Yiddish Proverbs

Proverbs in the Yiddish language. Let these Yiddish Proverbs encourage and motivate you. We hope you enjoy these phrases that have been passed down for many years.

Yiddish (ייִדישיידיש or אידישyidish/idish, lit. ”Jewish”) is the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the nascent Ashkenazi community with a High German-based vernacular fused with elements taken from Hebrew and Aramaic as well as from Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages. Yiddish writing uses the Hebrew alphabet.

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Yiddish Proverbs

‘For example’ is not the same as ‘proof.’ – Yiddish Proverbs

A bad peace is better than a good war. – Yiddish Proverbs

A big crowd, but not a human being in sight. – Yiddish Proverbs

A bird is known by his feathers. – Yiddish Proverbs

A blow passes on, a spoken word lingers on. – Yiddish Proverbs

A boil is fine as long as it’s under someone else’s arm. – Yiddish Proverbs

A cat loves fish, but won’t risk its claws. – Yiddish Proverbs

A child’s tear rends the heavens. – Yiddish Proverbs

A chip off the old block. – Yiddish Proverbs

A chip on the shoulder indicates wood higher up. – Yiddish Proverbs

A clock that stands still is better than one that goes wrong. – Yiddish Proverbs

A dead man is mourned seven days; a fool, his whole lifetime. – Yiddish Proverbs

A deaf man heard how a mute told that a blind man has seen how a cripple walked. – Yiddish Proverbs

A dog without teeth will also attack a bone. – Yiddish Proverbs

A farmer should not ride the king’s horse. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fault-finder complains even that the bride is too pretty. – Yiddish Proverbs

A flatterer must not lose his temper. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fool is his own informer. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fool says what he knows, and a wise man knows what he says. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fool who can keep silent is counted among the wise. – Yiddish Proverbs

A fool will jump into the bath and forget to wash his face. – Yiddish Proverbs

A friend you get for nothing; an enemy must be earned. – Yiddish Proverbs

A friend you have to buy; enemies you get for nothing. – Yiddish Proverbs

A golden key will open every lock. – Yiddish Proverbs

A good cry lightens the heart. – Yiddish Proverbs

A good enemy is better than a bad friend. – Yiddish Proverbs

A good friend is often better than a brother. – Yiddish Proverbs

A good man, but his mad dog won’t let you speak to him. – Yiddish Proverbs

A good name is better than a precious stone. – Yiddish Proverbs

A guest for a day is welcome the whole year. – Yiddish Proverbs

A guest is like rain: When he lingers on, he becomes a nuisance. – Yiddish Proverbs

A half truth is a whole lie. – Yiddish Proverbs

A heavy purse makes a light heart. – Yiddish Proverbs

A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he’s right. – Yiddish Proverbs

A jest is half a truth. – Yiddish Proverbs

A joke driven too far brings home hate. – Yiddish Proverbs

A lazy messenger is not short of excuses. – Yiddish Proverbs

A lie can take you far away—but with no hope of return. – Yiddish Proverbs

A lion doesn’t fear a fly. – Yiddish Proverbs

A lock is meant only for honest men. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man cannot jump over his own shadow. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man cannot spin and reel at the same time. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man comes from dust & in dust he will end. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man is not honest simply because he never had a chance to steal. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man should go on living — if only to satisfy his curiosity. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man should live if only to satisfy his curiosity. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man too good for the world is no good for his wife. – Yiddish Proverbs

A man’s worst enemies can’t wish on him what he can think up himself. – Yiddish Proverbs

A meowing cat catches no mice. – Yiddish Proverbs

A nation’s treasure is its scholars. – Yiddish Proverbs

A penny is a lot of money–if you haven’t got a penny. – Yiddish Proverbs

A penny is sometimes better spent than spared. – Yiddish Proverbs

A penny saved is a penny earned, but sometimes a penny is better spent than saved. – Yiddish Proverbs

A penny saved is a penny earned. – Yiddish Proverbs

A person can study for seventy years and at the end die a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

A person should stay alive, if only out of curiosity. – Yiddish Proverbs

A person’s worst enemy can’t wish on him what he can think up himself. – Yiddish Proverbs

A quarrel is like an itch; the more you scratch, the more it itches. – Yiddish Proverbs

A quiet fool is half a sage. – Yiddish Proverbs

A rich man has no need of character. – Yiddish Proverbs

A rich man who is stingy is the worst pauper. – Yiddish Proverbs

A rich man’s foolish sayings often pass for wise ones. – Yiddish Proverbs

A rich mouthful, a heavy groan. – Yiddish Proverbs

A shlemiel lands on his back, and bruises his nose. – Yiddish Proverbs

A table is not blessed if it has fed no scholars. – Yiddish Proverbs

A thief’s end is hanging. – Yiddish Proverbs

A trick is clever only once. – Yiddish Proverbs

A wise man hears one word and understands two. – Yiddish Proverbs

A wise man knows what he says, a fool says what he knows. – Yiddish Proverbs

A wounded soul is difficult to heal. – Yiddish Proverbs

After nine months the secret comes out. – Yiddish Proverbs

All brides are beautiful; all the dead are pious. – Yiddish Proverbs

All dumb people have a lot to say. – Yiddish Proverbs

All of us are crazy in one way or another. – Yiddish Proverbs

All signs are misleading. – Yiddish Proverbs

All things grow with time, except grief. – Yiddish Proverbs

An angry man is not fit to pray. – Yiddish Proverbs

An animal’s end is slaughter. – Yiddish Proverbs

An empty barrel makes a lot of noise. – Yiddish Proverbs

An example is no proof. – Yiddish Proverbs

An imaginary sickness is worse than a real one. – Yiddish Proverbs

An unkept promise leads to a bad life. – Yiddish Proverbs

Anger is a thorn in the heart. – Yiddish Proverbs

As the fat man gets thinner, the thin one is already dead. Heaven and hell can both be found on earth. – Yiddish Proverbs

As the sheep are shorn, the lambs shiver. – Yiddish Proverbs

As we live, so we learn. – Yiddish Proverbs

Ask about your neighbors, and then buy the house. – Yiddish Proverbs

Ask advice from everyone, but act with your own mind. – Yiddish Proverbs

Ask and you won’t get lost. – Yiddish Proverbs

Attractiveness is better than beauty. – Yiddish Proverbs

Beautiful is not what is beautiful, but what one likes. – Yiddish Proverbs

Before you say a word you’re a master; afterwards, you’re a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

Before you start up a ladder, count the rungs. – Yiddish Proverbs

Being miserly does not make a man richer. – Yiddish Proverbs

Being too nice can cost a lot. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better a Jew without a beard than a beard without a Jew. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better a noble death than a wretched life. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better a slap from a wise man than a kiss from a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better a steady dime than a rare dollar. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better a thief for a neighbor than an overzealous rabbi. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better an honest slap in the face than an insincere kiss. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better an ounce of happiness than a pound of gold. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better ask ten times than go astray once. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better ruined ten times than dead once. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better the best of the worst than the worst of the best. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better to die upright than to live on your knees. – Yiddish Proverbs

Better to hear curses than to be pitied. – Yiddish Proverbs

Beware of still water, a still dog, and a still enemy. – Yiddish Proverbs

Borrow causes sorrow. – Yiddish Proverbs

By day they’re ready to divorce, by night they’re ready for bed. – Yiddish Proverbs

Bygone troubles are a pleasure to talk about. – Yiddish Proverbs

Cancer—schmancer! As long as you’re healthy. – Yiddish Proverbs

Charge nothing and you’ll get a lot of customers. – Yiddish Proverbs

Charity and pride have different aims, yet both feed the poor. – Yiddish Proverbs

Charity covers a multitude of sins. – Yiddish Proverbs

Charity excuseth not cheating. – Yiddish Proverbs

Charm is more than beauty. – Yiddish Proverbs

Cold strengthens you more than hunger. – Yiddish Proverbs

Cold strengthens you more than hunger.Yiddish Proverbs

Come for your inheritance and you may have to pay for the funeral. – Yiddish Proverbs

Confidence is half of victory. – Yiddish Proverbs

Curse the young and they will wither. – Yiddish Proverbs

Death does not knock on the door. – Yiddish Proverbs

Do good and ask not for whom. – Yiddish Proverbs

Do not avenge yourself of fleas by burning up your bed. – Yiddish Proverbs

Do not praise the rich man who has no money. – Yiddish Proverbs

Do not show a stick to a dog that has been beaten. – Yiddish Proverbs

Doctors and gravediggers are partners. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back or a fool from any side. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t ask questions about fairy tales. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t bargain with God. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t be scared when you have no other choice. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don’t be too bitter lest you be spewed out. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t call a man honest just because he never had the chance to steal. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t live in a town where there are no doctors. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t settle in a place where the doctor has gout. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t throw a stone into a well from which you have drunk. – Yiddish Proverbs

Don’t throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water. – Yiddish Proverbs

Drive the horse with oats, not with curses and oaths. – Yiddish Proverbs

Dying while young is a boon in old age. – Yiddish Proverbs

Each child brings his own blessing into the world. – Yiddish Proverbs

Eggs may be smarter than the chickens, but it doesn’t take long for them to stink. – Yiddish Proverbs

Envy breeds hate. – Yiddish Proverbs

Even a ball of wool has a beginning. – Yiddish Proverbs

Even for bad luck you need luck. – Yiddish Proverbs

Even in heaven, it is not good to be alone. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every answer can result in a new question. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every man knows that he must die, but no one believes it. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every poor man has a dry throat and wet boots. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every pot will find its lid. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every question has an answer. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every seller praises his wares. – Yiddish Proverbs

Every worm has its hole. – Yiddish Proverbs

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven. – Yiddish Proverbs

Everything ends in weeping. – Yiddish Proverbs

Experience costs blood. – Yiddish Proverbs

Experience is what we call the accumulation of our mistakes. – Yiddish Proverbs

Fear is worse than the ordeal itself. – Yiddish Proverbs

Flattery makes friends and truth makes enemies. – Yiddish Proverbs

Flattery sits in the parlour when plain dealing is kicked out of doors. – Yiddish Proverbs

Flattery will get you nowhere. – Yiddish Proverbs

Fleas are not lobsters. – Yiddish Proverbs

Friends are needed both for joy and for sorrow. – Yiddish Proverbs

From success to failure is one step; from failure to success is a long road. – Yiddish Proverbs

From the black earth there grows the finest grain. – Yiddish Proverbs

Generosity does not make a man poorer. – Yiddish Proverbs

Give me, Lord, my daily bread, I will get my own brandy. – Yiddish Proverbs

Go quickly but don’t fall off my step. – Yiddish Proverbs

God could not be everywhere and therefore He made mothers. – Yiddish Proverbs

God created a world full of little worlds. – Yiddish Proverbs

God created people because he loves stories. – Yiddish Proverbs

God gave burdens, also shoulders. – Yiddish Proverbs

God is a father, happiness is a stepfather. – Yiddish Proverbs

God is an honest payer, but a very slow one. – Yiddish Proverbs

God loves the poor and helps the rich. – Yiddish Proverbs

God made man because he loves stories. – Yiddish Proverbs

God sends burdens..and shoulders. – Yiddish Proverbs

God will provide — ah, if only He would provide till He does. – Yiddish Proverbs

God: You do such wonderful things for complete strangers; why not for me? – Yiddish Proverbs

