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Ore and let davven.™

Mail: lippomano@gmail.com

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

The answer

The FOX show 24 is very well made, has lots of suspense, an impressive stylish design, even over-average believable characters, who only rarely overdo it and get ridiculous.

It works like this:1

The bad guys do everything to achieve their evil aims, like blowing up nuclear power plants, poisoning whole cities etc., mostly for revenge or financial reasons.

The good guys do everything to save America and the world.

Consequently, they are equal in their methods, only not in their ends. The good guys torture their own friends, kill them if "necessary" etc. (The only difference is maybe that the bad guys, as is their habit, usually kill people that have become "useless" to them, while the good guys nick them, which, as a rule, will either pay because they turn out to be useful later on, or be bad because they break out killing lots of innocents or the like.)

The point is, the good guys act according to a very strict form of "ethics of responsibility". Very convincingly, the main characters are portrayed as highly intelligent and emotionally neutral. It's not of any interest if the good guy likes executing his boss. The bad guy somewhere else threatens to kill a much larger amount of people if he doesn't comply, and so, the calculation is easy. Sure, the boss isn't exactly comfortable with the thought and even tries to escape half-heartedly, but he agrees 100% concerning the facts.

The Tôre holds the alternative view, an "ethics of ideology" or "of intention". You could kill one person, and then the bad guys will let you and/or the others go? You can trust his words because he's done so before? No way.

A system of ethics of ideology is, of course, dependent on the concrete values or rules the ideology in question has, but in principle, the good guys of "24", or Christianity, or the U.S.A. have basic values that look similar to ours. Only if you look at the ethics they use, you see that after all, life is sacrificed very easily. The point is, the form of ethics is part of the ideology, for there is an ideology anyway behind the ethics.

The Tôre is the opposite of 24. 42, in a way.

1. Of course, the real rules are:

a) It all happens during exactly 24 hours.

b) Apart from that, everthing can happen, including the main character dying in the first five minutes (and for good). (back to text)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Guide to Tu bishvat

Importance in Jewish year cycle:


Changes in liturgy:


Traditional customs:


1. Numbers may be rounded for convenience. (back to text)

2. Some Poilishe have started skipping tachnun recently, I hear. And in the improbable case that you use a different tune for Borchu on Rôsh chôdesh, you might use the same tune for Tu bishvat at shachres. (back to text)

3. As an aside to Tu be-av, it is mentioned that teachers and their pupils have a little drink at this occasion and also on Tu bishvat. Also, some mediæval sources mention the idea of eating fruits, certainly a good idea in Europe's brumal cold. (back to text)