The Fugio Cent

While not the first coinage to be minted in our country, these were the earliest coins issued by the authority of the United States.

Fugio_cent

Obverse

Fugio_cent_reverse

 

Reverse

The front of the coin depicts the word “fugio” (Latin = “I fly”), a sun, and a sundial, over the motto “Mind your business.” The coin was reputedly designed by Benjamin Franklin, and it is suggested that the image combined with the words form a rebus, meaning “Time flies; do your work.” However, I like the interpretation that each person should tend to his or her own affairs without getting involved in those of others. Franklin is not around to ask.

The reverse of the coin shows the words “United States,” “we are one,” and thirteen rings representing the thirteen original colonies.

I’d love to have one of these in my collection.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Missing in Action

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I think most of us would like to live forever. Teenagers certainly think they will, and some folks enter their names into the Darwin Award pool, gleefully shouting YOLO! all the while.

Darwin award candidate[1]

The sad fact is, the bus will come for each and every one of us[1] sometime within the next 115 years, based on mortality statistics. For me it will come much sooner than that, but I’m certainly in no rush.

With the advent of social media, however, there is now the option (and inevitability) that our online presence can or will outlast our physical presence on this green earth. As the first picture above alludes to, some of us would rather not have our online presence be quite so public.

Whatever the case, we now have options to handle any situation. Like anything else, a little bit of advance preparation goes a long way. For people heavily involved in the online world who would like to buy a bit of immortality, Google has launched a “Data After Death” tool, which arranges for your email, blog posts, Google+ data, contacts, documents, photos and YouTube videos to be sent to one or more loved ones or deleted entirely if your account becomes inactive for a length of time. Of course this can be done manually by putting instructions into a will or codicil, but that presupposes you have descendants who give a rat’s south-40, and who are technically savvy enough to carry out your wishes. As for deleting your browser cache and history, at this point only a human can do that for you; fortunately, my wife and all my kids are fairly connected, and will probably be willing to help out.

More than craving any sort of immortality, this essay was spawned by the loss of some online friends and acquaintances. One, a long-time participant in an online forum, passed away suddenly, and the other forumites only learned the sad news through fortunate happenstance. A second, a very prolific and talented digital artist, completely vanished from the online world without a word; the third, a web cartoonist and blogger par excellence shut down her blog, deactivated her email account, and left a two-sentence explanation for her readers that she  would probably not be heard from in the foreseeable future. All of these were cause for concern. Whenever the bus comes for me, I want my friends to know about it.

In my previous post, I mentioned The Last Sermon of Ladson Butler. I may do something similar – and hopefully I’ll have time before a meteor lands on me – but I will almost certainly do it electronically. I’ve already got instructions in my will file on how to log in to my Facebook account and the forums I frequent most often, to let people know that I’ve shuffled off to the great beyond, in case anyone cares. Even if they don’t, knowing what happened is better than seeing someone just go silent.

To my now-silent acquaintances – and this includes many people with whom I interacted over a period of years on various fora and listservs, and who have simply moved on or drifted away – I miss you – and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, life brings you all the joy and happiness you deserve.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] If you haven’t already, watch “Heart and Souls” with Robert Downey, Jr. A delightful film.

heart-and-souls-bus1

The Last Sermon of Ladson Butler

(Cross-posted from Livejournal)

One of the items which I saved from my father’s papers when he passed away was a letter sent to my parents in 1951 by Laurie and Olin Lee Hanlin, residing at the time in Mariposa, California.

Recorded inside, in beautiful hand calligraphy, was a piece entitled “The Last Sermon of Ladson Butler”. Long before I entered the Way of the Compassionate Samurai, this beautiful piece of writing moved me, and I treasured it for decades without knowing who this Ladson Butler was.

LadsonButlerSmall

Now, through the miracle of the internet, in the same way I was able to track down Grace Noll Crowell’s work (you’ll read about that in a future essay or two), a few fragmentary clues arose. It appears that Butler was employed by the Yawman & Erbe Company, a machine manufacturing concern. The most intriguing tidbit, however, was an obituary published in the February, 1951 issue of “Sphinx”, the predominant magician’s trade magazine from 1902 to 1953.

On January 25th, in New York City, Ladson Butler died. He was born in 1877 in Charleston, South Carolina. Although strictly an amateur he had been very active in magic for over forty years and was a friend of many professionals. For the past several years he has been one of the members of the Board of Directors of The Sphinx.

