Tashlich: It's Time to Cast Off a Few Things

Haaretz columnist Doron Rosenblum would like to start the new year a little lighter.

Guessing about the next Smartphone

Running after one’s tail, a type of escapism that ignores political situations and economic crises and finds a haven in a black mirror whose conjectured and guessed-at size − which is discussed at length − is 5.2 inches ‏(in contrast to the miserable 4.9 inches of the piece of junk you will buy in October, and which you should automatically throw in the garbage‏).

Pathetic TV investigative reports that creep lethargically after their own promos
Which leads to an idea for saving Channel 10 and Channel 2: Since the promos on Israeli TV are the most creative and vibrant thing on the screen, and since the program itself rarely enriches us with more information than what we have already seen in the promo, why not leave the promos and eliminate the excess surplus known as “programs”?

Floor Brushers Liberation Army
There’s a “Seinfeld” episode in which Kramer gets all upset when George invites carpet cleaners to his home. According to Kramer, the cleaners are part of a crazy religious cult who enter homes under the pretext of cleaning carpets, kidnap people and brainwash them. The cleaners ignore George but co-opt his boss, Mr. Wilhelm, into their ranks. The latter shows up glazy-eyed and insists ‏(using a famous quote from Patty Hearst‏) that his name is “Tania.” ‏(Check it out on YouTube under “Crazy Religious Cult − Carpet Cleaning Cabal.”‏) In these parts, either because people accept it or are afraid, no one talks about it − but there is reason to suspect that a similar cult is operating in Israel. It brainwashes people, turns those who spread its tidings into zombies and, above all, tries to block our path as free individuals. It’s all still very mysterious, but something is happening under the surface, the carpet or the linoleum.

On the surface it all looks innocent, banal, not least because it takes place in the middle of the day and in full view of everyone. You arrive at a large public space − a supermarket, a lobby, a terminal. As you go about your business, you barely notice the gradual but methodical approach of the cleaner with the floor-scraping machine. At first, the huge, noisy electric brush − almost always pushed by an alienated, expressionless foreign worker − looks and sounds like part of the general ambience of the place. Moreover, amid this raucous scene, not only is there nothing suspicious or disturbing in this activity; in a country like ours, it evokes something almost pleasant and comforting of the everyday. Noisy, very noisy, yes, but at least it’s not the sound of a suicide bomber blowing himself up or of a missile attack.

With a polite complacency best compared to guests in a lobby overlooking Lake Geneva, you make room for the noisy machine to pass. And when it retraces its route almost exactly, you are still not uneasy, for who can fathom how an eagle makes its way across the sky, how a snake makes its way over a rock and how a cleaning machine makes its way over a floor? Only its operators know its mysterious path, like their brethren the combine operators, the levelers of ice in a skating rink and the sprayers of fields.

Only after a time does a sneaking suspicion begin to sneak up on you. Like Cary Grant in “North by Northwest” at the sight of the crop duster above him, you too sense that there is something a bit peculiar about this routine. Especially when said “floor cleaner” again makes his way in your direction, his zombie stare fixed on a point 10 centimeters above your head. Again he deprives you of your place, shunts you aside as he supposedly brushes the floor with robot-like meticulousness. Upon reaching the wall, he again turns around − toward you! This is really suspicious, because ‏(a‏) he has nothing left to clean; ‏(b‏) the machine is now dirtying the floor rather than cleaning it; and ‏(c‏) he is on your trail, wherever you turn, plowing away in your direction.

But what plot is being cooked up here? Centrifugal malice that has eluded the observer’s eye? Revenge of the foreign workers for their existential plight? A hidden intifada, which is only waiting for the moment when it will crush and grind us all under the whirling brushes? Or is it really a religious cult in disguise?
This week, on the eve of the High Holy Days, we risked our lives: We tried to get one of the cleaners to talk. He claimed that he “did not understand” our questions and only kept repeating his name: “Tania.”

Novellas of village life on food packaging

Many people are complaining about the rise in food prices. Few people appreciate the fact that for the same money, and mostly on items that are not under price controls, we also get good literature − mostly of a rural-Slavic thrust, of a quality that would not shame Turgenev, Sholokhov, Chekhov and even Tchernichovsky. Let’s say you want to buy bread − you get a family saga. On the wrapper, next to the drawing of a country sunset, you might well find the story of Great-Grandma Fanya-Gittel, who loved butterflies and embroidered stockings, and of Grandpa Leib-Yankel, who loved horses, Russian shirts and rusty scythes. Once upon a time, the two sat delighting in the sunset, crushing grains of wheat in their hands, when along came the Cossacks and with a clashing of pitchforks chased them off to the Land of Israel. Upon the basalt soil of the Galilee the two did sit, crushing the grains of wheat that they had hidden in their fists the whole way. Finally, Fanya-Gittel got up and from the grains she baked bread. It turned out to be the tastiest and indeed the only loaf, and actually the last one that Leib-Yankel ever ate. On his grave wheat grew and, years later, without any connection to all of the above, the Old Taboun bakery, in existence since 2011, was founded in the new industrial zone of Soot Hill.

It’s the same story with tea. You want tea, you get the brewing tale of Grandma Mafruma, who met a lean Galitzianer named Finkelbroit who was kicked in the head by a horse. Mafruma prepared a brew from burghul seeds and ginger roots and placed it on his feverish forehead. In the meantime − in another place and another time − the Wissotzky tea company was established.

So you went to the supermarket and came back with literature. You went to the bookstore − and came back with merchandise. You gave into temptation and bought four somethings for a hundred.

Home Front Command
It’s like a salesman: When you don’t want, it it doesn’t stop bugging you, being domineering and driving you nuts; in real time, it will be as much help as ZAKA is for the dead.