What's Your Opinion?


Jackie Mason has this routine he would do in his show before intermission. He’d say “We have to have an intermission now, to give the Jews a chance to go to the lobby and talk about the show. What’s your opinion of this man? I never liked him, he’s a loudmouth..”

You get the idea.

And like all good humor it has its foundation in reality. Jews love to give their opinion.

What do you think of Trump? What about Netanyahu? Do you hear who got engaged? What do you think of the shidduch? They’ve been married a while and don’t have any kids – what do you think is going on?

It’s amazing to me how many times people have asked my opinion on questions like these. My response is usually “how do I know?” Occasionally it’s “Why is this any of my business?”  The reaction is often one of surprise – how could you not have an opinion?

Sometimes people ask my opinion on factual questions; how many people do you think live in that town? What medical treatment do you think is the best? Will this get me in trouble with the IRS? Questions that I am clearly not qualified to answer.

In 8th grade here in Israel the girls have to memorize two chapters of Pirkei Avos. My daughter got the fifth chapter and when she came on a particular Mishna she started laughing. “This one will be easy” she said “you say it all the time”. It is the Mishna that describes a wise man. One of the seven traits of a wise man is when you ask him something he hasn’t heard he admits “I haven’t heard it“. My daughter has heard those words from me many times.

What is it that drives people to offer opinions on subjects that are clearly none of their business? I have some ideas but first I’d like to hear your opinion.