NYT Crossword 12-28-20 Complete

It’s a wet one today in Los Angeles. There was lightning last night and this morning! More in the forecast. I saw a truck loaded up with mattresses a couple days ago and mentioned to Calah that it’s good that randos are removing mattresses so they don’t get stuck in the storm drains when the big rain comes. It was funny because it doesn’t rain heavily here. Except when it does. I expect to hear stories of mudslides.

I pulled out 33D The devout do it on Yom Kippur: ATONE because I disagree so, so much with it. Now, I know that they wanted a break from the regular clue to the effect of “When lunch often ends,” but Yom Kippur is a holiday when the synagogues usually are filled to capacity at minimum. The Day of Atonement is absolutely not just a holiday that is observed by the devout, a word which means “Having or showing deep religious feeling or commitment.”

I abhor the conflation of the terms religious and observant because you can follow the letter of the law (observance) but miss the point, and you can follow the spirit of the law (religiousness) and not even be informed of the particular rules.

There’s a story in the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) where someone goes to one heralded scholar, Shammai, and asks him to explain the Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai, a scholar who is learned but with comparatively little real-world experience, finds the request to be ridiculous and tells the guy to scram. Then the guy goes to another heralded scholar, Hillel, and asks him for the same thing. Hillel is also learned but has much real-world experience. Hillel tells the guy that the whole Torah is that you shouldn’t do to your neighbor what you don’t want done to you and that the rest of it is details about how to do this. He then advises study of the Torah to learn those details.

Throughout the Talmud, Hillel and Shammai go head-to-head more than 300 times, and Hillel–the one with real-world experience–wins these arguments more than 90% of the time.

This is not to say that the Talmud creates a precedent for anti-intellectual, anti-academic bias. Rather, this is an inclusive approach and a rebuke to those who limit acceptance to the so-called devout.
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There is an altitudinal theme to this puzzle.

3D Wile E. Coyote’s supplier: ACMECORPORATION.
5D Athlete’s goal in competition: PEAKPERFORMANCE.
9D Absolute chicness: HEIGHTOFFASHION.
11D Quaint greeting: TOPOFTHEMORNING.

In addition to the on-theme ACME, PEAK, HEIGHT, and TOP, the theme answers are vertical in the grid. Nice touch.

Finished this one in 7:07 last night, but I didn’t refresh the tab with the puzzle before grabbing the screenshot just now, so it shows almost 12 hours. I don’t feel like doing a new screen grab, so I won’t.

Be safe out there, and enjoy your Monday!

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