The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 31 December 2005 / 30 Kislev 5766

A Noble Nobel Laureate

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

In preparation for his appearance at the Nobel Prize presentation ceremony in Stockholm on December 10th to receive his award, Prof. Robert J. Aumann, faced a problem he never encountered in all his years of developing the game theory which made him famous.

The professor of mathematics, who is a founding member of Hebrew University’s Center for the Study of Rationality, is an Orthodox Jew who wanted to make sure that everything about his participation in the ceremony was kosher. He arranged kosher food and Shabbat provisions for the many relatives and guests he brought along. But that wasn’t enough. He began to wonder whether the formal white tie and tails outfit which all male attendees must wear was free of shatnez, the mixture of wool and linen forbidden by the Torah. A sample suit that was flown to Israel and tested in a laboratory confirmed his suspicion.

The happy ending was that a source was found in Stockholm to have the alterations made in time for Prof. Aumann to receive the Nobel Prize in truly noble attire.

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