Sunday Tables Posted; Warning: Today's Blog May Offend Some Religious People

Sun, 2017/10/01 - 3:09pm | Your editor
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Today's tables were posted later than usual because a lot of data was missing from my Barron's closed-end funds tables--not because of a grey printover error, but because the net asset values for funds which usually provide this were missing. I think it may have been because of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, although it may also be related to hurricanes around the country. If it is because of the Jewish fast, which overlapped with our Sabbath this year, it suggests a way to buy closed-end funds at a greater-than-normal discount from NAV. If there is a major Jewish holiday which begins Friday night and the lock-down starts earlier you may get what is called a Metziah, a bargain. Our building was locked down starting at 3:30 pm, well before nightfall in New York City.

But it may be because of weather conditions in Miami, Florida, base of closed-end fund guru Tom Herzfeld. I've never asked Tom what his religion is and whether he is observant. The NAV of Herzfeld Caribbean Fund, which he manages, was in its usual place. But the other data his firm provides to Barron's was incomplete.

The Jewish Harvest Festival of Succoth begins on Weds. night and is observed on Thursday, both this week and next by reform Jews. The holiday is observed by eating your meals in a booth or shelter in your fields, which is what a Succah is. It also involves a ritual of shaking a palm frond along with three bits of myrtle and two of willow while holding a very sweet-smelling but inedible citrus fruit called an "etrog" in Hebrew. (I have never bought one in any other language because why would I want an inedible citrus fruit?) Orthodox people observe for 9 days, 5 of which are serious, and the kids drive everyone crazy because they usually don't go to school on the intermediate days. Meals are eaten in the booth which can be grim if it rains because the ceiling is made of open reeds, not practical outside the Land of Israel. We don't have a balcony or backyard in NYC but we did build a sukkah when we lived in D.C. and our grandchildren have ones in their suburban homes. Synagogue offer a place where you can observe the rules and dine sort of outdoors but we don't bother except during the important Thursdays.

The timing of waving the palm branch bothers me because of the Christian theory that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder. Passover is not a week after Succoth, but more like 6 months later (it varies depending on whether or not there is an extra month in the Jewish/Babylonian calendar for leap years.) So I suspect that the timing of Palm Sunday is off.

As for the leap month, it is because the Prophet Mohammed decided not to avail his calendar makers of the latest thing (over the prior 1500 years) in Middle Eastern astronomy that the Islamic calendar loses about 5 days per year. So Ramadan is so much tougher on people than Yom Kippur despite the fact that the fast only runs during daylight hours. If Ramadan falls in the summer in the heartland of Islam the day is long and the sun is very hot indeed for people who are not drinking any water.

As you can see I have now offended members of all three monotheistic religions in a matter of a few paragraphs.

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