Gold will never get rusty. – Yiddish Proverbs

Golden dishes will never turn black. – Yiddish Proverbs

Golden dreams make men wake hungry. – Yiddish Proverbs

Gold’s father is dirt, yet it regards itself as noble. – Yiddish Proverbs

Good news always comes from far away. – Yiddish Proverbs

Had you gotten up early, you wouldn’t have needed to stay up late. – Yiddish Proverbs

Happy is she who conducts herself honorably. – Yiddish Proverbs

He falsifies who renders a verse just as it looks. – Yiddish Proverbs

He that cannot ask cannot live. – Yiddish Proverbs

He that cannot obey cannot command. – Yiddish Proverbs

He that cannot pay, let him pray. – Yiddish Proverbs

He that can’t endure the bad, will not live to see the good. – Yiddish Proverbs

He that lies on the ground cannot fall. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who comes for the inheritance is often made to pay for the funeral. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who dances at the wedding, weeps at the funeral. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who has children will never die of starvation. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who is aware of his folly is wise. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who is not good for himself is no good for others. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who is silent means something just the same. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who marries for money earns it. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who puts up with insult invites injury. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who runs away from the fire, falls in the water. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who stands by his point of view, must be ready to suffer hunger. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who talks a lot, talks about himself the most. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who wins first, loses last. – Yiddish Proverbs

He who would have others pity him must pity others. – Yiddish Proverbs

Health comes before making a livelihood. – Yiddish Proverbs

Health comes before making a livelihood.Yiddish Proverbs

Health? Very nice! But where will we get potatoes? – Yiddish Proverbs

Hell is not as bad as the road that leads to it. – Yiddish Proverbs

Hell shared with a sage is better than paradise with a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

Hire staff but do it yourself. – Yiddish Proverbs

Hope for miracles, but don’t rely on one. – Yiddish Proverbs

Hope may give a man strength, but not sense. – Yiddish Proverbs

How many will listen to the truth when you tell them? – Yiddish Proverbs

How you run your life, that’s how your clock will run. – Yiddish Proverbs

Hygiene is two thirds of health. – Yiddish Proverbs

I can’t sing, but I’m an expert on it. – Yiddish Proverbs

If a Jew cannot be a shoemaker, he will dream of being a professor. – Yiddish Proverbs

If a link is broken, the whole chain breaks. – Yiddish Proverbs

If a man be great, even his dog will wear a proud look. – Yiddish Proverbs

If a man is destined to drown, he will drown even in a spoonful of water. – Yiddish Proverbs

If all pulled in one direction, the world would keel over. – Yiddish Proverbs

If benevolence caused no heartache, the world would be full of philanthropists. – Yiddish Proverbs

If charity costs nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists. – Yiddish Proverbs

If each one sweeps before his own door, the whole street is clean. – Yiddish Proverbs

If everyone were allowed to take from the world all her heart desired, there would be nothing left. – Yiddish Proverbs

If fortune calls, offer him a seat. – Yiddish Proverbs

If God were living on earth, people would break His windows. – Yiddish Proverbs

If I am like others, who will be like me? – Yiddish Proverbs

If it goes, it goes, don’t force it. – Yiddish Proverbs

If it must always be better, it can never be good enough. – Yiddish Proverbs

If it were God’s will, you could shoot with a broom too. – Yiddish Proverbs

If my grandmother had balls, she’d be my grandfather. – Yiddish Proverbs

If one has nothing to answer, it is best to shut up. – Yiddish Proverbs

If one link has broken so has the whole chain. – Yiddish Proverbs

If one soldier knew what the other thinks, there would be no war. – Yiddish Proverbs

If one soldier understood the thoughts of another, there would be no wars. – Yiddish Proverbs

If only one race has to be chosen, why the Jews? – Yiddish Proverbs

If praying had helped, he could have hired someone to do it. – Yiddish Proverbs

If rich people could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living. – Yiddish Proverbs

If someone throws stones at you, throw back bread. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the bride can’t dance, she blames the musicians. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the eyes didn’t see, the hands wouldn’t take. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the father marries the aunt, he’s an uncle. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the head doesn’t work it’s bad news for the legs. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the pupil is smart, the teacher gets the credit. – Yiddish Proverbs

If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living. – Yiddish Proverbs

If there is bitterness in the heart, sugar in the mouth won’t make life sweeter. – Yiddish Proverbs

If things are not as you wish, wish them as they are. – Yiddish Proverbs

If triangles had a God, He’d have three sides. – Yiddish Proverbs

If two people say he is drunk, the third one should sleep. – Yiddish Proverbs

If we do not flatter ourselves, who will? – Yiddish Proverbs

If you are lucky, even your ox will calve. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you can – do! – Yiddish Proverbs

If you can’t bite, better not show your teeth. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you can’t endure the bad, you won’t live to witness the good. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you can’t go over, it is best to go under. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you don’t toil, you won’t eat. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you eat your all your bagels, you’ll have nothing in your pocket but the holes. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you ever need a helping hand you’ll find one at the end of your arm. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you find your friend on the sofa at home with your wife, you had better sell the sofa. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you have nothing to lose, you can try anything. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you keep on talking, you will end up saying what you didn’t intend to say. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you lie on the ground, you can’t fall. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you lose your self-respect, you also lose the respect of others. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you play with a cat, you must not mind her scratch. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you pray for another, you will be helped yourself. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you put in, you can take out. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you start thinking of death, you are no longer sure of life. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to swear. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you want people to think you are wise, agree with them. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him your plans. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gives it to. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t over sleep. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you would try to be like someone else, who would want to be like you? – Yiddish Proverbs

If your friend becomes your enemy, he will be your enemy for life. – Yiddish Proverbs

If your healthy, your wealthy. – Yiddish Proverbs

If your heart is bitter, sugar in the mouth won’t help. – Yiddish Proverbs

If you’re out to beat a dog, you’re sure to find a stick. – Yiddish Proverbs

In life, each of us must sometimes play the fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

In the meantime it is good to drink a sip of vodka. – Yiddish Proverbs

In the mirror everybody sees his best friend. – Yiddish Proverbs

In time, even a bear can be taught to dance. – Yiddish Proverbs

Interest on debts grow without rain. – Yiddish Proverbs

It costs nothing to look. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is better to be in hell with a wise man than in heaven with a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is better to be ten times ill than one time dead. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is better to have an ounce of luck than a pound of gold. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is far easier to spot faults in another than virtues in oneself. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is not good to be alone, even in Paradise. – Yiddish Proverbs

It is the kindness, and not the harshness, in the headmaster’s voice that pushes tough boys to cry. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s astonishing how important a man becomes when he dies. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s easier to be a critic than an author. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s good to hope, it’s the waiting that spoils it. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s never too late to die or get married. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s not as good with money as it is bad without it. – Yiddish Proverbs

It’s not so terrible when you lose money, but when courage is lost, all is lost. – Yiddish Proverbs

Laugh and everyone sees it, cry and no one sees it. – Yiddish Proverbs

Laughter can be heard further than weeping. – Yiddish Proverbs

Let it be worse, so long as it’s a change. – Yiddish Proverbs

Life is just like a dream—but don’t wake me. – Yiddish Proverbs

Life is the biggest bargain — we get it for nothing. – Yiddish Proverbs

Like soap for the body so are tears for the soul. – Yiddish Proverbs

Look down if you would know how high you stand. – Yiddish Proverbs

Look for cake, and lose your bread. – Yiddish Proverbs

Look for the good, not the evil, in the conduct of members of the family. – Yiddish Proverbs

Lose an hour in the morning, chase it all day. – Yiddish Proverbs

Lost years are worse than lost dollars. – Yiddish Proverbs

Love is blind; jealousy sees too much. – Yiddish Proverbs

Love me a little but long. – Yiddish Proverbs

Love tastes sweet, but only with bread. – Yiddish Proverbs

Love your neighbor, even if he plays the trombone. – Yiddish Proverbs

Lovers and thieves always look for darkness. – Yiddish Proverbs

Lovers do not need much room. – Yiddish Proverbs

Make new friends, but don’t forget the old ones. – Yiddish Proverbs

Make no more haste than good speed. – Yiddish Proverbs

Make sure to send a lazy man for the Angel of Death. – Yiddish Proverbs

Man plans, God laughs. – Yiddish Proverbs

Many complain of their looks, but none of their brains. – Yiddish Proverbs

May God protect you from goyisha hands and yiddishe tongues. – Yiddish Proverbs

Measure the corn of others with your own bushel. – Yiddish Proverbs

Men don’t build on strange ground. – Yiddish Proverbs

Men will give away their last shirt to become millionaires. – Yiddish Proverbs

Mix with your neighbors and you will soon learn what’s going on in your own house. – Yiddish Proverbs

Money doesn’t grow on trees. – Yiddish Proverbs

Money goes to money. – Yiddish Proverbs

Money is round, so it rolls away. – Yiddish Proverbs

Mothers-in-law are fine so long as they are deaf and blind. – Yiddish Proverbs

Necessity can break iron. – Yiddish Proverbs

Never approach a goat from the front, a horse from behind, and a fool from either side. – Yiddish Proverbs

Never try to be more foolish than the jester. – Yiddish Proverbs

No blessing is bestowed on a secret. – Yiddish Proverbs

No choice is also a choice. – Yiddish Proverbs

No man suffers from another’s sins— he has enough of his own. – Yiddish Proverbs

No one sees his own hunchback. – Yiddish Proverbs

Not all nice things are dear, but those that are dear are nice. – Yiddish Proverbs

Not all troubles come from heaven. – Yiddish Proverbs

Nothing falls from heaven. – Yiddish Proverbs

Nothing is too difficult. You only need to know how. – Yiddish Proverbs

Nothing tastes more bitter than the truth. – Yiddish Proverbs

Now their children teach them how to keep quiet. – Yiddish Proverbs

Old age, to the unlearned, is winter; to the learned, it’s harvest time. – Yiddish Proverbs