Ladson Butler lived for many years in the city of Buffalo and during much of that time he regularly wrote a column for The Sphinx giving news of events in magic of upper New York State. He also was the organizer of The Magician’s Club of Buffalo. For the past number of years he had made New York City his home. He was a past president of the S.A.M. Parent Assembly.

Perusing other hits on Google, apparently Butler, although tagged as an “amateur” in his obituary, was quite a prolific contributor to “The Sphinx”, and developed and documented more than one magical routine, including the Whispering Queen and the Han Ping Chien coin move.

This in itself was enough of a hook to pique my interest, as I was at one time an active member of the S.A.M. (Society of American Magicians) in New York City. What moved me more, however, was re-reading his sermon after my life’s experiences of the past two and a half years, beginning with a Klemmer & Associates Champion’s Workshop in May of 2007. Ladson Butler, born in 1877, was a Compassionate Samurai in every sense of the word. I regret he passed away 5 months before I was born, but am pleased to have known him if only through his final words to his friends, here recorded for your appreciation.

The Last Sermon of Ladson Butler

Dearly beloved:

I have always hated the idea of going away without saying goodbye. And since the call of the Grim Reaper is sometimes without warning, a trip for which my bag is always packed, I am writing now, what I think I might write if the old boy with the scythe gave me time. If I do have time to think before checking out, it will be a great comfort to know that you will receive this, my last message. Incidentally, I have already revised it from time to time, and will try to keep it up to date. Some few of you will weep, I know, and bless you for whatever kindly thoughts lie behind your tears, but remember this:

I go with hands and pockets full of the only merchandise I can carry with me, the kind and loving thoughts of friends.
Be sure that I went away rich beyond the dreams of avarice (that old cliché) in all that can matter to me now.
Did we enjoy each other? Let’s think only of that.

But before I go I want to pass on to you some of the things which have so profoundly influenced my life. Take, for example, some of the ‘orphics’ of Elbert Hubbard1:
Do your work as well as you can and be kind.
That has been my religion for years.
I would rather be deceived by people than to distrust them. That gave me an altered view that has lasted for fifty years.
This one from Robert Ingersoll, often quoted by Hubbard:
The dead carry in their clenched hands only that which they have given away.
Doesn’t it give you a better idea of what things are really worthwhile? Looking back, I can’t get much pleasure from whatever I sold, but how I have enjoyed and enjoy now whatever I have been able to give without immediate or financial return.

Would like a source of spiritual strength and faith? Let me give you Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” my standby these many years. How I have been upheld and strengthened by such lines. Certainly I have no knowledge of a hereafter but what faith I have in this world or next is built on these lines.

I know I am deathless. I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the carpenter’s compass.
I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite.
And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten thousand or ten million years, I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

I am not afraid. I see no evidence of a future life although old Walt Whitman’s words tempt me to believe. But if I am wrong and you my orthodox friends are right, I’ll take my chances.

O Thou didst with pitfall and gin
Beset the road I was to travel in
Thou wilt not with predestination ’round about enmesh me
And then impute my fall to sin.

With my attitude and deeds toward my fellow men, I’ll set my case with any Gods there may be. Don’t worry my friends.

——————-

Butler passed away ten days after penning this last version of his farewell message – he must surely have known that the curtain between this life and the next was getting thin.


1Elbert Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Some of his best thoughts are preserved in An American Bible, published in 1911 and edited by his second wife, Alice, which also contains thoughts from Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Robert Ingersoll and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Any dog can love

Certain breeds of dog get a bad rap, especially in the media. If ever there’s an incident where dogs frighten, hurt or kill a person, you can be sure it will be reported with much more terror and alarm if the dog happened to be a Doberman, a Rottweiler, a German Shepherd, or a Pit Bull.

dobie

Humanity has been living with dogs for a long, long time, and it would be well for us to remember that although domesticated, they are the descendants of grey wolves.

1287650965_1024x768_grey-wolf-howling-in-the-morning

There came a time when dogs realized there was value in a partnership with those hairless apes.

Done Evolving

Cartoon by Nick Kim

People who have had any relationship with dogs at all know that these creatures are some of the most loving, brave, and faithful souls that have ever been sent to earth.

