[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 25.009

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Mon Apr 4 15:29:39 EDT 2016

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 25.009
April 4, 2016

1) kneydl un alke (Sholem Beinfeld)
2) kneydl un alke (Tomasz Majtczak)
3) "getting away with something" (Tomasz Majtczak)
4) a meshugener hunt in tamez (Tomasz Majtczak)
5) a meshugener hunt in tamez (Yeynesn Felendler)
6) a meshugener hunt in tamez (Galit Hasan-Rokem)
7) a meshugener hunt in tamez (Beni Warshawsky)
8) "Mayses fun hintern oyvn" translations (Mark Stewart)
9) Va-yikhbeshuha be-adu (?) (Yael Chaver)

Date: 18 February
Subject: kneydl un alke

In reply to Fishl Kutner’s query [Vol. 25.008] about “alkes”:  the Groyser
Verterbukh defines "alkes” as “kneydl fun tseribene kartofl, farmisht mit
mel”, noting the word’s derivation from Ukrainian or Belorussian.  It also
gives “halkes” as an equivalent.  Weinreich may not have either “alke” or
“halke”, but the Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary under “halke”
says:  ze “haleshke”.  In turn, “haleshke”=”holeshke”, is defined simply as

Sholem Beinfeld

Date: 18 February
Subject: kneydl un alke

It seems that the word "alke" is a dialectal variant of "halke" (in those
dialects that tend to lose the word-initial "h-"). This "halke" is also
used in the form of "haleshke" or "holeszke", and it is probably a
borrowing from Belarusian "галка" (halka) / "галушка" (halushka), meaning
"knob" as well as "dumpling".

Tomasz Majtczak

Date: 18 February
Subject: "getting away with something"

The Polish-Yiddish dictionary by Arn Mark of 1929 has the Polish phrase
"upiekło mu się" (= he got away with it / he got away with murder / he got
off scot-free) translated as:

"s'hot zikh im ayngegebn"

but this meaning is not confirmed by Niborski/Vaisbrot = Beinfeld/Bochner
("ayngebn zikh" = to succeed, to come off well).

The Russian-Yiddish dictionary of 1984 translates the Russian phrase "сойти
с рук (кому-л.)" (= to get away with it) as:

"opgeyn (emetsn) glat"

which would be partly confirmed by NV = BB: "opgeyn glat / glatik" (= to
come off without a hitch).

Tomasz Majtczak

Date: 18 February
Subject: a meshugener hunt in tamez

Bernstein in his collection of Yiddish proverbs and sayings of 1908 (
https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__sammlungen.ub.uni-2Dfrankfurt.de_freimann_content_pageview_4015203&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=hgSCSvtHqNOp40iT6T4uKyOHqvQreUPfVso-KO1Kgto&m=izPEWLxBVQvkATWGSseLOtPiHxNkgKNwh-EQ0l6UE7s&s=6Yny4lL06vw8T7a2LQqCyVOmOjkaMCKZQA8bbd3lvTw&e= )

"Itlicher m'schüge'ner wert im Tamüs klur, (oder: m'jüschow)." [= YIVO:
"Etlekher meshugener vet in(em) tamez klor (or, meyushev)."]

with the explanation:

"Gerade in den Hundstagen werden die Verrückten auf einmal gescheit." (= It
is precisely on dog days that the mad ones become sane.)
This makes a nice connexion of the month of tamuz and dogs (by means of
Sirius / Dog Star / Canicula, and Canis Major in general). But the meaning
of this saying is unclear to me.

The Yiddish-Belarusian dictionary by Astravukh of 2008 lists also:

"hintish meshugas" (= rabies)
"meshuge vi in/mitn tamez" (= utter fool)

and the same saying as Bernstein (with literal translation only: "every
fool becomes reasonable in tamuz / in summer").

Tomasz Majtczak

Date: 18 February
Subject: a meshugener hunt in tamez


Ir hot gefregt [Volume 25.008] vegn dem vertl, "A meshugener hunt in
tamez", oder "meshuge vi a hunt in tamez". Lemayse ken ikh zogn, az an
enlikher vertl hob ikh gehert fun a Vilner yidn (un es vert eykh gebrakht
in Stutshkovs oytser), "tzitern vi a hunt in di nayn teg". Der inyen iz, az
Yidn torn nit esn kein fleish in di nain teg tzulib aveyles fun dem khurbn
beys hamikdesh. Derfar tsitert der hunt, vayl er veys az er vet nit krign
kein been in di teg. Mistome ayer vertl hot dem zelbn inyen, vayl tamez
kumt glaykh farn kheydesh ov, un di nayn teg zaynen in kheydesh ov. Far vos
ober iz dos dafke tamez? Mistome vail der hunt veys shoyn yemolt az di
tsayt kumt az zain beyn vet er nit krign, vayl di dray vokhn heybn zikh
shoyn on fun yud zayen tamez, un etlekhe dinim fun aveyles heybn zikh shoyn
on yemolt.

Ikh hof az dos hot aykh geholfn...

Yeynesn Felendler

Date: 18 February
Subject: a meshugener hunt in tamez

Re: "a meshugener hunt in tamez" [Volume 25.008]

Please compare with the title of Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's book "The
Called Him Meir July" where July is a translation of Tamuz, apparently
because of the heat of the month that may also have influenced people's and
dogs' moods. The meaning of 'tamez" in the name is explained in the book.
[Moderator's note: Paul (Hershl) Glasser also cites this book.]

My late father used to say "a meshugener hunt fun Alabama", and we lived in
Northern Europe and Israel, and I have never been able to trace the origin
of that. Any ideas?

Galit Hasan-Rokem

Date: 19 February
Subject: a meshungener hunt in tamez


Tammuz coincides with the secular months of June/July. So the expression "a
meshugener hunt im tamus, oder "meshuge vi a hunt in tamez" is similar to
the English expression "only mad dogs and Englishman go out in them mid-day

Beni Warshawsky

Date: 23 February
Subject: "Mayses fun hinern oyvn" translations

Can anyone help me find the existing translations for the I.B.Singer story
collection published in Israel in 1982 as "Mayses fun hintern oyvn"?

It seems they might be scattered in several different English collections,
e.g., "Taibele" is in "Short Friday".

Additionally, are there stories in that book that have not been translated?


Mark Stewart

Date: 29 March
Subject: Va-yikhbeshuha be-adu (?)

tayere mendelyaner,

The weekly, long-running Berkeley Lehrhaus Judaica reading group that I
lead is nearing the end of Alter Katsizne's Shtarke un Shvakhe. On p. 335,
Vol. 2 of the 1954 Buenos Aires edition, near the end of Chapter 12 of Book
4, a dialogue contains what purports to be a quote from the Bible (it's
described as a posek). The full exchange is: "hm... di batsvungene...oyfn
gemoyzekhts.  va-yikhbeshuha be-adu meynt der posek?" And the rejoinder,
ot, ot... ikh ze az ir farshteyt." I may not have properly transliterated
the second word of the quote, as there are no nekudes. My searches for this
combination in a biblical concordance, as well as in Stutchkoff's Oytser,
have been fruitless. The Hebrew translation of 2012, as it sometimes does
with problematic phrases, ignores the 'posek' altogether. It replaces it
with 'do you mean an act of  lewdness?' [ha'im ha-kavanah le-ma'aseh
zima?], a question that is not in the Yiddish text. Does anyone have any
idea what the quote in the Yiddish original might mean, or where it might
have originated? I'd be very grateful for any insight into this conundrum.

a hartsikn dank in foroys!

Yael Chaver

End of Mendele Vol. 25.009

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