Doug Taylor and Rabbi Morton Moskowitz

I watched the tall, well-dressed man puff mindlessly on his pipe as he walked. He obviously felt secure, not even bothering to look around while making his way toward the small rented flat that served as his temporary home. Like others before him, he was making the classic mistake. Forgetting that home turf could be just as dangerous as enemy ground.
Gripping the four-inch stiletto in my right hand, I kept close to the shadows. His time was about to end. Traitors were the lowest rung on life's ladder, and I would not lose sleep over ridding the world of this one. He passed by the darkened doorway that shielded me from view. I sprang silently out and-
"Hi," said a familiar voice.
I almost jumped out of my chair.
"I'm sorry," said the King of Rational Thought. "Did I startle you?"
"Uh, well, yeah. I guess I was a bit immersed in this book."
"What are you reading?" he inquired, sitting down to join me for our lunch date.
"A spy novel," I replied, somewhat sheepishly. "I know you don't care much for fiction, but this one is actually quite good."
"You don't have to apologize," he smiled. "It's true that I tend to prefer reality over fantasy. But one can even make fiction a learning experience. What's happening in the book?"
I laid it down and reached for my menu. "The hero is about to take out a traitor responsible for the deaths of at least fifteen good people."
"Hmm," he said, perusing his menu. "An interesting subject for consideration."
I looked up. "The menu?"
"No. Traitors."
I decided on soup and salad. "What's interesting about traitors?"
"Well, let me ask you a couple of questions. When you go to war against someone, is it fair to say that you're angry at them for one reason or another?"
"Sure," I said. "Why else would you go to war?"
"And when one of your own turns into a traitor, you're angry at him too, right?"
"But isn't it true," he continued, "that traitors are always hated more than the enemy? While there is often some honor between professional soldiers of opposing sides, such as when generals sit down together at the end of a war, that never happens with traitors. Everyone hates them. True?"
I considered it. "Well, it's because an enemy isn't trying to hide. He's being clear that he's the enemy. A traitor isn't being clear."
"Yes," he said, "but so what? He's still the enemy. Why should you hate him more?"
I pondered again. Finally, I replied, "I can't quite see it, but it seems like it has to be connected with the clarity issue."
"Very close," he said. "When you have an enemy and you can see who he is, then you can take steps to deal with him. On the other hand, you have a certain sense of security around your friends. You trust them. But when one of them turns into a traitor, he or she has suddenly taken away your sense of security. You don't know who to trust. That's a very unsettling experience. Hence, you become angry because the 'friend' took away your sense of security.
"That's why there's always more emotion around getting revenge on a traitor than a sincere enemy," he said. "Even in spy novels.
"By the way," he added. "It's interesting to note that traitors are not necessarily welcome even in the country they helped. I understand that Benedict Arnold was never really accepted by the British after betraying the U.S. Perhaps they didn't trust him either."
"Maybe," I said, as the waiter brought lunch, "that's why marriages are so hard to save after one partner has been unfaithful."
"Good point," he said. "It's the same with friendships, business partnerships, and other human relationships. The bond of trust, once broken, is very difficult to repair."
"But it can be done," I said in a burst of confidence, picking up my novel. "Why, just look here. In the last chapter, the hero gets back together with his girl friend, after she's successfully double-crossed him, at least three foreign governments, and a cab driver in Brooklyn.
"After all," I said with a grin, "they don't call this a 'novel' for nothing."