The Twain Legacy

What would you have to say in 100 years?

Comments (26)

(26) Anonymous, June 6, 2010 2:26 PM

Knowledge that doesn't go to the heart, is useless

Strange Joe, you do not even know me and look at the way you have judged me. Isn't this the same about Mark Twain? Who here was personal friends with the guy? So you have studied his published books, that were edited and polished and had to be approved by publishers. If you have read his fiction works, how would anyone know him personally by that? You may not be interested in what I write, no different than what Rabbi Salomon had said he is not interested in reading what Mark Twain had to say in his journals. In the promotion of this book, Mark Twain's journals will be revealing who Samuel Clemens was really like as a person. Whether it does or not, whether this book has been edited to fit the wishes of the publishers, do we really know that? The 5000 page journal of his deepest thoughts. The promoters of his book, who has read it, are hyping it up as so. Even a public figure, the world does not know everything that goes on behind the scenes. Commenting back to you, has gotten you off accusing the Rabbi of a sin and now onto me, well good enough, I have accomplished what I am aiming at. Because beginning with your first post, #1, wasn't that what you were doing? If Mark Twain poured on paper his angry thoughts with words about the people that had hurt him in his life, It was therapy for him at the time. Even the Rabbi, as a psychotherapist, would know that putting anger out on paper, is better than keeping it bottled up inside. The fact that Mark Twain is famous, his therapy will be made know for all the world to read. Are you saying Joe, only the ones would have read Mark Twain's other books, are the only ones that can comment on his upcoming book to be published? Your display of vile, for no good cause but to try to belittle me, which it has not worked, only shows what is in your heart, or whose spirit you have.

(25) Liz, June 5, 2010 8:21 PM

The only one here comparing Twaine's books with the Tora, to begin with, is RAbi Salomon. Actually the critique here is that it is so stupid and senseless to actually make a comparison.

(24) Joe, June 4, 2010 6:25 PM

Perhaps a teachable moment....

A few things that I truly hope my anonymous interlocutor takes to heart. 1. Do not use the Torah as a spade to dig, is a statement from Perkei Avot - The Ethics of the Fathers.. It is collection of moral instruction and insight into living, from the sages of Israel. It is quite famous. You should perhaps read it. The core principle of this dictum is that you should not seek your own profit from Torah knowledge. You glorify Hashem by doing your best to follow his instructions, not attempt to glorify yourself through profit from your learning or other's perceptions of your piety. 2. This dovetails with my main points in two ways. First, you should know what you are talking about before you comment. You should know about Twain before commenting on him. Second, and more importantly, you should know central Jewish thought and Torah study before presenting yourself with a condescending air of sanctity and Jewishness towards others. 3. Your claims of fighting off Christian theology are laughable and irrelevant. Do you think that gives you a pass for butchering Torah through phony displays here? Perhaps you should learn some more Torah before butting heads with another ignorant blow hard from another faith? 4. I am certain that R. Salomon would be surprised to find that he is a Rebbe. 5. You thank me for clarifying that I value Torah. How condescending! Only a very insecure and uneducated person would doubt for a second that I do not from what I wrote. 6. Only very insecure and ignorant people try to claim that an argument is unpopular as a form of debate. Do you really think that because some knee-jerk web trolls abuse Torah, I am going to abandon Torah to be popular with anonymous pixels? That is insulting. 7. The lesson all through this, is to know what you are talking about before opening your mouth. As Twain said, it is better to keep silent and be suspect of being a fool, than it is to speak and be confirmed as one.

(23) Anonymous, June 4, 2010 7:44 AM

Putting some water on the fire

Actually Joe I wasn't angry at all when I wrote any of that. You are appalled by the Rabbis talk, and express your opinion in a way you really wanted someone to respond to that, so I did. I also knew Twain got a kick out of it and even wondered somehow was Twain a Jew. So far Joe, no one has spoken up they are in agreement on your views of what the Rebbe said was appalling. You do have a right to your own opinion on it. I am glad you clarified you do respect the Torah. I hope others will challenge you for you like to debate. So I do hope I made you happy by responding in debating. Do not use the Torah as a spade to dig, to me it means don't use it as an excuse. Do not use it to rationalize away what is right, what it is actually saying. Don't twist it around to say what you want it to say. Call me ignorant if you want, but that is what it means to me. Furthermore, I never have heard that saying. It's late, and I spent several hours on the phone with a christian why Jews are not going to Hell. So I'm debated out for now. Goodnight Joe!