Once poor, never rich. – Yiddish Proverbs

One ass calls the other a pack animal. – Yiddish Proverbs

One chops the wood, the other does the grunting. – Yiddish Proverbs

One does not live on joy or die of sorrow. – Yiddish Proverbs

One God and so many enemies. – Yiddish Proverbs

One good deed has many claimants. – Yiddish Proverbs

One good forewit is worth two afterwits. – Yiddish Proverbs

One hand washes the other. – Yiddish Proverbs

One lie is a lie, two lies are lies, but three is politics! – Yiddish Proverbs

One old friend is better than two new ones. – Yiddish Proverbs

One rotten apple spoils the other. – Yiddish Proverbs

One should not send a cat to deliver cream. – Yiddish Proverbs

One who wants to know is better than one who already knows. – Yiddish Proverbs

Only a fool will stay a fool. – Yiddish Proverbs

Out of desperation, one finds. – Yiddish Proverbs

Over the bottle many a friend is found. – Yiddish Proverbs

Parents can give love but not common sense. – Yiddish Proverbs

Parents can give their children everything except good luck. – Yiddish Proverbs

Parents once taught their children to talk. – Yiddish Proverbs

Pearls around the neck, stones upon the heart. – Yiddish Proverbs

People always sing the tune that pleases their benefactor. – Yiddish Proverbs

Perfection anywhere is very rare. – Yiddish Proverbs

Praise the young and they will blossom. – Yiddish Proverbs

Prayers go up and blessings come down. – Yiddish Proverbs

Pride can live in the dungheap. – Yiddish Proverbs

Protest long enough that you are right, and you will be wrong. – Yiddish Proverbs

Provide for the worst; the best can take care of itself. – Yiddish Proverbs

Quiet streams erode the shore. – Yiddish Proverbs

Rejoice not at your enemy’s fall, but don’t pick him up, either. – Yiddish Proverbs

Rich man down and poor man up— they are still not even. – Yiddish Proverbs

Rob not, repent not. – Yiddish Proverbs

Seek advice, but use your own common sense. – Yiddish Proverbs

Send a fool to close the shutters and he’ll close them all over town. – Yiddish Proverbs

Send a fool to the market and a fool he will return. – Yiddish Proverbs

Shrouds are made without pockets. – Yiddish Proverbs

Silence is also speech. – Yiddish Proverbs

Silence is the fence around wisdom. – Yiddish Proverbs

Sleep faster, we need the pillows. – Yiddish Proverbs

Small children won’t let you sleep, bigger children won’t let you live. – Yiddish Proverbs

Some people are like new shoes—the cheaper. – Yiddish Proverbs

Sometimes a penny is better spent than saved. – Yiddish Proverbs

Spare us what we can learn to endure. – Yiddish Proverbs

Stubbornness is the greatest ill. – Yiddish Proverbs

Stupid solutions that succeed are still stupid solutions. – Yiddish Proverbs

Surrounding yourself with dwarfs does not make you a giant. – Yiddish Proverbs

Talk too much and you talk about yourself. – Yiddish Proverbs

Talking comes by nature, silence by wisdom. – Yiddish Proverbs

Tasty is the fish on someone else’s dish. – Yiddish Proverbs

Ten enemies cannot do a man the harm that he does to himself When the ox just stumbles, they all sharpen their knives. – Yiddish Proverbs

The apple does not fall far from the tree. – Yiddish Proverbs

The best horse needs a whip, intelligent men need advice, and the devout man needs a woman. – Yiddish Proverbs

The body is a sponge, the soul an abyss. – Yiddish Proverbs

The cold strengthens you more than hunger. – Yiddish Proverbs

The complete fool is half prophet. – Yiddish Proverbs

The crow flies sky high and lands on a pig. – Yiddish Proverbs

The doctor has a remedy for everything but poverty. – Yiddish Proverbs

The door of success is marked ‘push and pull.’ – Yiddish Proverbs

The entire world rests on the tip of the tongue. – Yiddish Proverbs

The eyes are the mirror of the soul. – Yiddish Proverbs

The first time it’s smart; the second time it’s cute; the third time you get a sock in the teeth. – Yiddish Proverbs

The gatekeepers are worse than the directors. – Yiddish Proverbs

The girl who can’t dance says the band can’t play. – Yiddish Proverbs

The glaciers didn’t freeze overnight. – Yiddish Proverbs

The grave is already dug and man still continues to hope. – Yiddish Proverbs

The heart is half a prophet. – Yiddish Proverbs

The heart is small and embraces the whole wide world. – Yiddish Proverbs

The heaviest thing in the world is an empty pocket. – Yiddish Proverbs

The innkeeper loves the drunkard, but not for a son-in-law. – Yiddish Proverbs

The longer a blind man lives, the more he sees. – Yiddish Proverbs

The longest road is the one that leads to your pocket. – Yiddish Proverbs

The luck of an ignoramus is this: He doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. – Yiddish Proverbs

The man who desires to know, knows more than the man who knows everything already. – Yiddish Proverbs

The most certain thing in life is death. – Yiddish Proverbs

The nearer to the synagogue, the farther from God. – Yiddish Proverbs

The pen wounds deeper than an arrow. – Yiddish Proverbs

The rabbi drinks the wine and asks the others to be happy. – Yiddish Proverbs

The Rabbi’s daughter is forbidden what the bathhouse keeper’s daughter is allowed. – Yiddish Proverbs

The rich man doesn’t pay, the debtor does. – Yiddish Proverbs

The rich man who is stingy is the worst pauper. – Yiddish Proverbs

The schlemiel lands on his back and bruises his nose. – Yiddish Proverbs

The scholar knows what she lacks knowledge of. – Yiddish Proverbs

The smoothest way is full of stones. – Yiddish Proverbs

The soldiers fight, and the kings are heroes. – Yiddish Proverbs

The sun shines brighter after a shower. – Yiddish Proverbs

The talk of the day is the dream of the night. – Yiddish Proverbs

The truly rich are those who enjoy what they have. – Yiddish Proverbs

The truth doesn’t die but it lives like a poor man. – Yiddish Proverbs

The truth is not always what we want to hear. – Yiddish Proverbs

The ugliest life is better than the nicest death. – Yiddish Proverbs

The way you prepare the bed, so shall you sleep. – Yiddish Proverbs

The wheel turns round. – Yiddish Proverbs

The whole world is a big town. – Yiddish Proverbs

The whole world is a dream, and death the interpreter. – Yiddish Proverbs

The whole world is full of demons; you just exorcise them out of yourself. – Yiddish Proverbs

The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks. – Yiddish Proverbs

The wolf is not afraid of the dog, but he doesn’t like the sound of his barking. – Yiddish Proverbs

The worst libel is the truth. – Yiddish Proverbs

There is nothing new under the sun— and that’s why there remains such a mess. – Yiddish Proverbs

There’s no insurance against death and poverty. – Yiddish Proverbs

There’s plenty of time to bemoan bad fortune once it arrives. – Yiddish Proverbs

they are, the louder they squeak! – Yiddish Proverbs

They have a strong love bond; he with himself and she with herself. – Yiddish Proverbs

Time and words can’t be recalled, even if it was only yesterday. – Yiddish Proverbs

To assume is to be deceived. – Yiddish Proverbs

To be rich is not everything, but it certainly helps. – Yiddish Proverbs

To every answer you can find a new question. – Yiddish Proverbs

To fall off a good horse is at least worthwhile. – Yiddish Proverbs

to offer the poor, for he is poorer. – Yiddish Proverbs

Tomorrow your horse may be lame. – Yiddish Proverbs

Too humble is half proud. – Yiddish Proverbs

Too nice can cost a lot of money. – Yiddish Proverbs

Treat me like a rabbi; watch me like a thief. – Yiddish Proverbs

Trouble is to man what rust is to iron. – Yiddish Proverbs

True poverty does not come from God. – Yiddish Proverbs

Truth is the safest lie. – Yiddish Proverbs

Truth never dies, but lives a wretched life. – Yiddish Proverbs

Two burdens: to Moses; water, to God; the world. – Yiddish Proverbs

Understanding is something we’re sure the other fellow hasn’t got. – Yiddish Proverbs

Walk straight and you will not fall. – Yiddish Proverbs

We are all schlemiels. – Yiddish Proverbs

We have far greater compassion for another’s misfortune than our pleasure in another’s good fortune. – Yiddish Proverbs

Weeping makes the heart grow lighter. – Yiddish Proverbs

What a fool can spoil, ten wise men cannot repair. – Yiddish Proverbs

What a man thinks up for himself, his worst enemy couldn’t wish for him. – Yiddish Proverbs

What can you do with a good cow that gives a lot of milk and then kicks the bucket over? – Yiddish Proverbs

What good is honor when you’re starving? – Yiddish Proverbs

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. – Yiddish Proverbs

What use is wisdom when folly reigns? – Yiddish Proverbs

What value is a needle without an eye? – Yiddish Proverbs

What will be, will be. – Yiddish Proverbs

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue. – Yiddish Proverbs

What you save is, later, like something found. – Yiddish Proverbs

What’s left over from the thief is spent on the fortune-teller. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a father gives to his son, they both laugh. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a fool has the cow by the horns, the wise man can milk it. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a miller fights with a chimney sweep, the miller gets black and the chimney sweep gets white. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a mother calls her child bastard, you can take her word for it. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a poor man eats a chicken, one or the other is sick. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a son gives to his father, they both weep. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a thief kisses you, count your teeth. – Yiddish Proverbs

When a worm sits in horseradish, it thinks there is nothing sweeter. – Yiddish Proverbs

When both parties are right, it’s a bad day for ‘right.’ – Yiddish Proverbs

When brains are needed, brawn won’t help. – Yiddish Proverbs

When brains are needed, brawn won’t help.Yiddish Proverbs

When brains are needed, brawn won’t help. – Yiddish Proverbs

When distress doesn’t show on the face, it lies in the heart. – Yiddish Proverbs

When God wants people to suffer, he sends them too much understanding. – Yiddish Proverbs

When God wants to break a man’s heart, he gives him a lot of sense. – Yiddish Proverbs

When God wants to punish an idiot, He teaches them a few words of Hebrew. – Yiddish Proverbs

When luck joins in the game, cleverness scores double. – Yiddish Proverbs

When one comes to comfort a young widow, he does not mean to perform a good deed. – Yiddish Proverbs

When one lives, one experiences. – Yiddish Proverbs

When one must, one can. – Yiddish Proverbs

When someone claims an inheritance, he must pay for the funeral. – Yiddish Proverbs

When the light is crooked, the shadow is crooked. – Yiddish Proverbs

When the time comes for you to live, there aren’t enough years. – Yiddish Proverbs

When you have left a country, you have left everyone. – Yiddish Proverbs

When you look to the heights, hold on to your hat. – Yiddish Proverbs

When you sweep the house, you find everything. – Yiddish Proverbs

When your enemy falls, don’t rejoice — but don’t pick him up either. – Yiddish Proverbs

When your enemy falls, don’t rejoice. – Yiddish Proverbs

Whomever looks for easy work goes to bed very tired. – Yiddish Proverbs

Whomever needs milk, bows to the animal. – Yiddish Proverbs

With a child in the house, all corners are full. – Yiddish Proverbs

With money in his pocket, a fool thinks he is handsome, and wise, and sings beautifully. – Yiddish Proverbs

With time, even a bear can learn to dance. – Yiddish Proverbs

Women can keep only one secret — their own. – Yiddish Proverbs

Words should be weighed, not counted. – Yiddish Proverbs

Worries wash away better with soup. – Yiddish Proverbs

You are ushered in according to your dress; shown out according to your brains. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can make the dream bigger than the night. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can wash your body but not your soul. – Yiddish Proverbs

