Tourist returns stone from the Western Wall
There have been a number of interesting follow-up stories on the recent news article “Rock stolen from Masada 35 years ago mailed back – but takes three years to arrive” (February 27).
In an interview with In Jerusalem, Willet Evert Areiv from Talpiot says he is happy whenever mail reaches his house in less than three years, although he enjoys still receiving birthday cards sent by beloved grandparents who passed away years ago.
Surreptitiously removing archaeological items from the Holy Land is not only illegal, it also apparently preys on one’s conscience. In an unexpected copycat case of stealer’s remorse, a tourist from South Africa, after reading the above-mentioned article, contacted IJ, sheepishly admitting that he had stolen a rock from the Western Wall during the Mandate period and is now mailing it back. The post office promises to give the 17-ton Herodian rock priority treatment, meaning that we can expect to see it reset in the hitherto unnoticed gaping hole in the Wall any decade now.
Not to be outdone, an embarrassed official from the Vatican, which recently agreed to open its World War II archives, went a big step further, admitting that one of its clerics accidentally brought the Temple’s Golden Menorah and the Ark of the Covenant to Rome in his luggage with a few hotel towels 2,000 years ago and promises he will be returning the items as soon as he ascertains the correct postage necessary to send them to us via the postal service.
In perhaps the most painful incident, Saad Maan, an unhappy Druze from Daliat al-Carmel, rues his decision to show up at the local library to return a book that was five decades overdue. He now has to mortgage his home and business to pay the fine and accumulated interest. In a surprising twist, he told IJ that he plans to take out the book again and vows to finish reading it this time, despite his short attention span.
Another miracle cure
On the medical front, following the recent exclusive announcement in this paper that cancer has been vanquished (“We will offer a complete cure for cancer in a year’s time,” February 30) another dramatic breakthrough has been announced by Israeli medical science.
Again, you read it here first.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder, the debilitating mental disorder in which a person feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly, is about to become a thing of the past. Israeli medical start-up NokItOffAlready has announced an OCD treatment that is so effective that 110% of patients report that they have been freed from their old compulsions. The treatment is so successful that they go back to do it again and again and again. And again.
No moon minyan?
A heretofore unknown religious authority called the Whakf begrudgingly congratulated the expected successful completion of the Beresheet mission that will soon plant an Israeli flag on the moon, but issued guidelines that it expects future Israeli manned missions to follow. Jewish tourists to the moon will be permitted to walk only along a prescribed path under strict supervision – and under no circumstances will they be allowed to pray there.
Heart and Seoul
Observers report that there have been some surprising but predictable consequences of the increasing emphasis on Talmud study in South Korea (“Talmud-inspired learning craze sweeps South Korea,” January 15) to learn secrets of Jewish success.
In an article for the prestigious Yu Kidin Mi journal, Korean sociologist Yur Sum Ju notes a number of subtle changes in society that he suspects may be connected to the widespread adoption of Talmud study.
For example, he points out that Soyun, the most popular boys’ name in the country for decades, has now fallen into third place after Shloimie and Moishe.
Spoken Korean conversational syntax is also perceptibly changing. For example, questions such as “Son, would you like more rice?” that for generations were typically were answered with a “Yes please, Mother,” are now invariably answered with another question, such as, “What, you can’t make quinoa once in a while?”
Koreans have begun accosting random passersby on the streets of Seoul asking them to complete quorums of 10 to recite Hebrew and municipalities are doubling the number Buddhist and Confucianist shrines (“That’s the one I don’t pray in”).
The number of political parties has multiplied – and they keep merging and breaking apart. Perhaps more disturbing is an occurrence on the diplomatic level. The more Koreans study Talmud, the more UNESCO denies that Seoul is Korea’s capital and urges countries to move their embassies to Busan.
On the positive side, there are suddenly many more Korean start-ups and Nobel Prize nominees.