(22) Joe, June 3, 2010 6:46 PM

Taking some fire

In general, arguing with anonymous web trolls is a futile effort. But, this is Aish, and there are Torah principles here to fight for. The Torah teaches us humility amongst many other things. It teaches respect. It teaches respect for learning. It teaches us that when we see greatness, we are to aspire to achieving it ourselves by realizing that we are not there *yet*. It is not that I am a lover of Twain per-se. There are many other authors, like Borges, Eco, Garcia-Marquez, Singer, Bellow, Dostoevsky, Melville and Shakespeare, to name a few, that would have gained the same response from me, under similar circumstances. It is certainly *not* that I value Twain more than Torah. In fact being opposed to Loshan Ha Ra is a Torah value. Being opposed to self-indulgent ignorance, as displayed by many of the writers here, is a Torah value. What does "do not use the Torah as a spade to dig" mean to some of you?The very fact that the first response to making a Torah based criticism - that we do not commit Loshan Ha Ra and that we have humility and respect for learning drew angry accusations that I do not somehow value Torah, is the sort of irony and hypocrisy that Twain excelled at pointing out. In fact, I am certain that if somehow in Olam Haba, he were reading those responses, he would be tickled pink. He made a career out of lampooning the ignorant, self-righteous and insecure hypocrites of his age when they falsely cloaked themselves in foolish displays or piety and false sanctity. Some things never change. Of course, Torah detests such things too.

(21) Chana Yosefa, June 3, 2010 1:34 AM

Are there still Polar Bears?

If I were to write for a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, rather than trying to impart some wisdom "The first 100 years are the hardest...the second hundred are easier," I would ask questions. Is the Earth still functioning? How many endangered species were saved? Am Yisrael Chai? What about Islamic militants? Is Sharia now the law of the world? Did Mosiach come? Was there an Armageddon? Do children still play "Chopsticks" on the piano, and jump rope in the streets? DId the New York Yankees win the World Series this year? You get the idea.

(20) Anonymous, June 2, 2010 9:07 PM

A section from my journal dated June 2, 2010

"which now--here I am writing about "Joe" in my journal. And what do I want to really say about "Joe." Joe really admires Mark Twain and his writings very highly. Would he put up a fight over G-d and the Torah like he has over Mark Twain as an Author, writer and who he was as a person; or anyone who slightly doesn't lift up the Torah as it deserves to Be. I think the answer to that would be "No" - since he has criticize others who has lifted up the Torah - as the most Important Book in history - the most Important Book for today and in the future." and there was other stuff I wrote in my journal. But the world will have to wait 100 yrs to read the rest. Maybe I wasn't so nice. Maybe I revealed some insightful truth about humanity, using "Joe" as an example. You can guess whatever I wrote since you will have to wait. However, as is said of Mark Twain "He knew how to sell books, even 100 yrs after his death." For 20 yrs I had a second job (volunteer not paid) in Religion. The Bible and other spiritual writings were all I read, outside of studies concerning my career job. Mark Twain books wasn't on the list of required reading. So in 2110 Mark Twain's books may be out of print. The Torah will still be around, so I would say "Read it" yes there are good books with good messages in 2110, but the Torah is the most important one, don't ever forget that. It has helped our ancestors it has helped us in my generation and it will help all of you 100 yrs from now. The MOST IMPORTANT Being in the world has spoken. The author is G-d. This is what Rabbi Salomon is trying to say. Other authors come and go, like Mark Twain. They have some good things to say and some things that are not good. G-d's word is eternal, we will be around it forever when we enter into his full presence. Mark Twain's book in Heaven? Probable not, it's earthy not eternal. So prepare yourself today, each day with the eternal, if that is where you want to be, in G-d's presence.

(19) Anonymous, June 2, 2010 5:32 PM

Joe a lover of Mark Twain

Joe you really are into Mark Twain aren't you? It has really offended you that the Rabbi or anyone else here has not lifted Mark Twain on some pedestal that you have put him on. The Torah is final authority on G-d's word spoken to humans. You can't compare G-d's words with another author. No comparison because all man's wisdom comes from G-d. The Torah is a Manual for Rabbis in their career, and for those that religion is not their career, than yes other manuals are used to educate us. Speaking in career format. Even when religion is not our career, the Torah is our driving manual in life and with our relationship with G-d. Joe are you giving us a clue what Twain's book will be like? Bashing other people like you have in your post. Maybe it would of been more interesting a 100 yrs from now. I looked up some quotes of Mark Twain, didn't have them memorized. I'll let Twain say it: 1: Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, Truth isn't. 2: Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live. 3: Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. 4: Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

(18) Ionica, June 2, 2010 9:22 AM

Prove the future

I would be glad if people in about 100 years from now still laughs when someone says: >The future is not it used to be<.

