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Is it ok to steal toilet paper from the library?

March 24, 2010

First, a quick story!

I am sitting on a picnic table with 2 friends, Lorien and Jesica.  We see my roommate Max walking towards our general direction from about 100 feet away.  I ponder (it should be noted this conversation is not re-told verbatim):

Ju: I wonder what he’s thinking now?

L: he’s looks like he’s thinking about something.

Je: he doesn’t look so happy

Ju: ya know, I bet he’s not thinking anything at all.

L&Je: He has to be thinking something!

Ju: Max, what are you thinking at this very moment

Max: Absolutley nothing, why?

Ju: King me!

So, tonight (march 24)- The group and I, along with our coordinator and guest speaker for later in the evening shared a pre- passover sedar meal consisting of enough food to feed a small colony, an abridged hagadah and lots of laughs.  To start the sedar, our guest, Ofer, asked us to share stories or traditions from our sedars back home.  One person shared a story of one individual soiling themselves and another told us how on one sedar, the matzoh balls did not turn out so well and turned blue (hehehe).  I elected to share with the group how every year we have great tsimis at our sedars.  Enough said! (Hi Aunty Jonie!)

The abridged (and edited) hagadah that we read from was very different from the one traditionally used in the GTA and surrounding sedar venues (shout out to Bubby Freda’s Basement :).  It did not contain many, if any, actual prayers i.e. Baruch Ata…  It was very much geared towards nature, zionism, the kibbutz/settlement philosophies, and contained quotes such as this one said by David Ben Gurion (DBG).  Quick history, DBG was the first Prime Minister of Israel and it was he who presented the Jewish People’s case to the UN regarding why the Jew’s deserve a state for themselves.  In 1947, standing before the U.N. Commission on the Partition of Palestine, David Ben-Gurion spoke these words:

“Three hundred years ago a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World. This was a great event in the history of England. Yet I wonder if there is one Englishman who knows at what time the ship set sail? Do the English know how many people embarked on the voyage? What quality of bread did they eat? Yet more than three thousand three hundred years ago, before the Mayflower set sail, the Jews left Egypt. Every Jew in the world, even in America or Soviet Russia, knows what kind of bread the Jews ate – Matza. Even today the Jews worldwide eat Matza on the 15th of Nisan. They retell the story of the Exodus and all of the troubles Jews have endured since being exiled, saying: This year, slaves, next year, free! This year here – Next year in Jerusalem, in Zion, in Eretz Yisrael. That is the nature of the Jews.”

Read it again… you’ll understand and relate to it more with every read.

After all the pretty pages, inspirational quotes, and other passages it was time for the 4 questions… oh #*%$!

Turns out 22 isn’t as old as it used to be and I was appointed the reader of the 4 questions and as some traditions- hold the reader (or in my case, singer) of the 4 questions must stand on a chair and sing them!  Oh Shauna and Ryan, I understand your plight and I commend you greatly!

The speaker, Ofer, droned on…spoke about… informed us about the history of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham to now.  It was interesting hearing him talk about this subject as he is not a rabbi, historian, teacher/professor, or that good of a public speaker.  Conventional wisdom would suggest that one question his credentials as a speaker, but an exciting game of solitaire and lux touch distracted me from being able to assess his knowledge and teaching abilities.   However, I did ask him a question about a current situation and he articulated his answer very well.  Bear with me!  Recently Joe Biden and possibly Hilary Clinton came to Jerusalem the other week and the Israelis, once again, stuck their collective foot in their collective mouths.  Before I divulge, let me begin by saying that jews/ Israelis could really use a reputable publicist or maybe an opera singer to follow selected government officials around and prevent mishaps by yelling (elegantly) missssstaaaaaaakkkkkkkkke…asap!!

Anyways, turns out that someone in the Israeli government allowed an apartment building to be erected in East Jerusalem, which is in Israeli control and is jewish domain, technically speaking.  Well, this was not the optimal moment to begin building because it gave our neighbours reason to complain to the world’s ear.  Jerusalem is a contentious topic on the best of days and the fact that 1800 apartments were being built right on the border is at best, sketchy!  Now, why did this building get built? would it not seem obvious to the informed citizen that waiting an extra week would be greatly beneficial to Israel on the world stage?  Turns out that there was internal fighting between a small Ultra religious Sephardic party that was part of the ruling coalition.  Within the Sephardic party is where the disputing occurred.  the head of the party was feeling threatened by another ultra religious Sephardic politician who was gaining positive public recognition for sanctioning the development of settlements and more expansion in Israel.  The threatened leader of the party, who was trying to regain some political ground sanction the building of 1800 apartments (rooms, not 1800 buildings) in one of the most contentious area’s in Israel save for Gaza.  Why didn’t anyone do anything?  Well, why don’t the liberals (referring to Canadian politics) stop bickering about the conservatives tyrannic control of the government and bring down the conservatives?  The simple answer, politics!  The ruling party in Israel is made up of a bunch of parties forming a very delicate and fragile coalition.  In fact, an entire emergency room was moved from one hospital to another to the tune of 41 million Shekels (about 10 million cdn dollars-ish).  this was done because the leader of a different party threatened to leave the coalition.

