A Collection of Wisdom: Folktales

Jewish Folktales and Jokes


Jewish Folktale - City Dwellers Visit the Country


Napoleon Hides

Napoleon was fleeing from his pursuing enemies. Passing through a Jewish village, he ran into the house of a Jewish tailor and said, "Please--you must hide me! If they discover me, they will surely behead me!"

The tailor did not know who the man was, but he felt compassionate, and told Napoleon to hide under the bed.

Not much later, some fierce looking men came in and said, "Is anyone hiding here?

"No," the tailor replied. "Why would anyone be foolish enough as to hide here?"

Satisfied with the answer, the men were about to leave. One of them, however, turned back and said, "Well, if Napoleon Bonaparte were this bed, this is what we'd do to him," and upon saying so, stuck his spear in the bed several times--but lucky for Napoleon, they missed him each time.

After the men left, Napoleon, nervous and drenched in sweat, came out from under the bed and said, "I am Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In order to reward you for saving me, I will fulfill any three wishes you make."

The tailor said, "Can you get my roof fixed?"

"What!" Napoleon replied. "I'm an emperor! Is that all you'are going to ask me?! Fine. I will grant it. Now what's the second wish?"

The tailor though and said, "Another tailor has opened a store near mine. Can you make him move to another town?"

"You fool!" Napoleon exclaimed. "Is that all you want? Fine. I'll do it. OK--now, you only have one more wish--so make it good."

"OK," the tailor said. "I would like to know how you felt when your enemy was putting that spear through the bed."

"That's it, I've had enough!" Napoleon replied. "How can you ask an exalted emperor like me such a question? For your transgression, I will have you executed tomorrow."

Greatly distressed, the tailor prayed that night, and was then taken to the execution place in the morning.

A firing squad pointed the guns at him, and an officer said, "Fire on the count of three."

He began his count, and just as he was about to reach three, Napoleon appeared and said, "Don't shoot."

Then he said to the tailor, "You wanted to know how I felt under that bed. Now you know."


Do You Know Chaim?

Two strangers riding on a train struck up a conversation with each other.

A few minutes into it, one said, "Say, do you know Chaim Lieberman."

"Yes I know him."

"What is he like?"

"He is very stubborn?"

And what else?"

"He puts on a show all the time. You might be tricked into thinking he is really someone important--but I know for a fact that he isn't.

"What else?"

"He borrows money and doesn't repay it. He's been bankrupt four times. He's disrespectful to his wife. He doesn't keep the Sabbath. Oh! And he even eats on Yom Kippur!"

"How do you know so much about him?"

"How do I know? Why, he's my best friend. That's how I know."


Drinker or Teacher?

A teacher was fond of liquor, but soon gained such a reputation for drinking that all his pupils left him. A friend heard of this and said, "I'll help you stop drinking. If you give it up, you'll get all your students back. Try!"

"What!" the teacher replied. "I've been teaching for all this time so that I could drink. And now you're asking me to stop drinking so that I can teach!"


What Time is It?

A young train passenger went up to another man and asked for the time.

"Go to hell!" was the reply.

"Huh?" said the young man. "All I did was politely ask you for the time--so why on earth did you tell me to go to hell?"

"I'll tell you why," the other said. "You asked me a question. I was obliged to answer. This would have prompted us to have a conversation. Our conversation would naturally bring up the fact that we are both Jews. And being that you are a stranger headed for my hometown, I would have had no choice but to invite you over to my house for dinner. And of course, you would have met my daughter. And being that the two of you are both very attractive, you would have ended up going out with her and falling in love. And of course, this would have led to you asking me for permission to marry her.

"But why go through all of that? Let me tell you right now that I will not let my daughter marry a man who doesn't own a watch!"


The Order

A merchant ordered some goods from another city, and after a few days, he received a letter that said: "We cannot fulfill this order until we receive your payment for the last order."

The merchant then sent a letter back saying: "Cancel my new order. I can't wait that long."


Daughter and Daughter-in-Law

Two ladies were talking to each other. One said, "How is your daughter Rebecca?"

The other replied, "Fantastic. She has a really fabulous husband. He doesn't make her clean and cook. She sleeps until noon, and her maid serves her all day. She goes shopping, eats at fine restaurants, and wears nothing but the most exquisite clothing."

Her friend then asked, "And how is your son Jonathan doing?"

"Oh," she replied, "he's married to one of those fancy women who take advantage of men. She doesn't do anything all day--that good-for-nothing. She sleeps until noon. She has a maid do everything for her. She never cooks or cleans. And she spends all of my son's money on her shopping and eating at fine restaurants!"


Fool, Thief, Drunkard

A day after a Russian Czar issued some new anti-Jewish laws, three local Jews were expressing their displeasure with him.

One said, "He's a fool!"

Another added, "And he's a thief. He takes everyone's money!"

The third chimed in, "And he's also a drunkard. He drinks vodka like it's water."

Just then, a police officer came out of nowhere and said, "You Jews! I heard what you said about our Czar, and I'm taking you straight to jail! How dare you insult him like that!"

"The Czar?" one of the Jews replied. "No--we were talking about Kaiser Wilhelm--the enemy of the Jews."

"Oh," the police officer said. "Well, next time, choose your words more carefully. I mean, I heard you say fool, thief, and drunkard--so I naturally assumed you were talking about the Czar!"


The Instruments

There was a great pipe made of reed in the Jerusalem Temple. The pipe dated back to ancient times and played exquisite music. The King, knowing how valuable the pipe was, ordered it to be covered in gold. But after it was, it no longer played great music. So they took the gold off, and it once again played well.

There was also a pair of copper symbols in the Temple that made an extraordinary pleasing sound. One day, the cymbals were damaged, and the people brought artists to repair them, and put gold on them. But after they did that, the cymbals no longer produced such a magnificent sound. So they took the gold off, and then once again it made a great sound.


Permit

Two Jews were walking in Moscow and saw a policeman approaching them. One of the Jews did not have a residence permit, and, knowing his companion did have one, *he said to him, "If that policeman asks for my permit, I'll be in big trouble. Please start running, so that he'll chase you, and in the meantime I can get away. You won't get in trouble--because when he asks you for your permit, you can just show it to him."

So the other Jew complied and began running, and the policeman immediately noticed him and began chasing after him. After running quite a distance, the policeman caught up to him and exclaimed, "You Jew! You don't have a permit, do you?"

