I was in hevruta (paired text study–the ultimate in active learning) for seven hours today, plus other classes and a lunch meeting. Everything is a little bleary right now.

Nonetheless, I learned a bit of text that seemed pretty important to share.

So there’s this belief in Rabbinic Judaism about pairs being dangerous–eating, drinking, and doing a few other things in even numbers was thought to render you vulnerable to demons. Particularly drinking alcohol–the gemara tells us that if you drink two drinks and go out (as it’s more dangerous out there than in your own home, natch) the demon could kill you. If you drink an even number greater than two, the demon can’t kill you but he can do some serious damage.

Lucky for us, if you happen to find yourself in a situation where you are vulnerable to demon attack, there is recourse. The solution requires acting a bit like an eight year-old, but that makes sense to me, somehow.

So if you go out after 2 beers, here’s what to do:

And if a man forgot himself [and drank exactly two drinks] and happened to go out, what is his remedy? Let him take his right-hand thumb in his left hand and his left-hand thumb in his right hand and say thus: ?Ye [two thumbs] and I, surely that is three! [ie an odd number, rendering him safe] But if the demon hears him and replies, ?Ye and I, surely that is four!? [ie the person has become three, and three plus the demon are four] let him retort to him, ?Ye [the demon that is now four] and I [the drunk guy] are surely five!? And if he hears one saying, ?Ye and I are six,? let him retort to him, ?Ye and I are seven. This once happened until [someone reached] a hundred and one, at which point the demon exploded.

(Pesachim 110a)

I don’t know about you, but I feel safer already.

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