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+ 356 I owe my life and hope to the gospel. Without it I would still be strutting with racist pride, or I would be suffering the moral paralysis of 'white guilt.' But the gospel has an answer to both pride and guilt. John Piper


+ 276 I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs. Albert Einstein


+ 399 Science is never finished because the human mind only uses a small portion of its capacity, and man's exploration of his world is also limited. If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune, and the piper who plays this melody from an inscrutable distance—whatever name we give him—Creative Force, or God—escapes all book knowledge. Albert Einstein


+ 867 When I arrived in England I thought I knew English. After I'd been here an hour I realized that I did not understand one word. In the first week I picked up a tolerable working knowledge of the language and the next seven years convinced me gradually but thoroughly that I would never know it really well, let alone perfectly. This is sad. My only consolation being that nobody speaks English perfectly.

Remember that those five hundred words an average Englishman uses are far from being the whole vocabulary of the language. You may learn another five hundred and another five thousand and yet another fifty thousand and still you may come across a further fifty thousand you have never heard of before, and nobody else either. If you live here long enough you will find out to your greatest amazement that the adjective nice is not the only adjective the language possesses, in spite of the fact that in the first three years you do not need to learn or use any other adjectives. You can say that the weather is nice, a restaurant is nice, Mr Soandso is nice, Mrs Soandso's clothes are nice, you had a nice time, and all this will be very nice. Then you have to decide on your accent. You will have your foreign accent all right, but many people like to mix it with something else. I knew a Polish Jew who had a strong Yiddish-Irish accent. People found it fascinating though slightly exaggerated. The easiest way to give the impression of having a good accent or no foreign accent at all is to hold an unlit pipe in your mouth, to mutter between your teeth and finish all your sentences with the question: 'isn't it?' People will not understand much, but they are accustomed to that and they will get a most excellent impression.

I have known quite a number of foreigners who tried hard to acquire an Oxford accent. The advantage of this is that you give the idea of being permanently in the company of Oxford dons and lecturers on medieval numismatics; the disadvantage is that the permanent singing is rather a strain on your throat and that it is a type of affection that even many English people find it hard to keep up incessantly. You may fall out of it, speak naturally, and then where are you? The Mayfair accent can be highly recommended, too. The advantages of Mayfair English are that it unites the affected air of the Oxford accent with the uncultured flavour of a half-educated professional hotel-dancer.

The most successful attempts, however, to put on a highly cultured air have been made on the polysyllabic lines. Many foreigners who have learnt Latin and Greek in school discover with amazement and satisfaction that the English language has absorbed a huge amount of ancient Latin and Greek expressions, and they realize that
a) it is much easier to learn these expressions than the much simpler English words;
b) that these words as a rule are interminably long and make a simply superb impression when talking to the greengrocer, the porter and the insurance agent. Imagine, for instance, that the porter of the block of flats where you live remarks sharply that you must not put your dustbin out in front of your door before 7.30 a.m. Should you answer 'Please don't bully me,' a loud and tiresome argument may follow, and certainly the porter will be proved right, because you are sure to find a dause in your contract (small print, of last page) that the porter is always right and you owe absolute allegiance and unconditional obedience to him. Should you answer, however, with these words: 1 repudiate your petulant expostulations,' the argument will be closed at once, the porter will be proud of having such a highly cultured man in the block, and from that day onwards you may, if you please, get up at four o'clock in the morning and hang your dustbin out of the window. But even in Curzon Street society, if you say, for instance, that you are a tough guy they will consider you a vulgar, irritating and objectionable person. Should you declare, however, that you are an inquisitorial and peremptory homo sapiens, they will have no idea what you mean, but they will feel in their bones that you must be something wonderful. When you know all the long words it is advisable to start learning some of the short ones, too. You should be careful when using these endless words. An acquaintance of mine once was fortunate enough to discover the most impressive word notalgia for back-ache. Mistakenly, however, he declared in a large company: 'I have such a nostalgia.' 'Oh, you want to go home to Nizhne-Novgorod?' asked his most sympathetic hostess. 'Not at all,' he answered. 'I just cannot sit down.' . Finally, there are two important points to remember:
1. Do not forget that it is much easier to write in English than to speak English, because you can write without a foreign accent.
2. In a bus and in other public places it is more advisable to speak softly in good German than to shout in abominable English.
Anyway, this whole language business is not at all easy. After spending eight years in this country, the other day I was told by a very kind lady: 'But why do you complain? You really speak a most excellent accent without the slightest English.'
The Language by George Mikes


+ 150 And you shall make its forms, its spoons, its half pipes, and its supports with which it will be covered; of pure gold you shall make them. Shemot 25:29


+ 117 And he made the implements that are on the table: its forms, its spoons, its half pipes, and its supports with which it will be covered of pure gold. Shemot 37:16