"I most certainly do," was the reply. "Here it is."

When the Jew showed him it, the policeman asked, "Then tell me this--why did you start running all of a sudden."

"Oh, that's simple to explain," replied the Jew. "My doctor advised me to take up running to improve my circulation."

"Well then," the policeman said, "tell me this--didn't you notice me running right behind you?"

"Yes," replied the Jew, "but I figured that your doctor had given you the same advice!"


The Fan Seller

A man was selling fans, and a lady was looking through them for about fifteen minutes trying to decide which one to buy. Finally, she chose a cheap one-coin fan.

She paid for it and left, but the next day she came back with a furious look on her face. "That fan that you sold me yesterday--it was really a piece of junk!" she complained. "In fact, it broke and fell apart."

She handed him the pieces of the broken fan, and the seller replied, "Well, tell me this--how did you use it?"

"How do you think I used it?" she said. "I put the fan near my face, and then I waved the fan from side-to-side!"

"Well," responded the seller, "that's how you're supposed to use a five-coin fan, not a one-coin fan. With a one-coin fan, you're supposed to hold the fan while you move your head side-to-side."


Allowance Increase Request

A young man went up to his father one day and said, "May I have an increase in my allowance?"

"Well," replied the father, "let's say I give you one. So what?"

"I can then afford to go to school."

"And let's say you do. So what?"

"I will get a better job."

"OK, and if you that, so what?"

"I could wear expensive clothes and go places and meet people."

"OK, and if that happens, so what?"

"I might meet the girl of my dreams."

"And if you do, so what?"

"Well, I might marry her."

"And if you marry her, so what?"

"I would be happy!"

"So let's say you are happy. So what?"


Mr. Yenkel

A traveler was walking through a town and asked a local man, "Do you know where Mr. Yenkel is?"

"Yeah, you must mean Mr. Yenkel the Stutterer," the man replied. "He lives down yonder, past the bakery."

When the traveler got to the bakery, he asked someone, "Can you direct to Mr. Yenkel?"

"You must mean Mr. Yenkel the Wife Beater," replied the man. "Just go that way and you'll find him."

So the traveler kept on going, and then asked another man, "Can you tell me if Mr. Yenkel is around here?"

The man replied, "Yeah, you must mean Mr. Yenkel the Crook. He lives in that building. When you see him, make sure to tell him I want the hundred dollars he owes me!"

Finally, the traveler made it to Mr. Yenkel, and asked him, "Tell me, what do you get out of being warden of this town?"

"Well," Mr. Yenkel replied, "financially, it is not very rewarding at all. But I do it for the honor!"


The Immigrant

A Lithuanian man immigrated to America and struggled for a few months selling various small dollar goods. One day, he went to the synagogue and applied for the position of sexton. The head of the temple asked him, "Can you read and write English?"

"No," the man replied.

"Well then," said the other, "I can't give you the job. You must know how to read and write if you want to be a synagogue sexton in America."

So the man left dejected. However, as time passed, he eventually became a wealthy real estate trader. One day, he went to the bank to get a loan. They approved, but when they asked him fill out a form, he admitted somewhat embarrassingly, "I don't know how to write or read. I only know how to sign my name."

Taking this as a cue to begin preaching, the banker said, "Oh. Well, that's interesting. I mean, look at you here, a wealthy man who has amassed his fortune without knowing how to read or write. Imagine what you would be today if you did!"

"Yeah," replied the other, "I'd be a sexton at the synagogue across the street!"


Our Rabbi is…

A group of students were seated near their Rabbi, who appeared asleep. The students began quietly talking about their esteemed Rabbi and his excellence.

"Our Rabbi is really an incredible person," one remarked.

"Yes," said another, "I don't think there is a more upright person throughout this city."

Another chimed in, "And he is so wise and knowledgeable. He knows the Talmud like the back of his hand."

"And he is so charitable," said another. "He gives generously no matter what."

After that, the students sat around silently for a while, until finally, the Rabbi spoke up and said, "How come you didn't say anything about how modest I am?"


The Dispute

Two family groups lived in a certain area. One was of a noble class, while the other group consisted of commoners.

Both groups went to a certain building every day to pay respects to an esteemed person. However, the noble class would enter first, and then the class of commoners would have to enter second.

As time passed, the commoners became devoted to studying, and soon had accumulated vast learning. One day, they refused to wait to go second, and a debate soon persisted over the issue.

One Rabbi was asked his opinion on the issue, and he said, "A bastard who loves learning and devotes himself to it gets precedence over an aristocrat who is unlearned."


The Scholar's Merchandise

A scholar was on a ship with some merchants who were transporting their goods. They asked the scholar what kinds of merchandise he dealt in, and the scholar replied, "The most valuable of all."

But when they inquired further, he would not say what it was. The merchants, somewhat puzzled, began searching the ship to see what the scholar's merchandise was. When they couldn't find anything, they began laughing at the scholar. But as they sailed further, a band of pirates attacked them and stole everything they had.

When their ship reached land, the merchants had nothing and and encounered many problems. But the scholar began imparting his teachings to the people, and they soon rewarded him with many things. When the merchants saw this, they said to him, "Please forgive us for laughing at you earlier. Please help us out. We did not know that learning is indeed the supreme merchandise."


Tax Complaint

An unemployed man was in his bed devising a plan to make money. As he lay there thinking, he eventually decided that the next day, he would go take a job at the shoe factory.

He thought to himself, "And then after a few weeks of that, I'll use the money I earn to buy some chicks. And then those chicks will grow up and become adults, and they too will produce eggs, and this cycle will continue until I'll be able to buy a a young lamb. And then that young lamb will grow up and have lambs, and they'll have lambs, and I'll end up having os many lambs that I'll have to sell them in the main city, and pay a customs border fee to bring them in."

As he though about this, the man grew enraged over the thought of having to pay taxes, and he he got out of bed and went to the house of the customs officer and banged on the door. The customs officer answered, and the man began complaining to him, "I refuse to pay taxes for taking may lambs across the city border."

The customs officer said that he had to pay. The man responded by shouting, and soon they were both in an intense shouting match.

As they fought, the customs officer said, "Just how many sheep do you have in your flock?"

The man replied, "There is no flock--I don't have any sheep yet."