Dogs Make You Feel Better

Most recently, therapy dogs brought comfort to those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy.

—————-

Quality

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when something goes wrong through no fault of yours and those you love take it out on you,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics…

Then my friends, you are almost as good as your dog.

—————–

Here’s a lovely story that gets forwarded around a lot. It’s a glurge, and I still like it.

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.

He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, a tall arch that glowed broke in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?” “This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered. “Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked. Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.” The man gestured, and the gate began to open. “Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveler asked. “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.” The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road, which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book. “Excuse me!” he called to the reader. “Do you have any water?” “Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there.” The man pointed to a place that couldn’t be seen from outside the gate. “Come on in.” “How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog. “There should be a bowl by the pump.” They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree waiting for them. “What do you call this place?” the traveler asked. “This is Heaven,” was the answer. “Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said……”The man down the road said that was Heaven, too?” “Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s Hell.” “Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?” “No. I can see how you might think so, but we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who’ll leave their best friends behind.”

—————–

A recent news article at the BBC describes a dog who kept a young girl alive in freezing temperatures.

And of course, there are the stories of Hachikō

1Blogger1

Red Dog

red dog 1

The red dog monument

red dog 2

Koko (go ndéanai Día trocaire air)[1], the kelpie who starred in the iconic movie,

and Greyfriar’s Bobby.

Greyfriars_Bobby

Albumen print (ca. 1865), thought to be of Bobby (from Wikimedia Commons)

Although Bobby’s story has been challenged by numerous authorities, there is no end of documented tails [sic] (see Hachikō above) of dogs who have demonstrated extraordinary love and faithfulness.

I’ve known many dogs, but none as faithful or loving as Céilidh. She was the very best… we covered thousands of miles together on our walks.

Ceilidh2

For what it’s worth, there are cultures in the world that consider dogs unclean. I can only pity them… they are missing out on one of the greatest sources of love and friendship that the Earth has to offer.

All of this having been said, there is no breed of dog that has ever exhibited a tendency for more aggressiveness than another. The breeds I mentioned above have gotten an especially bad rap because many people train these dogs to be aggressive for use in security, police work, or the heinous activity of dogfighting. Because they are animals, they will respond exactly as they are trained – consciously or unconsciously – to do.

A famous poem by By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. has a lot to say about dogs as well as children:

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Dogs are even more intuitive and less reasoned than children. Mark Twain once famously said,

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

Any dog that is raised with love will give love, devotion, protection, and service in return. Any dog that is beaten, abused, starved, chained, made afraid, or tortured is a candidate for aggressive behavior – I don’t care if it’s a Pit Bull or a Yorkshire Terrier… dogs have no sense of their own size, as anyone with a chihuahua can attest to.

Pit bulls tend to get the worst rap of all, and it’s entirely undeserved.

FearFact

This poster by the National Canine Research Council (full-size PDF file here) outlines a number of fears about Pit Bulls, with the documented facts about the breed. The same things, however, could be said about any breed of dog that is looked up on by the public (again, largely thanks to the media and the entertainment industry) as being dangerous.

BanStupidPeopleNotDogs

To end this essay on a lighter note, I share a story that I first heard in Irish. The translation below is mine.[2]

——————

Ti-Boy and the Dogs

Like his father, Ti Charlie, and his uncle, Ti Antoine, Ti-Boy LeBlanc was a big strapping fellow, and never was there a more terrible bully in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, than his dog. The other night, Ti-Boy was drinking beer and eating boiled crawfish with a couple of his buddies in a bar on route 20. In comes a stranger, and after a few words with the bartender, up comes he to Ti-Boy.

Stranger: Is that your big dog out there?
Ti-Boy: Yeah, he’s mine.
Stranger: Well, my dog just killed your dog.
Ti-Boy: Your dog killed my dog? Incroyable! What kind of dog do you have, anyway?
Stranger: A Chihuahua.
Ti-Boy: A Chihuahua?!? You’re putting me on! There’s no chance in Hell that a little bitty dog like that could do any damage to a dog that’s as big as a horse!
Stranger: I’m telling you he killed it.
Ti-Boy: How?!
Stranger: The little creature got stuck in its throat…

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] Irish = “May God have mercy upon him,” said when mentioning someone deceased.

