I have been taking a class on Jewish mysticism, taught by a brilliant man named Robert Micha’el Esformes. He mentioned recently that Hebrew had two words for “why,” one for how things came to be, and the other for what is their reason or purpose. I was so struck by this that I wrote the following short essay.
THE TWO PART QUESTION
Thoughts on “Why”
Those of us of a certain age may remember the old-time comic, “Professor” Irwin Corey. Corey would come onstage wearing a shabby, ill-fitting tuxedo and high-top basketball shoes. Then he would spout pompous nonsense.
When he appeared on television, such as the Tonight Show, where he could sit down with the host, they would go through a set routine. Johnny Carson would ask “Why do you wear sneakers?’ The professor would draw himself up and proclaim, “You pose a two-part question! ‘Why?’ has…
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