Tuesday, April 09, 2013

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

There is an old Jewish story about a gathering for a funeral.  The mourners have come out of a sense of obligation rather than through any fondness for the departed.  The rabbi sensing a feeling in the air asks, “Would anyone like to say a few words about our brother Isaac?”
There is an embarrassed silence as people look at their feet or stare fixedly into the middle distance so as not to catch the rabbi’s eye.
Feeling awkward about the situation and feeling that someone should say something, the rabbi asks again, “Would anyone care to say a few words about Isaac?”
Again, there is silence, no-one prepared to venture even a word.  As the silence drags out the sense of awkwardness continues, people furtively glancing around to see if anyone will speak.  Eventually, a man, a contemporary of Isaac, feels compelled to speak up.
“His brother was worse”.

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