(17) Joe, June 2, 2010 8:48 AM


I would like to share a few thoughts on the comments I have seen here. 1. "... did not hear him speak any lashon hara. He merely said that, paraphrasing, if what he has heard is true..." In other words, he is making negative comments about something he has not read and repeating gossip. How exactly is that not Loshan Ha Ra ? I very much like R. Salomon and have met him. I do not have an axe to grind, but he is off on this one and so is the commenter who should perhaps better learn the laws of Loshan Ha Ra. Even if it were not Loshan Ha Ra, commenting n a book you have not read or a movie you have not seen is intellectually dishonest. Unless you are talking about the writings of a known, and well proven crackpot, basic rules of being a mensch would tell you to keep your mouth shut about them until you could render an informed opinion. 2. The discussion of Twain's essay on the Jews is not the point. The point is that it is the *only* thing that people here seem to be able to discuss out of the entire vast corpus of his work, and it was remarkably positive towards us. All that indicates is many people who have never read Twain, feel that they too have the right to opine about things they know nothing of. That is simply reveling in ignorance. It is nothing to be proud of, let alone self righteous about. 3. Even if these memoirs turn out to be terrible, it still does not alter the great contributions that Twain made, that few here seem to know or care anything at all about. 4. *Of course* the Torah is our Eternal Book. *Of course* it is central to who we are as Jews. Proclaiming your sanctity by repeating that phrase as a substitute for argument is using Torah as a spade to dig and a shoddy replacement for thought. 5. For those of you who think it is the only thing you ever need to study, please show me the Gematria to extract quantum theory, open heart surgery, or a Beethoven symphony from the text. The ignorance here is stupefying.

(16) ruth housman, June 1, 2010 11:56 PM

one hundred years from now

People have not answered your question. In a hundred years for now, given the advances of science and all areas of inquiry, I would expect the world will look quite different, and I hope we are moving towards a greater ethical consciousness and a morality of compassion. I know what I would like to see in one hundred years from now, in terms of how we are with each other, and in terms of the elimination of many of the terrible diseases that do plague us. What would I leave for the future that I cannot say now? I can't think of anything. And yes, I do agree that some books are lasting and have messages that we return to again and again, because they are deep, and cause us to question and dialogue, and those old bible stories do seem to invite inquiry and I think we do relive them, again and again in so many, many ways. Parenthetically, it is very difficult to comment when one cannot go backwards on what one has written to correct any errors, and to rethink a statement. There is no way to do this currently in your comment lines.

(15) David, June 1, 2010 6:44 PM

100 years from now

What would I say to people 100 years from now that I wouldn't want people to hear today? Well, I would say... the readers have to wait 100 years to find out because I don't want to tell you now. My favorite Mark Twain quotation is, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." I'm sure that most of this column's readers have a problem with this statement. Perhaps Rabbi Salomon in his dual role as a pyschologist and rabbi can make a video that will help those of us or are "faith-challenged" deal with the real issue crystalized in Mark Twain's quote.

(14) Anonymous, June 1, 2010 4:13 PM

What i think

Personally, i think that all tha rabbi wanted was for us to see how a person sometimes can waste there time on things that have no importance what so ever. To me his point wasn´t to make us stop and think about the author instead, about how will people think about you years from now depending on how you think and act and if you were able to tell them something make it worth the while.

(13) Anonymous, June 1, 2010 3:42 PM

My wishes for kids 100 years from now

What would I like to say to people -- mostly young people -- 100 years from now? In short, I'd like to say that I hope they have learned to slow down. The world is becoming so immediate, for good or bad, that I fear the next centuries children won't have a chance to lie on in the grass and watch the ants, or roll over and find faces in the clouds. If they just have the time to develop an imagination -- without a stash of technological toys -- it will happen. These precious hours of childhood spent just lying in the grass and dreaming may possibly help keep them from spending many precious hours of their adulthood lying on the couch of an analyst.

(12) Anonymous, June 1, 2010 3:39 PM

I ve always been interested in Mark Twain, to see what he had to say..

(11) Anonymous, June 1, 2010 2:13 PM

Mostly questions

It sure made me think. My first question would be if the Caucasian race managed to save itself from its low birth rates? I would then ask if they found a cure for cancer? By that time I think that they should have flying cars so gasoline engines would be a thing of the past. Is there a one world government or is the world broken up into 3 or 4 economic zones? Is religion outlawed at a state level and can it only be practiced on a personal or small communal way as long as it is never political? Is euthanasia legal? How much has the earth's temperature risen? Does wisdom still rule or are algorithms the masters of decision making? Is there democracy anywhere? If there is then is one vote per person still apply or do different people get different number of votes depending on education, status, wealth, etc.? What is defined as leisure and do people know what silence is? True silence. Is secularism the new religion (tyranny)? Do people still speak about inner peace or is everything on the outside now? Have the Chicago Cubs won the World Series yet?