Infuriated, the customs officer replied, "Then leave me alone, and don't come to see me until you do have some sheep."


Theft Investigation

A thief broke into the king's palace and stole some valuable items. Nobody could solve the case, so the king hired a clever man he knew to see if he could find the thief.

The clever man then ordered all the thieves to come to the royal palace. The royal attendants brought them, and then the clever man observed and examined each one without saying a word. Then he said, "OK. I've determined who the thief is. Everyone else can leave."

All the thieves began exiting, and then the clever man said, "Hey you--the one who broke into the palace and stole the goods--I didn't say you could go!"

When the real thief heard this, he was scared and turned around. The clever man then announced to the king, "Odds are that this is the thief!"


The Tailor's Clothing

The town tailor made fine clothing for all the townspeople, but wore only the most ragged clothing himself. In fact, he even dressed that way at the local temple, much to the embarrassment of everyone.

One man in particular found his appearance so unacceptable that he approached him about it after one temple session.

"Sir," said the man. "You're a talented tailor who makes the finest clothing for the wealthiest people in town--so how can you yourself dress so raggedly at town's temple on the Sabbath itself, among all these well-dressed people wearing the very clothes you made for them? Have you no shame?

"Well," the tailor replied, "I work from dusk 'til dawn seven days a week to make ends meet--and this leaves me no time to make my own clothes."

"OK," the man replied, taking some bills out of his pocket. "Here is a hundred dollars. Just pretend I'm a customer paying you to make yourself a nice outfit."

The tailor took the money, and the man assumed the matter was settled; but the very next week, the tailor once again showed up to temple wearing the same ragged clothes.

"What happened?!" the man asked. "I gave you a hundred dollars to make yourself a new wardrobe. Why haven't you done it?"

"Well," the tailor explained, "I went home to do as we agreed; but after making a few calculations, I found out that at the rate you paid me, I'd be losing twenty dollars is I accepted the job!"


Words Travel

One day, a villager took the local gossip to the Rabbi and said, "This man has spread false rumors about me and caused me many problems."

The other quickly replied, "I must apologize for my gossiping. So let me go on record as saying that I take back my words. Are you satisfied now?"

"Well," the other man replied, "I appreciate the apology, but nevertheless, you can't really take back words."

"Nonsense!" the gossiper replied. "I've taken back my words, so the problem has been remedied. What else is there to this situation?"

After listening to the discussion, the Rabbi remarked to the gossiper, "Listen, if you want to truly remedy the harm you have caused, then come to the town square tomorrow with a feather pillow."

The gossiper didn't know what to make of this, but agreed to comply. The next day, he came to the town square with the pillow and handed it to the Rabbi. The Rabbi then instructed him to tear open the pillow, and swing the pillow around until all the feathers flew out.

The gossiper once again did not know what to make of this request, but did as the Rabbi said.

The Rabbi then said, "OK now, bring back all of the feathers."

"What!" the gossiper replied. "I surely cannot do that!"

"Well why not?" the Rabbi asked.

"Because," the man explained, "the feathers have spread all over the place--some have gone in the bushes, and by now some have already flew many yards away. They've all scattered about. Even if I spent a month gathering them, there'd still be plenty that I wouldn't get back."

The Rabbi heard this and replied, "And just like it is impossible to recover those feathers, it is impossible to take back the words that you spread. In no time at all, they will spread to all sorts of corners far and wide, and recovering them would be an insurmountable task."

The man acknowledged that the Rabbi was right, and from that point on, he took more discretion in his words, and made sure that they did not slander others.


The King's Eye Problem

Some rebels threw mud in a king's eye one day, causing him great pain and irritation. Every doctor in the city tried treating it, but it wasn't getting better, and in fact was getting more agitated because the king was constantly rubbing it.

Then a clever man came to the palace and offered to examine the king. As he did, he said to the king, "As I look at you, I have found that you have a stomach problem that is much worse than your eye injury. There is a tapeworm in your stomach, and it is growing."

The clever man then gave the king some liquid and said, "Take this for eight days, and the tapeworm will die and your stomach will be cured."

The king followed the clever man's advice, and became so preoccupied with the tapeworm, that he forgot about his eye problem, which rapidly began to improve. After the eight-day period, the clever man came back. He examined the king and said, "The tapeworm has died, and your eye condition has also healed."

The king was very pleased, and gave the clever man a great reward.


Paradise

A Rabbi had a dream that an angel was taking him to see Paradise. When they got there, all the Rabbi saw was a few people reading books, and some dancing, and others playing games.

The Rabbi turned to the angel sand asked, "Is this all there is to Paradise?"

The angel replied, "It seems that you are under the impression that these sages are in Paradise. But this is not accurate. Actually, it is Paradise that is in the sages."


Now They Help Him!

There was a poor stranger in the city who nobody really cared for or helped. They constantly turned him away when he asked for food, and the man soon began growing thin and weak. One day, he fell and broke his leg.

When the people heard what happened, they all began feeling bad about it, and they went to help him and give him food and money. The poor man later left to go back to his hometown, and told his wife, "I broke my leg, and it ended up giving me much profit."

A Rabbi heard about what happened and remarked, "The way of most people is to help someone who has fallen, but to neglect preventing him from falling in the first place!"


Man Calls For Death

A man was carrying a heavy load and was tired, and despairingly called out, "Death, please come here and take me!"

Upon hearing this, the Angle of Death appeared and said, "Did you call me?"

Bewildered, the man said, "Uh, yes; can you help me load this merchandise back on my shoulders."

A Rabbi heard of this and said, "Even if a person is lamenting of his misfortunes, he usually prefers life's miseries to death."


What to Name Him

A married couple had a newborn son, and were in disagreement what to name him. The husband wanted to name him after his father, and the wife wanted to name him after her father.

They took the matter up to their Rabbi. He asked the husband his father's name, and the husband replied, "Ezekiel."

Then he asked the wife her father's name, and she said, "Ezekiel."

"So what's the problem?" the Rabbi asked.

The wife replied, "Well, my father was a businessman. And my husband's father was a thief. So how can you ask me to name my son after a thief!"

The Rabbi responded, "OK, I have a solution. We will just name your son Ezekiel for now, and then wait. If he becomes a businessman, we can say he was named after the father of his mother; and if he becomes a thief, we can say he was named after the father of his father!"


