By Professor Worldly N. Mesorahdig
In our never-ending quest to put a yarmulke on Darwin, it is time to get down to The Truth about what, or some say Who, runs the world. Now I’m not talking about what or Who created the world, or willed the primordial soup to gel, or set off the first fireworks in the universe, but what or Who actually runs it right now, even as we speak.
It is my contention, as a dedicated, Torahdig, and secularly well-educated Jew, that the answer is right in front of us! All the time! Isn’t that awesome?
Anyone can figure it out, even you – provided you have doctorates in anthro-botanical biology, astro-nucleotide physics, and Paleozoic geological forensics, as well as a good working knowledge of Tanach. I just happen to have those credentials, and I’ll save you 20 years of research.
So what or Who runs the world? The answer, or course, is my mother-in-law. And not only my mother-in-law, but yours too. Also some peoples’ fathers; and your dentist, the garage mechanic and several barbers. They keep the world spinning by a complex manipulation based on guilt and its ability to regenerate itself.
I call it The Big Pang Theory. Allow me to explain what I mean as simply as a can for people who have no theo-scientifico experience. Let’s say the phone rings, you answer, and it is your mother-in-law on the line. The conversation is similar to those you’ve had many times:
“Is that you, Worldly, dear?”
“Yes, it’s me. How are you today, Mom?”
“I’m sorry to bother you. I only wanted to say hello.”
“You’re not bothering me.”
“Oh. Your voice sounded like you were busy. I only called to say that my cold is better. There’s no need to bother you about it.”
“I’m not busy. I’m not bothered. I didn’t know you had a cold…”
“Oh? I guess Sari didn’t tell you about it. It’s not very important — just a cold, with a little cough in my chest. I’m sure it’ll go away anytime now. You don’t have to worry about me …”
“I’m not worried.”
“No, I mean, I’m sure you’ll be all right.”
“That’s nice, dear. I don’t want you to even think about it. It’s nothing. I’ll call Sari from the hospital if it gets any worse. You just go back to doing whatever it was that was so important when I called…”
In scientific terms, we sophisticated theorists call that Stage One: the Prime Movement that generates the first pang of guilt. After several days, the Stage One progresses to higher stages of more acute pangs of guilt, metamorphoses to a Big Pang and finally spills over to those around you, particularly your teenage son who doesn’t do anything right anyway. Operating at a frenzied a Stage 10 guilt level, you confront him:
“I see you didn’t do the dishes tonight, Ari.”
“I wasn’t supposed to. It’s not my night.”
“Yeah. But ya didn’t.”
Ari then goes to his little sister and gives her a Big Pang for getting him in trouble by not doing the dishes – which she didn’t because it was Benjy’s turn. A certain invisible energy crackles through the air. And the world spins. It’s as simple as that.
The Big Pang also rises ex nihilo from other sources too. Your dentist, for instance, takes one look in your mouth and mutters to himself how some people are always courting disaster. Why, oh why, do they wait until it’s too late to save the tooth? (Have you learned to recognize Stage One?) The car mechanic can do the same thing just by looking under the hood and letting out a whistle. You know what it means: “Hey, Mac, when was the last time you changed that oil — 1972?” The barber, God bless him, demands to know who was the last guy to cut your hair – you could probably win a lawsuit for irreparable damages! Now if you’d only come to him in the first place — but you know how some people always want to save a buck…
So you find yourself apologizing to Mom, to Dr. T., to Mom, to Vince, to Mom and to Antonio; then to Mom, and to Ari, Benji, Sari, Mom. The Big Pang is operating at full blast — and planet survives another day.
Charolotte Friedland was the previous editor of Jewish Action.
The article originally appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Jewish Action.