+ 132 “What are the dead, anyway, but waves and energy? Light shining from a dead star? That, by the way, is a phrase of Julian's. I remember it from a lecture of his on the Iliad, when Patroklos appears to Achilles in a dream. There is a very moving passage where Achilles overjoyed at the sight of the apparition – tries to throw his arms around the ghost of his old friend, and it vanishes. The dead appear to us in dreams, said Julian, because that's the only way they can make us see them; what we see is only a projection, beamed from a great distance, light shining at us from a dead star… Which reminds me, by the way, of a dream I had a couple of weeks ago. I found myself in a strange deserted city – an old city, like London – underpopulated by war or disease. It was night; the streets were dark, bombed-out, abandoned. For a long time, I wandered aimlessly – past ruined parks, blasted statuary, vacant lots overgrown with weeds and collapsed apartment houses with rusted girders poking out of their sides like ribs. But here and there, interspersed among the desolate shells of the heavy old public buildings, I began to see new buildings, too, which were connected by futuristic walkways lit from beneath. Long, cool perspectives of modern architecture, rising phosphorescent and eerie from the rubble. I went inside one of these new buildings. It was like a laboratory, maybe, or a museum. My footsteps echoed on the tile floors.There was a cluster of men, all smoking pipes, gathered around an exhibit in a glass case that gleamed in the dim light and lit their faces ghoulishly from below. I drew nearer. In the case was a machine revolving slowly on a turntable, a machine with metal parts that slid in and out and collapsed in upon themselves to form new images. An Inca temple… click click click… the Pyramids… the Parthenon. History passing beneath my very eyes, changing every moment. 'I thought I'd find you here,' said a voice at my elbow. It was Henry. His gaze was steady and impassive in the dim light. Above his ear, beneath the wire stem of his spectacles, I could just make out the powder burn and the dark hole in his right temple. I was glad to see him, though not exactly surprised. 'You know,' I said to him, 'everybody is saying that you're dead.' He stared down at the machine. The Colosseum… click click click… the Pantheon. 'I'm not dead,' he said. 'I'm only having a bit of trouble with my passport.' 'What?' He cleared his throat. 'My movements are restricted,' he said. 'I no longer have the ability to travel as freely as I would like.' Hagia Sophia. St. Mark's, in Venice. 'What is this place?' I asked him. 'That information is classified, I'm afraid.' 1 looked around curiously. It seemed that I was the only visitor. 'Is it open to the public?' I said. 'Not generally, no.' I looked at him. There was so much I wanted to ask him, so much I wanted to say; but somehow I knew there wasn't time and even if there was, that it was all, somehow, beside the point. 'Are you happy here?' I said at last. He considered this for a moment. 'Not particularly,' he said. 'But you're not very happy where you are, either.' St. Basil's, in Moscow. Chartres. Salisbury and Amiens. He glanced at his watch. 'I hope you'll excuse me,' he said, 'but I'm late for an appointment.' He turned from me and walked away. I watched his back receding down the long, gleaming hall.” ? Donna Tartt, The Secret History


+ 142 The Prayerbook and the Villager

by Shai Agnon

Shai Agnon (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) told:

One time, a number of us—myself, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Eliezer Meir Lifshitz, Rabbi Simchah Asaf, Binyamin and others—entered the presence of the great Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook and discussed the problems of the generation and how to rectify it.

One of the group made a speech in praise of the Torah, which ended by criticizing the many additional laws enacted by the rabbis in every generation. Rabbi Nachman rose in pain, and appeared angry. But he immediately overcame his anger, as was his holy way, and answered quietly: Hearing this has brought to mind a story.

There was once a great rabbi who happened to pass through a village. Night fell, and he had to stay there overnight. He asked the villager at whose house he was staying for a volume of the Talmud, but the villager didn’t have one. He asked for a mishnah—the villager didn’t have. He asked for an Ein Yaakov—the villager didn’t have that either.

Finally, he asked the villager, “Do you have a prayerbook?” The villager brought him an old prayerbook, which contained a commentary that the rabbi read the entire night, and which he enjoyed greatly.

The next day, the rabbi offered to pay a good price for the prayerbook, but the villager refused. The rabbi persisted: “I’ll trade it for a new prayerbook with a fine binding.” But the villager still refused.

“Why?” asked the rabbi.

The villager replied, “Rabbi, every morning when I get up I like to drink something hot, and I warm up the kettle. To make the fire catch quickly, I light a piece of paper and put it under the tinder. Since I don’t have much paper in the house, I rip a page out of the prayerbook and light that. And also, every time I want to smoke my pipe, I rip a page out of the prayerbook to light it.

“I am already an old man, but because there is so much commentary, I still haven’t come to the prayers. All the pages I’ve ripped out really aren’t the prayerbook.”

Malachim Kivnei Adam, pp. 363-65