New York Times Nonsense

posted by Pearl Abraham

I don’t usually read Wednesday’s New York Times Dining and Wine section, but a piece titled “Kugel Unraveled,” was brought to my attention by a friend. n the way that most articles on Hasidism or Yiddish (see Walter Grimes, “To Provoke in Yiddish, Try `How Are You’,” also published in the Times on Wednesday) usually are, this piece, too, is sentimentally nostalgic and centered on nonsensical inaccuracies. Desperate to entertain, Joan Nathan quotes Professor Allan Nadler, who should know better, saying that, “According to Hasidic interpretations of Kabbalah mysticism, kugel has special powers.”

Though Nadler may have attended what’s known as a Rebbe’s tish (or table), he misinterpreted the ritual, because he goes on to say, “Clearly the spiritual high point of the meal is the offering of the kugel… At that moment the rabbi has the power to bestow health and food, and even to help couples conceive.”

The FACTS: When during the meal, the rabbi passes food to a guest, especially when he does so by name, whether it is a piece of gefilte fish or challah or kugel, the honor is in the regard for that person, in the rabbi’s remembering him in this special way. These individualized honors are often followed by a more general one, in which the rabbi offers a larger piece of, say, bread, and those near enough to reach it, tear off a bite for themselves and pass the rest on to others. The food itself is treasured only for what it is: a gift from the holy rebbe himself.

More on the sloppiness of NY Times reporting and reporters: If I were a psychotherapist, I might be tempted to write a paper on the psychology of Judith Miller, in other words, her need to accept punishment and go to jail even after, read again, AFTER, her source had let her off the hook a year ago, according to said source. Her sin? Misleading articles about long-absent weapons of mass destruction that cited as reliable sources close to, and often paid by, the Bush administration.

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30 September 2005 | uncategorized |