Friday, May 20, 2011

Yiddish Curses in Honor of Bechukotai

This week's portion contains a torrid section of prospective curses to Israel should they fail to live by the convenant. We have a long history of coming up with great curses, dating back to the bible. Here are some more modern ones, from Yiddish sources (and curses were a great way to deal with powerlessness in the face of constant persecution.)

A Selection of Curses from Nahum Stutchkoff's Thesaurus of the Yiddish Language

1. "May your head be full of lice but your arms too short for you to scratch."

2. May you grow so wealthy you can afford only the finest specialists.

3. "You should own a thousand houses,with a thousand rooms in each house,and a thousand beds in every room. And you should sleep each night in a different bed, in a different room, in a different house, and get up every morning, and go down a different staircase, and get into a different car, driven by a different chauffeur, who should drive you to a different doctor--and he shouldn't know what's wrong with you, either."

4. May they find thousands of new cures for you each year. .

5. Gut zol oyf im onshikn fin di tsen makes di beste.
God should visit upon you the best of the Ten Plagues.

6. A groys gesheft zol er hobn mit shroyre: vus er hot, zol men bay im nit fregn, un vos men fregt zol er nisht hobn.
He should have a large store, and whatever people ask for he shouldn’t have, and what he does have shouldn’t be requested.

7. May you lose all your teeth, except for one -- and *that* one should hurt!

8. Migulgl zol er vern in a henglayhter, by tog zol er hengen, un bay nakht zol er brenen May you be transformed into a chandelier, to hang by day and to burn by night.

9. Es zol dir dunern in boykh, vestu meyen az s’iz a homon klaper.
Your stomach will rumble so badly, you'll think it was Purim noisemaker.

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