[2] The original story:

Ti Boy agus na Madraí

Dála a athar, Ti Charlie, agus a uncail, Ti Antoine, fear mór scafánta ba ea Ti Boy LeBlanc. Bhí maistín mór millteach aige an madra ba mhó i bParóiste Terrebonne, Louisiana. Tráthnóna amháin bhí Ti Boy ag ól beorach agus ag ithe boiled crawfish lena chuid cairde i dteach tábhairne ar Route 20. Tháinig strainséir isteach. Tar éis cúpla focal leis an mbartender, chuaigh an fear seo go dtí Ti Boy.

Strainséir: An leatsa an mada mór amuigh ansin?
Ti Boy: Sea. Is liomsa é.
Strainséir: Bhuel, tá mo mhadasa théis do mhadasa a mharú.
Ti Boy: Mharaigh do mhadasa mo mhadasa? Incroyable! Cén sórt mada tá agat, anyway?
Strainséir: Chihuahua.
Ti Boy: Chihuahua!?! Tá tú ag tarraingt asam! Dheamhan seans ag mada beag bídeach mar sin aon damáiste a dhéanamh do mhada atá chomh mór le bromach!
Strainséir: Tá mé á rá leat gur mharaigh sé é.
Ti Boy: Cén chaoi?!
Strainséir: Chuaigh an créatúirín i bhfostú ina scornach…

(Originally found at http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~bj333/HomePage.home.html – link now 404)

Seriously, WordPress – Some weird stuff is going on.

Edit: an employee of WordPress responded to my inquiry about this phenomenon, and I have added her comments at the end of this article.


I mentioned in a previous post that a botnet of over 90,000 computers is mounting an attack on WordPress servers, attempting to crack machines with the userid “admin” and weak passwords. I also mentioned that I’ve noticed a disproportionate number of follows recently. I decided to document the activity, which can be seen in the chart below.

Followers

(Click for a larger version)

You can see that in the last month, I’ve attracted 156 followers, with several now showing up every day. That’s roughly as many as during the previous 11 months.

While I’d love to think that my blog is ferociously interesting, examining the data shows  unequivocally that the vast majority of these accounts are effectively spam – commercial accounts attempting to boost their own ratings.

Example:

User “mariva55” at http://dinheirograna.wordpress.com/, a Brazilian site with 5 entries – all created on 19 April, the same day it “followed” my blog – is a shill site for comoganharXXreais.com.br (link obfuscated). This website is listed on Joe Wein’s spam domain base blacklist, and is a get-rich-quick internet marketing scheme.

While I have a few legitimate followers from the last month, based on some comments that have shown up in various entries, the vast majority of these are similar to the example above; some of the accounts were created today and have already been deleted. I mean, why else would “Guitarmonk – First Formal Chain of Guitar schools in Delhi” be interested in my blog?

Can anybody shed any light on what’s happening, and why I’m being flooded with these “unsolicited commercial followers?”

The Old Wolf is annoyed.


From a WordPress customer service agent:

Thanks for the feedback. This recent influx of spam followers is a known issue, and I believe our team at WordPress.com is looking into ways to squash the problem. Some of this increase could be due to changes in the Reader, such as the new “You May Like” feature that you’ll see on the right hand side when you’re logged in to your account and searching for/reading new blogs.

If you have a public blog, you can’t block someone from following you; however, you can adjust settings to decrease the amount of spam comments:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/discussion-settings/

Also, just FYI, there’s a “Report content” tool accessible from your admin bar at the top — hover over the blog name near the top left, and you’ll see a link to report content that is spam. While it’s not quite the tool to deal with the issue you specified, I just wanted to point it out in the meantime. You can also just use this form, too:

http://en.wordpress.com/report-spam/

I am grateful that someone took the time and trouble to respond to my inquiry. Hopefully as time goes on, this problem may be mitigated somewhat.

Moments

I share with you one of the loveliest articles I have ever read. It speaks volumes about living in the present.

A Ramble in Wales

By Bruce Northam, in National Geographic Traveler, March 2002

An elderly woman encountered on a mountain hike shares the wisdom of a lifetime.

My father and I walk together a lot. Last summer we undertook a 180-mile trek across Wales, coast-to-coast along Offa’s Dyke-the grand earthwork project conceived in the eighth century by King Offa of Mercia to separate England from Wales. Our walk was a celebration of sorts. A year earlier, my father, who was then 70, had undergone open-heart bypass and back surgery.

