[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 25.002

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Thu May 28 12:29:10 EDT 2015

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 25.002
May 28, 2015

1) brengen unter di hent (Hershl Hartman)
2) bavayzn zikh (Hershl Hartman et al.)
3) tsunoyfgenumen vi a nikl (Moshe Taube)
4) "On the head of a thief" (Hershl Bershady)
5) toykhekhe (Irwin Lebow)
6) af tselokhes (Alan Shuchat)
7) hooleila / kholere (Harriet Gittl Korim)

Date: May 21
Subject: brengen unter di hent

Assuming Martin Jacobs [25.001] is the victim of a typographical error (not
uncommon in published Yiddish texts), the quoted sentence should have read
"…di arbet hot bay zey GEBRENT under di hent." That is, the men worked so
furiously that their work "burned beneath their hands." The phrase is quite

Hershl Hartman
Los Angeles, CA

[Similar responses received from: Moshe Taube, Paula Teitelbaum, Aaron

Date: May 21
Subject: bavayzn zikh

The infinitive "bavayzn zikh" is defined in the new Comprehensive
Yiddish-English Dictionary as "appear, show up." Martin Jacobs' quoted use
[25.001] is in the past tense, "bavizn zikh." "zikh bavizn" would be a
similar usage in the quoted context.

Hershl Hartman
Los Angeles, CA

Barry Goldstein offers: "...The goyim then got quieter, 'showing
themselves' [odd way of saying 'staying as they were'] without the noisy

[Similar response received from Paula Teitelbaum.]

Date: May 21
Subject: tsunoyfgenumen vi a nikl

"vi a nikl" [25.001] should be written in Standard Yiddish "vu a nikl" and
it means: "he scraped up wherever (he could find) a nickle". In the shtetl
it would have been: er hot tsunoyfgenumen vu a groshn.

M. Taube

Date: May 21
Subject: "On the head of a thief"

Dear Mendelyaners,

A colleague asked me whether I knew the Yiddish translation and perhaps
transliteration of the following, which his mother used to say: "On the
head of a thief, the hat turns twice as fast."

Alas, I could not help him with either, but perhaps many of you who are
more knowledgeable can. Although I’m far from clear as to its meaning,  It
is quite an interesting expression.

A sheynem dank,
Hershl Bershady

Date: May 21
Subject: toykhekhe

Many years ago I read the translation of a Yiddish short story about a man
whose sole job in his shtetl was to take the aliyah in which the list of
curses (the toykhekhe) is read.  Then the  man left town and the
townspeople didn't know what to do.

My memory fails me and I have not been able to identify the name of the
story or its author. Can anyone help?

Irwin Lebow
Chevy Chase, MD

Date: May 22
Subject: af tselokhes

Joyce Tamara [25.001] asks about a Bikel recording. Here's a reference to


Alan Shuchat

[Similar response received from Oron Joffe and Itsik Goldenberg]

Date: May 28
Subject: hooleila / kholere

[See 24.012 and 25.001]

My Litvish mom (from Dabeik) didn't swear much, but when she did, this was
one she used a lot; she pronounced it "Kholeriya!" It was a very potent
curse, especially for those who survived the epidemics of flu, typhus and
cholera following WWI.

Harriet Gittl Korim

End of Mendele Vol. 25.002

Please do not use the "reply" key when writing to Mendele. Instead, direct
your mail as follows:

Material for Mendele Personal Notices & Announcements, i.e. announcements
of events, commercial publications, requests to which responses should be
sent exclusively to the request's author, etc., always in plain text (no
HTML or the like) to:

   victor.bers at yale.edu (in the subject line write Mendele Personal)

Material for postings to Mendele Yiddish literature and language, i.e.
inquiries and comments of a non-commercial or publicity nature:

    mendele at mailman.yale.edu

IMPORTANT:  Please include your full name as you would like it to appear in
your posting.  No posting will appear without its author's name.

Submissions to regular Mendele should not include personal email addresses,
as responses will be posted for all to read.  They must also include the
author's name as you would like it to appear.

In order to spare the shamosim time and effort, we request that
contributors adhere, when applicable, as closely as possible to standard
English punctuation, grammar, etc. and to the YIVO rules of transliteration
into Latin letters. A guide to Romanization can be found at this site:

All other messages should be sent to the shamosim at this address:

mendele at mailman.yale.edu

Mendele on the web [interim address]:

To join or leave the list: http://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/mendele

More information about the Mendele mailing list