[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 26.002

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Wed Aug 3 10:11:20 EDT 2016

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 26.002
August 3, 2016

1) shogn oder a shlafn (Congress for Jewish Culture)
2) shogn oder a shlafn (Arele Viswanath)
3) mitzvah (Yeynesn Felendler)
4) lapn (Itsik Goldenberg)

Date: 12 July
Subject: shogn oder a shlafn

In 26.001, Martin Jacobs asks about "shlogn oder a shlafn."  This is
the practice of bloodletting, or bleeding, to cure a sick patient,
nominally to release demonsbring the humors back into balance/ etc.
etc.  In the "Groyser verterbukh" is also to be found the synonym
"lozn an o[der], lozn (shlogn) tsu der o[der] = aynshnaydn a vene un
lozn oysrinen blut vi a heylmitl, ven men iz in hinerplet, ba a
shlak-onfal, un stam peryodish vi a profilaktisher mitl."  Just a
reminder that whenever there’s an important element of the phrase
begining with an alef, it doesn’t hurt to check the Groysn Verterbukh!
 And now that Refoyel Finkel has an OCR version on his site
], one can
even check for usage on words not beginning with alef.

Congress for Jewish Culture

[Similar responses received from: Dr. Leslie Train and Jan Jonk]

Date: 13 July
Subject: shogn oder a shlafn

Martin Jacobs asked [26.001] what "shlogn-oder a shlafn" means.
"shlogn oder" or "shlogn tsu der oder" means to let blood (lit. strike
the veins). "a shlafn" is the accusative masculine singular form of
the adjective "shlaf", meaning "in a weakened state". "a shlafn"
belongs to the entire last half of the sentence, and not just

So the second half of the sentence would be translated as "applying
cups and leeches, and even letting blood for a weak (sick) person".
All three of these activities were thought to cure sickness, and
particularly bad blood.


Arele (Arun) Viswanath

Date: 13 July
Subject: mitzvah

This is a response to the inquiry of Hershl Bershady [Vol. 26.001].
Although this incident definitely is an expression, however I am, as
well as you, unaware of a clear Yiddish expression for it. I do know
of an expression which I can assure to you was used by more learned
people, and is used till today in Yeshiva circles, which is in fact an
expression from the Talmud. Its validity into Yiddish (if you'd like)
could be from the fact that Stutshkov brings this expression as well
in his thesaurus. The expression is-"makhshove toyve, hamokem metsaref
lemayse". That is, a positive thought (as in our incident, a thought
to do a mitzvah) is attached to an action by G-d. In other words, G-d
deems the positive will of wanting to act with a mitzvah as if the
person actually did the action as desired (and is hence rewarded
accordingly). But this expression is not used as you worded it-a
mitzvah that hasn't been fulfilled, because then it could to an
understanding that if someone decided to be lazy in the middle and
didn't fulfill it will also get the same reward, but rather it's
percisely what your friend had meant-that it was no longer possible
for you to fulfill it because you were stopped and the like, and
that's when this expression is used, so here is an expression for you.

Yeynesn Felendler

Date: 18 July
Subject: lapn

In the 1908 song "Zumer bay nakht oyf di dekher," there is a phrase "a
moyd vi a lapn" (to rhyme with "khapn" in the previous line.) The
translation in the songbook gives "a sturdy girl" but it is not a
literal translation. None of the dictionaries I consulted were
helpful. Any suggestions on a precise translation in this context?

Itsik Goldenberg

End of Mendele Vol. 26.002

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