Rabbi's Judgment on the Rooster

A man bought a rooster to wake him up every morning. Then one day, he noticed that his neighbor was also using the rooster's noise to wake up on time, and he demanded payment from his neighbor.

They argued over the matter and decided to take it up with the local Rabbi. They explained the situation to him, and he replied, "Due to the complexity of this case, I must require that you each pay me a gold coin."

Although surprised at the Rabbi's demand, they complied. Then the Rabbi said, "OK. You who owns the rooster says that it crows for you and your neighbor. And you who doesn't own the rooster claims that it crows for your neighbor, and it is not your fault that you also hear the crow. But in truth, you are both mistaken. It turns out, the rooster was actually crowing for me, so that you two would end up paying me one gold coin each!"


Tax Collection

A teacher owed some taxes, and one day some government officials came and took his pillow and his candlesticks in order to clear his debt.

The teacher lamented to the Rabbi the next day, "I don't know what to think of these tax people's actions. I mean, if they are the kind of people who think that the night is made for study, then how could they take my candlesticks? And on the other hand, if they are the kind of people who think that the night is made for sleeping, then how could they take my pillow?"

"Well," said the Rabbi," How many of them were there?"

"Two," the teacher replied.

"Well then," said the Rabbi, "perhaps one was the kind of person who thinks the night is made for sleep, and the other was the kind that thinks the night is made for reading."


Pre-Prayer Preparation

A student asked his Rabbi, "What do you do before praying?"

The Rabbi replied, "I pray that I will pray with all my heart."


The Prayer Negotiation

One Yom Kippur, an eccentric Rabbi asked an illiterate man, "Since you can't read the prayers, tell me what you said to God,"

The man replied, "I said: God, I will admit I have sinned and must repent. But keep in mind that my sins have been rather minor. For instance, on several occasions I have slightly cheated my business customers. I also ate non-kosher food several times. But really, are these things so bad? I mean, consider your example, God. You have often had wars happen. You have let babies die. And you have also let parents die, and children become orphans. I'll tell you what. Let's just make a deal. I will forgive your sins, and you will forgive mine!"

When the Rabbi heard this, he responded, "Oh, you fool. You had all the leverage in the negotiation, and should have asked for more. You could have asked God to redeem all Jews!"


Community Prays For Rabbi's Recovery

A Rabbi was very sick, and the community decided to fast one day and pray for his recovery. As they did this, they noticed the town drunk drinking liquor. They immediately rebuked him, saying, "Today is a fast day! Stop drinking. Everyone is praying for the Rabbi's recovery!"

When the town drunk heard this, he began praying, "Dear Lord. I ask you to help our Rabbi recover, so that I can have my liquor."

The Rabbi soon made a miraculous recovery, and after hearing of the drunkard's prayer, the Rabbi said, "Bless that drunkard. His prayer was probably the main factor in my recovery, for it was supremely sincere, and had his entire heart and soul in it!"


The Drunkards' Oaths

Two village drunkards both made solemn oaths to themselves and to each other that they would never drink liquor again. Minutes later, they happened to be walking by the local tavern, and they both had the urge to go in.

"We mustn't go in," one of them said, "but it has been my habit to for all these years."

"Yeah," said the other, "I know how you feel. Let's just turn our heads to it and run past it."

So they ran past the tavern until they were a few hundred meters away, and then began triumphantly celebrating their victory and self-control.

One of them exclaimed, "Wow. I feel so great, having overcome my drunkenness for the first time in so many years. In fact, I feel like offering a thanks to God."

"Yeah," replied the other, "we should do that. In fact, let's go into the tavern right now and offer a thanks with a nice cup of whiskey!"


The Rabbi's Miracle

A miracle-working Rabbi was traveling with his students, and decided to stay at an inn one night. They knocked on the door, but the innkeeper did not let them inn.

Greatly angered, the Rabbi shouted, "Cursed be to you. I declare that your inn will burn down tomorrow!"

Terrified of the potential effect of the curse, the innkeeper decided to let them in, and in fact, also treated them very well during the duration of their stay in order to ensure they would be pleased.

Appeased with this, the Rabbi said, "Due to your good acts, I declare that your inn will not be burned down tomorrow."

And lo and behold, the next day, the inn was not burned down--and the Rabbi became renowned for ___


My Rabbi Transforms Himself

"My Rabbi is really incredible," a student bragged to his friends. "Every day, he transforms himself into the Prophet Elijah!"

"Well," asked one of his friends, "how do you know that?"

The student replied, "The Rabbi told me so!"

"Well," countered the other, "how do you know he wasn't lying!"

"What?" the student said. How can you say such a thing! Do you mean to tell me that you think someone who transforms himself into Elijah every day would tell a lie?"


My Rabbi has Incredible Powers

A student of one Rabbi was bragging to another rival student, "My Rabbi has incredible powers. When he climbs up on a bench, he can see the ends of earth.

The other person responded, "Well, why does he need to get on a bench to do that?"

The first countered, "Oh--it's just that he wants his miracles to look realistic."


My Rabbi has Incredible Powers II

Two students were bragging about the powers of each of their Rabbis.

One said, "Once my Rabbi was traveling, and a storm began. So he looked up and said a prayer--and then miraculously, the storm continued to his right and left, while right over him it became clear and sunny!"

The other countered, "Oh yeah. Once my Rabbi was traveling one Friday, and didn't want to be in the middle of nowhere as the night approached and Sabbath began. So, he looked up and said a prayer--and then suddenly, Sabbath came to his right and left, but in the middle it remained daytime!"


How Come You Don't Look Worried?

A wealthy merchant made a bad investment, and lost most of his money in a matter of days.

His friends, making a visit to his home to console him, were surprised to find that he was in very high spirits.

One curiously asked, "How come you don't look the least bit worried!"

The man responded, "Oh, I do worry. But the good Lord has blessed me with quickness, and thus, I can do several days worth of worrying in just a few minutes."


Why They Call This This

"Why do they call bread 'bread'?

"What a question! I mean, it looks like bread. It is shaped like bread. It feels like bread. And it tastes like bread. So why wouldn't it be called bread?'


Why Weren't You

There once was a rabbi named Zusya who was very old and seemed to be in his final days on earth. His students gathered by his side and asked him all sorts of questions. Finally, one asked him, "Rabbi Zusya, what do you fear most about dying?"