You cannot hold your head high with your hand out. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can’t chew with somebody else’s teeth. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can’t make cheesecakes out of snow. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can’t measure the whole world with your own yardstick. – Yiddish Proverbs

You can’t put a “thank you” in your pocket. – Yiddish Proverbs

You do not fall because you are weak, you fall because you think you are strong. – Yiddish Proverbs

You find everything when you are spring cleaning. – Yiddish Proverbs

You may deal in rags and dress in velvet. – Yiddish Proverbs

You never lose a false coin. – Yiddish Proverbs

Your health comes first; you can always hang yourself later. – Yiddish Proverbs

Your neighbor’s apples are the sweetest. – Yiddish Proverbs

Your pot broken seems better than my whole one. – Yiddish Proverbs

zzzzOne person enjoys a piece of hard cheese, a second a spun out prayer chant, and a third a door to the street. – Yiddish Proverbs

Yiddish Proverbs

With original Yiddish

  • .אַ קלוגער פֿאַרשטײט פֿון אײן װאָרט צװײ
    • A kluger farshteyt fun eyn vort tsvey.
    • A wise man hears one word and understands two.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 304. ISBN 0-914512-46-3.
    • German gloss (unattested): Ein Kluger versteht von einem Wort zwei.
  • .אַחרי מות קדושים
    • Akhre moys kdoyshim. (direct quote from Hebrew)
    • After death, [a person is] holy.
    • Meaning: After a person’s death, one should speak only of his virtues. Do not speak ill of the dead.
    • Meaning when used ironically: After death, even the most ordinary person becomes a saint.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 10. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • Latin equivalent: De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. (About the dead, nothing but good [should be said].)
  • .‎אױף אײן שלאָג פֿאַלט קײן בױם ניט אום
    • Af eyn shlog falt keyn boym nit um.
    • A tree doesn’t fall with one blow.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 279. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German gloss (unattested): Auf (Mit) einen Schlag fällt kein Baum (nicht) um.
  • .אױף פֿײַער זאָל מען קײן בױמל ניט גיסן
    • Af fayer zol men keyn boyml nit gisn.
    • Don’t pour oil on fire.
    • English equivalent: Don’t add fuel to the fire.
    • Meaning: Don’t make a bad situation worse by making an injudicious remark.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 454. ISBN 0-914512-46-3.
    • German equivalent: Man soll kein Öl ins Feuer gießen.
    • German gloss (theoretical): Auf Feuer soll man kein (Baum-) Öl (nicht) gießen.
  • ‎אַמאָל איז די רפֿואה ערגער פֿאַר דער מכּה‫.‬
    • Amol iz di refue erger far der make.
    • Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 423. ISBN 0-914512-46-3.
    • German gloss (theoretical): Einmal (Manchmal) ist die Refue ärger für (als) die Macke.
  • .אַז דער שטײן ליגט אױף אײן אָרט װערט ער אױך באַװאַקסן מיט גראָז
    • Az der shteyn ligt af eyn ort vert er oykh bavaksn mit groz.
    • If a stone stays in one place, it becomes overgrown with grass.
    • English proverb expressing the converse: A rolling stone gathers no moss.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 271. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German gloss (unattested): Als (wenn) der Stein liegt auf einem Ort wird er auch bewachsen mit Grass.
  • .אַז מען לעבט, דערלעבט מען
    • Az men lebt, derlebt men.
    • When one lives, one experiences.
    • Meaning: If you live long enough, you live to see surprising things.
    • Source: Furman, Israel (1968). ייִדישע שפּריכװערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 219.
    • German gloss (unattested): Als (wenn) man lebt, erlebt man.
  • .‎פֿון אַ חזיר־שװענצל קען מען קײן שטרײַמל ניט מאַכן
    • Fun a khazer-shventsl ken men keyn shtrayml nit makhn.
    • You can’t make a shtreimel from a pig’s tail.
    • English equivalent: You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
    • Meaning: “You cannot produce anything of good quality from poor raw material; often used of people.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 105. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German gloss (theoretical): Von einem Chaser-Schwänzel kann man keinen Schtreimel (nicht) machen.
  • .דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט
    • Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht.
    • Man plans and God laughs.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.
    • Source: Furman, Israel (1968). ייִדישע שפּריכװערטער און רעדנסארטן. Hamenora Publishing House. p. 248.
    • German equivalent: Der Mensch denkt und Gott lenkt.
    • German gloss (unattested): Der Mensch trachtet und Gott lacht.
  • .דאָס עפּעלע פֿאַלט ניט װײַט פֿון בײמעלע
    • Dos epele falt nit vayt fun beymele.
    • The apple doesn’t fall far from (the) tree.
    • English equivalent: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Children are like their parents.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 193. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German equivalent: Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm.
    • German gloss: Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Baum.
  • .אַ באַרג מיט אַ באַרג קומט זיך ניט צונױף, אָבער אַ מענטש מיט אַ מענטשן יאָ
    • A barg mit a barg kumt zikh nit tsunoyf, ober a mentsh mit a mentshn yo.
    • Two mountains can’t come together, but two people can.
    • Meaning: There is always a way for people to find common ground.
    • German gloss (unattested): Ein Berg mit einem Berg kommt sich nicht zusammen, aber ein Mensch mit einem Menschen ja (schon).
    • Source: Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). דער אוצר פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. p. 30. ISBN 0-914512-46-3.
  • .די צײַט איז טײַערער פֿון געלט
    • Di tsayt iz tayerer fun gelt.
    • Time is more precious than money.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 222. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German gloss (unattested): Die Zeit ist teuerer von (als) Geld.
  • געשװיגן הײסט אױך גערעדט‪.‬
    • Geshvign heyst oykh geredt.
    • Even silence speaks.
    • Meaning: Silence implies consent.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 265. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • German equivalent: Schweigen ist auch eine Antwort.
    • German gloss (unattested): Geschwiegen heißt auch geredet.
  • .שטיל װאַסער גראָבט טיף
    • Shtil vaser grobt tif.
    • Still water digs deep.
    • Source: Bernstein, Ignaz (1988). Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. Fourier Verlag. p. 86. ISBN 3-925037-25-X.
    • English equivalent: Still water runs deep.
    • “Silent Men, like still Waters, are deep and dangerous.”
    • Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732)
  • A beyze tsung iz erger vi a shlekhter hant.
    • — A nasty tongue is worse than a wicked hand.
  • A falshe matbeye farlirt men nisht.
    • — A bad penny never gets lost.
  • A fremder bisn shmekt zis.
    • — Another man’s morsel tastes sweet.
  • A gantser nar iz a halber novi.
    • — A whole fool is half a prophet.
  • A gast iz vi a regn: az er doyert tsu lang, vert er a last.
    • — A guest is like the rain: when he persists, he is a nuisance.
  • A guter yid darf nit keyn briv; a shlekhtn yidn helft nit keyn briv.
    • — A good person needs no recommendation; no recommendation can help a bad person.
  • A gutn vet der sheynk nit kalye makhn un a shlekhtn vet der besmedresh nit farikhtn.
    • — The tavern can’t corrupt a good man, the synagogue can’t reform a bad one.
  • A halber emes iz a gantser lign.
    • — A half truth is a whole lie.
  • A patsh fargeyt, a vort bashteyt.
    — A blow subsides, a word abides.
  • A shlekhter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig.
    • — Better a bad peace than a good war.
  • Eyn sho gan-eydn iz oykh gut.
    • — Even one hour of heaven is worthwhile.
  • Ale vayber hobn yerushe fun zeyer muter Khaye.
    • — All women are heirs to Mother Eve.
  • An alter fraynd iz beser vi naye tsvey.
    • — Better one old friend than two new.
  • An opgesheylte ey falt oykh nit aleyn in moyl arayn.
    • — Even a shelled egg won’t leap into your mouth.
  • Az a yid ken nit vern keyn shuster, troymt er fun vern a profesor.
    • — When a Jew can’t be a cobbler, he dreams of becoming a professor.
      (or: Those who can do, do; those who can’t, teach.)
  • Az der soyne falt, tor men zikh nit freyen (ober men heybt im nit oyf).
    • — “Rejoice not at thine enemy’s fall”—but don’t pick him up either.
  • Az es iz bashert eynem dertrunken tsu vern, vert er dertrunken in a left vaser.
    • — The person who’s fated to drown will drown—in a spoonful of water.
  • Az men git nit Yankeven, git men Eysevn.
    • — If you fail your own cause you support the other’s.
  • Az men hot gelt, iz men i klug, i sheyn, i men ken gut zingen.
    • — With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well, too.
  • Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.
    • — Man proposes, God disposes.
  • Az men krigt zikh miten rov, muz men sholem zein miten shainker.
    • — If you’re at odds with your rabbi, make peace with your bartender.
  • Zol er aropshlingen a shirem un s’zol zikh im efenen in boykh!
    • — May you swallow an umbrella and may it open in your belly!
  • Vahksin zuls du vi a tsibeleh, mitten kup in drerd!
    • — May you grow like an onion, with your head in the ground.
  • Zey hobn zikh beyde lib: er zikh un zi zikh.
    • — They are both in love: he with himself and she with herself.
  • A behaimeh hot a langen tsung un ken nisht reden; der mentsh hot a kurtseh un tor nisht reden.
    • — Animals have long tongues but can’t speak; men have short tongues and shouldn’t speak.
  • Az me shveigt iz men a halber nar; az me redt iz men a gantser nar.
    • — He who keeps quiet is half a fool; he who talks is a complete fool.
  • A groys gesheft zol er hobn mit shroyre: vus er hot, zol men bay im nit fregn, un vos men fregt zol er nisht hobn.
    • — You should have a large store, and whatever people ask for you shouldn’t have, and what you do have shouldn’t be requested.
  • Im hayu samim et hamo’ach shelcha betoch tsipor, hi hayta matchila la’uf achora!
    • — Had they put your brain inside a bird, it would have started flying backwards!
  • Im hatimtoon haya tippa, ata hayita okianoos!
    • — If dumbness was a drop of water, you would have been an ocean!
  • Az me shloft mit hint shtait men oif mit flai.
    • — If you lie down with the dogs, you get up with the fleas.

