Election Night Breakage

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Tuesday, at about 11 PM, I walked into a gathering of the hopeful, awaiting the results of a special statewide election. I’m not terribly involved with the political process – my day job leaves no room for publicly taking sides or electioneering. I came for a few minutes, simply to give chizuk to a candidate with whom I’ve had a long friendship, including some regular time over a gemara. As far as I could see, I was the only observant Jew in the crowd at the time.

A small flotilla of news trucks were lined up outside, all with their antennae raised aloft like so many masts facing the wind. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a close confidant of the candidate, walked up to the mic to make a statement to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. His words were unexpectedly interrupted by the sound of shattering glass. Someone had inadvertently knocked a bottle off a table, and the bottle made its dying gasp well heard by the crowd.

Instantly, as if by instinct, without any pause to think or reflect at all, about twenty people all called out, “Mazal tov!” One of them was the Mayor.

Galus has affected most of us far too much. But we’ve affected galus as well. If we tried a bit harder in our interaction with others around us, think of the opportunity for imparting a few Torah values as well, besides the proper reaction to breaking glass.

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4 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    That really is too bad that our local candidate, Jack Weiss, lost the recently election for City Attorney of Los Angeles, as he has been a good friend to our Jewish people. From what I understand, he was defeated because our pro-Israel Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, is not too popular, and because he endorsed Jack Weiss, voting for his opponent was a way of rejecting Villaraigosa. Whatever the reason, it does point to the reality that we Jews are not nearly as powerful and influential in politics as we would like to believe.

    As for our influence on the gentile world, I wish every Jew who cares both about being Jewish and being American, would read a short book by the Jewish Yale Professor David Galernter, called Americanism. I am not qualified to adequately and succinctly summarize the book, but in a nutshell, he shows how the creation of the United States, and so much of what it traditionally stands for, is based, believe it or not, on our Torah. After reading that book, I felt I never had to read another book on American history again, and never have I felt more proud to be an American. (My pride in being Jewish comes from different sources, such as our Torah and our accomplishments as a people)

  2. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The contrast between Villaraigosa and the late Moynihan is interesting. Both are/were friends of the Jews. But Moynihan misappropriated the expression “l’chayim” because he was thinking Irish wake. That is his cultural background. The “mazal tov” of Villaraigosa was a normal Jewish response. Both were delivered instinctively off the cuff. Betcha Villaraigosa has some Jewish anousim background in his family tree. What Hispanic doesn’t? But beyond the appropriateness of the response, friends are friends, and with things the way they are these days, every one counts.

  3. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Cute story. But not as funny as the time Patrick Monyhan spoke at Jacob Javitz’s funeral and wished him “l’chaim” on his journey to the Hereafter.

  4. Ariel K says:

    Even at a wedding, breaking glass is supposed to be a zecher l’churban, not a mazal tov. But if glass breaks by accident, saying “mazal tov” normally just embarrasses the person publicly.

    Its a funny story though.