"I fear what they will ask me when I go to heaven," he replied.

"And what will they ask you?" the students inquired.

"They won't ask me, 'Zusya, why weren't you like Moses?' Or 'Zusya, why weren't you like Abraham?' Or 'Zusya, why weren't you like Noah?' They will ask me, 'Zusya, why weren't you Zusya?'" *


Congratulations

A man went to the government center and said, "My wife has died, and I am requesting financial for the burial."

The government official replied, "But didn't your wife have a funeral two years ago?"

The man said, "That was my first wife. This is my second wife."

"Oh," replied the official, "I didn't hear that you got remarried. Congratulations!"


Schlomo's Negotiation

A man, observing his friend negotiating a business deal, privately thought to himself, "He never pays people what he owes them--so why is he so intent on getting such a good deal?"

He asked the friend about it later, and the latter explained, "Yes, it is true that I don't plan to ever pay him. But I like him--so at least if I bring the price down, he will not lose as much money on the deal."


Sales Pitch

A real estate agent was trying to sell a summerhouse to a man. The agent said, "This home is really something special. Look at how close it is to the river. It is almost as if you are right on the river. If you want the best, this is the home to buy."

"Well," said the man, "what's so good about being near the river?"

"What's so good!" the agent exclaimed. "I don't even know where to begin. You will have a magnificent view of the river. Your whole family can bathe and swim in it. You can wash your laundry in it. You can fish in it. And you can row in it!"

The man countered, "But what if the river starts flowing too high, and washes away the house?"

"What are you talking about!" the agent quickly answered. "I mean, just look at how far this house is from the river!"


The Marriage Broker

A marriage matchmaker was trying to fix a young man up with a local woman. When the young man heard who she was, he exclaimed, "What! You cannot expect me to want to marry her!"

"Well why not?" asked the matchmaker.

"For one thing," the man replied, "she is deaf."

"What is so bad about that?" the matchmaker said. "As a matter of fact, that can actually be a good thing. After all, it is unlikely that you two will get into any arguments."

"But," the man continued, "she is also blind!"

"Well," replied the matchmaker, "is that really a bad thing? I mean, after all, that will let you do whatever you want without having to deal with her objections."

"She also limps badly," the man said.

"That can be a great thing," the matchmaker replied. "You can chase after all the women you want, and she can't stop you!"

"And she also has a hunchback," the man said.

Oh come on now," replied the matchmaker, "don't be so picky. Every girl is bound to have one fault."


The Wife Sales Pitch

A marriage broker told a young man, "I have found a fantastic girl for you."

"Oh," the other replied. "I appreciate it, but I am not interested in getting married."

"How can you say such a thing!" said the other. "A Jew must have a wife!"

"Why?" asked the young man.

"Yougn man," explained the marriage broker "you simply don't know how wonderful married life is. How can you experience all that life has to offer without a wife! I myself have been married for many years, and know firsthand ___ how good it is to have a wife.

"Picture this: You are married, and you get up in the morning, and your wife makes you tea. Then you go do some work, and you come back and eat breakfast together. Then you do work some more and then come back and eat lunch, and then dinner. And on Friday, as you prepare for the Sabbath, she cleans the whole house and prepares dinner. And you look at her, and she looks at you. And then when you finish eating, you have a conversation. And then your wife starts telling you things. You listen to her charming voice and descriptions. And she talks and you listen. And she continues to talk, and talk. My goodness, she does talk a lot. I don't think I can take so much talking!"


Same Letter, Different Results

A wealthy man had a son who was away in another city studying. One day, the man received a letter from the son, and asked his secretary to read it.

The latter, being in an agitated mood, read impatiently:

"Dad!--I need money as soon as possible--I need to buy some clothes."

Greatly annoyed, the wealthy man said, "What a rude boy! He has no right to be so arrogant and write such a letter to me. I am not going to send him a cent."

But an hour later, he showed the letter to his wife, and she, very eager to see the letter from her son, read aloud in a sweet caring voice:

"Dad! I need money as soon as possible. I need to buy some clothes."

"OK," said the father, "now that's more like it--he is asking with some manners. I will send out the money."


When I Was a…

A rich man lived a very wealthy lifestyle, but later he made a few bad business decisions and his fortune was wiped out. All he had left was a small cottage, and he became a shopkeeper. Though he made a decent living, he always thought of his earlier days of wealth and longed for them.

And after several years as a shopkeeper, a fire burned his cottage down and destroyed his possessions. So he sold his garden, bought a horse and wagon, and became a transporter of small goods. He had difficulty making ends meet and often lacked food, and always thought back to the days of when he was a shopkeeper.

Then one day his horse got sick and died, so the man became a porter. Now he had to carry heavy loads and still had very little to eat. He continuously thought to himself about the days he had a horse to transport goods, and he longed for them again.

One day, as he carried goods through a city, he encountered one of his friends from back when he was a wealthy businessman. The friend said to him, " Oh dear, what has happened to your fortune. What happened to when you had a big mansion and all those fantastic goods?"

"Oh," said the man, "I have pretty much forgotten about that a long time ago. Now I just long to go back to the time when I had a horse to transport the goods I was carrying."


The Refund Request

A man had two daughters: one was rather ugly, and the other was fair looking but verbally abusive. The father was concerned that neither of them would ever find a husband.

But one day a marriage broker visited him and said, "I have found husbands for your daughters: a blind man for your ugly daughter, and a deaf man for your verbally abusive daughter."

The father, relieved to hear that husbands had been secured for his daughters, agreed to the marriage broker's offer. So the daughters both got married, and for several years had happy lives with their new husbands. However, one day, a renowned physician came to their town, and was able to cure the blind husband and the deaf husband. And not long after this happened, the formerly blind one now could not bear his ugly wife, and the formerly deaf man could not bear his verbally abusive wife.

Upon this happening, they both angrily went to the doctor's office and exclaimed, "We refuse to pay you the money we owe you for your healings you performed on us. After all, they have not done us good, and in fact have ruined our marriages. Each of us with our new sense now cannot stand being around our wife."

When the doctor heard this, he brought the matter over to the local Rabbi, who heard both sides of the story, and said, "Yes, you have harmed these two men. Thus, my ruling is that you should make them blind and deaf like they were, and thus this whole issue will be resolved."