Now we were walking together atop the long, curving ridge-boundary of Brecon Beacons National Park. En route we befriended Erica, a Welsh woman who was clearly oblivious to the beck and call of stress. At dusk the three of us encountered an elderly lady and her beagle hiking toward us. Teetering along on a walking stick, she wore a motoring cap and held it bunch of wildflowers. I said hello and asked her where she was going. She replied in Welsh, “Rydw i yna yn barod.” We looked to Erica for a translation.

“She said, ‘I’m already there.'”

They continued their placid conversation in Welsh until the old woman resumed her walk. As she faded into the distance, I declared my envy for her simple philosophy. “Let’s catch up with her. There’s something else I’d like to ask.” We spun around and caught up with her. She walked a few more steps along the trail, traded her flowers to the other hand, and raised an eyebrow. Erica translated my question, “What’s the secret to a long and happy life?”
The old woman and I scrutinized each other for an instant, beings from different eras and opposite sides of an ocean. She directed her answer to Erica. “Moments.” There was a quiet pause. Then the old woman smiled, squinted at my father, and spoke slowly, “Moments are all we get. A true walker understands this.”
After a silent minute, we all clutched hands with the old woman, then we waved good-bye as she trudged off with eternal poise and bearing. As we turned to continue on our way, my father and I exchanged smiles.

Moments. They’re all we get.

(Bruce Northam’s books include The Frugal Globetrotter and In Search of Adventure: A Wild Travel Anthology.)

The Old Wolf has quoted.

Thank you, Congresspeople.

Senate rejects background checks on gun purchases in 54-46 vote

Despite overwhelming support[1] for universal background checks from the general public, it appears that Pat Oliphaunt’s recent offering was 100% on the mark.

po130416

Background checks are not a blanket solution, nor are they a first step towards an outright gun ban as many on the far left would like to see. They are, however, an important part of a comprehensive plan. I am a firm supporter of the second amendment to our Constitution, but unregulated and unrestricted sale of weapons makes no sense; cars must be registered and drivers licensed, and this seems to raise no hackles except at the very fringes of society.

As I posted elsewhere,

The problem of violence in our country has nothing whatever to do with guns, but with a fundamental breakdown of morals (note: not specifically religious, but human, which covers all of humanity) and human kindness. Mental illness, and not just “schizophrenia” or other readily-identifiable maladies, is growing unchecked; schools are breeding grounds for the most horrific kinds of cruelty, exclusion, and prejudice, and most boards, districts, and local administrations continue to turn a blind eye to the problem. Pockets of concerned citizens, parents, teachers, and the occasional anomalous legislator or government official are doing what they can to stem the tide, but without a national sea change, we might as well be piling dry leaves to stop Euroclydon.

With each passing day, I am more and more deeply ashamed of this country’s legislative bodies.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] A CNN/ORC International survey released last week …indicated 86% of the public supports some form of background checks that are not currently required by law for gun sales. 86% of Americans questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday said they supported background checks for gun sales on the internet and at gun shows. [source]

The Attack on WordPress

It has been reported in a number of places that WordPress is under attack from criminal elements attempting to commandeer WP servers to create a super botnet. Since I use WordPress.com, the only thing I could think to do was to change my own user password to something even stronger than it was, something that would take an average desktop PC 322 septillion years to crack. Even this does not help me rest very easy, because we’ve seen that more powerful computers are being used to crack passwords much more rapidly, and I don’t know how fast a GPU-equipped machine – or a network of them – would be able to get into my individual account.

wp_bruteforce-640x455

Of course, if someone manages to compromise the servers at wordpress.com where my acccount resides, the whole issue of my own password strength could be moot.

One other disturbing thing – within the last little while, I’ve had a rash of “followers” show up on my blog. Most of them have empty gravatar profiles, no links, no blogs, or are from strange countries like Haiti or Malaysia, places where I would not expect people to take an interest in what I write. Could these followers be related to what’s going on with WordPress? Or is this a devious new way to get linkbacks, akin to comment spam?

I wish I knew. Any other WordPress bloggers experiencing things like this?

The Old Wolf is puzzled.

