10/14/2008

Flattered but Outraged

They say that plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. I understand, but it still seems outrageous when it happens. There’s also the issue of “meivi davar be-shem omro” (link is to an old but good post).

I mention it because a few weeks ago I was forwarded an email promoting “Adam Ha-Rishon’s Segulah for Parnassah”. It seemed very familiar to me, and that is because I wrote it. This mixed emotion of pride (however perverse) and outrage is new to me.

Earlier today, in shul, I was speaking with someone who mentioned that another fellow had hung this segulah for parnassah in his sukkah. I asked if it was “Adam Ha-Rishon’s Segulah”, and sure enough it was, and had been forwarded to him from a friend in the States. Apperently this has been making the rounds, so I felt compelled to put it out there again – please attribute it when forwarding it around!

Anyhow, the fellow I had been schmoozing with about it in shul put it into a good perspective for me. He (Dr. Ari [Arthur] Schaffer) penned an article in 1982 entitled The Agricultural and Ecological Symbolism of the Four Species of Sukkot (timely, no?). He mentioned that he had heard his main thesis repeated in a number of contexts and by a number of people. He took immense pride in the dissemination of the idea, even if it remained unattributed. I guess I should aspire to that attitude, but I really can’t say I do. I take pride in my chiddushim, whether they are good or not, and whether they are edifying or not (in this instance, I believe that a strong case can be made that my lampoon constitutes ‘leitzanuta de-Avoda Zara’ and is thus edifying).

So if you get this in a email, reply to the sender with a link to the original post and bring a bit of ge’ulah into the world. And to the reader who lifted it and sent it out without attribution – please try to remedy the situation.

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