Friday, September 4, 2009

Yiddish Curses

I love Yiddish Curses.

Yiddish speakers have, over the years, developed an amazing ability to come up with creative, funny and vicious ways to condemn their enemies. “May you be rich – may you have a thousand houses with a thousand rooms each. May each one have the nicest featherbed in the land. And may you roll from bed to bed, unable to catch a moment of decent sleep.” “God should bless him with three people: one should grab him, the second should stab him and the third should hide him.”

OK, I’ll admit that my love of these things might not be the best reflection on me. But still - “His luck should be as bright as a new moon.” How can you not appreciate the creativity?

Anyway, I just came across two I had never seen before, and they made me laugh:

“May all your teeth fall out, except one, and may that one have a toothache.”

“May a child be named after you – soon.” *

*if you don’t know, Ashkenazi (Western European) Jews don’t name children after living people.

If you like these (I won’t judge you, if you won’t judge me), then try Googling “Yiddish Curses.” There are some great collections out there!


Incognito said...

I love the synchronicity between this posting and parashat Ki Tavo.

Is there some sort of less well known Yiddish literary haftarah each week?

Rabbi Jason Rosenberg said...

In fairness, I should have said that I was thinking about Yiddish curses specifically because of a d'var torah on Ki Tavo. It was written by Rabbi H. Rafael Goldstein in his collection "Access to God: 54 Ways You Can Get Closer (Without the Internet)." If anyone's interested, you can find it on the website of The National Center for Jewish Healing (