Whom* By Fire, Whom* by Knife and Fork

The High Holydays are almost upon us. Jewish people are reflecting on their ways, repenting, seeking forgiveness from those whom* we have wronged, resolving to do better in the coming year.

The seasonal liturgy lists an intimidating list of “who’s” – fire, water, hunger, thirst; who in his allotted span and who before his span; who will be at peace, who will wander; who will pass in quietude, who in agony.

It makes you think.

The liturgy does prescribe antidotes – prayer, sincerely remorseful penitence and charity.

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah Jewish families gather to overindulge. We will be fifteen at our table and we’ll consume one bottle of wine and three sheep, numerous hens and sundry kine. We eat too much and drink too little. Next day, following a synagogue service lasting about five hours we go home and gorge ourselves, thereby putting ourselves at risk of “whom by knife and fork.”

We eat apple dipped in honey and we take honey on our round loaves of challah (read brioche, the “ch” in challah being like the final throat-clearing sound in Bach; the ch in brioche the same as in douche). The honey suggests the wish for a year of blessing. In our case that sweetness resides in the grandchildren who will throng and riot around our table, ensuring our New Year commences not in quietude but in full throated life.

My wish for my reader/s is that you might find this blog rewarding in the year to come, that you might buy the books that I’ll flog to you (a novel – Carrots and Jaffas – in early 2014; and A Threefold Cord – a novel in 67 chapters for 8-10 year olds, also in 2014, if not before.)

More disinterestedly, I wish for peace in the Middle East, a Collingwood premiership – at the moment both appear equally likely – and a year of euglycaemic health for us all.

Expressed as Shana Tova u’metukah


Howard Goldenberg

*I realize that Leonard Cohen sings “Who by fire”. Likewise “Who” appears in the English translation of the Hebrew prayerbooks. However, I am persuaded on grammatical grounds that it is not what you know in this life that matters but whom you know.

4 thoughts on “Whom* By Fire, Whom* by Knife and Fork

  1. I’d be willing to live with a Collingwood premiership if it meant peace in the Middle East but not otherwise. Shaha Tova to you & yours


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