One notorious apikoros named Hiwa al-Balkhi, writing in ninth-century Persia, offered two hundred awkward questions to the faithful. He drew upon himself the usual thunderous curses—'may his name be forgotten, may his bones be worn to nothing'—along with detailed refutations and denunciations by Abraham ibn Ezra and others. These exciting anathemas, of course, ensured that his worrying 'questions' would remain current for as long as the Orthodox commentaries would be read. In this way, rather as when Maimonides says that the Messiah will come but that 'he may tarry,' Jewishness contrives irony at its own expense. If there is one characteristic of Jews that I admire, it is that irony is seldom if ever wasted on them.