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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish’

Jewish Grammar Rules

picture of oil bottle

Does something ever sound funny to you, and you don't know quite why? Or, if you now live somewhere other than where you grew up, do you ever say things that sound funny to others? My wife and I grew up in northwestern Ohio where the word wash is pronounced "worsh." People there also "redd up" the table after meals and "redd up" the house before guests arrive. When we were in college out of state, we had to eliminate those things from our speech, or be prepared to be teased or to explain what we meant.

In several of my classes today we were talking about the placement of adverbs in French sentences. In English we often put short adverbs before the verb – as in the bold print in the first part of this sentence. My students were having trouble understanding why using English word order in French would sound weird to the French who never put the adverb before the verb. I gave them one of the classic Pennsylvania Dutch examples of funny word order, where prepositional phrase placement in sentences turns "Throw the horse some hay over the fence" into "Throw the horse over the fence some hay"), which illustrates a slightly different effect of altering word order.

Along that vein, I found some rules for Jewish grammar in my files and am posting them, followed by what would make some great Jewish Country-Western Hits.

Jewish Grammar Rules

1. When making statements, phrase them as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks gorgeous, ask her, "Ida, how stunning do you have to look?"

2. Instead of answering questions definitely, answer with another question. When someone asks how you feel, answer, "How should I feel?"

3. Whenever possible, end questions with "or what?" This allows the other person to interject another question: "Has she grown up, or what?" — "Can you remember when she was just a baby, or what?" (Don't be surprised if someone bursts into "Sunrise, Sunset" at any moment.)

4. Begin questions with "What?" For example: "What, my cooking is not good enough for you?"

5. Drop last word in sentence (which is typically a direct or indirect object): "What, do you want to get killed going alone? Harry will go with." (dropping the "you").

6. Move subject to end of sentences: "Is she getting heavy, that Esther?"

7. Use "that" as a modifier to communicate contempt: "Is Esther still dating that Norman fellow?"

8. Use "lovely" to describe actions taken by someone else that the listener should have done too: "We got a lovely note from the Goldmans for hosting the Seder." (Translation: "What, you didn't eat and drink too, at my Seder? You slob, you didn't send a thank you note!")

In using your newly obtained Jewish grammar remember that just because Jews are asking questions, doesn't mean they're going to wait around for an answer. If you've got something to say, speak up. Interrupt often. It shows that you are interested in the conversation. If you're talking and Jews don't interrupt you, they're bored.

Here's a lovely blend of Jewish and Country-Western phraseology and themes...

Jewish Country-Western Hits

For You I Should Be Singing?!

I Was One of the Chosen People ('Til She Chose Somebody Else)

Stand by Your Mensch

I've Got My Foot On The Glass, Where Are You?

My Rowdy Friend Levi's Comin' Over Tonight

You're the Lox My Bagel's Been Missin'

Mamas Don't Let Their Ungrateful Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys (When You Could Very Easily Have Taken Over The Family Hardware Business That My Own Father Broke His Back To Start And Your Father Sweated Over For Forty-Five Years Which Apparently Doesn't Mean Anything To You Now That You're Turning Your Back On Such A Gift!)

Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Latkes

The Second Time She Said Shalom, I Knew She Meant Goodbye

I Balanced Your Books, but You're Breaking My Heart

Four Thousand Years of Sufferin', and I Had to Marry You?!


Have you discovered things that you grew up saying that others don't understand, or what? Or have you heard some interesting regional expressions?


“God doesn't call us to blind faith – He's given us lots of evidence.” - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

"Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!" - Golda Meir

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Jewish Perspective

It's been good to be back in classes again this week, though that may sound strange to some. 🙂 As great as Bible Conference was, there's just something nice about the regular routine too. I've been ruminating on what I heard last week as I seek to make applications to my own personal life. I just discovered that, not only could people listen to the conference messages as they streamed online, they can also listen to or download .mp3s of all the messages at http://www.bju.edu/campus/events/bibleconf/2008.html

Although all the speakers were very good, a personal favorite of mine was Craig Hartman. He's a completed Jew, that is, a Jew who has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and hence, as Messiah. I love Craig automatically as a person because he's just himself - a man with a highly developed sense of humor and a unique style of speaking. But I love him also as a speaker because of the interesting perspective he gives as one who is totally familiar with the Jewish perspective. Here's something he told the audience at the beginning of his second message of the week, a message where he explained some of what was happening in the John 7:37-43 narrative: "If you want to understand the Bible, don't go back 300 years to Europe. Go back 2,000 years to Israel. That's where the answers are! Opinions of people 300 years ago in Europe may be interesting, they may be challenging, they may be convicting, but to be perfectly honest, in many cases they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about, because many of them had never taken a moment to look into what did the Jews think back in the days that Jesus lived." He went on to tell what the Jews did during the Feast of Tabernacles, and how that explained some of what happened in the event in John. I'd like to encourage you to listen to this message. If you'd like to learn more about Craig's ministry, go to http://shalomnyc.org

We went to Living Gallery this afternoon at 4:30. What a powerful message, and what a focus on Christ! Wow!

As I thought about the Jewish perspective, as described above, I looked in my files for something to post. Enjoy!

Yiddish Proverbs and Rules of Life (many have been attributed to Jewish grandmothers)

If you can't say something nice, say it in Yiddish.

