[Mendele] Mendele Volume 18 number 5

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Thu Jul 17 12:01:00 EDT 2008

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 18.005
July 16, 2008

1) amulet inscription (Richard (Zishe) Carlow)
2) sho(y)l-takhtie (Norman Buder)
3) sho(y)l-takhtie (Zev Kesselman)
4) sho(y)l-takhtie (Joseph Ramek)
5) sho(y)l-takhtie (Khayem Bochner)
6) tatele (Sylvan Beer)
7) transliteration query (Miriam Udel-Lambert)
8) Dovid Eshet recordings sought (Marjorie Schonhaut Hirshan)
9) tsebalevet (Lillian Siegfried)

Date:  July 4, 2008
Subject:  amulet inscription

A friend of mine told me about a woman who was ill, and asked her Rabbi for
an amulet. After refusing several times, the Rabbi finally gave the woman
an amulet on which was inscribed shin-shin-nun-nun-nun-nun. My friend asked
his own Rabbi what it meant, and was told the initials stood for a sentence
in Yiddish which meant something like "it won't help, nor will it hurt."
Does anyone know the expression? I imagine that one of the shins might be
"shatn" and one (or two) of the nuns "nit/nisht" but other than that hob
ikh nisht keyn anung.

A dank in foroys.

BTW, the woman had a complete recovery.

Richard (Zishe) Carlow

Date: July 4, 2008
Subject: sho(y)l-takhtie

The phrase Dr. Joseph Ramek is looking for is spelled as two words:  shin,
alef, vov, lamed, followed by tof, khes, tof, yud, hey.  I too am unable to
find the expression in Weinreich or Harkavy, but I believe it means "the
lowest netherworld," "the worst part of hell," and perhaps even "the
deepest grave."  Figuratively, it seems to mean "the lowest depths."

According to http://agmk.blogspot.com/search?q=3DPittsburgh, the phrase
occurs in a medieval poem included in the Yom Kippur Ne'ilah liturgy:

"Madua kol ir al tilah bnuyah, Ve'ir Elohim shfeylah ad she'ol takhtiyah?"
[In some Makhzorim: "Ve'ir ha'elohim mushpelet..."]

"Why is every city built on its hilltop, While the City of God [Jerusalem]
is degraded to the nethermost depth?" [translation copied from website].

The phrase occurs in a "Forverts" article in January 2008
(http://yiddish.forward.com/node/1174/print/), in a blog by Katle Kanye
(http://katlekanye.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html), and numerous
other places.

Norman Buder

Subject: sho(y)l-takhtie
Date:  July 5, 2008

It sounds like an exact quote from the Haazinu "song" (Deuteronomy 32:22).

Zev Kesselman

Subject: sho(y)l-takhtie
Date:  July 7, 2008

I found the origin (and therefore the spelling) of shol-takhtie.  In
Devarim--Ha'azinu 32:22 one finds the words sheol tachtit, which is
translated as lowest grave, lowest hole, or lowest hell.  Isaac Bashevis
Singer uses this expression in "Fun mayn tatns beys-din- shtub." Its
meaning in Yiddish is something akin to "hell hole."   The only thing worse
would be a bitere shol-takhtie

Joseph Ramek

Subject: sho(y)l-takhtie
Date:  July 4, 2008

It's in Niborski's "Verterbukh fun loshn-koydesh-shtamike verter," in the
"Yidish- frantseyzish verterbukh" (Niborski-Vaysbrot), and will be in the
English version of the latter when we finally finish it.

Khayem Bochner

Date:  July 5, 2008
Subject: tatele

Rubin Feldstein asked why anyone would refer to a son as "tatele"
considering that it means "little father." Daughters are referred to as
"mamele.". The reason is that a male child is often named after one's dead
father and a female after one's dead mother (among Ashkenazim) and thus
they are stand-ins for the dead parents. This continuity of generations is
also alluded to by a parent referring to a son as "mayn kadishele," the one
who will say kadish for the parent after death.

Sylvan Beer

Date:  July 16, 2008
Subject: transliteration query

On behalf of a colleague, I ask the following two questions about
transliterating the phrase "a shabesdike shayle":

1. Should "shabesdike" be capitalized or not?

2. The source predates the standardization of Yiddish orthography, and it
actually reads "shabesdige."  Should my colleague preserve the "g" for
historical accuracy or render it as "k" to conform to standard spelling?

Thanks to the linguists for help with this one!

Miriam Udel-Lambert

Date: July 11, 2008
Subject:  Dovid Eshet recordings sought

I foolishly lent my favorite tape and it was never returned.

Dovid Eshet singing "Forbidden Songs."  The Book Center and the Workmen's
Circle have none of his work.

Can anyone suggest, please, where I might purchase anything of his?

Thanks in advance,
Marjorie Schonhaut Hirshan

Date:  July 5, 2008
Subject: tsebalavet

Does anyone know what "tsebalavet" means?  What language is it?

Lillian Siegfried

[Moderator's note:  this is "kosher" Yiddish word meaning, according to
Uriel Weinreich's dictionary, "spoiled" (e.g. a child).]

End of Mendele Vol.18.005

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