These examples bring me to one of the only aspects of the talk that I heard/remembered… sometimes its important to be smart, not necessarily right.  we encounter many dilemmas in our daily lives… Should religious Jews serve in the army? Should all the Palestinians be expelled for giving the ruling government a headache? Is a 2 state solution the best we can do? Should I yell in someones ear to cure their hiccups? If I am out of toilet paper and the library is open, can I take a roll with the intention of maybe replacing it later?

I dunno?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Toba permalink
    March 24, 2010 10:00 pm

    Go Ahead- steal that Toilet paper…. but understand that all actions have consquences- lol in this case postivie ones for you!

    Liked the post today. Brought a smile as usual. Will it be weird to be away from the family for pesach this year? I hope that the actual seder you attend is heymish (home like) and warm and brings you lots of new memories and thoughts to share.



    • March 25, 2010 8:39 pm

      Hey Toba,
      If there are reprocussion for stealing toilet paper, i hope the punishment comes in a different domain!

      Passover sedar is going to be community kibbutz style… so what exactly does that mean? I have no idea but it will probably be the subject of my next blog entry!

  2. Pat ( The cousin) permalink
    March 24, 2010 10:34 pm

    There are other options of course. Taking some toilet paper and leaving some behind.
    Love hearing from you, Pat

    • March 25, 2010 8:36 pm

      true, but sometimes its hard to measure/ guess how much you need! (TMI?- hope not! hehe)

  3. Noa Gurvis permalink
    March 24, 2010 11:27 pm

    1. Should religious Jews serve in the army? Yes, but they should not have to do anything on Shabbat!!
    2. Should all the Palestinians be expelled for giving the ruling government a headache? Expelled???
    3. (Sorry for skipping the REAL question 3…) Should I yell in someones ear to cure their hiccups? Try something different as that may burst their eardrums. I suggest scaring them BADLY some point in the day or (asap) having them drink a cup of water through a napkin/papertowel. (Take a cup, fill it with water, cover mouth (mouth??) of cup with napkin/paper towel, drink, hiccups gone.)
    4. If I am out of toilet paper and the library is open, can I take a roll with the intention of maybe replacing it later? As I recently told your brother Tyler on facebook; If you’re going out into the real world some day (which you are, technically, in right now) you must know by now that sometimes you have to lie, cheat, an/or steal. So, my speech done with, my answer is yes. Take the toilet paper. Unless, of course, it has hearts on it. Then I’d suggest finding a different place.

    Pesach Sameyach!!!!

    Lots of love,

    Noa!! 😀

    • March 25, 2010 8:35 pm

      lie, cheat, and steal? I agree with all your other points (though I have never tried your cure for hiccups)- I think you need to reconsider your thoughts that we must all lie, cheat, and/ or steal in life. Unless your referring to a quote from the movie Hitch, when he says that if we must lie, then lie with the one you love…etc.
      Thanks for the comment!
      PS. fb msg me or something… what are you up too these days?? hows school treating you? what are you doing over the summer???

      • Noa Gurvis permalink
        March 30, 2010 5:49 am

        Tyler mentioned that too. Hitch. Anywho… don’t tell me you’ve never lied before, or cheated at SOMETHING. Stealing: if you havn’t that makes sense. Although stealing money from your brothers DOES count as stealing… 😉

  4. Miriam Sharpe (aka mOm) permalink
    March 25, 2010 1:35 am

    …second try at commenting….
    What says the ABSENT son?
    So many questions…. and now we have 1 more answer!
    Thank you Justin!
    As fo the toilet paper, well I guess one could say we all steal toilet paper. We take it, we use it, we don’t give it back! So I guess the answer, my answer, is yes it’s okay… so long as you don’t waste it. Oh…. and do remember to wash your hands.
    Love you; Miss you; Chag Sameach my absent one!

