The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
(A Companion to MENDELE)

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Contents of Vol. 10.011[Sequential No. 176]
Date:
3 December 2006

1) This issue of TMR (ed).
2) Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey? fun B. Yeushzon. [Third (and last) installment, Yiddish text]
3) Afterword on Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey? (ed.)

Click here to enter: http://yiddish.haifa.ac.il/tmr/tmr10/tmr10011.htm

1)----------------------------------------------------------
Date: 3 December 2006
From: ed.
Subject: This issue of TMR.

In this issue of TMR we give the third and final installment of B. Yeushzon's scarce 1912 Warsaw penny pamphlet Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey? ('How I Won the Lottery'). The editor adds an "Afterword" to his preliminary comments (see TMR vol. 10.009). -- Book note: Morris M. Faierstein reports that the Tendlau book of proverbs cited in TMR 10.010 is available in modern font in an edition published by Parkland Verlag in 1998 and that Amazon.de and www.Abebooks.com offer used copies in excellent condition for $10 or so. Schocken put out an edition in 1934.

2)-----------------------------------------
Date:
3 December 2006
From: Robert Goldenberg

Subject: Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey? fun B. Yeushzon. [Third (and last) installment, Yiddish text]

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[Third (and last) installment, Yiddish text]

 

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3)------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 3 December 2006

From: ed.

Subject: Afterword on Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey?

Afterword

 

Paradox: gain is loss; to improve your situation is to make it worse. Money "naturally" flows to money. When a dyed-in-the-wool pauper comes into money, he will inevitably lose it, Capital being capricious. But the lure of winning 10,000 rubles in a lottery for the price of one is irresistible, especially when times are bad:

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.

The frame story (that many readers may find bizarre and not altogether appropriate) tells of a fervent hasid and his illustrious rebe. The childless hasid unrestrainedly demands his rebe use his influence in Heaven to give him a son:

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The hasid gets the son he so desperately wants, but the child is sickly and rearing him is so hellish that after a few years of suffering the father asks for the rebe's help. The child dies. The narrator then tells us that this true story can serve as a moshl, a parable figured in the experience of a pauper trying to win a lottery.

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Sitting about in the synagogue the narrator had heard stories of miraculous winnings aided by dreams. His own grueling poverty led him to become a lottery agent and he wins 10,000 rubles. The satiric section of the story describes the relatives and would-be do-gooders who claim a share of his good luck. The mechanical and repetitive nature of the events in which the narrator gives up his fortune adds to the story's comicality even though the hungry striking workers and the unmarried psule whose braid is showing signs of gray (der tsop iz ir bald gro) are very real. The mountainous old aunt in her satin jacket accompanied by two bearded cigar-smokers are vividly portrayed. Their appeal for funds seems somehow soiled. Society in the story is divided between those who see winning a lottery as a gift from God and those e.g. the young workers -- for whom it is simply unearned increment. The loose-tongued old aunt adds her own theological twist by suggesting the narrator has won the lottery by the merit (skhus) of the needy psule.

The story portrays acidly the unwholesome transition from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft. An extended family reinvents itself in order to shnor. The proletariat invokes a primitive form of distributive justice which requires the lottery winner to supply dinners for a minyen of strikers, their union apparently not sufficiently organized to deal with an extended strike. The narrator warns us not to force God's hand and to accept our lot at least if we are as much of a shlimazl as he admits to being.

B. Yeushzon, who was to go on to become one of Poland's most outstanding Yiddish journalists and editors, produced a penny pamphlet that would have a popular appeal. His ear for spoken Yiddish is faultless we hear the narrator.

[My copy of Vi azoy hob ikh gevunen oyf der loterey? is falling to pieces, but the internet deservedly -- will now preserve it.]

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End of The Mendele Review Vol. 10.011

Editor, Leonard Prager

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