Monday, May 22, 2017


Rabbi Ron Eisenman

I noticed in the newspaper today that “President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Thursday he had chosen James N. Mattis, a hard-charging retired general who led a Marine division to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to serve as his secretary of defense.”

I have never heard of General Mattis and was curious to find out who is this person who will be our top defense official.

Fascinatingly, among the interesting anecdotal information the Times chose to highlight about Mr. Mattis is the fact that: “The retired general, a lifelong bachelor … has said that he does not own a television…”.

Obviously it was deemed by the NY Times as ‘news worthy’ the fact that Mr. Mattis does not own a television.

Clearly this must be somewhat of an oddity- in this day and age- not to own a television; so much so that the Times felt it important enough to inform its readership of this fact.

I recall when my wife and I first moved to Washington Heights in the early 80s.

Our Uptown Manhattan neighborhood had just received cable television and the cable companies were calling the residents in the hope of enticing them to sign up for the additional television service.

One day a woman called me and before I had a chance to say hello, she launched into her written script designed to convince me of the wonders of cable TV.

After her shpiel came to an end I calmly thanked her for her offer; however, I politely declined to take advantage of it.

She then asked, “Can I please know why you are not interested? Is it the price or the service?”

I answered without hesitating, “To tell you the truth, the reason I am not interested is because I don’t own a television.”

There was an almost audible silence on her end.

Finally as she recovered her composure, she said to me the words which reverberated in my mind as I read this morning’s article about Mr. Mattis.

“Listen buddy, I’ve called about two hundred people today asking them to subscribe to our cable service. And I have heard all of the possible excuses you can think of. However, your answer just ‘takes the cake’. If you don’t want cable, just say so; but don’t lie to me and tell me you don’t have a TV. Be a man and tell the truth!”

I thanked her for her critique and hung up the phone while shaking my head.