Serious reflections on the alcohol of George Berkeley and Immanuel Kant
To be read in the Adar spirit with which it is intended — happy Purim all!
This will come as a great shock to all of you, but I can no longer remain silent. No doubt, it will cause cardiac arrest in several of my readers and severe trauma to others, but how long can one continue to live a lie? Most of my readers believe that I’m a rabbi. Not true. However painful it is, the truth must prevail. I’m sorry to say, I am not a rabbi; I am a committed Purim alcoholic with a long talmudic history. The reason I haven’t spoken about it until now is because, like most men, I love truth. So much so, that I was afraid it would be corrupted by overexposure.
Even as a young child, I had a strong inclination to take a nip, along with my milk and oats, at breakfast. (In fact, it started with my brit milah when the mohel wanted to keep me quiet after removing part of my personality. He compensated with some wine, which he served me immediately after the surgery so as to teach me that a drink can cover up any deficiency.) Over the years, this habit expanded to include the other meals, until I reached a level of intoxication that only few have achieved. In fact, I have a great disdain for camels and other creatures that can go without a drink for weeks.
Last year, I won the International UACA (Ultimate Alcohol Consumption Award), which until now was won only by gentiles, such as Bill Whiskey and Norman Schnapps. But in recent years, when we Jews have been trying to outdo the gentiles, I felt the need to prove that we could drink more than they do, and I started to work at it. The truth is I really don’t like to drink. In fact, I abhor it, as do most of my fellow Jews. But my teachers used to say that if we Jews really want to become part of Western civilization, we must join their ranks. We have no choice but to make this sacrifice and start drinking. This is called emancipation.
Today I work for the police, since I have developed such expertise that I’m able to detect the type of alcohol people drank by the way they walk. In fact, lately, I can even give accurate information about what year the wine was bottled and whether it came from the south or the north of France. But I can only do so when I myself am drunk, which is one of the world’s most famous paradoxes. Most important, I am convinced that alcohol consumption is not habit-forming. I should know because I’ve been drinking for years. So you see I’m no lightweight!
Many may wonder why I continue writing Thoughts to Ponder, which include my serious observations about Judaism. They ask what an alcoholic of my caliber has to do with the Jewish Tradition. Well, first of all, you can only be a philosopher if you drink. The main reason for this has been well stated by the famous philosopher George Berkeley [Ireland, 1685-1753] who used to say that reality is an illusion created by a lack of alcohol. (A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, X. 235)
This is no doubt true. Immanuel Kant [Germany, 1724-1804] expanded on this theme when he said that das ding an sich (the thing in itself) is unknowable, and everything is abstinence imposed (Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, ll, 436). Moreover, it cannot be denied that the greatest problem for most people who don’t drink is that they are hopelessly sober. Indeed, philosophy is the art of methodically bewildering oneself.
But there is much more to my “Thoughts.”
While many people take me seriously and read my “Thoughts” very carefully because they presumably see in them profoundly philosophical ideas, my close friends know that these “Thoughts” have actually nothing to do with philosophy, but are in fact coded messages – a new kind of gematria – about the latest discoveries I have made in the field of proper drink. I will give only two examples and no more, since I am afraid that my enemies will try to break the code, which would force me out of business.
Take the following statement:
“Civilization occupies international notions, though rabbinical education advances universality.” This obviously alludes to the increased availability of Cointreau.
Or, take the following:
“What Heisenberg illustrated simultaneously kindled effective yperite” – an allusion to whiskey.
So, my dear friends, you now know the truth: It is not the word that is written but the drink behind it. The next time you read my Thoughts to Ponder, take note that there is more to a rabbi than you may think. And remember: Hearing a rabbi’s confession is like being stoned with popcorn.
May you have a great Purim!
P.S. Reproduction of this essay is permitted only when totally inebriated.
We in the Rabbi Cardozo’s Think Tank were shocked by Rabbi Cardozo’s… er… shocking revelations. But we consoled ourselves with the fact that in divulging the (long suspected by us) gematria secrets hidden in past Thoughts to Ponder, Rabbi Cardozo has opened up shining new vistas for Jewish scholarship. Indeed, his hint has allowed us to finally crack the code, which involves the Fibonacci sequence, Planck’s constant, and an architectural schematic of the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station — and we have already said too much, ve’idach zil gmor.