(10) Anonymous, May 31, 2010 3:19 PM

Will be a NY bestseller

I'm not a Mark Twain fan, after your talk it has got me interested in this book that will be published. His request to not publish it for 100 yrs was not kept. Parts of it has over these 100 yrs. His daughter Clara was worried that it would hurt Twain's good name. Right after Twain's death, Clara married a Jewish piano player, Oho Gabrilowitsch. Clara had given instructions to Twain's publishers to quickly delete "Concerning the Jews" from the collected books. Other writings Twain said he learned in Sunday School in his protestant church to hate the catholics and Jews. After quiting church Twain became less hostile toward those groups especially the Jews, but continued to speak against the catholic church. He then spoke against both organize religion of christianity. Twain's last years of his life he had been betrayed, especially by wife #2. Where he vented 400 pages of bile about her in this book. Let's face it, Twain's book will be a NY bestseller no doubt. Out of curiosity I will buy it. Many people who respect his writings will take it all to heart. I also have journals tucked away for a future time. Knowing how history books sugar coat things or rewrite history in a time when no one is alive to tell the truth, was one of my biggest reasons for doing that. After reading Twain's book, we will all come to our own conclusions why it was for a time as now. Possibly, more people will relate to his book now, than then. More people like hearing gossip and thrive on it these days, especially by celebrities. Should the Jews be worried by the publication of this book? More likely not. Twain disposed on Christianity and the falsehood of it. Mark Twain realized what christians had said about the Jews were lies. His book unrated for today, his thoughts about organize religion will not be sugar coated. This book will probable be made into a movie someday. Wonder how many schools that bare his name will change the schools name?

(9) Alan S., May 31, 2010 12:30 PM

Unwarranted critism...from Joe and David

My critism of Joe and David's comments are given so that they may open their ears and minds and re- listen to Rabbi Salomon's commentary in the gentle spirit he proferred it. Rabbi Salomon did not give a polemic or harangue his audience with a derogatory commentary on Mark Twain. Why castigate him for things you believe you heard when he didn't say them. I listened to the Rabbi's comments twice, and did not hear him speak any lashon hara. He merely said that, paraphrasing, if what he has heard is true, any writings that Twain wrote about certain contemporaries, Rabbi Solomon himself would not find it compelling reading or literature. David, the Rabbi "struck out" because this is his belief? His opinion is invalid because you suspect he "peeked" at the writings? Joe, I've read your comments twice, and will offer this unsolicited advice to you: get over yourself.

(8) David, May 31, 2010 6:46 AM

A "strike out" for the Rabbí

I do not know what Mark Twain wrote on his Memoirs, but yet Rabbi Salomon seems so sure about what´s in them, so perhaps he did get a peek, after all. So perhaps he can tell us how so? Otherwise, I will have to agree, as Joe said, it is a case of the "bad" LH. As much as I look forward to Rabbí Salomon´s comments every week, could it be that he struck out today?

(7) Chavi, May 31, 2010 1:52 AM

Mark Twain also famously commented,"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." upon reading his own obituary in the newspaper on June 2, 1897. Maybe that's what prompted him to write the hundred-year letter. Personally, I don't see the point. Moshiach will certainly arrive long before that, (and answer all of our questions and provide us with all the guidance we could ever need), but if he chas v'sholom doesn't come before then, what could anyone today tell someone living one hundred years from now, that would be relevant to him? To the evolutionists of the future, we today are just a little removed from caveman status. That accounts for the fact that today's kids have so little respect for their elders; they feel that they are farther along in the evolutionary chain. We Jews, on the other hand, recognize that our forefathers were so much greater than we could ever hope to be, and that is the basis for our veneration of our elders and predecessors. We need to turn all the way backward for the knowledge of the ages, to the lessons from our greatest sages of yesteryear, which are faithfully transmitted in a linked chain from one generation to the next, without a break of one hundred years. There is no way to improve on that timeless wisdom. Only with the coming of Moshiach will all of our questions be answered.