The Hidden Synagogue

Notes:

  1. As reader bklyngalinla has pointed out in the comments below, this piece is a contemporary work of art, rather than being from the inquisition or holocaust periods. However, it is based on older pieces, and is in itself still a phenomenal piece of artwork. Here is a link to another blog that gives more information. I, also, am guilty of not doing any research on my own to verify the facts as stated by the original poster. This, however, has not seemed to dampen reader response to this post, which has been overwhelming – I thank everyone who has come by, simply because I chose to share something I found beautiful and faith-affirming.
  2. The title “hidden synagogue” is not mine, but those of the original poster at Reddit. A number of readers have rightly pointed out that this device would have been used in a home and not a shul; that said, I think the idea is that during such times, attendance at temple would be difficult if not impossible, and the teapot would serve as a way of keeping Torah and Commandments alive in the hearts of the faithful until times were better.

    Why We Tell Stories

    When the founder of Hasidic Judaism, the great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, saw misfortune threatening the Jews, it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted.

    Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Maggid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: “Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer,” and again the miracle would be accomplished.

    Still later, Rabbi Moshe‑leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say, “I do not know how to light the fire. I do not know the prayer, but I know the place, and this must be sufficient.” It was sufficient, and the miracle was accomplished.

    Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhin to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: “I am unable to light the fire, and I do not know the prayer, and I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient.”

    And it was sufficient.

    -from Wiesel, Elie, Souls on Fire

    This teapot strikes me in much the same way. It is almost saying, “We cannot worship in the synagogue, but we can worship at home, and it must be sufficient. And for many, it was sufficient. Hence to my way of thinking, calling it a “hidden synagogue” is not totally amiss.

  3. Regarding the use of menorah vs. chanukia, see the footnote at the end, and then jump in and join the noisy debate in the commentary if you feel so inclined. Just play nice. -O.W.

———————-

Found at Reddit, these are photos of a mind-bending piece of artwork.

The original photos are at Imgur. I cannot adequately express in words how beautiful this is.

01

The complete teapot

04

Remove the top…

03

 Its’ a hidden dreidel

02

Remove the next layer

05

A perfume/spice holder. 

06

Opened

09

The Hebrew word on the bottom says בשמים (basmim), “spices or perfumes”

08

The next layer is…

07

The eternal flame.

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The Front View – The inscription reads, “The light of god is man’s soul.”

12

But there’s another secret:

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A complete megilla (the scroll containing the biblical narrative of the Book of Esther, traditionally read in synagogues to celebrate the festival of Purim.)

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The main body is designed to hold an etrog, the yellow citron or Citrus medica used by Jews on the week-long holiday of Sukkot.

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The words say “pri etz hadar” (the fruit of the majestic tree), a biblical reference to the etrog.

14

Inside

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Candlesticks for Shabbos

21

Closeup of candlesticks

18

Remove the flowered tray, and under the candlesticks is…

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A Seder plate.

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Complete

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But there’s one more thing.

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A menorah.[1]

23

With the shammash (“servant”), the 9th light of the menorah used to light the other 8 candles.

24

Reassembled

The Old Wolf is in awe.


[1] With regards to the lamp, Wikipedia has this to say:

The Hanukkah menorah (Hebrew: מנורת חנוכה m’noraht khanukkah, pl. menorot) (also Hebrew: חַנֻכִּיָּה‎ hanukiah, or chanukkiyah, pl. hanukiyot/chanukkiyot, or Yiddish: חנוכּה לאמפּ khanike lomp, lit.: Hanukkah lamp) is, strictly speaking, a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, as opposed to the seven-branched menorah used in the ancient Temple or as a symbol. The ninth holder, called the shamash (“helper” or “servant”), is for a candle used to light all other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. The menorah is among the most widely produced articles of Jewish ceremonial art. The seven-branched menorah is a traditional symbol of Judaism, along with the Star of David.

In the English-speaking diaspora, the lamp is most commonly called a “Hanukkah menorah,” or simply “menorah” for short, whereas in Modern Hebrew it is exclusively called a chanukkiyah, and the Hebrew word menorah simply means “lamp”. The term chanukkiyah was coined at the end of the nineteenth century in Jerusalem by the wife of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the reviver of the Hebrew language.

Since I am an English speaker, and since the vast majority of Americans are familiar only with the 9-branched “מנורת חנוכה” seen at Chanukkah, I’m sticking with “menorah.” Those who wish to call it a “חַנֻכִּיָּה‎” are correct in doing so.