 

Yiddish Proverbs

English Yiddish Transliteration Yiddish
Words should be weighed, not counted. Verter zol men vegn un nit tseyln. ווערטער זאָל מען װעגן און ניט צײלן.
If his word were a stick, you couldn’t lean on it. Zayn vort zol zayn a shtekn, volt men zikh nit getort onshparn. זײַן וואָרט זאָל זײַן אַ שטעקן, וואָלט מען זיך ניט געטאָרט אָנשפּאַרן.
If his word were a bridge, I’d be afraid to cross it. Zayn vort zol zayn a brik, volt ikh moyre gehat aribertsugeyn. זײַן וואָרט זאָל זײַן אַ בריק, וואָלט איך מורא געהאַט אַריבערצוגיין.
No one sees the hump on his own back. Keyner zet nit zayn eygenem hoyker. קײנער זעט ניט זײַן אײגענעם הױקער.
No one knows whose shoe pinches except the person who walks in it. Keyner veys nit vemen der shukh kvetsht, nor der vos geyt in im. קיינער ווייס ניט וועמען דער שוך קוועטשט, נאָר דער וואָס גייט אין אים.
Everyone has his own burden. Yeder mentsh hot zikh zayn pekl. יעדער מענטש האָט זיך זײַן פּעקל.
Troubles are to man what rust is to iron. Tsores zaynen far dem mentshn vi zhaver far ayzn. צרות זײַנען פֿאַר דעם מענטשן ווי זשאַווער פֿאַר אײַזן.
A person is sometimes stronger than iron and sometimes weaker than a fly. A mentsh iz a mol shtarker fun ayzn un a mol shvakher fun a flig. אַ מענטש איז אַ מאָל שטאַרקער פֿון אײַזן און אַ מאָל שוואַכער פֿון אַ פֿליג.
In a beautiful apple you sometimes find a worm. In a sheynem epl gefint men a mol a vorem. אין אַ שיינעם עפּל געפֿינט מען אַ מאָל אַ וואָרעם.
When a worm sits in horseradish, it thinks there’s nothing sweeter. Az der vorem zitst in khreyn, meynt er az es iz keyn zisers nito. אַז דער וואָרעם זיצט אין כריין, מיינט ער אַז עס איז קיין זיסערס ניטאָ.
If grandma had a beard, she would be a grandpa. Oyb di bobe volt gehat a bord, volt zi geven a zeyde. אױב די באָבע װאָלט געהאַט אַ באָרד, װאָלט זי געװען אַ זײדע.
If grandma had wheels, she would be a wagon. Oyb di bobe volt gehat reder, volt zi geven a vogn. אױב די באָבע װאָלט געהאַט רעדער, װאָלט זי געװען אַ װאָגן.
If a cat laid eggs, it would be a hen. Di kats zol leygn eyer, volt zi geven a hun. די קאַץ זאָל לײגן אײער, װאָלט זי געװען אַ הון.
A goat has a beard too, and it’s still just a goat. A tsig hot oykh a bord un iz fort nor a tsig. אַ ציג האָט אויך אַ באָרד און איז פֿאָרט נאָר אַ ציג.
If you put a shtreimel on a pig, would it make him a rabbi? Tu on a khazer a shtrayml, vet er vern rov? טו אָן אַ חזיר אַ שטרײַמל, וועט ער ווערן רבֿ?
Show a pig a finger and he’ll want the whole hand. Vayz a khazer a finger vil er di gantse hant. וײַז אַ חזיר אַ פֿינגער וויל ער די גאַנצע האַנט.
If you give the devil a hair, he’ll want the whole beard. Az men git dem tayvl a hor, vil er di gantse bord. אַז מען גיט דעם טײַוול אַ האָר וויל ער די גאַנצע באָרד‫.‬
Let a pig in the house and he’ll crawl on the table. Loz arayn a khazer in shtub, krikht er afn tish. לאָז אַרײַן אַ חזיר אין שטוב, קריכט ער אויפֿן טיש.
A Jew is twenty-eight percent fear, two percent sugar, and seventy percent chutzpah. A yid hot akht un tsvantsik protsent pakhed, tsvey protsent tsuker, un zibetsik protsent khutspe. ‎אַ ייִד האָט אַכט און צוואַנציק פּראָצענט פּחד, צוויי פּראָצענט צוקער און זיבעציק פּראָצענט חוצפּה.
Don’t send a dog to the butcher shop. A hunt shikt men nit in yatke arayn. אַ הונט שיקט מען ניט אין יאַטקע אַרײַן.
Don’t stick your head in a wolf’s mouth. Shtek nit dem kop tsum volf in moyl arayn. שטעק ניט דעם קאָפּ צום וואָלף אין מויל אַרײַן.
What will become of the sheep if the wolf is the judge? Vos ken vern fun di shof az der volf iz der rikhter? װאָס קען װערן פֿון די שאָף אַז דער װאָלף איז דער ריכטער?
You can’t empty the ocean with a spoon. Mit a lefl ken men dem yam nit oys’shepn. מיט אַ לעפֿל קען מען דעם ים ניט אויסשעפּן.
You can’t dance at two weddings with one behind. Mit eyn tokhes ken men nit tantsn af tsvey khasenes. מיט איין תּחת קען מען ניט טאַנצן אויף צוויי חתונות.
You can’t make a shtreimel out of a pig’s tail. Fun a khazershn ek ken men keyn shtrayml nit makhn. פֿון אַ חזירשן עק קען מען קיין שטרײַמל ניט מאַכן.
Better a slap from a sage than a kiss from a fool. Beser a patsh fun a khokhem eyder a kush fun a nar. בעסער אַ פּאַטש פֿון אַ חכם איידער אַ קוש פֿון אַ נאַר.
When God was doling out brains, you were asleep. Az got hot geteylt dem seykhl bistu geshlofn. ‎אַז גאָט האָט געטיילט דעם שׂכל ביסטו געשלאָפֿן.
With horses you check the teeth; with a human you check the brains. Bay ferd kukt men af di tseyn; bay a mentshn afn seykhl. בײַ פֿערד קוקט מען אויף די ציין; בײַ אַ מענטשן אויפֿן שׂכל.
When you need brains, brawn doesn’t help. Vu men darf hobn moyekh, helft nit keyn koyekh. וווּ מען דאַרף האָבן מוח העלפֿט ניט קיין כּוח.
He’s a piece of meat with two eyes. Er iz a shtik fleysh mit tsvey oygn. ער איז אַ שטיק פֿלייש מיט צוויי אויגן.
He looks with his eyes, listens with his ears, and understands like a wall. Er kukt mit di oygn, hert mit di oyern, un farshteyt vi di vant. ער קוקט מיט די אויגן, הערט מיט די אויערן, און פֿאַרשטייט ווי די וואַנט.
He knows like a cow knows what Wednesday is. Er veys vi a ku fun mitvokh. ער ווייס ווי אַ קו פֿון מיטוואָך.
The hat is fine but the head is too small. Dos hitl iz gut nor der kop iz tsu kleyn. דאָס היטל איז גוט נאָר דער קאָפּ איז צו קלײן.
There’s no furniture in his attic. Es felt im mebl in dakhkamer. עס פֿעלט אים מעבל אין דאַכקאַמער.
He has as much sense as a church has mezuzahs. Er hot azoy fil seykhl vi in kloyster mezuzes. ער האָט אַזוי פֿיל שׂכל ווי אין קלויסטער מזוּזות.
He’s meditating on whether a flea has a belly-button. Er klert tsi a floy hot a pupik. ער קלערט צי אַ פֿלױ האָט אַ פּופּיק.
He’s contemplating the rotation of the earth. Er klert vi di velt dreyt zikh. ער קלערט ווי די וועלט דרייט זיך.
He’s wondering where the chimney smoke goes. Er klert vu di roykhes fun koymen kumen ahin. ער קלערט וווּ די רויכעס פֿון קוימען קומען אַהין.
He’s pondering whether bagels from Kulikov are bigger than bagels from Lemberg. Er klert tsi di Kulikover beygl zenen greser fun di Lemberger. ער קלערט צי די קוליקאָווער בייגל זענען גרעסער פֿון די לעמבערגער.
She sits idle all year, and on the eve of Yom Kippur she starts to knit a sock. Dos gantse yor iz zi leydik gezesn un erev yom-kiper hot zi a zok ongehoybn. דאָס גאַנצע יאָר איז זי ליידיק געזעסן און ערבֿ יום–כּיפּור האָט זי אַ זאָק אָנגעהויבן.
Pay him for blowing his nose. Tsol im op far oysshnaytsn di noz. צאָל אים אָפּ פֿאַר אויסשנײַצן די נאָז.
He couldn’t attach a tail to a cat. Er ken nit a kats dem ek farbindn. ער קען ניט אַ קאַץ דעם עק פֿאַרבינדן.
He can’t count to two. Er ken keyn tsvey nit tseyln. ער קען קיין צוויי ניט ציילן.
He’s got a cat in his head. Er hot a kats in kop (katsnkop). ער האָט אַ קאַץ אין קאָפּ (קאַצנקאָפּ).
If he were twice as smart, he’d be an idiot! Ven er iz tsvey mol azoy klug, volt er geven a goylem! װען ער איז צװײ מאָל אַזױ קלוג, װאָלט ער געװען אַ גולם!
People are idiots. / People are not idiots. Der oylem iz a goylem. / Der oylem iz nit keyn goylem. דער עולם איז אַ גולם. / דער עולם איז ניט קיין גולם.
He’s an expert like a goat’s a connoisseur of music. Er iz a meyvn vi a bok af a klezmer. ער איז אַ מבֿין װי אַ באָק אױף אַ כּלי–זמר.
The eggs think they’re smarter than the chickens. Di eyer viln zayn kliger fun di hiner. די אייער ווילן זײַן קליגער פֿון די הינער.
Two smart people can’t agree. Tsvey kluge kenen nit shtimen. צוויי קלוגע קענען ניט שטימען.
Understanding grows at a snail’s pace. Der seykhl iz a krikher. דער שׂכל איז אַ קריכער.
You study until you’re seventy and you die a fool. Biz zibetsik yor lernt men seykhl un men shtarbt a nar. ביז זיבעציק יאָר לערנט מען שׂכל און מען שטאַרבט אַ נאַר.
When children are young, their parents talk about how smart they are; when parents are old, their children talk about how stupid they are. Ven di kinder zaynen yung dertseyln di eltern zeyere khokhmes; ven di eltern zaynen alt dertseyln di kinder zeyere narishkaytn. ‎ווען די קינדער זײַנען יונג דערציילן די עלטערן זייערע חכמות‫;‬ ‎ווען די עלטערן זײַנען אַלט דערציילן די קינדער זייערע נאַרישקײַטן‫.‬‬
If you don’t want to grow old, hang yourself when you’re young. Az men vil nit alt vern, zol men zikh yungerheyt oyfhengen. אַז מען וויל ניט אַלט ווערן, זאָל מען זיך יונגערהייט אויפֿהענגען.
The pen stings worse than an arrow. Di pen shist erger fun a fayl. די פּען שיסט ערגער פֿון אַ פֿײַל.
The devil is not as black as we paint him. Der tayvl iz nit azoy shvarts vi men molt im. דער טײַוול איז ניט אַזוי שוואַרץ ווי מען מאָלט אים.
