Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another Reason To Like Mel Brooks

I received the following as the body of an email earlier today.  Some of the things that are included in this essay I have read in other places.  The essay itself is, according to the email, attributed to Mel Brooks.  I have enjoyed his work very much in the past, and find that this essay expresses very well several things I have thought about over the last several years but have never had the knowledge/skills to express so eloquently.  I hope that those who read the below find it as (I am not sure of the exact word but empowering comes to mind) empowering as I did.
I may be angry at God or at the world, and I'm sure that a lot of my
comedy is based on anger and hostility...It comes from a feeling that as
a Jew and as a person, I don't fit into the mainstream of American

Feeling different, feeling alienated, feeling persecuted, feeling that
the only way you can deal with the world is to laugh - because if you
don't laugh you're going to cry and never stop crying - that's probably
what's responsible for the Jews having developed such a great sense of
humor. The people who had the greatest reason to weep, learned more than
anyone else how to laugh.

Based on the accomplishments of individual Jews, Nobel Prize winners and
heroes of modern culture, as well as the amount of attention Jews get in
the media, you'd never believe the correct answers: There are little
more than 13 million Jews in the world, comprising less than
1/4 of 1% of the world's population !!!!

Do you think it's just a coincidence? Twenty-one percent of Nobel Prize
winners have been Jews, even though Jews comprise less than one-quarter
of one percent of the world's population. Choose any field, and you will
find that Jews have excelled in it.

Think of the names of many modern-day figures most responsible for the
intellectual turning points in history - MARX, FREUD, EINSTEIN - and you
will find proof of the Biblical verdict: "Surely this is...a wise and
understanding people." There simply is no way to deny it.

Jews really are smart. There must be a reason - and I can give you


HEREDITY - Historians have pointed out a fascinating difference between
Jews and Christians. In Christianity, as well as in many other
religions, holiness was identified with asceticism, great spirituality
with the practice of celibacy. For centuries the finest minds among
Christians were urged to join the church and become priests. That
effectively condemned their genetic pool of intelligence to an untimely

Jews, on the other hand, took quite seriously the first commandment to
mankind - to be fruitful and multiply. Sex was never seen as sinful, but
rather as one of those things created by God that he surely must have
had in mind when he declared, in reviewing his work, that "Behold
everything was very good."

Among Jews, the most intelligent were encouraged to become religious
leaders. As rabbis, they had to serve as role models for their
congregants as procreators and "fathers! of their countries." Brains got
passed on from generation to generation, and Jews today are still
reaping the benefits of the frequent sexual activities of their

ENVIRONMENT - If challenge and response are the keys to creativity and
achievement, it's no surprise that Jews are smart; they've been
challenged more than anyone else on earth. The school of hard knocks is
a wonderful teacher. Jews had no choice but to learn to be better than
anyone else since the odds were always so very much stacked against

When you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you tend to get fat
and lazy. When you're born with the lash of a whip on your back, you
quickly learn to become crafty, street smart, and knowledgeable in
everything that will help you make it through life.

A UNIQUE VALUE SYSTEM - We still haven't touched on the most important
reason of all. Jews are smart because they have been raised in a
tradition that treasures education above everything else, that considers
study the highest obligation of mankind, and that identifies the
intellect as part of us created in "the image of God." To be illiterate
was unheard of in the Jewish world, not only because it was a sign of
stupidity, but, more significantly, because it was a sin.

Jews are obligated by law to review the Bible in its entirety every
year, dividing it into manageable weekly sections. The widespread custom
when a child turned three years old was to write the letters of the
Hebrew alphabet on a board in honey and have the child learn them as he
licked them off, equating their meaning with the taste of sweetness.

Jews studied the Midrash, and it taught them: The Sword and the Book
came from Heaven together, and the Holy One said: "Keep what is written
in this Book or be destroyed by the other." Jews studied the Mishna and
it taught them, "Say not when I have leisure."

Philosophical Tevye , that delightful creation of the Yiddish writer
Shalom Aleichem and the star of "Fiddler On The Roof," explained that
Jews always wear hats because they never know when they will be forced
to travel. What he didn't say, which is probably more important, is that
they always made sure to have something under their hats and inside of
their heads - because physical possessions could be taken from them, but
what they accumulated in their minds would always remain the greatest
"merchandise" a Jew possesses.
Please let me know what you think.

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