The Last Maccabee
“Hear me, O God!” he shouted, raising his broad bronze sword. “Though you may test me, my sorrow shall be a grindstone! My suffering shall be a crucible! And I will not rest until this sanctified land is delivered into the hands of the righteous!” He beat his chest and let out a piercing war cry that struck fear into the hearts of his enemies.
Five minutes later, he was escorted out of the building by security. And although no one pressed charges, Kyle Maccabee would never work at Deloitte & Touche again.
On a bitterly cold night on the outskirts of Vilkovishk, Velvel the Tailor and Gronam the Milkman were playing a friendly game of dreidel, when they heard a knock at the door. Surprised, Velvel opened the door to find an old man with a long gray beard shivering in the darkness. Quickly, Velvel brought him to the fire, and served him barley soup. When the color returned to the old man’s face, he noticed that the others were playing dreidel and asked if he might join them.
What followed was the greatest exhibition of dreidel that the two men—or any men—had ever seen. In less than an hour, the old man had parlayed twelve kopeks into sixty rubles, until his companions had nothing left to gamble.
Astonished, Velvel asked how it was possible for a man to have such luck.
“My friends,” the old man replied, “it is not luck. For I am the Prophet Elijah, come to reward your generosity with innumerable heavenly blessings.”
The men rejoiced, and they kissed Elijah’s hands and his cheeks. And the Prophet blessed them, and he blessed their houses and their animals; but somehow he neglected to give back the sixty rubles.
In the course of the holiday, Elijah would repeat the scam twenty-three times.
The Brightest Light
There once was a little candle named Blue. Blue lived in a box with his forty-four brothers, all of them waiting for Hanukkah, when the Boy would reach into the box and place them atop the menorah for all the world to see.
But when the first night of Hanukkah came, and the Boy reached into the box, he did not pick Blue. Nor did he pick him on the second night, or on the third. And Blue was heartbroken, for he thought he would never sit atop the menorah.
Finally, on the eighth and final night of Hanukkah, the Boy reached into the box—and whom should he pick but Blue! And the Boy said, “Because you were so patient, I will make you the Shamash. And I will light you on fire first, and then I will use your flame to kindle the rest of your brothers.”
And Blue went pale and said, “Wait—what?”
True to his word, the Boy placed Blue atop the menorah. And as Blue was slowly incinerated by his bright little flame he screamed with joy, or something.
Kangaroo Moses looked out over his exiled nation. His people’s eyes were weary, and their bodies bent from years of bondage. Standing upon a large rock, Kangaroo Moses raised his wooden staff and said, “Fear ye not, O Kangaroo Israel, for the Lord has promised thee salvation!” Kangaroo Moses stretched his paw over the water, and, lo and behold, a strong easterly wind came and divided the waters, and turned the water into dry land, so that Kangaroo Israel could cross. And Kangaroo Israel rejoiced! For at long last they were free.
High above the kangaroo enclosure, the zookeeper shook his head.
“Every day they do this,” he muttered. “Every fucking day.”
“What’s the matter, Ringo?” John said, handing him a handkerchief.
Ringo blew his nose. “It’s already the fourth night of Hanukkah,” he sniffled, “and I haven’t got a single present.”
“Well, that won’t do,” John said, and he set off to tell the rest of the Beatles.
“A present?” Paul said. “Well, I suppose I could give him this banana.”
“A present?” George said. “I suppose I could give him this zipper.”
Then John took a Mason jar and filled it with dirt. “My present is dirt,” John said.
That night, the Beatles threw a tremendous Hanukkah party in Ringo’s honor. Ringo was overwhelmed. He had never imagined that Hanukkah could be so fun, or so rewarding—especially since he had learned of its existence only that morning.
Incidentally, it was around this time that the Beatles were doing a lot of drugs.
In the Book of the Redemption (c. 1263), the celebrated medieval Jewish philosopher Nahmanides describes a distant land where everything—the houses, the roads, even the synagogue—is made from potato latkes. And running through this savory land are two broad rivers, one flowing with applesauce and the other with sour cream. And on Hanukkah the Jews of Latkeland gather at the confluence of the two rivers, so they can top their latkes with a dollop of each.
Incidentally, it was around this time that Nahmanides was doing a lot of drugs.
Timothy Geithner what are you doing here? You are not even half a Jew. GTFO (for now)
The Judgment of Velvel
Standing at the Gates of Eden, Velvel the Tailor watched with apprehension as the Angel weighed his sins and virtues upon the Scales of Justice. And although Velvel had been honest in his business dealings and had recited the Shema every night, his penny-pinching, along with his habit of stuffing his neighbors’ mezuzahs with scrolls of prosciutto, had tipped the balance against him.
Just as the Angel was about to cast him below, Velvel remembered the night when Elijah had come to his house in the guise of an old man, and fleeced him at dreidel.
And so, hearing the tale, the Angel called on Elijah, and Elijah appeared before them.
“It is true,” Elijah said, corroborating the story. “It was a cold night, and Velvel showed me great hospitality.” Then Elijah mounted the Scales of Justice, and tipped the balance toward righteousness.
Suddenly, a twenty-person SWAT team appeared and surrounded Elijah. Within seconds, the Prophet was under arrest, charged with eighty-nine counts of fraud.
The Angel shook Velvel’s hand. “Thanks for your coöperation,” he said. “We’ve been trying to nail this guy for years.”
“Glad to help,” Velvel said, removing his wire. “Now, how do I get back to earth?”
The Angel shifted awkwardly, and said, “Well, you’re still dead.” ♦
(for the words, pics from white house twitter and rahmbarama)