Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Word To The Wise: An Update

A comment by Zackary Sholem Berger pointed me towards the actual Talmudic aphorism, which is as follows:

די לחכימא ברמיזא ולשטיא בכורמיזא
מידרש מישלי כב

which I would translate,
"[Saying something] with a hint is enough for a wise person, and for a fool, with a fist."

It's pithy and it rhymes. Turns out it's not even in the Talmud, but in a ninth-century Rabbinic commentary on the book of Proverbs. Much to my chagrin, though, there is nothing about קונדסא or קונדס. So why did קונדס go from meaning "stick" in Aramaic to "prankster" in Yiddish? Don't know, but I bet it's somewhere in the Talmud. Flip it over and flip it over again; everything's in it.

If you're interested, there's a hilarious heated exchange in Yiddish on a Hasidic online forum in which several people make up insults alluding to this passage.

No comments: