Ven ikh hob geven a kind, a Lange tzeit karick, mine mame, alekha hashalom, hot gehat a vitz vos iz a halben veltsvert; “Frieer fon mine khasene, ikh hob gehat finf teorias vie tsu oifriren kinder und keyn ein kind nit. Ober nokh dem khassne hob ikh gehat finf kinder, ober keyn ein teoriah nit.”
When I was a child, my Mother, peace be on her, had a joke that was half a proverb: “Before my marriage I had five theories about how to raise children, but not even one child. But after my marriage I had five children and not a single theory.”
And now a joke which is not a “thigh slapper” but will show other phrases which can be used for olav hasholem (on him be peace) said ritually about any relative who might have passed, e.g. “My zaide, ulov ahshalom, once said. . .”
A id iz a mol gekumen in a fremde shtot. Iz zikh m’yashev zayn vayb, nisht af aykh gezogt gevorn, krank. Darf men geyen rufen a docktor. Ober a fremde shtodt. . . velkhen doctor tsu rufen?
Iz der id araus af’n gas un er zet vi es geyt an elteren id, vayst ois a finer id-mit a bord un a finer gesikht. Git im a tsup far’n arbel un fregt im. “Hot kein faribl nit, ikh darf hoben a doktor; kent ir mir nit zogen ver iz do a guter doktor ba aykh in shtot?”
Sogt der id,”Mir hoben etlakhe, nor der beste fon zey iz der doktor Grinshteyn-a tayere doktor! Er hot geheylt di shenste balebatim mit di faynsste nemen: Reb Dovidl Isserles, olov hashalom, Reb Yankele Rapaport, zikhroynoy livrokho, Reb Yitzkhok Spektor, z’khuso yogayn olynu, tayere nemen!”
A Jew once came to an unknown city. His wife took it into her head, it shouldn’t be said of you, sick. One has to look for a doctor. But a strange city. . . which doctor to call?
So the Jew goes out to the street, and notices a “fine Jew” with a beard and a fine face. He tugs at his sleeve and asks, “Excuse me (literally don’t bear a grudge) I need to have a doctor; could you not tell me who is a good doctor in your city?”
Says the Jew, “We have a few (some), but the best of them all is Doctor Grinshteyn–a fine (lit beautiful) doctor. He has healed the finest members of the community with the finest names: Reb Dovid Isserles, olov hashalom, Reb Yankele Rapaport, may his memory be for blessing, and Reb Yitzkhok Spector, may his rewards shield us. Fine names!”
This will be a weekly blog that’ll almost certainly appear with some regularity, maybe. It will depend on whether anyone finds it useful or enjoyable. Your comments will be invaluable and most welcome. There are some caveats-but let’s get started, already.
We’ll start with 4 “hello’s and answers:”
1. Shalom aleykhem. [Kh=ch as in Bach]
Ans. Aleykhem shalom (formal) Peace be unto you. Unto you be peace (can be formal or ironic)
2. Vee gaytz? How is it going?
Ans. Gantz fein (usual) Quite good!
3. Vos hert sakh? What do you hear?
Ans. Ikh leb vi Got in Frankrikh! I live like God in Austria!
4 Vos tut sikh? What’s happening?
Ans. Akhutz fon gesunt un parnoseh, Ikh layb gantz fein. Except for health and livelihood, very well.
Note. Can mix and match, except for #1. There are more; coming soon.
This joke pre-dates the Russian Revolution, as you will see.
A Russian peasant laughs three times when you tell them a joke: First, when you tell them the joke, second, when you explain it, and third, when they understand it.
The landowner laughs only twice: Once when he hears it, the second time when you explain it. But understand it he never will.
An officer laughs only once, when you tell it to him, for he won’t let you explain it and anyhow he’ll never understand it.
A Jew hears a joke. He doesn’t laugh. He says, “An old story.” And he tells it better.
And now in Yiddish: A Roosisher poyer lakht drei mol ven me dertzaylt im a vitz: ershtens ven men dertzaylt dem mayseh; tsveytens ven men derklert im der maiseh; und dritens ven er farshteyt der maiseh.
a poretz lakht nur tzvaymol: ershtens ven meh dertzaylt ihm der vitz: un a tveyten ven men derklert es: vorem farshteyen farshteyt er zi say-vi say nit.
an ofitzer lacht nur eyn mol, b’shas me dartseylt em, vorem darkleren losst er zakh nit un farshsteyen farshteyt er nit.
A Yid lakh nit; sogt er, ‘Alte maysse!’ un er ken es besser dartzeylen.
Note: sometimes I use a synonym. Vits=German derivative, a joke.. Maiseh=Hebrew derivative-a story or a joke. Interchangeable.
There is an official YIVO system of transliteration. I use it, mostly. YIVO = Yiddiser Visenshafltlekher Institut. Started in Vilne, Poland, 1925. Later, after the Red Army absorbed Eastern Europe, it became Vilnius Lithuania! Anybody know what the “O” stands for?