(6) Joseph, May 31, 2010 12:41 AM

Anti Semitism is defined in the Talmud

Mark Twain was a genius, but if he hated Jews he was like the rest of what was typical of that generation. Would it be a shock to you that the vast majority of Europeans during WW II were anti semitic? You would be very naive to believe otherwise. Science is worth studying, once you accept that it is constantly evolving and its studies have been authored by mostly heretics who have a G-d less agenda. So my comment to Joe's comment is that yes, the Torah is the ONLY eternal document, because G-d transmitted it to Moses at Sinai over 3,300 years ago. Mark Twain wrote good books that were inspired by a Good G-d who gave the Jewish people the Good Book which is the source of all good.

(5) TMay, May 30, 2010 9:07 PM

what I would say to people in a note to be read in 100 years

Congrats. Humans made it another 100 yrs. Be grateful. If someone is reading this it means that we successfully dealt with Islamofascism(IF), the challenge of our time, and that we survived or bypassed a nuclear war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and the spread of IF. It means that Islam reformed itself and gave the boot to the Taliban and stopped the spread of Shariah’s oppressive laws, and laws that repressed women. We feel like we are in the end days. Regarding IF, as it looks from 2010, as if the saying seems to apply, that “unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” which is not good. It means that alleged global warming did not destroy civilization as we know it. It means that the society is still organized in such a way that you knew where to find this. Are you still battling between good and evil, between love and hate? Are you living in the Messianic Age? Best wishes. Hopefully (Hope) there is clean air and clean water. Hope the Judeo Christian values are still alive and well and that you are taking care of the poor, sick, hurt, and the hungry. Hope music is still around, and the values of the American Constitution as written and the work ethic and family values and the pursuit of happiness. Hope there is still nature, country and wild animals. Hope you have found the path of balance between competing values, such as the value of the community and individualism; and both in the macro (public) and in the micro (personal) world. Hope creativity is still alive and well, that people still dream, and the idea of personal integrity still exists. Hope home, love and marriage are alive and well; and value of an old person. It would be interesting to see the technology.. Enjoy the sunlight and the breezes and the fresh air. Smell a rose. Taste a delicious fruit. Look at a sunrise and a sunset. Listen to Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. Hug a cat today. Take a walk in nature. Give a blessing of thanksgiving. God bless.

(4) Anonymous, May 30, 2010 6:21 PM

I cant think of anything to say... Mashiach will be here!!!!! We will be in the land of Israel, serving our holy G-D in the bait hamikdosh, everything will be full of joy!! Only good in the world!!! The Jews are the chosen people - we will rise above, is anyone with me??? Do YOU have your bags packed, minds set??? At any given moment he can come, what are you waiting for, he's coming!!!! Are you ready?

(3) Liz, May 30, 2010 5:54 PM

agree with Joe

I totally agree with Joe. I think Rabi Salomon is making a rude, sarcastic, destructive and disrespectful criticism and only shows ignorance about the true and positive legacy of such a great writer that Americans are only proud of. It is obvious that his point is to only make this above mentioned criticism and really not bring to debate (as it´s so unrelevant) what would you want to say in 100 years. VERY DECEIVING AND OFFENSIVE

(2) raye, May 30, 2010 5:47 PM

The importance of listening good

This guy Joe doesn't know how to listen. His comment sounds like this was an opportunity to beef about something that has nothing to do with this article and the succinct statements Mark Twain made about the eternal life of the Jews.

(1) Joe, May 30, 2010 8:04 AM

I am appalled.

I normally love and the commentary here. I apologize if the very strong criticism I am about to make will seem a little harsh. There are several statements of fact though that should be looked at. 1. The writings referred to have not been released yet. Since you have not read them, castigating them for Loshan Ha Ra is, in of itself, Loshan Ha Ra. 2. The only thing that you can refer to about Mark Twain, arguably the greatest American author, who wrote dozens of novels and hundreds of essays, is his essay on the Jews? That short of tunnel vision and xenophobic ignorance is not a good reflection on the level of education or literacy that I have come to expect from Aish. There is also NOTHING antisemitic in that essay. It is quite positive about us. Mark Twain was an anomaly for his age in that he actually respected all peoples and looked past differences in race. Perhaps, if you had read anything else he wrote, other than his description of the holy land in the 1800's which also gets quoted here a lot, before saying ignorant things, you would know that as a Southerner, her repeatedly stood up for Black people. You should read Puddinhead Wilson or Huck Finn someday. You may be very surprised at what he has to say about age old prejudices. 3. I know this will sound as a shock to you, but telling people to not be interested in his lost memoirs, because you really don't need any other book than Torah sounds very much like when Pat Robertson says he doesn't need to know science because all he needs is the Bible. Jews are supposed to care about education and literacy. It burns my soul to hear a rabbi talk like this.


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