German Jewish Aphorisms

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Bobbe Meintzes Plus


From generation to generation, “Dor va Dor,” some stories/beliefs have been passed on. They are sayings that can make us listen with joy, interest, belief, disbelief, doubt and curiosity.  We will here look at a few of them and reminisce.  

The Ayin Horeh, the evil eye.  It is said to protect the “Mensch” who has an attribute that could be overly admired or special.  “Kein Ayin Horah” is wished upon the person with that special attribute so that the evil eye should not bewitch it and make it disappear.

 Prayers are also frequently used to keep diseases and death away and to give health and wealth:  Lieber G’tt lass gesund Papa, Mama, Tante und alle gute Verwandten, mich selber, omen.  Dear Lord keep my father, mother, aunt healthy as well as all of my good relatives, including myself.

The wearing of a “mezuzah” necklace is used to keep the wearer out of danger; to keep him or her safe. Many compulsions  have been used to keep evil away.  Death and connections with death and the time with its occurrence have many beliefs connected with that state.  If a person has been a good person during his lifetime, the chances are that he will die or even be buried before Schabbath on a Friday. He will come before G’d and sit at the Friday eve meal eating Leviathan (an alleged sort of delicacy in the fish family - heaven help you if you don’t like fish)! The body of the deceased is washed before being buried so that he will come before Hashem clean.  Remember the English saying:  Cleanliness is next to godliness.  

The word “omen” when said when another prays is as if the omen sayer has said the phrase or prayer himself. When an orthodox person, a strict believer in the kashrut/kosher laws, sees a fellow Jew eat milk and meat at the same meal it is often said that he is as “tref as Chaser” (unclean as a swine).  

To be blessed by your father/mother with hand on child’s head is to give him a certain protection and good wishes most sincerely given. If a Jewish and a Christian person marry each other, the chances are that they will not be blessed with children (this fallacious one is to warn couples of intermarriage). 

At birthday times we wish each other longevity  by the greeting: May you live to one hundred and twenty!  “If  you are given, take, if you are taken from, scream.” (Wenn man dir gibt nimm, wenn man von dir nimmt, schrei). “Am gemessenen und gezehltem an dem ist keine Broche”.  On that which is measured and counted there is no blessing.  “Wer einmal lugt dem glaubt man nicht und wenn er selbst die Wahrheit spricht”.  Whoever lies once can not ever be believed even when he  speaks the truth.  

“Grau lieber Freund ist alle Theorie, und grun des Lebens Mai.”  Theories are gray or questionable and green is the May of life. Connotation: Reality is what is!  “Eine Broche auf dein Koeppele”:  A blessing on your little head.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

Home ] Up ]