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If ever, dear reader, you are saddened by the state of the world and are looking for something to bring a smile to your face, Der Vinkl’s recommendation is to turn to any one of the several booklets of Yiddish humor compiled and edited by Ruth Levitan. As an example, what follows is a short, short tale drawn from her volume titled “Lakht a Bisl, Lakht a Sakh.” It is a bit of earthy comedy built around a profound philosophic concept on the dual nature of just about everything. The English version is by Gus Tyler.

Tsvey Leblekh

Tsvey yeshive bokherim zaynen gegangen oyf a shpatsir. Zey zaynen gevorn hungerik. Iz geven a nes, un oyfn veg hobn zey gezen a broyt.

Eyner is geven greyt tsu tsebrekhn dos broyt, ober der anderer hot im opgehaltn, un geredt tsu im ernst.

— Vi azoy ken a mentsh zayn azoy naygerik far der akhile? Eyder mir veln onfiln undzere mogns mit esn, lomir onfiln undzere oygn mit der sheynkayt fun lebn. Bagrayfstu nit as alts darf batrakht zayn vi tsvey, nisht eyns? Ershtns iz di zakh zelbst, un dan di makhshove vos eksistirt. In dem zin hobn mir tsvey broytn. Mir hobn i dos broyt un i di makhshove.

Dos iz a sheyne filosofishe derklerung. Lomir onhoybn esn—hot der ershter gezogt.

Du megst esn, ober ikh vel arum vandern a bisl eyder ikh vel esn.

Ven er iz opgegangen a bisele, hot er zikh tsurikgekert.

In der tsayt hot der ershter bokher oyfgefresn dos broyt, un nisht ibergelost a brekl.

— Vu iz mayn kheylik? — hot er gemont bay zayn khaver.

— Hostu den nisht gezogt az mir hobn gehat tvey broytn? hot der anderer geentferft. —Ikh hob nor eynem oyfgegesn, un ibergelozt dem tsveytn far dir.

Two Loaves

Two yeshiva students went for a walk. They got hungry. A miracle happened. On the way they saw a loaf of bread.

One of them was ready to break bread, but the other stopped him and said to him earnestly, “How can anyone be so eager to eat? Before we fill our stomachs with food, let us fill our eyes with the beauties of a loaf. Don’t you realize that everything must be understood as two, not one? First there is the thing in itself. And then there is the thought of the loaf. In that sense, there are two loaves.”

“That is a beautiful philosophic concept. Now let’s eat,” the other answered.

“You may eat, but I will wander about a bit before eating.”

After wandering about a bit, he returned. During that brief time, his friend had devoured the bread and did not leave a crumb.

“Where is my portion?” grumbled the returnee.

“Did you not say that we had two loaves?” replied his companion. “I ate only one, and I left the other for you.”


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