He can make the dream larger than the night. Er ken makhn dem kholem greser vi di nakht. ער קען מאַכן דעם חלום גרעסער ווי די נאַכט.
At night all cows are black. Bay nakht zenen ale ki shvarts. בײַ נאַכט זענען אַלע קי שוואַרץ.
A black hen can lay a white egg too. A shvartse hun ken oykh leygn a vays ey. אַ שוואַרצע הון קען אויך לייגן אַ ווײַס איי.
Man plans and God laughs. Der mentsh trakht un got lakht. דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט.
The closer to the synagogue, the farther from God. Vos noenter tsu der shul, alts vayter fun Got. װאָס נאָענטער צו דער שול, אַלץ װײַטער פֿון גאָט.
Why did Adam and Eve cover their business with a leaf if there was nobody to see them? Far vos hot Odem un Khave tsugedekt di mayse mit a blat, ven keyner hot zey nit gezen? פֿאַר וואָס האָט אָדם און חוה צוגעדעקט די מעשׂה מיט אַ בלאַט ווען קיינער האָט זיי ניט געזען?
Rashi isn’t crazy. Rashi iz nit meshuge. רשי איז ניט משוגע.
He’s swimming in the Sea of Talmud. Er shvimt in yam hatalmud. ער שווימט אין ים התּלמוד.
The sea has no shore — the Torah has no end. Der yam iz on a breg — di toyre iz on an ek. ‎‎דער ים איז אָן אַ ברעג — די תּורה איז אָן אַן עק.
He reads Hebrew like an axe swims. Er zogt ivre vi a hak shvimt. ער זאָגט עבֿרי ווי אַ האַק שווימט.
Knowing Torah doesn’t prevent you from sinning. Kenen toyre iz nit keyn shter tsu an aveyre. קענען תּורה איז ניט קיין שטער צו אַן עבֿירה.
It’s better to talk to a woman and think about God than talk to God and think about a woman. Beser redn mit a yidene un trakhtn vegn got eyder redn mit got un trakhtn vegn a yidene. בעסער רעדן מיט אַ ייִדענע און טראַכטן וועגן גאָט איידער רעדן מיט גאָט און טראַכטן וועגן אַ ייִדענע.
Where there is no worthy man, even a herring is a fish. Bemokem she-eyn ish iz a hering oykh a fish. במקום שאין איש איז אַ הערינג אויך אַ פֿיש.
Nine rabbis can’t make a minyan but ten shoemakers can. Nayn rabonim kenen keyn minyen nit makhn ober tsen shusters yo. נײַן רבנים קענען קײן מנין ניט מאַכן אָבער צען שוסטערס יאָ.
The cat is more pious than he is. Di kats iz shoyn frimer far im. די קאַץ איז שוין פֿרימער פֿאַר אים.
When God wants to punish an unbeliever, He gives him a pious wife. Az got vil shtrofn an apikoyres git er im a frum vayb. אַז גאָט וויל שטראָפֿן אַן אַפּיקורס גיט ער אים אַ פֿרום ווײַב.
You’re lucky, God, that you live so high; otherwise people would break your windows. Dayn mazl, Got, vos du voynst azoy hoykh; anit volt men dir di fentster oysgezetst. דײַן מזל, גאָט, וואָס דו וווינסט אַזוי הויך; אַניט וואָלט מען דיר די פֿענצטער אויסגעזעצט.
If the Book of Psalms were a remedy, you could buy it at the drugstore. Tilim zol zayn a refue, volt men es gekoyft in der apteyk. תּהילים זאָלֹ זײַן אַ רפֿואה וואָלט מען עס געקויפֿט אין דער אַפּטייק.
Because of a little oil we make such a big holiday? Vegn a bisl boyml makht men aza groysn yontev? וועגן אַ ביסל בוימל מאַכט מען אַזאַ גרויסן יום–טובֿ?
An ox has a long tongue but can’t blow a shofar. An oks hot a lange tsung un ken keyn shoyfer nit blozn. אַן אָקס האָט אַ לאַנגע צונג און קען קיין שופֿר ניט בלאָזן.
A cow has a long tongue but can’t say a blessing. A beheyme hot a lange tsung un ken keyn brokhe nit zogn. אַ בהמה האָט אַ לאַנגע צונג און קען קיין ברכה ניט זאָגן.
A cow has a long tongue but has to keep quiet. A beheyme hot a lange tsung un muz shvaygn. אַ בהמה האָט אַ לאַנגע צונג און מוז שווײַגן.
An ass is recognized by his long ears, a fool by his long tongue. An eyzl derkent men in di lange oyern, a nar in der langer tsung. אַן אייזל דערקענט מען אין די לאַנגע אויערן, אַ נאַר אין דער לאַנגער צונג.
If you don’t open your mouth, a fly won’t get in. Az men makht dos moyl nit oyf flit keyn flig nit arayn. אַז מען מאַכט דאָס מויל ניט אויףֿ פֿליט קיין פֿליג ניט אַרײַן.
If a horse had something to say, it would talk. Ven dos ferd volt gehat vos tsu zogn, volt es geredt. װען דאָס פֿערד װאָלט געהאַט װאָס צו זאָגן, װאָלט עס גערעדט.
Every ass likes to hear himself bray. Yeder eyzl hot lib tsu hern vi er aleyn hirzhet. יעדער אײזל האָט ליב צו הערן װי ער אַלײן הירזשעט.
Don’t shout, you’ll wake up God! Shray nit, vest oyfvekn got! שרײַ ניט, וועסט אויפֿוועקן גאָט!
Empty barrels make the most noise. Fun leydike feser iz der lyarem greser. פֿון ליידיקע פֿעסער איז דער ליאַרעם גרעסער.
A bell rings because it’s hollow. Der glok klingt vayl er iz pust. דער גלאָק קלינגט ווײַל ער איז פּוסט.
One word doesn’t stick to another. Es klept zikh nit a vort tsu a vort. עס קלעפּט זיך ניט אַ וואָרט צו אַ וואָרט.
He bakes lies like they’re bagels. Er bakt ligns azoy vi beygl. ער באַקט ליגנס אַזוי ווי בייגל.
On all his talk you could build a church. Af zayne reyd men meg boyen a kloyster. אויף זײַנע רייד מעג מען בויען אַ קלויסטער.
Pearls flow from his mouth. Es shitn zikh perl fun zayn moyl. עס שיטן זיך פּערל פֿון זײַן מויל.
Witticisms pour out of him like turds from a goat. Es shit zikh fun im khokhmes vi fun a tsig bobkes. עס שיט זיך פֿון אים חכמות ווי פֿון אַ ציג באָבקעס.
He spouts scriptures like a goat spews turds. Er shit mit toyre vi a tsig mit bobkes. ער שיט מיט תּורה ווי אַ ציג מיט באָבקעס.
A dog is afraid of a stick, and a devil is afraid of tzitzit. A hunt hot moyre far a shtekn un a ruekh far tsitses. אַ הונט האָט מורא פֿאַר אַ שטעקן און אַ רוח פֿאַר ציצית.
A lion is not afraid of a fly. A leyb hot nit moyre far keyn flig. אַ לייב האָט ניט מורא פֿאַר קיין פֿליג.
When the cat’s asleep, the mice dance. Ven di kats shloft, tantsn di mayz. װען די קאַץ שלאָפֿט, טאַנצן די מײַז.
Even a bear can be taught to dance. A ber lernt men oykh oys tantsn. אַ בער לערנט מען אויך אויס טאַנצן.
If a girl can’t dance, she says the musicians can’t play. Az dos meydl ken nit tantsn, zogt zi az di klezmer kenen nit shpiln. אַז דאָס מיידל קען ניט טאַנצן, זאָגט זי אַז די כּלי–זמר קענען ניט שפּילן.
If a girl is ugly, she blames it on the mirror. Az di moyd iz mies zogt zi, der shpigl iz shuldik. אַז די מויד איז מיאוס זאָגט זי, דער שפּיגל איז שולדיק.
When you have a lot to do, go to sleep. Az men hot a sakh tsu ton, leygt men zikh shlofn. אַז מען האָט אַ סך צו טאָן, לייגט מען זיך שלאָפֿן.
Life is no more than a dream—but don’t wake me up. Dos lebn iz nit mer vi a kholem—ober vek mikh nit oyf. דאָס לעבן איז ניט מער ווי אַ חלום—אָבער וועק מיך ניט אויף.
Sleep faster, we need the pillows. Shlof gikher, men darf di kishn. שלאָף גיכער, מען דאַרף די קישן!
Time is the best doctor. Di tsayt iz der bester dokter. די צײַט איז דער בעסטער דאָקטער.
Time is more precious than money. Di tsayt iz tayerer fun gelt. די צײַט איז טײַערער פֿון געלט.
If time is money, I don’t have any time. Oyb tsayt iz gelt, hob ikh keyn tsayt nit. אויב צײַט איז געלט האָב איך קיין צײַט ניט.
Even the most expensive clock has no more than sixty minutes. Afile der raykhster zeyger hot nit mer vi zekhtsik minut. אַפֿילו דער רײַכסטער זײגער האָט ניט מער װי זעכציק מינוט.
In bad times even a penny is money. In shlekhte tsaytn iz a peni oykh gelt. אין שלעכטע צײַטן איז אַ פּעני אױך געלט.
Without money there’s no world. On gelt iz keyn velt. אָן געלט איז קיין וועלט.
Jewish wealth is like snow in March. Yidish ashires iz vi a martsover shney. ייִדיש עשירות איז ווי אַ מאַרצאָווער שניי.
A wealthy man is not a man of justice. Der oysher iz nisht keyn bal-yoysher. דער עושר איז נישט קיין בעל–יושר.
His fortune is as large as he is. Er hot gelt vi groys er iz. ער האָט געלט ווי גרויס ער איז.
Want to get rich?  Spend seven years as a pig. Vilst raykh vern? Zay zibn yor a khazer. ווילסט רײַך ווערן?  זײַ זיבן יאָר אַ חזיר.
A miser guards his money like a dog guards its bone. Der karger ligt af dem gelt vi a hunt afn beyn. דער קאַרגער ליגט אויף דעם געלט ווי אַ הונט אויפֿן ביין‫.‬
If people could hire others to die for them, the poor could make a nice living. Men zol zikh kenen oyskoyfn fun toyt, voltn di oremelayt sheyn parnose gehat. מען זאָל זיך קענען אױסקױפֿן פֿון טױט, װאָלטן די אָרעמעלײַט שײן פּרנסה געהאַט.
A poor man is hacked like wood chips and a rich man puffs himself up like a samovar. Dem oreman hakt men vi shpener un der raykher blozt zikh vi der samovar. דעם אָרעמאַן האַקט מען ווי שפּענער און דער רײַכער בלאָזט זיך ווי דער סאַמאָוואַר.
A rich man’s foolishness is valued more than a poor man’s wisdom. Dem nogids narishkayt gilt mer vi dem oremans khokhme. דעם נגידס נאַרישקײַט גילט מער ווי דעם אָרעמאַנס חכמה.
