Critical Thinking

When I write about critical thinking in this blog, I would have liked to call this skill “having our heads screwed on straight.” That’s a wieldy phrase, so it’s not a tag for this blog. It’s also a metaphor, but in the industrial age, such a metaphor is understandable. Also, this a colloquial expression for English speakers.


When I used Google Translate, the phrase “would have liked to call this skill ‘having our heads screwed on straight’. That’s a wieldy phrase . . .” resulted in Modern Hebrew that made sense — “After our heads screwed straight.” I’m actually not surprised that Israelis sometimes use translations of English colloquialisms. However, Google Translate left the word ‘wieldy’ untranslated. Then I took the Hebrew wording and let Google translate it back to English, then back to Hebrew again. This time the translation read, “After our heads screwed up straight.” This Hebrew wording actually borders on the vulgar.

I used Google Translate for a Spanish translation and got, “que tiene la cabeza en recta” — “whose head [is] straight.” Back to English it became, “that has his head straight.” It read as I intended. This translation utility completely messed up the full idea, though. In Spanish it became, “Esa es una frase manejable” – “that is a handy phrase.” If it’s a handy phrase, then why am I not using it? Back and forth again it became, “Esa es una frase muy útil.” To the extent that I read Spanish, this means, “that is a very useful phrase.” In a good English-Spanish dictionary, the adjective ‘wieldy’ doesn’t even appear.

While I’m having fun — a German translation came back into English as, “would like to have this ability to call ‘have screwed on just our heads’. This is a handy set, so it is not a day for this blog.” The translation utility confused the English word ‘tag’ with the German word ‘Tag’ which means ‘day’.

In French, we might not like “to have our heads attached to his head.”

Ten fingers

I look at my hands next to each other, palms up. I see ten fingers — when I consider thumbs as fingers — like two columns side by side. This reminds me of the Two Tablets of ten chapter headings that Moshe Rabbeinu brought down from Mount Sinai.

Wherever I go, I have Torah study material. I decide when and where to study.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake,
but based on a Holy Sefer

Fourteen is an incomplete number

I look at one of my hands, palm up.

I count the bone segments of my fingers. Two joints of the thumb and three joints of each finger, altogether fourteen on either hand. The Hebrew word for hand is yad, yud dalet. The Gematria sum of 10 (yud) plus four (dalet) is fourteen. There is no surprise here that the Hebrew word for hand is yad, fourteen joints.

But, how is a hand, fourteen, incomplete? Only by virtue of how we can raise this number to fifteen. “Shma Yisrael . . .” and one hand covering the eyes. We conclude with the last word echad. We have a higher, complete unity in the number fifteen.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake,
but based on a Holy Sefer

Thirty-one is an incomplete number

“With thirty-two separate paths of wisdom the Almighty engraved and created His world.”

Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation, 1:1)

How could thirty-one be imperfect? One of HaShem’s names is Keil — alef and a lamed. We see in this name thirty-one by using Gematria.

My daring foray into Torah chiddushim is like this:

“HaShem is One, and His name is One.”

The Divine name Keil is “His name,” although only one of them. Even so, adding a single name, thirty-one becomes thirty-two.

— from my scratch pad of thoughts that keep me awake