My interest in Yiddish grew out of a fascination with German and its dialects. In my first German course we had to memorize proverbs to build up vocabulary. Somehow words stick in the brain more easily, if a bit of wisdom is attached to them. If you have a Jewish grandmother, some of these will sound familiar. If you know German, it should be fun to guess at a translation before you read it.
  • Goldene keylim vern ka mol nit shvarts. Gold will never get rusty.
  • Nit dos iz sheyn, vos iz sheyn, nor dos, vos es gefelt. Beautiful is not what is beautiful, but what one likes.
  • A goldener shlisl efent ale tirn. A golden key will open every lock.
  • Az men shert di shepsn, freyen zikh di tsign. When one shears the sheep, the skin on the ram trembles.
  • A shprikhvort, iz a vorvort. A proverb tells the truth.
  • 'Odem yesode meofe vesofe leofe' - beyno-lveyno iz gut a trink bronfn. A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end - and in the meantime it is good to drink a sip of vodka.
  • Az Got git broyt, gebn mentshn puter. When God gives bread, the people give butter.
  • Der mentsh trakht, un Got lakht. A man thinks and God laughs.
  • Vos noenter tsu der shul, alts vayter fun Got. The nearer to the synagogue, the farther from God.
  • Varf di kats vi du vilst, blaypt zi alts shteyn af di fis. You can throw a cat however you want, it always stays on its feet.
  • Ver filt zikh, der meynt zikh. Who feels guilty, feels responsible.
  • Kluge kinder hobn kurtse jorn. Wise children have short years.
  • A nar git, a kluger nemt. A fool gives, a wise man takes.


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