If you’re rich, you’re handsome and smart and you can sing too. Az men iz raykh iz men i sheyn i klug i men ken zingen. אַז מען איז רײַך איז מען אי שיין אי קלוג אי מען קען זינגען.
The sun shines the same on rich and poor. Di zun shaynt glaykh af orem un raykh. די זון שײַנט גלײַך אויף אָרעם און רײַך.
He doesn’t deserve to have the sun shine on him. Er iz nit vert vos di zun shaynt af im. ער איז ניט ווערט וואָס די זון שײַנט אויף אים.
Respect is like a shadow: the more you run after it, the further it runs away. Koved iz vi a shotn: vos mer men loyft im nokh, alts vayter antloyft er. כּבֿוד איז ווי אַ שאָטן: וואָס מער מען לויפֿט אים נאָך, אַלץ ווײַטער אַנטלויפֿט ער.
What use is honor if you have nothing to eat? Vos nutst koved az men hot nit tsu esn? וואָס נוצט כּבֿוד אַז מען האָט ניט צו עסן?
A rich man hates honors like a cat hates cream. A noged hot faynt koved vi a kats smetene. אַ נגיד האָט פֿײַנט כּבֿוד ווי אַ קאַץ סמעטענע.
He’s been on the horse and under the horse. Er iz shoyn geven afn ferd un untern ferd. ער איז שוין געווען אויפֿן פֿערד און אונטערן פֿערד.
It’s easier to get a drunkard off the ground than a business. Es iz gringer oyftsuheybn a shiker fun der erd eyder a gesheft. עס איז גרינגער אויפֿצוהייבן אַ שיכּור פֿון דער ערד איידער אַ געשעפֿט.
She’s the proprietress of a head of cabbage. Zi iz a baleboste iber a heyptl kroyt. זי איז אַ בעל–הביתטע איבער אַ הייפּטל קרויט.
He has more in his head than in his pocket. Er hot mer in kop vi in keshene. ער האָט מער אין קאָפּ ווי אין קעשענע.
It doesn’t cost anything to look. Far onkukn tsolt men keyn gelt nit. פֿאַר אָנקוקן צאָלט מען קיין געלט ניט.
When a poor man eats chicken, either he’s sick or the chicken is. Az an oreman est a hun, iz oder er krank oder di hun. אַז אַן אָרעמאַן עסט אַ הון, איז אָדער ער קראַנק אָדער די הון.
A chicken dinner is best when shared by two – me and the chicken. A hun iz gut tsu esn zalbenand – ikh un di hun. אַ הון איז גוט צו עסן זאַלבענאַנד – איך און די הון.
A person can forget everything but eating. Alts ken der mentsh fargesn nor nit esn. אַלץ קען דער מענטש פֿאַרגעסן נאָר ניט עסן.
He’s all intestines. Er iz kule kishke. ער איז כּולו קישקע.
He’s not interested in the Haggadah but in the dumplings. Er meynt nit di hagode, nor di kneydlekh. ער מיינט ניט די הגדה, נאָר די קניידלעך.
Only in dreams are carrots as big as bears. Nor in kholem zaynen mern vi bern. נאָר אין חלום זײַנען מערן װי בערן.
All is not butter that comes from a cow. Alts iz nit puter vos kumt aroys fun der ku. אַלץ איז ניט פּוטער װאָס קומט אַרױס פֿון דער קו.
If you’re going to eat pork, eat it till your mouth drips. Az men est khazer, zol es shoyn rinen ibern moyl. אַז מען עסט חזיר, זאָל עס שוין רינען איבערן מויל.
“Man begins in dust and ends in dust”— meanwhile it’s good to drink some brandy. “Odem yesoydoy meyofor vesoyfo leyofor”— beyne-leveyne iz gut a trunk bronfn. ”אָדם יסודו מעפֿר וסופֿו לעפֿר“— בינו–לבֿינו איז גוט אַ טרונק בראָנפֿן.
When I take a drink I become another person, and the other person wants a drink too. Az ikh nem a trunk bronfn ver ikh an ander mentsh, un der anderer vil oykh a trunk bronfn. אַז איך נעם אַ טרונק בראָנפֿן ווער איך אַן אַנדער מענטש, און דער אַנדערער וויל אויך אַ טרונק בראָנפֿן.
He has a fly in his throat and wants to drown it. Er hot a flig in haldz un vil zi dertrinken. ער האָט אַ פֿליג אין האַלדז און וויל זי דערטרינקען.
He could drink up the Jordan River! Er ken oystrinken a yardn! ער קען אויסטרינקען אַ ירדן!
In a big river you catch big fish. In a groysn taykh khapt men groyse fish. ‎אין אַ גרויסן טײַך כאַפּט מען גרויסע פֿיש.
With a rod you catch fish and with a ruble you catch people. Mit a ventke khapt men fish un mit a kerbl khapt men mentshn. מיט אַ ווענטקע כאַפּט מען פֿיש און מיט אַ קערבל כאַפּט מען מענטשן.
What a fishing rod is to fish, flattery is to kings. Vos a ventke far fish iz khnife far mlokhim. ‎וואָס אַ ווענטקע פֿאַר פֿיש איז חניפֿה פֿאַר מלכים.
A new king with new decrees, a new year with new misdeeds. A nayer meylekh mit naye gzeyres, a nay yor mit naye aveyres. אַ נײַער מלך מיט נײַע גזרות, אַ נײַ יאָר מיט נײַע עבֿרות.
I care like a cat cares if it’s Wednesday. Es art mikh vi di kats fun mitvokh. עס אַרט מיך ווי די קאַץ פֿון מיטוואָך.
It’s not my goat and not my Hanukkah candle. Es iz nit mayn tsig un nit mayn khanike-likhtl. עס איז ניט מײַן ציג און ניט מײַן חנוכּה–ליכטל.
A guest is like rain. A gast iz vi a regn. אַ גאַסט איז ווי אַ רעגן.
Run away from rain and you get hail. Men antloyft fun regn, bagegnt men hogl. מען אַנטלויפֿן פֿון רעגן, באַגעגנט מען חאָגל.
If you sleep with dogs, you get up with fleas. Az men shloft mit hint, shteyt men oyf mit fley. אַז מען שלאָפֿט מיט הינט, שטײט מען אױף מיט פֿלײ.
No matter how long you tame a wolf, he will still look to the woods. Hodeve a volf vi lang, kukt er alts in vald arayn. האָדעווע אַ וואָלף ווי לאַנג, קוקט ער אַלץ אין וואַלד אַרײַן.
When you put a bird in a cage, you don’t know whether it’s laughing or crying. Az men zetst a feygele in shtaygele arayn, veys men nit tsi lakht es tsi veynt es. אַז מען זעצט אַ פֿייגעלע אין שטײַגעלע אַרײַן, ווייס מען ניט צי לאַכט עס צי וויינט עס.
For a snake you should have no pity. Af a shlang tor men keyn rakhmones nit hobn. אויף אַ שלאַנג טאָר מען קיין רחמנות ניט האָבן.
Never wish a doctor a good year. A dokter tor men nit vintshn a gut yor. אַ דאָקטער טאָר מען ניט װינטשן אַ גוט יאָר.
When a sick person goes to the doctor, the first one who’s helped is the doctor. Az der kranker geyt tsum dokter vert dos ershte geholfn der dokter אַז דער קראַנקער גייט צום דאָקטער ווערט דאָס ערשטע געהאָלפֿן דער דאָקטער.
The doctor has a cure for everything except poverty. Der dokter hot a refue tsu ales, ober nit tsum dales. דער דאָקטער האָט אַ רפֿואה צו אַלעס, אָבער ניט צום דלות.
Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. A mol iz di refue erger far der make. אַ מאָל איז די רפֿואה ערגער פֿאַר דער מכּה.
Don’t eat the challah before saying the blessing. Men tor nit esn di khale far der hamoytse. מען טאָר ניט עסן די חלה פֿאַר דער המוציא.
It’s the carpenter’s fault: if he hadn’t built the bed, I wouldn’t have sinned. Shuldik iz der stolyer: ven er volt nit gemakht di bet, volt ikh nit gekumen tsu keyn khet. שולדיק איז דער סטאָליער: ווען ער וואָלט ניט געמאַכט די בעט וואָלט איך ניט געקומען צו קיין חטא.
There’s no bad liquor for a drunkard, no bad money for a dealer, and no ugly woman for a lecher. Es iz nito keyn shlekhte mashke far a shiker, keyn shlekhte matbeye far a soykher, un keyn miese nekeyve far a noyef. עס איז ניטאָ קיין שלעכטע משקה פֿאַר אַ שיכּור, קיין שלעכטע מטבע פֿאַר אַ סוחר, און קיין מיאוסע נקבֿה פֿאַר אַ נואף.
A tavern can’t corrupt a good man, and a synagogue can’t reform a bad one. A gutn mentshn vet di shenk nit kalye makhn, a shlekhtn vet der beys-hamedresh nit farrikhtn. אַ גוטן מענטשן וועט די שענק ניט קאַליע מאַכן, אַ שלעכטן וועט דער בית–המדרש ניט פֿאַרריכטן.
Because of ambition people go from paradise to hell. Tsulib ambitsye geyt men fun gan-eydn in gehenem. צוליב אַמביציע גייט מען פֿון גן–עדן אין גיהנום.
When a sinner looks in water, the fish die. Az der roshe kukt in vaser, peygern di fish. אַז דער רשע קוקט אין וואַסער, פּגרן די פֿיש.
The hat on a thief burns. Afn ganef brent dos hitl. אויפֿן גנבֿ ברענט דאָס היטל.
For a thief in a top hat, the hat doesn’t burn. Af a ganef in a tsilinder, brent nit dos hitl. אויף אַ גנבֿ אין אַ צילינדער ברענט ניט דאָס היטל.
Petty thieves are hanged, big ones are pardoned. Kleyne ganovim hengt men, groyse shenkt men. קליינע גנבֿים הענגט מען‫,‬ גרויסע שענקט מען.
A thief works faster than a tailor. A ganef arbet gikher vi a shnayder. אַ גנבֿ אַרבעט גיכער ווי אַ שנײַדער.
What thief do you not apprehend?
The one who steals the afikoman.
Velkhn ganef tshepet men nit?
Dem vos ganvet dem afikoymen.
וועלכן גנבֿ טשעפּעט מען ניט?
דעם וואָס גנבֿעט דעם אַפֿיקומן.
A mouse is a thief. / The mouse isn’t the thief, the hole is the thief. A moyz iz a ganef. / Nit di moyz iz der ganef, nor di lokh iz der ganef. אַ מויז איז אַ גנבֿ. / ניט די מויז איז דער גנבֿ, נאָר די לאָך איז דער גנבֿ.
If a thief has nothing to steal, he steals the hat off his own head. Az a ganef hot nit vos tsu ganvenen, ganvet er dos hitl fun zikh arop. אַז אַ גנבֿ האָט ניט וואָס צו גנבֿענען גנבֿעט ער דאָס היטל פֿון זיך אַראָפּ.
If a thief has nothing to steal, he steals from one pocket to another. Az a ganef hot nit vos tsu ganvenen, ganvet er fun eyn keshene in der tsveyter. אַז אַ גנבֿ האָט ניט וואָס צו גנבֿענען גנבֿעט ער פֿון איין קעשענע אין דער צווייטער.
