made these Jewish vices too. But thernsame traits stand also for our distinctivelyrnAmerican (and particularly Jewish)rnvirtues, the ones that we have learned inrnthe American context. Our vices andrntheir counterpart virtues—generosity, efficiency,rnpracticality, initiative, organizationalrneffectiveness—define how we arernboth American and Jewish. We are thernJewish species of the American genus,rnJewish Americans, much more than wernare the American species of the Jewishrngenus, American Jews.rnWe have made Jewish—deeply, characteristically,rnquintessentially Jewish —rnsome of the finest virtues of our countryrnand its culture. In our Jewishness and inrnour distinctively American Judaism, wernembody America. In other words, ourrnpathos is our power, our virtue definesrnour vice. And it explains why I am proudrnto be who and what I am: part of a freernand generous nation, which knows howrnto change the world.rnJacob Neusner is Distinguished ResearchrnProfessor at the University of SouthrnFlorida and a professor ofreUgion atrnBard College.rnLetter FromrnRomernby Andrei NavrozovrnMore Wine, Professor?rnThere may not be a word for “home” inrnFrench, philosophizes Twain in The InnocentsrnAbroad, but “considering thatrnthey have the article itself in such an attractivernaspect, they ought to manage tornget along without the word.” Who hasrnnot seen semantic peculiarities insinuaternthemselves, with the facility of cognacrntaken on the terrace, into late-night argumentsrnabout ethnicity? Of course not allrnsuch revelations are up to the demandsrnof morning logic. Just because the Russiansrnhave no word for “toes” does notrnmean that our foot fingers are morernexquisitely shaped than yours, or that wernhave more of them. Still, it does seem tornmean something.rnThe Germans, I am told, do not haverna word for “efficient.” The reason behindrnthis oddity, as all normal lazy peoplernwould be relieved to agree, is on thernwhole pretty clear. The Italians mostrndefinitely do not have the word “cheap”rn(they say “less expensive” or “economical”),rnand readers of my earlier lettersrnmay reflect that in the mind of a nationrnthat has so attentively preserved the socialrnharmonies of its borghesia, from thernbass to the alt, nothing in this world reallyrncomes cheap.rnThe Russians say, “Fate is a turkey,rnand life’s worth a kopeck.” Our toes mayrnnot be lovelier, but if one wants to usernlanguage to pinpoint a national consciousnessrnmost hostile to French domesticity,rnor German efficiency, or Italianrnprosperity, one need look no fijrtherrnthan the Russian word azart. It exists inrnEnglish as “hazard” and in Italian as azzardo,rnbut rather than describing therndanger of the risk or the risk itself, ourrnword describes the intoxication of thernman who risks, the delirious state ofrnmind of a giocatore d’azzardo, the gambler’srneuphoria. As far as I know, no Europeanrnlanguage can express this nuance,rna fact that really ought to lendrnsome credence to the old story aboutrnWestern materialism and the Russianrnsoul.rnOur intellectual attitude to materialrnrisk has not changed since Dostoyevsky.rn”However comical it may be that Irnshould expect to get so much out ofrnroulette,” he writes, “the routine opinion,rnaccepted by everybody, that it is absurdrnand silly to expect anything at allrnfrom gambling seems to me even funnier.”rnFunny or chilling, but re-readingrnhis letters recently, I was able to identifyrnthe prototype of the murder victim fromrnCrime and Punishment in a Germanrnpawnbroker who offered him less for hisrnwatch than he had hoped to get. Hernneeded the money to play, and his fantasyrnof killing the old hag right there andrnthen became the spiritual engine of thernnovel.rnWhy am I saying all this? Ah, yes. Displacement.rnMy Roman exile, gastionomyrnaside, is already making me see Englandrnas it never was. To put the matterrnmore fancifully, it makes my memoryrnpaint situations and scenes which werernundoubtedly episodic with the kind ofrnimprobably broad brush I have seen Italianrnhouse painters use, so that a minuterninto the job all that is left of a room is arnSiberia of untraversed, powdery spacernand some moose hairs stuck to the surface.rnImbiancare is the word, for thosernwith an interest in comparative semantics.rnAs in London, a half-empty bucketrnof whitewash is typically left behind,rnalong with some crumpled dust-sheets.rnI remember how people would ask mernwhat I was writing, and naively I wouldrntell them the tiuth. I am writing a bookrnabout chance, I would say. “What sort ofrnchance?” they would press on, smellingrnblood. “Well, as in roulette,” I wouldrnstammer. Here I think they knew theyrnhad me in the palm of their hand, fidgetingrnlike a maimed sparrow. What next,rnmy fine-feathered friend, their dimmingrneyes seemed to say. Research into prostitution?rnA study of cocaine? A fresh lookrnat petty thieving? Navrozov, Navrozov!rnThe expression “Russian roulette” hasrnlodged itself in the hypocrite’s consciousness,rnand no sooner do I tell an Americanrnor an Englishman that I belong to Aspinallsrnthan my dinner-party interlocutor’srneyes cloud over with the belief thatrnhe knows everything there is to knowrnabout me. Yet 99 times out of 100, he,rnmy interlocutor, is a stockbroker or somernother, even more delusional kind of marketrnmooch, just the sort of man Burkernhad in mind when he wrote, with referencernto John Law’s financial reformationrnof France:rnYour legislators, in everything new,rnare the very first who have foundedrna commonwealth upon gaming,rnand infused this spirit into it as itsrnvital breath. The great object inrnthese politics is to metamorphosernFrance from a great kingdom intornone great play-table; to turn its inhabitantsrninto a nation ofrngamesters; to make speculation asrnextensive as life; to mix it with allrnits concerns and to divert thernwhole of the hopes and fears of thernpeople from their usual channelsrninto the impulses, passions, and superstitionsrnof those who live onrnchances.rnBy contrast, here in Rome my confessionrnis treated as a professorial whim, andrna very distinguished one at that. Ah, professore,rnyou would rather not have thernsame wine today? You would ratherrnspend the afternoon in the country, findingrnnew stick insects for your private collection?rnOh, I understand perfectiy, professore.rnYou wish to spend the eveningrnplaying a game of chance on the foggyrn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn