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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Talmud Says

  1. FADE IN.

  2. Act 1


  4. PETER is reading a mail on his phone.

  5. PETER (V.O.): Yes, the coronavirus scare has turned people's lives upside down. Many things, including knowledge transfer, is now primarily online rather than offline.

  6. Pausing.

  7. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In Hong Kong 2019, the scare was caused by some Hongkongers, now, it's the non-discriminatory COVID-19.

  8. Recalling.

  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): As an HKUST Council Member, I have witnessed how University administration, faculty, and staff undertaking all that with decency and humility.

  10. Peter reads on.

  11. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And now, Harvard has to do the same. Some endorsement and encouragement from the University President to all is necessary. This is an aspect of leadership.

  12. Pondering.

  13. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The President says that to save one life is equivalent to saving the entire world. Is that right?

  14. Pausing.

  15. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's a quote from Talmud. What's Talmud?

  16. Act 2


  18. Peter surfs the web.

  19. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, Talmud is the primary source of Jewish theology...The President must be a Jew.

  20. Peter types on his phone to search.

  21. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, his mother was the only member of her family to survive Auschwitz. His father was also a Jewish immigrant to the US.

  22. Peter reads on.

  23. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The President is three years older than me and has degrees from MIT, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School.

  24. Pausing.

  25. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): My dream in the 1970s was to get admitted to HKU only...

  26. Pausing.

  27. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And then in the 1980s to Strasbourg...and to Hague...

  28. Remembering.

  29. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And in 1996 to Tsinghua.

  30. Remembering.

  31. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And only in the 2000s did I have spells at Harvard Kennedy School...and speaking opportunities at Harvard Asia Business Conference in Harvard Business School...

  32. Pausing.

  33. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Those were the best I could do.

  34. Peter reads on.

  35. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, he was chosen as President out of 700 candidates...So competitive!

  36. Pausing.

  37. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Since retirement from civil service, I've been doing some university governance work too...

  38. Peter reads on.

  39. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, he's an avid runner - done several marathons.

  40. Pausing.

  41. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I swim a lot too. But all the swimming pools are still closed. And I won't go to the beach until weeks later.

  42. Act 3

  43. EXT. PARK - DAY

  44. Track. Peter is jogging.

  45. PETER (V.O.): In lieu of swimming, I've been jogging for a few weeks now. And I feel good.

  46. Open space. Peter is practising some Tango, Waltz and Jive and cha-cha-cha footworks.

  47. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It seems that I still have some muscle memories.

  48. Reflecting.

  49. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I'm fortunate that I've been reasonably healthy.

  50. Pausing.

  51. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): For anyone who dies because of human evil or the COVID-19, the entire world doesn't matter to him or her anymore.

  52. Reflecting.

  53. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): No one can live more than once.

  54. Pausing.

  55. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So in that sense, what Talmud says isn't wrong - to save one life is equivalent to saving the entire world. One life isn't just a number.

  56. Checking his phone screen again.

  57. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Talmud also says: A person will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not.


  59. Coming out of the bathroom, Peter returns to bed.

  60. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): So treasure the present as a present and keep my sleeping wife good company.

  61. FADE OUT.

  62. THE END

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