Monday, October 18, 2010

Hershele Ostropoler and the bone

Relevant to this week's parasha, Vayera.

Hershele Ostropoler grew up poor. And one day, both he and his sister, Sarah, were hungrily eying a leftover chicken bone. Suddenly, he leaped up and grabbed it, and his sister began to cry.

His father said to him: But is says in the Torah {Bereshit 18:14) ul'Sarah bein. So Sarah should get the bone!

Replied Hershele: But if you look at the pasuk, it actually says ul'Sarah vein. Un takeh, zi veint!
(Meaning: and indeed, she is crying.)

* The pasuk reads:
יד  הֲיִפָּלֵא מֵה', דָּבָר; לַמּוֹעֵד אָשׁוּב אֵלֶיךָ, כָּעֵת חַיָּה--וּלְשָׂרָה בֵן.14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD. At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.'

And the ב has no dagesh in it, because of conjunctive trup on the preceding word, combined with the preceding word ending with a ה, and thus an open syllable. beyn in Yiddish means bone while veyn means cries.


Wolf2191 said...

What is your source? This sounds more like the "Portrait of the Gadol as a young man kind of story" than a Hershel story. Different flavor.

joshwaxman said...

I heard it years ago, but I'll see if I can double-check.

I agree with you that it does have the "Portrait of the Gadol" flavor to it, though one would not have the gadol being so mean to his sister.

What makes it akin to the "Hershele Ostropoler" type of story, despite the clever diyuk in a pasuk, is that the hero is in a state of poverty, overcomes another hapless party, and it is through his wit. Consider the tales and examples section linked at wikipedia.

I'll see what I can find, bli neder.


joshwaxman said...

I consulted my dad. He assured me that it was a Hershele Ostropoler story, that he read it as such in third grade, and in books since then.

But I can't find you a written source, offhand.


Reuven Chaim Klein said...

Funny, I heard this story about the Vilna Gaon.


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