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March 13, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-03-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

`Isaiah' Brandeis On Money . . . Compassionate Psalm For Reagan

Louis Brandeis

Our national agenda is filled with
intrigues, challenges, resort to the wis-
doms of the ages, soul-searching and
compassion.
Guilt and greed are elemental,
until their roots are exposed to
scrutiny.
The human minds are tested and
character is examined under social
scalpels.
The procedures of experiencing
these trends in a nation's life advise
those who might be induced to learn
the lessons that are provided by the
wisdom of the truly great minds in
mankind's cast of major characters.
Our national calendar of recent
months registered occurrences that

Hallah As Tradition

Hallah, the white bread either
baked at home or bought for the Sab-
bath, is treated as a "tradition" in a
book that also gains importance with
recipes and legendary explanations. In
The Hallah Book , subtitled "Recipes,
History and Traditions" (Ktav), Freda
Reider exudes enthusiasm. An
adequate definition for hallah is lack-
ing, but in a generalized fashion the
author explains introductorily:

Hallah is the familiar
Jewish braided bread baked for
the Sabbath. Though its name,
form, and ritual appearance
have varied with time and loca-
tion, its mystique as a ceremo-
nial bread for the Sabbath re-
mains intact, and its origins can
be traced back more than 3,000
years to the Biblical era of the
Exodus and the heavenly food
called "manna."

Amazement will greet the reader
upon learning about the types of hal-
lahs described here. They include a
global interest in Jewish communities,
with the white bread, braided and in
many other fashions, in the Sephardic
as well as Ashkenazic traditions, the

Continued on Page 32

were truly upsetting. It included the
White House and the credibility of our
nationally-selected leaders. The
limelight in credibility-testing was on
the President.
Money became a greater object for
testing certain people's way of life and
greed is an accusatory stage. Therefore
the increasing concern for another
major credibility: that of Wall Street.
Both agonies will surely be re-
solved in the course of time. Because
the genius of this nation is not to be
trifled with, President Reagan has al-
ready learned anew the lessons taught
by the character and experience of the
people who entrusted him with leader-
ship.
Wall Street has duties also never
to be treated lightly. Therefore, its
leadership is charged with respon-
sibilities that are at the very root of
national loyalties.
It is on the question of "money"
and the "greed" that has just invited
disrespect that it is a privilege to invite
for guidance the wisdom of one of the
giants of this nation and one of the
most brilliant jurists in our history:
that of the late Supreme Court Justice
Louis D. Brandeis.
The Brandeisian view on money
and the Wall Street speculations as re-
called by Daniel A. Rezneck of the New
York law firm of Arnold and Porter in
a New York Times Op-Ed Page essay,
"Brandeis on Arbitragers, As It Were."
Mr. Rezneck posed the question, based
on his curiosity on "as to what the view
of one of the greatest moralists in the
country's history, Louis D. Brandeis,
would have been on the seemingly end-
less disclosures of chicanery on Wall
Street unfolding almost daily." There-
upon, he recalled that "Justice Bran-
deis was known to some of his close
friends and disciples as Isaiah, because
they saw in him the qualities of an Old
Testament prophet." He also recalled
Brandeis' successful and lucrative
career in private law practice. "He be-
came the 'People's Lawyer'," devoting
"the rest of his illustrious career to re-
presenting the unrepresented, afflicting
the comfortable and instructing the na-
tion in constitutional and moral val-
ues."

Thereupon Rezneck drew upon the
Brandeisian view on money and Wall
Street, with comment of his own on the
money matter that keeps dominating
the financial pages, a quotation from
Franklin D. Roosevelt and a revealing
guideline for the generations, providing
the following as an answer to the ques-
tion that motivated the search for
Brandeis' philosophy on the subject:

The answer to my question
was not difficult to find. In
Lewis J. Paper's biography,
there appears a succinct state-
ment of Justice Brandeis' ph-
ilosophy of life — one in such
stark contrast with that of the
Wall Street felons now parading
through the criminal courts as
to show that he and they inha-
bited different moral universes.
Justice Brandeis explained
to an interviewer in language of
uncommon eloquence: "Some
men buy diamonds and rare
works of art, others delight in

automobiles and yachts. My
luxury is to invest my surplus
effort, beyond that required for
the proper support of my fam-
ily, to the pleasure of taking up
a problem and solving, or help-
ing to solve, it for the people
without receiving any compen-
sation ... I have only one life,
and it is short enough. Why
waste it on things I don't want
most? I don't want money or
property most. I want to be
free."
Justice Brandeis did not
stand in awe of the financiers
and investment bankers of his
time. In his book, "Other Pe-
ople's Money and How the Ban-
kers Use It," published in 1914
in the era of Woodrow Wilson's
New Freedom, he wrote: "The
goose that lays golden eggs has
been considered a most valu-
able possession. But even more
profitable is the privilege of tak-
ing the golden eggs laid by
somebody else's goose. The in-
vestment bankers and their
associates now enjoy that pr-
ivilege. They control the people
through the people's own
money ... The fetters which
bind the people are forged from
the people's own gold."
Nor was Justice Brandeis
much impressed by the stock
market's frenetic climb to ever-
increasing heights during the
great bull market of the 1920's.
A year before the Great Crash,
he wrote: "This wild stock
speculation far exceeds in
height and endurance the limits
which seemed to me possible ...
I still think the day of sorrow is
not remote."
And after the day of sorrow

Ronald Reagan

had come and the Depression
had set in, when he was asked if
he thought the worst was over,
he replied, "Oh yes, the worst
took place in the prosperous
days before 1929."
So I think that those
rapacious arbitragers; invest-
ment bankers, brokers and
lawyers whose misdeeds are
now being exposed and who
have disgraced themselves,
their families and the trades
they ply would not have met
with sympathy from Justice

Continued on Page 32

Scriptural Source Of Massive
`Shlemiel' Literary Treatment

Humorists and experts in the study
of the arts in the lighter vein often re-
mind their readers, and listeners to
their lectures, that even in Holy Scrip-
tures there are elements of humor. The
Talmud abounds in delightful tales.
"Shlemiel" provides the proof.
Interest in the shlemiel character
is aroused in an 87-page book of
entertaining stories about this hard-
luck character in Jewish folklore. Hin-
kel and Other Shlemiel Stories by
Miriam Chaiken contains the tales
(Shapolsky Publishers). Adding to the
humor in these stories are the appro-
priately expressive illustrations by
Marcia Posner.
Hinkel is the first of the six char-
acters who are unlucky, a misfit, when
he falls on his back he breaks his nose,
everything topsy-turvy. Each of the
stories has a likeness. The last of the
series, "Hardlucky," is descriptive of
the shlemiel. It commences:

Once there was an unlucky
fellow. So he thought of himself.
And so he was.
If he was near a door, he
caught his finger in it. If near a

wall, he banged his head. If
there was something on the
ground, he stepped in it.
Hardlucky, they called him.
One day Hardlucky left his
wagon standing on the hill and
went to deliver wood. Now, why
leave a wagon on a hill? Of
course, when he got back, the
wagon wasn't there. It had rol-
led down the hill — and hit a
cow. Hardlucky was fined by
the court, his boss took away
the wagon, and Hardlucky was
out of a job.
So it went with him. Poor
Hardlucky.

So, down the line, the reader is in-
troduced to mishaps that create
entertainment and lend the mischiev-
ous title that has been applied to the
hardluckies.
The origin of the word shlemiel as-
sumes an historic character defining
buffoonery. The term shlemiel has in-
vaded world literature and beckons a
3,000-year history. It is not limited to

Continued on Page 32

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