Always whisper the names of diseases.

If they give you, take; if they take from you, yell!

Charge nothing, and you'll get a lot of customers.

Don't spit into the well - you might drink from it later.

Do not worry about tomorrow, because you do not even know what may happen to you today.

You can't chew with somebody else's teeth.

If you spit upwards, you're bound to get it back in the face.

Had you gotten up early, you wouldn't have needed to stay up late.

When a fool is silent, he too is counted among the wise.

One who has the reputation of an early riser may safely lie abed 'til noon.

For dying, you always have time.

Silence is the fence around wisdom.

If it tastes good, it's probably not kosher.

No one looks good in a yarmulke.

Why spoil a good meal with a big tip?

WASP's leave and never say good-bye. Jews say good-bye and never leave.

Pork is forbidden, but a pig in a blanket makes a nice hors d'oeuvre.

If you don't eat, it will kill me.

Anything worth saying is worth repeating a thousand times.

Where there's smoke, there may be smoked salmon.

Never leave a restaurant empty-handed.

And what's so wrong with dry turkey?

Spring forward, fall back, winter in Miami Beach.

A bad matzoh ball makes a good paperweight.

Before you read the menu, read the prices.

There comes a time in every man's life when he must stand up and tell his mother he's an adult. This usually happens at around age 45.

No meal is complete without leftovers.

If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. But if you can afford it, make sure you tell everybody what you paid.

Without Jewish mothers, who would need therapy?


A few centuries ago, the pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Rome. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community. So the pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the pope won, the Jews would have to leave.

Being outnumbered, the Jews realized that they had no choice. They looked around for a champion who could defend their faith, but no one wanted to volunteer. It was too risky. So to represent them they finally picked an old man named Moishe who spent his life sweeping up after people. Being old and poor, he had less to lose, so he agreed. He asked only for one addition to the debate. Not being used to saying very much as he cleaned up around the settlement, he asked that neither side be allowed to talk. (A strange debate indeed! Sounds like some of our political debates - where they say so little they're really saying nothing! Enough editorializing....) Reluctantly, the pope agreed to this odd debate format, yet confident that he could win using strong symbolism through hand gestures alone.

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the pope raised his hand and showed three fingers.

Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger.

The pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head.

Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.

The pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is too good! The Jews can stay."

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the pope asking him what happened. The pope said, "First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity.

"He responded by holding up and waving one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?"

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! "What happened?" they asked.

"Well," said Moishe, "first he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of us was leaving. Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here."

"And then?" asked a woman.

"I don't know," said Moishe. "He took out his lunch and I took out mine."


A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has been given a part in the school play.

"Wonderful," says the mother, "What part is it?"

The boy replies, "I will play the part of the Jewish husband!"

The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell your teacher that you want a speaking part!"


"It's amazing how much time we waste that we could have spent in prayer." - Dr. Greg McLaughlin

=^..^= =^..^=

For every credibility gap, there is a gullibility gap.

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Let’s Hear It for Diversity!

I don't often post humor with a religious theme, but I received a joke recently that made me laugh out loud. I thought I'd send it along with several others. I'll start off with one that is very politically correct.


A minister, a rabbi, and a priest are sitting together in a coffee shop. The rabbi says, "So a guy, and another guy, and another guy walk into a place, see...."

(Several people have commented that they didn't catch the humor in the joke above. The humor is that it's *so* politically correct that all the humor is gone. Now *that's* funny! To avoid the same thing in the next two jokes, I'll risk being politically *in*correct....)


A fleeing Al-Qaeda guerilla who had run out of water was plodding through the desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he walked toward the object, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand selling neckties.

The Arab asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

The Arab shouted, "ACH! Israel should not even exist! I do not *need* an overpriced tie. I *need* water! I should kill you, but I must find water first."

"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie or that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the water you need. Shalom."

Muttering, the Arab staggered away and eventually disappeared over the hill.

Hours later he staggered back, near collapse. He gasped out, "You didn't tell me your brother wouldn't let me in without a tie!"


A man is struck by a bus on a busy street in New York City. He lies dying on the sidewalk as a crowd of spectators gathers around.

"A priest. Somebody get me a priest!" the man gasps. A policeman checks the crowd - no priest, no minister, no one that would remotely fit that description.

"A priest, ... PLEASE!" the dying man says again.

Then out of the crowd steps a little old Jewish man of at least eighty years of age.

"Mr. Policeman," says the man, "I'm not a priest. I'm not even a Catholic. But for fifty years now I'm living behind St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church on First Avenue, and every night I'm listening to the Catholic litany. Maybe I can be of some comfort to this man."

The policeman agrees and brings the octogenarian over to where the dying man is lying on the sidewalk. He kneels down, leans over the injured man, and says in a solemn voice,

"B-4. I-19. N-38. G-54. O-72...."


Not much is new here. We're enjoying the cooler fall weather and are not too anxious for winter to arrive. 😎 School is plenty busy. I guess the semester is far enough along that it's time for tests. My students have commented that it seems to be in almost all their classes this week, unfortunately.


"More important than the exercise of my legitimate freedom is the benefit of others and the glory of God." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Before I criticize a man, I walk a mile in his shoes. That way if he gets angry at my criticism, he is a mile away and barefoot.

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