"Oh, that will be easy to do," the doctor said.

And upon hearing this, the two men were greatly horrified, and said, "Surely we do not want that!"

The Rabbi countered, "Well then, that is just what I thought you would say. Therefore, pay the physician the money you owe him, and be grateful that your sight and hearing have been restored."


Do You Eat Well?

A wealthy man asked a Rabbi for his blessings.

"Do you eat well?" the Rabbi asked the man.

The man, hoping to be praised, replied, "I eat meagerly--usually just bread and water."

The Rabbi gave him a condemning look and said, "How come a rich man like you eats like that. You should definitely give yourself better food."

The other, surprised at this answer, agreed to comply with the advice, and left.

The Rabbi's students, having listned the conversation asked , observing what had happened, curiously asked the Rabbi, "We don't understand. Why should it matter if this man eats meagerly or not?"

The Rabbi replied, "If a wealthy man--with all his money--eats like that, then he will soon start thinking that the poor ought to do the same!"


Rabbi's Two Statements

A Rabbi was walking home when heavy rain suddenly began pouring.

He called out to God and said, "O Lord! Everyone else is sheltered in their homes, whereas I am getting soaked! Is this fair?"

The rain immediately stopped pouring.

Then the Rabbi got home and prayed, "O God, everyone else is in dire troubles because it has stopped raining and their fields are getting dry. And only I sit comfortably at home without worries. Is this fair?"

And with that, it began raining again.


Where I was Bought

Three boys were walking together.

As they passed by a store that carried expensive goods, one of the boys said, "This is where my parents bought me!"

Then they walked pass another even more expensive store, and the second boy said, "This is where my parents bought me!"

Then they walked some more and looked at the third boy, Joha, expecting him to say something.

Finally he spoke up and said, "My parents were low on money, so they didn't buy me--they made me instead!"


I Want to Marry Her

One day, Joha told his father, "I am in love with the butcher's daughter and want to marry her."

"You surely cannot!" replied the father. "She is your half sister!"

The next week, Joha came to his father and said, "I am in love with the milkman's daughter and want to marry her."

"You surely cannot!" replied the father. "She is your half sister."

The next week, Joha came to his father and said, "I am in love with the baker's daughter and I am going to marry her."

"You surely cannot!" the father once again replied. "She is your half sister."

Very frustrated, Joha lamented the situation to his mother.

After she listened to Joha's plight, the mother replied, "Don't worry about it. You can marry any of those girls. Papa is not your real father!"


Learning Italian

Joha wanted to learn Italian, to his father sent him to Italy to study. After a few weeks there, his father sent him a letter asking how things were going.

Joha sent him a letter back and wrote: "Not so great. I am not picking up Italian very well, and I am also beginning to forget our native language."

His father wrote back: "Come home as soon as possible, or else you might come home not knowing either language!"


Four Plus Four

Joha was running a store, a man wanted to purchase two pieces of cloth, each costing four dinars. Joha then said to him, "That will be six dinars pleased."

The man couldn't help but reply, "I think you are making a mistake. Four and four equals eight."

"I know what I am talking about," Joha replied. "Listen, when I was married to my first wife, we had two kids. And when my current wife was married to her first husband, she also had two kids. And since me and my current wife have been married, we have also had two kids. So she has had four kids, and I have had four kids, and altogether we have six kids."


Change of Behavior

Joha had an abusive wife who seemed to love nothing more than to torment her husband. But one day, Joha noticed that his wife suddenly began doing him nothing but good. Greatly surprised at her change of behavior, Joha curiously asked her, "Wife, what happened? How come after all of these years of being abusive, all of a sudden you are being so good to me? Why weren't you like this from when we first got married?"

His wife said, "Well, it was just today that I heard that people who suffer in this world will go to Paradise!"


The Debt

As Joha and his wife lay in bed one night, Joha worried out loud, "Oh my! What is going to happen? Oh, my!"

His wife finally asked him, "What are you so worried about? I cannot sleep listening to all of your distressing. Please tell me, so we an resolve this."

"Well," Joha reluctantly said, "I owe our neighbor Abe money, and it is due tomorrow--but I am close to broke. What will I do?"

Upon hearing this, his wife opened their window and yelled out, "Hey Abe! Abe!"

Joha protested, but she continued until Abe's wife yelled back, "Why are you yelling at this time of night? What do you want?"

Joha's wife said, "Listen, my husband owes your husband money that is due tomorrow--and my husband cannot pay it. OK?"

And with that, Joha's wife closed her window, and said to Joha, "OK. You can stop worrying and go to sleep. Now Abe is going to be the one who will worry and lie awake tonight!"


*

Joha was ever-annoyed that his mother-in-law lived with him and his wife.

One day, his mother-in-law said to him, "Can you help me out and buy a television? I really need one. I would give half a life for a television."

Upon hearing this, Joha remarked, "OK! I will buy you two televisions!"


If I Were Your Father

Hitler said to Joha, "If I were your father, what would you want to be?--a doctor?--or perhaps an engineer?"

"If you were my father," Joha replied, "I would want to be an orphan!"


Buy a Doberman

A wealthy man gave a merchant two hundred dollars and instructed him to buy a Doberman.

"Sir," the merchant replied, "I must ask: how can I possibly find a quality doberman for that price? Listen. Give me five hundred dollars, and I'll get you a doberman that will really be a doberman."

"Great!" replied the wealthy man. "Here is the money. Just make sure I get the best doberman you can find."

"Consider it done," the other said. "But there is just one more thing. Can you tell me what a doberman is?"


A Very Unique Item

A collector went into an antique store and asked the shopkeeper to show him his rarest items.

The shopkeeper immediately headed for locked case, opened it, and took out a watch.

"This is really a rare and valuable watch," he told the customer. "It belonged to none other than Rambam himself. He used it when he visited America."

"What!" the man replied. "Back in Rambam's time, no one had ever even heard of America!"

"Yes!" said the shopkeeper. "That's what makes this watch so unique!"


Blind Man's Logic

A local woman gave two beggars a bowl of grapes.

One of the beggars, a blind man, told his sighted friend, "Let's distribute this fairly. We will each eat one at a time."

"Fine," replied the other.

And with that, they began eating.

A minute later, however, the blind man suddenly yelled, "You cheater!"

