Learn Hebrew

Learn Torah

Hebrew for Christians
Some Jewish Humor - Page 7

Saving Life on Sabbath

Jewish Music

Q&A for Rabbi

Jewish Food

Rabbi's Letter

Artificial Insermonation

More Hebonics

The End is Near!

Yom Kippur and Lent

Saving Life on Sabbath

It was a Sabbath afternoon and Moshe stood looking out the window of the rabbi's study. "Rabbi," he said thoughtfully, "If one sees a cow drowning on the Sabbath, is it permitted to save her or should one let her drown?"

The rabbi looked up from his studies, "It is not permitted to break the Sabbath over a cow," he replied.

"That's too bad. A cow has fallen into the lake and she's going under," Moshe continued.

"Yes, it's too bad," the rabbi muttered this time, without looking up from his studies.

"Her head is going under now," Moshe continued after a pause. "She's certainly lost now. I feel sorry for the beast."

"Yes," muttered the rabbi, "it's very sad. But what can one do?

"And I feel sorry for you," Moshe said.

"Why me?" said the rabbi looking up.

"It was your cow."


Return to top


Jewish Food

A pancake-like structure not to be confused with anything the House of Pancakes would put out. In a latka, the oil is in the pancake. It is made with potatoes, onions, eggs and matzo meal. Latkas can be eaten with apple sauce but NEVER with maple syrup. There is a rumor that in the time of the Maccabees they lit a latka by mistake and it burned for eight days. What is certain is you will have heartburn for the same amount of time

The Egyptians' revenge for leaving slavery. It consists of a simple mix of flour and water - no eggs or flavor at all. When made well, it could actually taste like cardboard. Its redeeming value is that it does fill you up and stays with you for a long time. However, it is recommended that you eat a few prunes soon after.

Kasha Varnishkes:
One of the little-known delicacies which is even more difficult to pronounce than to cook. It has nothing to do with Varnish, but is basically a mixture of buckwheat and bow-tie macaroni (noodles). Why a bow-tie? Many sages discussed this and agreed that some Jewish mother decided that "You can't come to the table without a tie" or, God forbid "An elbow on my table?"

Not to be confused with the German war machine. Can you imagine the N.J. Post 1939 headlines: "Germans drop tons of cheese and blueberry blintzes over Poland - shortage of sour cream expected." Basically this is the Jewish answer to crepe suzette

You know from Haggis? Well, this ain't it . In the old days they would take an intestine and stuff it . Today we use parchment paper or plastic. And what do you stuff it with? Carrots, celery, onions, flour, and spices. But the trick is not to cook it alone but to add it to the cholent (see below) and let it cook for 24 hours until there is no chance whatsoever that there is any nutritional value left.

It sounds worse than it tastes. There is a Rabbinical debate on its origins: One Rabbi claims it began when a fortune cookie fell into his chicken soup. The other claims it started in an Italian restaurant. Either way it can be soft, hard, or soggy and the amount of meat inside depends on whether it is your mother or your mother-in-law who cooked it.

This combination of noxious gases had been the secret weapon of Jews for centuries. The unique combination of beans, barley, potatoes, and bones or meat is meant to stick to your ribs and anything else it comes into contact with. At a fancy Mexican restaurant (kosher of course). I once heard this comment from a youngster who had just had his first taste of Mexican fried beans: "What! Do they serve leftover cholent here too?!" My wife once tried something unusual for guests: She made cholent burgers for Sunday night supper. The guests never came back

Gefilte Fish:
A few years ago, I had problems with my filter in my fish pond and a few of them got rather stuck and mangled. My son (5 years old) looked at them and commented "Is that why we call it 'GeFiltered Fish'?" Originally, it was a carp stuffed with a minced fish and vegetable mixture. Today it usually comprises of small fish balls eaten with horse radish ("chrain") which is judged on its relative strength in bringing tears to your eyes at 100 paces.

How can we finish without the quintessential Jewish Food, the bagel? Like most foods, there are legends surrounding the bagel although I don't know any. There have been persistent rumors that the inventors of the bagel were the Norwegians who couldn't get anyone to buy smoked lox. Think about it: Can you picture yourself eating lox on white bread? Rye? A cracker?? Naaa. They looked for something hard and almost indigestible which could take the spread of cream cheese and which doesn't take up too much room on the plate. And why the hole? The truth is that many philosophers believe the hole is the essence and the dough is only there for emphasis.


