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Posted May 6, 2010
An eloquent and funny plea for decency
If you haven't read Michael Wex's "Born to Kvetch," you should; if you have, you know that Wex is a funny and often brilliant writer, whose theme is the values and mores of Ashkenazi (middle-European Jewish) culture as seen through the linguistic filter of the Yiddish language. In this book, he tackles the big subject: ethics. To wit: What are the qualities and behaviors that are lauded as making one a "mentsh" -- meaning, roughly, "real people" -- and not a "shmuck" -- meaning, not so roughly, a prick? It's a subject often trivialized -- be nice, be responsible, et cetera -- and maybe because of that fact, we live in a world with too many shmucks and too few mentshen. At least, Wex (and the entire Ashkenazi culture) thinks that it is important to look tat these issues more closely. As a consequence, Wex spends a lot of time relating Talmudic lore and rabbinical wisdom, which may bore some readers. Still, there's plenty lighter writing here to keep a lot of readers happy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.