"What makes you think I cheated?" was the reply.

"I have been taking two grapes at a time," said the blind man, "and you have been taking four!"

"Pray tell," replied the other, "how did you know I was taking four?"

"It was quite obvious," explained the blind man. "Here I was eating two at a time, and yet, you did not make any objection at all. Thus, you had to have been taking at least twice as many!"


Reverse Reverse Trickeration?

Early one morning, two rival merchants crossed paths with each other on their way to different destinations.

"Where are you going?" one asked the other, to which the reply was, "Capital City."

"Oh really!" the said the first. "Well, you must be telling me that because you assume I'll assume you're lying--and you want me to think you're actually going to Kashan. But, what you don't know is that I know for a fact that you really are going to Capital City. So what's with all your deception?"


Drunkard's Funeral

The town's local hell-raiser and drunkard--a man by the name of Isaac--was found dead in his room one morning, and was given a funeral by the town the following day.

And as expected, when the time came for people to make some remarks about the man, not a single person anything even remotely nice to say.

But just as the funeral was on the verge of wrapping, someone spoke up and said, "This isn't right. I mean, this is a funeral. We can't finish without someone saying something good about this man. Surely there must be someone here who can share something positive about this man. After all, he really wans't that bad. After all, he has a son living in Capital City who is a much bigger drunkard and hellraiser than he was."

"Oh," the other people said. "Well in that case, _____


He is Like…

A new rabbi in town applied for a vacant rabbi position at a local temple.

The temple, wanting to check up on their new applicant, contacted his old temple in his old town, and asked for some information about him.

"Well," said the head of the other temple, "He is like Moses, Confucius, ___, and God."

Greatly impressed, the town hired the Rabbi right on the spot. But they soon were dismayed to find out that the Rabbi was actually quite terrible.

Greatly angered, they called the town again and companied, "This Rabbi is nothing like you said!"

The other temple replied, "We did not deceive you. He is like Moses because he doesn't know English. He is like Confucius because he doesn't know Hebrew. He is like ___ because he likes to spend money. And he is like God because he is definitely not human!"


Head & Tail

As a snake slithered about one day, its tail decided it was time for a change, and abruptly stopped up the snake in order to address a matter with its head.

"I am sick of you leading while I am dragged behind," said the tail. "Let's change places for once. Let me lead."

The head agreed, and the tail began leading.

Shortly thereafter, however, the tail lead the snake right off a cliff, and the unfortunate animal


*

A man once escaped an encounter with a wolf, and form then on was constantly talking about it.

Then later, he had a similar experience with a lion, and from then on was constantly talking about it.

And then later still, he escaped yet another encounter with a snake, and from then on was constantly talking about it.

And so it is said: Recent experiences seem the biggest.


Our New Cantor

Eli: "Our new cantor sings like an angel."

Moshe: "I'm not that impressed. After all, if I had his voice, I'd sing just as well as he does."


That's What I Call Living!

"How often does the Rabbi change his shirt every week."

"Seven times."

"The landowner?"

"Ten times."

"The governor?"

"Twelve times."

"And what about Rothschild the millionaire?

"He is constantly changing them. Now that's what I call living!"


The Tailors' Plight

The tailoring industry of a certain town was down in the dumps, prompting one local tailor to say to another, "Considering the way things are right now, I suppose only the Messiah could help our business."

"But how could the Messiah do that?" asked the other.

"Simple," the first man explained. "He would bring back the dead, and they would need new clothing."

"But some of the dead are tailors," the other man countered.

"So. That won't bother us. There is no way they'd know what styles are in!"


Jewish Law vs. Government Law

A local religious man, thoroughly bored with his life, decided to switch paths and become a violent criminal.

One day he hid behind a tree with a knife in hand, and jumped out at a random passerby.

But just as he was about to stab the man, he dropped his knife and said, "You're one lucky guy. I just remembered that this is a dairy knife!"


Barry Bonds

One day, a Jewish boy went to see his Grandfather and excitingly remarked, "Guess what! Barry Bonds broke the home run record!"

"Tell me this," replied the grandfather. "What this Barry Bonds fellow did--is it good for the Jews?"


Requesting a Divorce

A local man went to his Rabbi and said, "I want to divorce my wife."

"What!" the Rabbi responded. "Divorce your wife? For God's sake, rethink this. I mean, an upright and holy person like yourself must know that the Talmud says: 'When a man divorces his wife, not only do the angels cry, but so do the stones.'"

"Well," said the man, "if the angels and the stones want to cry, that's their business. I want to be happy."


Why I Couldn't Sleep

A preacher from another town came to a certain village and gave a sermon at the temple. The next day, the preacher saw a local scholar and asked him what he thought of the sermon.

"Well," replied the scholar, "I'll tell you this: I couldn't sleep the night after hearing your sermon."

"Oh," said the preacher. "Did my sermon really have that kind of effect on you?"

"Well," the scholar replied, "don't get me wrong. The reason I could not sleep is because it is difficult to sleep at night when you've already slept during the afternoon!"


Ring-a-Round

Finkelstein bought a diamond ring for his wife and showed it to his friend Lebowitz.

"That is really beautiful," remarked the latter. "How much did you pay for it?"

"$500," replied Finkelstein.

"You know what?" said Lebowitz. "I'll give you $600 for it."

Finkelstein, faced with the prospect of making a quick hundred dollars, agreed to the offer.

The next day, however, he paid Lebowitz a visit and said, "I regret selling you that ring. I'll buy it back from you for $700."

Lebowitz agreed and the ring exchanged hands again; but the following day, Lebowitz had a change of heart and said to Finkelstein, "I was just thinking about that ring and how much my life would love it. I'll pay you $800 for it."

And so, the ring once again changed hands between the two of them.

However, as Lebowitz headed home that day, he showed the ring to one of his acquaintances, and ended up selling it to him for $1100.

The next day, Finkelstein saw Lebowitz again and said, "I really want that ring back. I'll give you $1000 for it."

"Sorry," said Lebowitz. "I already sold it to Chaim for $1100."

"Are you crazy!" exclaimed Finkelstein. "Why in God's name did you do that?! We were both turning a profit of $100 a day with that ring!"