Return to top


More Hebonics

The NYC School Board has officially declared Jewish English a second language. Backers of the move say the district is the first in the nation to recognize Hebonics as the language of many American Jews. Look for other cities to follow suit, notably Miami Beach, Los Angeles and Scarsdale. In Hebonics, questions are always answered with questions:

Question: "How do you feel?"
Hebonics response: "How should I feel?"

The subject is often placed at the end of a sentence after a pronoun has been used at the beginning: "She dances beautifully, that girl."

The sarcastic repetition of words by adding "sh" to the front is used for emphasis: mountains becomes "shmountains"; turtle becomes shmurtle." (mountains-shmountains / turtle-shmurtle)

These common phrases were translated from "Standard English" to Hebonics:

English: "Sorry, I don't know the time."
Hebonics: "What do I look like, a clock?"

English: "I hope things turn out okay."
Hebonics: "You should BE so lucky!"

English: "I see you're wearing one of the ties I gave you."
Hebonics: "What's the matter, the other tie you didn't like?

English: "That's a very pretty girl."
Hebonics: "She could stand to gain a few pounds."

English: "May I take your plate, sir?"
Hebonics: "You've hardly touched your food. What's the matter, something's wrong with it?"

English: "It's been so long since you've called."
Hebonics: "You didn't wonder if I'm dead yet?"

English: "It's a nice day."
Hebonics: "At least it's not raining."

English: "Happy birthday."
Hebonics: "You should only become a year smarter."

English: "I feel good."
Hebonics: "Things could be a lot worse."

English: "Happy New Year!"
Hebonics: "Another year, G-d willing!"

Return to top


Jewish Music


An old mitnaged went to a neighboring town on business, was detained over Shabbat, and attended his first Chasidic Shabbat because his host was a Chasid.

He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the farmer, "It was interesting. I don't know if it was good, but it was interesting. They did something different, however. Instead of regular, ordinary zemiros, they sang niggunim."

"Niggunim?" said his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They're sort of like zemiros, only different," said the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - if I were to say to you, 'Rivka, the cows are in the corn,' well, that would be a zmiro.

If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

'Rivka, Rivka, Rivka, OY! Rivka, Rivka ...the cows, ya-dee-diddle-ay-dah ... the brown one, the black one, the white one, the black and WHITE one! AY-derri-da-ee-dum ... the COWS are in the ay-chiri-biri-biddle-ay-bum-corn, in the CORN - OY! Ribbono shel Oylom ... the cows ... !'

Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a niggun."


Meanwhile, in another part of the country ...

A young Chasid went to Germany on business, and attended his first Reform service. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the young man, "It was interesting. I don't know if it was good, but it was interesting. They did something different, however. Instead of regular niggunim, they sang choral anthems."

"Choral anthems?" said his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They're sort of like niggunim, only different," said the young man. "Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The young man said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you, 'Rivka, the cows are in the corn', well, that would be a regular niggun. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

'Oh Rivka, my Rivka, do thou hear my cry,
May thine ear attend now to the words that I say,
Turn thou thine attention to me by and by
To the praise of the wondrous creation today!

For the way of the animals none can explain
There is in their heads not a shadow of sense,
They hearken no wise to God's sun or His rain
Unless from temptation of corn they are fenced.

Yea, those cows in their bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all of the gold of my sweet corn have chewed.

So look to the glory-day that is ahead,
When the impulses lowly are purged and reborn,
When the fences we build will stand un-trample-ed,
And we live righteous lives, not as cows in the corn.'

And then... if I were to do only verses one, three, and four ... well, that would be a choral anthem."

Return to top


The Rabbi's Letter

A Rabbi was opening his mail one morning. Taking a single sheet of paper from an envelope he found written on it only one word:


The next Friday night he announced,

"I have known many people who have written letters and forgot to sign their names. But, this week, I received a letter from someone who signed his name and forgot to write a letter."

Return to top


The End is Near!

A local priest and rabbi were fishing on the side of the road.

They thoughtfully made a sign saying, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" and showed it to each passing car.

One driver that drove by didn't appreciate the sign and gave them the finger and shouted: "Leave us alone, you religious nuts!"

All of a sudden they heard a big splash. They looked at each other and the priest said to the rabbi, "You think we should just put up a sign that says 'Bridge Out' instead?"

Return to top


Questions and Answers for the Rabbi

Q: Is one permitted to ride in an airplane on Shabbos?
A: Yes, as long as your seat belt remains fastened. Then it is considered as if you are wearing the plane.


Q: On Sukkos, is one allowed to use hoshanas (willow branches) if he knows they have been stolen?
A: What's the matter, you never heard of a Hoshana Robber?  (play on Hoshanah Rabbah)


Q: Does the Talmudic tractate Bubbe Metzia refer to a young bubbe or to an old bubbe?
A: A young bubbe. If she were an old bubbe, she wouldn't be a metzia (a Metzia is Yiddish for a bargain, a real find, or a lucky break).


