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Sunday, July 31, 2005

As The Jay Flies (3)

As earlier noted, I was privileged on Friday to behold the Liberty Bell. Although I was born in New York City (so were both my parents and my father's mother), I managed to reach the age of 47 before this very first visit.

What I found most fascinating was that when the original crack appeared it did not prevent the bell from ringing. In an effort to repair the crack, they tried some process that held only temporarily. When it rebroke, it was considerably more damaged and no longer functioned. Sometimes, if it ain't all that broke, it's still better not to fix it.

I was reminded of the Jewish law against repairing vessels that were used in the Holy Temple, because of the principle that "there can be no poverty in a place of wealth". However, this applies only if the original break caused it to be unusable. In that case, the item can be utilized only as the result of the repair, which renders it a specimen of "poverty" that is inappropriate in a place of generous munificence. This creates a counterintuitive premise: "If it is broke, don't fix it."

The Talmud adds a story that relates directly to the Liberty Bell. It reports that there was an oboe that had been crafted in the days of Moses and was preserved through all the generations, eventually being used in Solomon's Temple (built 440 years after the passing of Moses). Later, it developed a crack but still made nice music. They tried to repair the crack with some gluey substance but the music was not as sweet. So they just scraped it off and went back to using it, crack and all.

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