Oy

An old man was seated near a stranger in a train, and began exclaiming, "Oy--I am thirsty." He continued saying this over and over again for about fifteen minutes. Greatly annoyed by this, the stranger got up and brought him a glass of water. The old man thanked him and drank.

The stranger was glad that he would not have to listen to the old man's complaints, but just seconds later the old man remarked, "Oy--that thirst I had was really intense!"


Xs

A Russian man immigrated to America, opened a small store, and soon began making lots of money. He went to open a bank account, and not knowing how to read and write, he put two Xs in the spot for his name.

Then later his business grew and he became even richer. Needing to get a loan, he went to the bank and applied for one. They approved and gave him papers to fill out and sign.

This time, the man put three Xs for his name. Upon noticing this, the bank manager curiously asked, "How come you're signing your name with three Xs. You always used to use two."

"Well," the man replied. "You know how women sometimes want to make everything extra fancy. My wife made me add a middle name!"


The Pants

A Rabbi commissioned a tailor to make him a new pair of pants. Six days later, the tailor delivered it to him in person.

"Thank you for the pants," he said to the tailor. "But allow me to ask this question: Since it took the Lord six days to create this entire vast universe, how is it that it took you six days just to make a single pair of pants!"

"Rabbi," the tailor replied, "that is easy to explain. Just look around you at the mess that the Lord made. And now look at this exquisite pair of pants!"


Numbers Winner

Herschel won the local numbers drawing lottery game one day. His friend congratulated him and said, "How did you decide on picking the number 67?"

"Well," replied Herschel, "I saw the number 23 in a dream. Then the following night, I saw the number 42. And then the night after that, I didn't see any numbers at all. So I added 23 and 42, and placed a bet on 67.

The friend thought for a few seconds and said, "Hey! 23 and 42 equal 65, not 67."

"Fine," the other responded. "You be the mathematician."


Life is Like a Watermelon

One day, as two friends sat under a tree, one remarked, "Isn't life like a watermelon?"

"Like a watermelon?" the other replied. "How come?"

"Why are you asking me?" the first friend said. "Do I look like a philosopher?"


The Debate

Two rival Jewish schools of thought were split on one issue that couldn't be resolved.

One school said that it would have been best if mankind had never been created in the first place, while the other school maintained that mankind's creation was a blessing.

After months of debate over the issue, they finally agreed on the following statement: "Whether or not it was good or bad that mankind was created, it is best for a person to make the most out of life."


My Rabbi is…

A student was bragging to others about his Rabbi. He said, "My Rabbi is truly an upright, virtuous, and holy person--no one can match him. In fact, he fasts every single day except on the Sabbath and certain holidays."

"No," replied on of the bystanders, "that surely cannot be true. In fact, I have seen you Rabbi eating on weekdays many times."

"Well," the student replied, "I can assure you that he was only doing so out of modesty.

"Out of modesty?" replied the other. "how do you mean?"

"Well," the student explained, "he is so modest that he eats in front in others so that they won't know he is fasting!"


Problems

Two Jews were lamenting over the problems that Jews had to face. One said, "We really have had to go through a lot--anti-Semitism, Hitler, the KKK, etc. I often think that it might have been better if we were never born in the first place."

Section 161.38 "Yes," replied the other, "but who is lucky enough for that? Maybe only one in a hundred thousand people!"


Numerous Worries

In the days leading up to Passover, a local man went up to the Rabbi and said, "I am really in a bind. Passover is just a few days away, and I am low on money! There are so many things I need: matzos and wine, meat and herbs, new clothes for my family. I can't handle all of these worries! They're too much!

"Well," said the Rabbi, "How much do you need for the matzos?"

"Five dollars."

"And the wine?"

"Ten dollars."

"And the meat and herbs?"

"Fifteen dollars."

"And the clothing?"

"Fifteen dollars.

"OK," said the Rabbi, "those all add up to forty five dollars. Now you needn't concern yourself with all those worries you had over your list. All you need to be concerned with is just one thing--getting forty five dollars."


Tell Me About Sinning

A boy went to his father one day and said, "Can you tell me about sinning?"

"Yes," the father said. "Think of when you go into a cool lake. At first, you feel the impact of the temperature and say 'Oy!' But then after a while you get used to it and it feels soothing and nice, and you say 'Ah.' Committing a sin is like the reverse of that. At first you say 'Ah,' but then later you exclaim 'Oy.'"


Whiskey Partners

Two business partners decided to buy a keg of whiskey in one town and transport it another. On the way, it became cold and they were tempted to drink some of the whiskey, even though they both agreed beforehand that they mustn't drink any of it, since doing so would greatly cut into their much-needed profits.

But one of the men really wanted some, so he said to the other, "I'll give you four coins if you sell me a shot of whiskey from your half of the keg."

The offer sounded good to the other man, so he agreed. Then several minutes later, as the second man observed his partner enjoying the whiskey, he took out the four coins he was just paid and said, "My friend, here are four coins. Sell me a shot of whiskey from your half of the keg."

The other thought, "Well, now I can reimburse myself for the four coins I spent." So he agreed.

And this pattern continued throughout the trip, until they had finished the entire keg and gotten really drunk. The first man then remarked, "Can you believe it! A whole keg of whiskey--all sold for only four coins!"


The Disciples Answer the Rabbi

A Rabbi asked his five disciples, "What is the best thing to pursue having in life.

One replied, "A good eye."

Another said, "A good friend."

Another said, "A good neighbor."

Another said, "Good foresight."

The last said, "A good heart."

The Rabbi then remarked, "A good heart is what I consider best, because it includes all the rest of your answers."

Then another day the Rabbi asked them, "What is the thing that a person should avoid most in life."

They responded in the same order.

One replied, "A bad eye."

Another said, "A bad friend."

Another said, "A bad neighbor."

Another said, "Bad foresight."

The last said, "A bad heart."

The Rabbi then remarked, "The last answer is what I feel is best, because it includes all the rest in it."


The Punishment

The local cobbler of a small town got into a heated argument with one of this customers, and stabbed the unfortunate man several times. He was then brought before the judge, who sentenced him to death. However, the townspeople, upon hearing the judgment, cried out, "We only have one cobbler in this town. If we kill him, who will mend our shoes?"

"Well," replied the judge, "you have a valid point. We can't kill the cobbler. Therefore, I propose that we kill Chaim the roofer instead--after all, we have four other roofers!"