  5. Moishe Finklestein permalink
    March 25, 2010 5:58 pm

    Rashi tells us that borrowing toilet paper from the library is ok if the toilet paper is originally filed according to the dewey decimal system. However, if the toilet paper is made in Isreal and actually contains pieces of tree bark, it may give you a rashi…..

    If the toilet paper is on sale for a turd off, should you replace the one roll with three roles?

    • March 25, 2010 6:47 pm

      That was the wittiest response I have ever read! Who are you fine sir? I don’t recognize your name and I can’t recall any friends off hand who would reference Rashi!. Have we met?

      Thank you,


  6. Elaine permalink
    March 25, 2010 6:53 pm

    Sounds like you are immersing yourself in important ideas – good for you – I’m impressed.

    “Much more imprtant than having a state is the kind of state it is.” Edward Said, Palestinian, brilliant scholar and unbending advocate of a single, secular state for Israelies and Palestinians.

    • March 25, 2010 8:31 pm

      Hi Elaine,
      Edward Said… nice reference. He was one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century (until 2003, that is). I studied his work on Orientalism and how people in the west stereotype Arabs and analyze Arab nations through faulty and biased lenses that date back to Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in the late 1700’s. Although he flipped between 1 state and 2 state solution, he always advocated for the ‘right to return’ clause for Palestinian refugees. This is a major aspect of his argument that I contend with. But it is similar in nature to why the Israeli government doesn’t give citizenship to many Arabs who live in Israel, this denies many people the right to vote for the national Israeli government. From the perspective of the PM, if he grants the right to return he will have to evict thousands of Jews from the current houses (since 1948) and if he offers citizenship to all the Arabs in Israel, then an Arab government will surely be elected into power because they outnumber the Israelis.

  7. Michael permalink
    March 25, 2010 7:01 pm

    So Moishe, I like your opinions. But I have to ask: Are you crazy? I mean seriously, I can’t imagine someone putting that much thought into an answer.
    Having said that, I admire your dedication to providing the truth. You serve as an inspiration to us “out of the box” thinker types. Kudos.

    Who are you?

  8. Bubby Ann permalink
    March 26, 2010 3:25 pm

    WOW!!!!!! So much to think about!!!! Loved your sense of humour and insights. No, it is not right to steal toilet paper from anywhere. I remember in another lifetime using newspaper ( especially on Yom Kippur, when it was cut in serving size pieces so we wouldn’t have to tear any paper ) or kleenex.(PS-never checked to see if the newsprint came off) Times have sure changed. Although when in Europe, one has to pay an attendant to use the washroom, to get toilet paper and also paper toweling for wiping your hands after washing them. It doesn’t work if you enter the bathroom without any money. Welcome to the realities of the world. Sounded like a very different but interesting seder and loved the quote from Ben Gurion. So much to say in so few words. Brilliant man!!!
    I am still quite amazed that at last year’s seder, when we said “next year in Jerusalem” that you would actually be in Israel this year for Pesach. It’s definitely another,” WOW”!!!!!
    Enjoy!!!! Enjoy!!!!! Can’t wait to hear how the real seder will be. Also loved the pictures.
    Lots of love and hugs, Bubby Ann

  9. Auntee Sandee permalink
    March 27, 2010 10:08 pm

    Life through an ‘energetic lens’ or how we might see the world.
    Me first – hey toilet paper’s important and the world revolves around me, no need to return, the world owes me anyways
    Balance – I took a roll of toilet paper, I return a roll of toilet paper.
    Pay if forward – if I need a roll, I’ll take it. However I only need 1 roll until I buy more. In the near future, I’ll pay the good deed forward. (Surprise factor is fun, plus this way I don’t have to return to the library if I’m not going there.)

    Those who know me well, know that when I see a penny, I’ll pick it up for good luck (nobody can ever have too much good luck!) and then I’ll move it somewhere visible for the next person to find. I sometimes laugh thinking about who it might be, and if it might bring a smile to someone else.
    Then again, pay it forward is a fun way of messing with people’s minds in a good way.
    Happy Passover/Happy Weekend.

  10. Cally permalink
    April 8, 2010 5:29 pm

    Well argued mr. Politico!!!

    I defintley think stealing toilet paper is out of the question, maybe use lots and save some for later? Just one opinion

    so did ya sing on key? Heheheeee, any squeaks?

    Thank u for squishing the ridiculously huge arahnids on your wall, justice has been seved Justin style

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