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DER YIDDISH-VINKL April 25, 2003

A recurrent feature in the Forverts runs under the title of “Mishpokhe Kheyndlekh” (“Household Humor”). The suggestion is that while sometimes the humor is nutty, it is never smutty. But occasionally there is a bit of borderline humor with a hint of sexual impropriety as in the first of the following selections. (The original pieces are collected by Rukhl Schaechter. The transliteration from the Yiddish is by Goldie A. Gold, the English version by Gus Tyler.)

Beni der shatkhn khapt zikh arayn tsum altn bokher Vaserman.

“Vaserman, eyder s’vert tsu shpet, hob ikh a fayn meydl far dir. Kh’bin zikher, ven du bakenst zikh mit ir, hot ir bald khasene.”

“Kh’darf es nisht,” entfert Vaserman. “Kh’hob tsvey shvester in der heym vos pasn zeyer gut oyf oyf mir.”

“Ikh farshtey, ober vi gut dayne shvester zoln nisht zayn tsu dir, kenen zey nisht farnemen dos ort fun a vayb.”

“Ver zogt den, as di shvester zenen mayne?”

Benny the matchmaker drops in on his aging buddy Vaserman.

“Vaserman, before it is too late, I have a lovely girl for you. I am certain that if you get to know her, you will get married immediately.”

“I don’t need it,” answers Vaserman, “I have two sisters at home who take good care of me.”

“I understand, but no matter how good your sisters are, they cannot take the place of a wife.”

“Who says that the sisters are mine?”

Here’s another item that the Germans call galgn humor (gallows humor).

Moyshe iz a troyeriker arayngekumen in byuro fun der shil un gegebn a zifts. “Mrs. Grinberg,” zogt er tsu der sekretarshe, “Ikh hob a shlekhte bsure. Kh’darf aranshirn mayn froys levaye.”

“Ober Moyshe,” entfert im Mrs.Grinberg mit a veykh kol, “gedenstu nisht? Dayn froys levaye iz dokh geven mit tsvey yor tsurik.”

“Yo, ikh gedenk. Dos iz geven mayn ershte froy. Itst red ikh vegn der tsveyter.”

“Vos!? Kh’hob gor nisht gevust as d’host vider khasene gehat! Mazl tov!”

Depressed, Moyshe entered the synagogue office and sighed deeply. “Mrs. Grinberg,” he says to the secretary, “I have some bad news. I have to arrange my wife’s funeral.”

“But, Moyshe.” answers Mrs. Grinberg gently, “don’t you remember? Your wife’s funeral took place two years ago.”

“Yes, I remember. But that was my first wife. I am now talking about the second.”

“What!? I never knew that you had a second wife! Congratulations!”

* * *|

Our third excerpt is about “obesity,” which is really no laughing matter.

Di Bobe Etl, a laybike froy, hot oftmol gehat shverikeytn baym gefinen kleyder oyf der rickhtiker greys. Eyn mol, beys zi iz geven mit ir 3-yorik eynikl, Sorele, in a kleyder gesheft, hot zi derzen a gel kleyd vos hot oysgezen vi s’volt ir gut gepast.

Zi hot mitgenumen Sorelen in tsimer ontsumestn dos kleyd. Shteyendik farn shpigl, fregt di bobe: “Nu, s’kleyd gefelt dir?”

“Ye, Bobe, du zest oys azoy sheyn, hot zikh derfreyt Sorele. “Punkt azoy vi undzer groyser geler shul-oytobus.”

Grandma Ethel, a corpulent woman, often had trouble finding clothing of the right size. On one occasion in a clothing store, when she was with her 3-year-old grandchild, Sarah, she noticed a yellow dress that looked as if it would be suitable.

She took Sarah with her into the dressing room to try on the dress. Standing before the mirror, the grandmother asked: “Well, how do you like the dress?”

“Yes, Grandma, you look very pretty! You look exactly like our big yellow school bus.”

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