there but he is using a term used for animals with more than one stomach. THEY work on their food.

   On another note entirely, even traditional Jews will often spell out the Divine name if it’s in English. The prohibition is against writing it in Hebrew on a random piece of paper. Then you’d have to bury it instead of tossing it into a trash can. G-d, G*d, L*rd, and similar examples is unwarranted. I even once saw Al-*ighty. Yes, I too was taught that in Religious School, but not everything we learn in Religious School is, well, “never let the facts interfere with the truth” and the truth is we cannot even pronounce God’s name since all we have is Yod, Hay, Vav, Hay to which we assign the word/name Adonai. Yes, there are those who will say Ado-shem (shem meaning “name”), but that’s their business.

    One more thing while I’m getting stuff off my chest: the words are B’nai Mitzvah, not B’nai Mitzvot. B’nai is the plural of Ben; B’not is the plural of Bat. While they might perform a host of mitzvot, a group of boys/girls celebrating their special event are B’nai/B’not Mitzvah. You wouldn’t say “daughter-in-laws” (well, so many of us do but that’s incorrect). It’s “daughters-in-law.” And for that matter, it’s “Attorneys General,” not “Attorney Generals.” They’re not in the Army unless they are, and even if they are, it still would be “Attorneys General.”

   While I’m at it, there’s no reason to make the “n” upper case. It isn’t B’Nai and B’Not, it’s B’nai and B’not.

   So now you know.

   When you tell a joke to a Jew – even before you’ve had a chance to finish it, he’s already interrupting you. First, he’s heard it before. Second, why are you telling wrong? So he decides to tell you the joke – but in a much better version than y

Fri, February 23 2024 14 Adar I 5784