Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holy blood

Recently my boss had an appointment with a salesman who wanted our companies business. The guy walks in, and he’s all buff and he looks like someone who spent all his free time at the gym working out. He and my boss go over pricing of the items, and the guy starts talking about how he teases the main guy of the company that he should get some business because he has “holy blood.”

Another person at the office overheard this asked “holy blood? How?”

And the salesman says “I’m about 5 generations a descendent from the Vilna Goan.”

So we all kinda look at him like “WOW” ‘cause we definitely didn’t expect that. So anyway, the guy starts talking about how he goes to a reform synagogue and that he actually likes his rabbi


So my boss goes “Oh yea? How much do you pay your rabbi?”

Salesman says a number over 6 figures. So we all kinda look at him like “WOWWWWW”

My boss says “how much vacation does he get?”

Saleman goes “well, we’re a reform synagogue he’s always on vacation. But he gets housing and a car.”

Then he tells a story of how one of the kids he coaches (don’t remember the sport) also goes to his temple… The kid (I guess he was about 13) was freaking out worried because one of his games was going to fall out on yom kippur and he wasn’t sure if he should go to service on Yom Kippur and upset his teammates/friends who rely on him for the games, or forget service and do what he should for his team. So the kid went to the Rabbi with his problem, and the Rabbi said “play the game. Gd will forgive you, but your friends never will.”

I was trying SOOOOOOO hard not to laugh.

The other ladies husband is a REAL rabbi and she was like “I totally disagree, some things are just not negotiable.”

Its just so sad how someone who KNOWS he’s a decendent from such a man can have a pathetic excuse of a rabbi like that!


mlevin said...

You should have asked him why he/his ancestors went off the derech.

Rachelli Dreyfuss said...

It's like the story with the rabbis and the cars...

frum single female said...

there must be quite a story here. most reform jews have never heard of the vilna gaon.

thinkingbochur said...

I guess the answer is to move back int o the ghetto so no one can ever have the opportunity to fry out.

Walter said...

I suppose being five generations
from the VG is just about possible.
His ancestors must all have been
born to oldish parents.

Let's see. The VG died in 1797 at the
age of 77. He left a widow, his second
wife who bore him no children. His
first wife who did died in 1782 at
the age of 58. What's the youngest
child she could have left? Shall we
say 13? That would have him/her, first
generation descendant, born in 1769.

Assuming that he/she had a child at 45,
the second generation descendant would
have been born in 1814. Assuming
again that he/she had a child at 45,
the third generation would have been
born in 1859. By the same assumption,
the fourth generation would have been
born in 1904, the fifth in 1949,
the sixth in 1994.

It's possible, but it requires a long
succession of children born to
relatively old parents.

Moshe said...

Should've invited him for shabbat. ;)

mlevin said...

Walter - Actually it's very possible. Due to the conscription into the Russian Army which required 20 years of service to the Tzar, the men were not released until they were 38 years old. They would then go back home and marry much younger women and have many (there are stories of as many as 10 or 11) children with them.

Walter said...

I've heard about this twenty year service.
What I've never worked out was when this
requirement was in place. Was it the
all the seventeenth century? The

In any event, that might explain some
of the cases; it does not explain all
of them, particularly the later ones.
It also assumes that all the ancestors
were male.

I would also ask: what proportion of
the VG's descendants served in the
military? The mythology is that there
were ways of dodging the draft.

Moshe said...

Walter, I don't understand why you're arguing about him being or not being a descendant, when the post is about what he does with his belief that he is a descendant. Even if he's not and only believes that he is, it doesn't change the point of the post.

Walter said...

It's so unlike OFS to take something
at face value.

mlevin said...

Walter, the 20 year military service was in the 19th century. And no, there were no ways to dodge the draft, there were ways to abduct someone else instead of your child. Tzar wanted 7 boys/men for every 1000 people in the years 1826-1857 and 5 out of 1000 from 1857 and on.

In addition there were pogroms and world wars which would have pushed off the marriage. And yes I am assuming he was a descendant via a paternal line, because the maternal line usually gets forgotten within a couple of generations.

Moshe - it's called not seeing forest for the trees.

Walter said...

Were those ratios for people in that
cohort, or the (male) population as
a whole?

Is it possible this claim is, perhaps,
not entirely accurate, and the salesman's
memory may have been enhanced by the
prospect of winning orders?

mlevin said...

The ratio wasn't the male population, but all the Jews living in the Shtetle/Town.

It is possible that he miscounted a generation, but it's also possible that he didn't. It doesn't really matter.

Side note: most of those who returned from 20 years of service were mistreated by the Jewish community because they had spent the past 20+ years completely unobservant, no shabbos, not kosher, and many gave in to tortures and converted to Christianity. So, instead of taking them in with open arms, the distinguished citizens of the shtetles snubbed them and even refused to acknowledge kinship.

Walter said...

Clearly it did matter to OFS; she began
the anecdote with this information.
Gullibility is one of the last attributes
you'd associate with her.

With regard to the ratios, again, were
they for that cohort, or from the Jewish
male population as a whole?

Walter said...

Side note: with regard to snubbing those
who served in the military, it seems that
not much has changed since then.

mlevin said...

Not sure what you are not understanding. For every 1000 Jews that lived in the village, the community had to deliver 7 males for the Tzar's army.

On the Russian (goyish) side for every 1000 serfs (slaves) they had to deliver 5 to the Tzar's army.

I don't know how often they counted, but it included men women babies and elderly.

"with regard to snubbing those
who served in the military, it seems that not much has changed since then."

Exactly. Ever since I learned it, I realized that those who claim unbroken Yihus were only able to accomplish it (if they came from Russian empire) if they abducted (or helped) other people's children and husbands.

Walter said...

mlevin: thanks for the clarification.

I wonder what 1:1000 of the general
Jewish population meant in terms
of proportion of boys of a given age.

frumskeptic said...

"It's so unlike OFS to take something at face value."

Generally, yes. I don't usually believe much until I look into it. But like Frum single female pointed out, its a shock he even knew who the Vilna Goan was!

Plus, this was funny and in fact possible. Doing the math, if there were huge families decendent from the Vilna Goan and he was from the youngest of each of the decedents, it happens to be likely he is of the 5th generation.