Q: Are women in shul allowed to be given hagbah? (lifting up Torah)
A: Only those willing to take the Law into their own hands.


Q: According to halacha (Jewish law), is smoking permissible, even if it endangers your health?
A: Yes, as long as you sell your lungs to a non-Jew.


Next week, the Rabbi will deal with whether you are allowed to launder money on Chol HaMoed.

Return to top


Artifical Insermonation

In a large Florida city, the rabbi developed quite a reputation for his sermons, so much so that everyone in the community came every Shabbos.

Unfortunately, one weekend a member had to visit Long Island for his nephew's bar mitzvah, but he didn't want to miss the rabbi's sermon.

So he decided to hire a Shabbos goy to sit in the congregation and tape the sermon so he could listen to it when he returned.

Other congregants saw what was going on, and they also decided to hire Shabbos goys to tape the sermon so they could play golf instead of going to shul.

Within a few weeks time there were 500 gentiles sitting in shul taping the rabbi.

The rabbi got wise to this. The following Shabbos he, too, hired a Shabbos goy who brought a tape recorder to play his prerecorded sermon to the 500 gentiles in the congregation who dutifully recorded his words on their machines.

Witnesses said this marked the first incidence in history of artificial in-sermon-ation.

Return to top

Kom Kippur and Lent

A priest and a rabbi are discussing the pros and cons of their various religions, and inevitably the discussion turns to repentance.

The rabbi explains Yom Kippur, the solemn Day of Atonement, a day of fasting and penitence, while the priest tells him all about Lent, and its 40 days of self-denial and absolution from sins.

After the discussion ends, the rabbi goes home to tell his wife about the conversation, and they discuss the merits of Lent versus Yom Kippur.

She turns her head and laughs.

The rabbi says, "What's so funny, dear?"

Her response, "40 days of Lent - one day of Yom, even when it comes to sin, the goyim pay retail....."

Return to top

<< Return


Bubbe: (n) Yiddish for grandmother.

(n); (also Hassid). A member of a Jewish sect that observes a form of strict Orthodox Judaism; a person who practices Hassidic Judaism (from the Hebrew word Chasidut, that means "pious" (and from from the Hebrew root chesed meaning "loving kindness"). Hassidism originated in Eastern Europe (Belarus and Ukraine) in the 18th century.

Goyim: (n pl); Gentiles; non-Jews. The singular is goy.

Mitnagdim: (n pl) (singular Mitnaged) - European religious Jews who opposed Hasidic Judaism.

(n); A melody without words. Or perhaps more accurately, a melody sung using "yai-dai-dai," "bim-bom," or some other equally universal sounds, rather than words. Used particularly in more mystically inclined Hasidic traditions for prayer, celebration, or sometimes even just a warm-up to other songs, the niggun was traditionally seen as a melody on which the soul could be lifted to higher dimensions of spiritual experience.

Niggunim: (n pl); Plural of niggun.

Rabbi: (n); Leader of a Jewish congregation, similar to the role of a priest or minister.

Shabbat: (n); the Jewish Sabbath day, from Sundown on Friday to Sundown on Saturday, wherein no melakhah (work) is permitted. Ashkenaz spelling: Shabbos.

Shabbos Goy (n); a non-Jew hired to do melachah (forbidden work) on Shabbat on behalf of an Orthodox Jew.

Shul: (n/Yiddish); Also spelled Schul. Synagogue; the place of worship for a Jewish congregation.

Sukkos: (n) Ashkenaz spelling for Sukkot, the festival of Tabernacles.

Yiddish: (n); A language based on medieval Rhineland German used by Jews in eastern, northern, and central Europe and in areas to which Jews from these regions migrated. It also contains elements of Hebrew, Russian, and Polish, and it is commonly written in Hebrew characters.

Zimerot: (n pl.); (also spelled Zmirot, Zmiros, etc.; singular: zemirah) Jewish hymns, usually sung in Hebrew, but sometimes in Yiddish or Ladino. The best known zemirot are those sung around the table during on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.


Return to top

"Anyone meshugge enough to call himself a Jew, IS a Jew."
- Ben-Gurion

Disclaimer / Note:  All the jokes listed here are understood to be in the "public domain," unless otherwise noted.... If are the original copyright holder of a joke listed here, please contact me and I will either remove it or provide a link back to your original.

<< Return


Hebrew for Christians
Copyright © John J. Parsons
All rights reserved.