Dearest Friends and Witty Captioners and Flying Bochurim,
And now the July caption contest comes to a close. As does July. As does the season (almost). Where, oh where, is the glorious summer going?
I digress. Sniffle. The caption contest announcement:
This month’s cartoon for the contest was a totally random illustration of an orthodox-looking man suspended mid-air. I thought I’ll take a leap and just draw something totally absurd; without any ideas to focus on whatsoever. I had a bit of apprehension about it because I thought maybe it’ll be a dead-end and there won’t be any of those fantastically witty responses. As I was doodling this I was thinking ‘what on earth can anyone make of it’? But what’s to guess with your creativity?
It was worth it. This one definitely got the most excellent responses so far. I had a very hard time picking the finalists and a winner. I had to resort to keeping the money. Ok, not. I couldn’t get away with that. I did select a winner, but really, it was a tough one. Many, many different ideas you came up with, from where you take them I don’t know, puns and understatements and touching on faith and flying movie characters and Rav Eliashav and zaddikim in heaven and the sociological implication of doing something weird and holy cow; chollent! Oh, the chuckles I had me! Funny, funny people. The caption contest is by far my favorite part of this cartoon business, and believe me, I refer not to the financial transaction that renders me in a negative. I love it when I end up after the contest with a final cartoon in my collection that is original and something I wouldn’t have thought of. Getting you to share ideas and creativity is extremely rewarding. Thank you all for contributing.
What makes a good caption? I think – and this is my opinion, feel free to give me your own– that it’s about exploring a larger topic in a single witty sentence that is not only clever, but also well written. Something ironic or unexpected also throws a good punch.
So with that in mind, here are the three finalists who did not win the grand pot, but as the New York Lottery says “hey, you never know”. They may win the lotto.
Toby Axelrod: “That’s Rebbe Harry Potterber, Mrs. Maggele. He can’t seem to stay in one place, gottenyu.”
Yoel: “It’s not what you think. It’s a libel.”
Merle: “Kosher, kosher. Kosher.”
Best caption in Yiddish:
Groynem Ox: די נייע פלי רעקל פון דזי ענד דז”י”
(Bah! Anyone who has seen the hundreds of G&G ads must love this one)
And a shout-out to best Junior submission:
Chana Tzirel Shenkonwitzer : “Yoy. A tatte fleet” (Yoy. A father flies.)
(My son also likes to come up with captions, and he recently complained with tears in his eyes that he has never yet won a New Yorker caption contest. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I have yet to send in a single of his captions. I should learn a lesson from you, Faige Leah.)
Thank you Sheindel Sura Miriam. May the Rebbe bless you. That’s a good one! Now jump, show off you’re best jump!
Being a rebbe, oh, it’s a sweet world of jumpers at every beck and call. Who wouldn’t want to be a rebbe?
Rebbes have that power. This has been true to some degree back to the beginning of Hasidism. They can tell people what to do, and the herd follows blindly, plus they trudge the extra mile. Even while today’s leaders do not have the kind of power charismatic leaders have on their followers, they are still entrusted with a tremendous amount of control. It is not as potent a grip as a cult leader, but it is unchecked power nonetheless. How do they come to such power? Many people find comfort and security in knowing that they do not have to make the excruciating choices in life themselves; that someone big and mystical does that for them. That the rebbe has no expertise in their matters doesn’t concern them because after all, the rebbe has s’yata dishmaya, heavenly guidance. I have watched over the years as specific questions were brought to the rebbe about health and business, some of them implicated me directly, and the rebbe was never too shy to give out an order. A blessing doesn’t suffice; the rebbe would give full service advice. “Yes” go to Dr. Such-and-Such-on-Park-Avenue-who-only-takes-cash, “No”, do not buy that shipping business, “Yes” sign that mortgage or lease, “No” I don’t know the first thing about business short of pidyonim, but go“jump!” anyway.
At times a little argument had erupted in the rebbe’s room, when the rebbe and his rebbetzin or one of his wingmen sought to contradict the rebbes counsel. Oh, what is good Hasid to do? Simple: take the zaddik’s side in the marital squabble.
But while the trust people place in Rebbes seems dangerously naive, this trust isn’t required of a Hasid. It is totally voluntary. People aren’t obligated to take the rebbe’s expertise on the assortment of issues. Going for advice is a personal choice. I often wonder how the complete trust placed in Rebbes (emunas zaddikim) is evolving over time. If going to the rebbe for advice before buying a house is voluntary, how is that changing over time? Do people do it more now or less than years before? Is there any way of measuring dependency on the rebbe’s advice over time? That could be interesting to investigate.