It’s hard to steal from a thief. Fun a ganef iz shver tsu ganvenen. פֿון אַ גנבֿ איז שווער צו גנבֿענען.
On the eve of Yom Kippur all thieves become pious. Erev-yonkiper vern ale ganovim frum. ערבֿ–יום–כּיפּור ווערן אַלע גנבֿים פֿרום.
Thieves and lovers like the dark. Ganovim un farlibte hobn lib fintsternish. גנבֿים און פֿאַרליבטע האָבן ליב פֿינצטערניש.
When a thief kisses you, count your teeth. Ven a ganef kusht, darf men zikh di tseyn ibertseyln. װען אַ גנבֿ קושט, דאַרף מען זיך די צײן איבערצײלן.
She wants the saucer from heaven. Zi vil dos telerl fun himl. זי װיל דאָס טעלערל פֿון הימל.
For a glass of milk you don’t have to buy a whole cow. Tsulib a gloz milkh darf men nit koyfn a gantse ku. צוליב אַ גלאָז מילך דאַרף מען ניט קויפֿן אַ גאַנצע קו.
The cat likes fish but she doesn’t want to wet her paws. Di kats hot lib fish ober zi vil nit di fis aynnetsn. די קאַץ האָט ליב פֿיש אָבער זי װיל ניט די פֿיס אײַננעצן.
A meowing cat catches no mice. A kats vos myauket ken keyn mayz nit khapn. אַ קאַץ וואָס מיאַוקעט קען קיין מײַז ניט כאַפּן.
A barking dog doesn’t bite. A hunt vos bilt bayst nit. אַ הונט וואָס בילט בײַסט ניט.
He’s threatening the geese in the attic. Er strashet di gendz afn boydem. ער סטראַשעט די גענדז אויפן בוידעם.
He’s yelling like the woman in the bath. Er shrayt vi di yidene in bod. ער שרײַט ווי די ייִדענע אין באָד.
The country’s on fire and grandma is washing her hair. Dos land brent un di bobe tsvogt zikh. דאָס לאַנד ברענט און די באָבע צוואָגט זיך.
God is fighting with his wife. Got krigt zikh mitn vayb. גאָט קריגט זיך מיטן ווײַב.
God is emptying out the feathers from his featherbed. Got shit oys di federn fun der iberbet. גאָט שיט אויס די פֿעדערן פֿון דער איבערבעט.
Since God got into the freezing business, it’s never been so cold. Zint got handlt mit frost iz nokh aza frost nit geven. זינט גאָט האַנדלט מיט פֿראָסט איז נאָך אַזאַ פֿראָסט ניט געווען.
It’s a storm in a glass of water. S’iz a shturem in a gloz vaser. ס’איז אַ שטורעם אין אַ גלאָז וואַסער.
He’s making an elephant out of a fly. Er makht fun a flig a helfand. ער מאַכט פֿון אַ פֿליג אַ העלפֿאַנד.
I need it like a hole in the head. Es felt mir vi a lokh in kop. עס פֿעלט מיר ווי אַ לאָך אין קאָפּ.
It’s as helpful as cupping a corpse. Es helft vi a toytn bankes. עס העלפֿט ווי אַ טויטן באַנקעס.
He ran away to the place where black pepper grows. Er iz antlofn vu der shvartser fefer vakst. ער איז אַנטלאָפֿן וווּ דער שוואַרצער פֿעפֿער וואַקסט.
He’s riding on two horses. Er rayt af tsvey ferd. ער רײַט אויף צוויי פֿערד.
Take your eyes in your hands. Nem di oygn in di hent. נעם די אויגן אין די הענט.
You’ll see it when you see your own ears. Du vest es shoyn zen vi dayne oyern. ‎דו וועסט עס שוין זען ווי דײַנע אויערן.
It will happen when hair grows on the palm of my hand. Es vet geshen ven bay mir vet oysvaksn hor af der dlonye. עס וועט געשען ווען בײַ מיר וועט אויסוואַקסן האָר אויף דער דלאָניע.
We’ll hit two rabbits with one shot. Mir veln shisn tsvey hozn mit eyn shos. מיר וועלן שיסן צוויי האָזן מיט איין שאָס.
How does a cat cross over the water? Vi kumt di kats ibern vaser? ווי קומט די קאַץ איבערן וואַסער?
We’re looking for a pin in a hay wagon. Mir zukhn a shpilke in a vogn hey. מיר זוךן אַ שפּילקע אין אַ וואָגן היי.
Your Wednesday is longer than your Thursday. Der mitvokh iz lenger farn donershtik. דער מיטוואָך איז לענגער פֿאַרן דאָנערשטיק.
He should laugh with lizards. Lakhn zol er mit yashtsherkes. לאַכן זאָל ער מיט יאַשטשערקעס.
She’s crying crocodile tears. Zi veynt mit krokodil-trern. זי וויינט מיט קראָקאָדיל טרערן.
She’s crying onion tears. Zi veynt mit tsibele-trern. זי וויינט מיט ציבעלע–טרערן.
I’ll make mincemeat out of him! Ikh vel fun im makhn kreplfleysh! איך וועל פֿון אים מאַכן קרעפּלפֿלייש!
Don’t bang the teakettle at me! Hak mir nit keyn tshaynik! האַק מיר ניט קיין טשײַניק!
Don’t twist my head! Drey mir nit keyn kop! דריי מיר ניט קיין קאָפ!
Go look for last year’s snow. Gey zukh dem farayorikn shney. גיי זוך דעם פֿאַראַיאָריקן שניי.
Go look for the wind in the field. Gey zukh dem vint in feld. גיי זוך דעם ווינט אין פֿעלד.
He’s got pins in his head. Er hot shpilkes in kop. ער האָט שפּילקעס אין קאָפּ.
He’s got pins in his behind. Er hot shpilkes in tokhes. ער האָט שפּילקעס אין תּחת.
He has a matzo face. Er hot a matse-ponem. ער האָט אַ מצה–פּנים.
What difference does it make to the turkey whether it’s slaughtered for the Purim feast or the Passover seder? Vos iz dem indik far a khilek tsi men koylet im af purim tsu der sude oder af peysekh tsum seyder? וואָס איז דעם אינדיק פֿאַר אַ חילוק צי מען קוילעט אים אויף פּורים צו דער סעודה אָדער אויף פּסח צום סדר?
When a shlimazl slaughters a rooster, it runs. When he winds a clock, it stops. Ven a shlimazl koylet a hon, geyt er. Dreyt er on a zeyger, shteyt er. ווען אַ שלימזל קוילעט אַ האָן, גייט ער. דרייט ער אָן אַ זייגער, שטייט ער.
When a shlimazl goes dancing, the musicians’ strings break. A shlimazl: geyt er tantsn, tseraysn zikh bay di klezmorim di strunes. אַ שלימזל: גייט ער טאַנצן, צערײַסן זיך בײַ די כּלי–זמרים די סטרונעס.
A shlimazl falls on his backside and bruises his nose. A shlimazl falt afn rukn un tseklapt zikh di noz. אַ שלימזל פֿאַלט אויפֿן רוקן און צעקלאַפט זיך די נאָז.
If he were an undertaker, people would stop dying. Ven er zol handlen mit takhrikhim, volt men oyfgehert shtarbn. ווען ער זאָל האַנדלען מיט תּכריכים וואָלט מען אויפֿגעהערט שטאַרבן.
If he were in the candle business, the sun would never set. Ven er zol handlen mit likht, volt di zun nit untergegangen. ווען ער זאָל האַנדלען מיט ליכט וואָלט די זון ניט אונטערגעגאַנגען.
When the crickets play, the bedbugs dance. Shpiln di griln, tantsn di vantsn. שפּילן די גרילן, טאַנצן די וואַנצן.
A cow flew over the roof and laid an egg. A ku iz gefloygn ibern dakh un geleygt an ey. אַ קו איז געפֿלויגן איבערן דאַך און געלייגט אַן איי.
Because a loaf of bread is round, therefore the ducks go barefoot. Vayl dos lebl broyt iz kaylekhdik, geyen derfar di katshkes borves. ‎ווײַל דאָס לעבל ברויט איז קײַלעכדיק, גייען דערפֿאַר די קאַטשקעס באָרוועס.
Therefore the geese go barefoot and the ducks wear little red shoes. Deriber geyen di gendz borves un di katshkes in royte shikhelekh. דעריבער גייען די גענדז באָרוועס און די קאַטשקעס אין רויטע שיכעלעך.
Therefore all cats go barefoot. Deriber geyen ale kets borves. דעריבער גייען אַלע קעץ באָרוועס.
If the mountain won’t go to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain. Az der barg geyt nit tsu Makhmedn, geyt Makhmed tsum barg. אַז דער באַרג גייט ניט צו מחמדן, גייט מחמד צום באַרג.
It’s as suitable as a shtreimel on a pig. Es past vi a khazer a shtrayml. עס פאַסט ווי אַ חזיר אַ שטרײַמל.
It’s as suitable as earrings on a pig. Es past vi a khazer oyringlekh. עס פּאַסט ווי אַ חזיר אוירינגלעך.
It’s as suitable as an arbe-kanfes on a dog. Es past vi dem hunt an arbe kanfes. עס פּאַסט ווי דעם הונט אַן אַרבע–כּנפֿות.
If the peacock didn’t have beautiful feathers, no one would pay any attention to it. Di pave zol nit hobn di sheyne federn, volt zikh keyner af ir nit umgekukt. די פּאַווע זאָל ניט האָבן די שיינע פֿעדערן, וואָלט זיך קיינער אויף איר ניט אומגעקוקט.
Dress up a broom and it will look nice too. Az men tut on sheyn a bezem, iz er oykh sheyn. אַז מען טוט אָן שײן אַ בעזעם, איז ער אױך שײן.
May you grow like an onion with your head in the ground. Vaksn zolstu vi a tsibele mitn kop in dr’erd! װאַקסן זאָלסטו װי אַ ציבעלע מיטן קאָפּ אין דר’ערד!
May you live to a hundred and twenty—with a wooden head and glass eyes. Lebn zolstu biz hundert un tsvantsik yor—mit a hiltsernem kop un glezerne oygn. לעבן זאָלסטו ביז הונדערט און צוואַנציק יאָר—מיט אַ הילצערנעם קאָפּ און גלעזערנעם אויגן.
May your bones be broken as often as the Ten Commandments. Zoln dayne beyner zikh brekhn azoy oft vi di Aseres-Hadibres. זאָלן דײַנע ביינער זיך ברעכן אַזוי אָפֿט ווי די עשׂרת–הדיברות.
The God who split the sea will split your head too! Der got vos hot geshpoltn dem yam vet dir shpaltn dem kop oykh! דער גאָט וואָס האָט געשפּאָלטן דעם ים וועט דיר שפּאַלטן דעם קאָפּ אויך!
May you turn into a blintz and be snatched by a cat. Vern zol fun dir a blintshik, un di kats zol dikh khapn. ווערן זאָל פֿון דיר אַ בלינטשיק און די קאַץ זאָל דיך כאַפּן.
May your soul enter a cat and may a dog bite it. Dayn neshome zol arayngeyn in a kats un a hunt zol ir a bis ton. דײַן נשמה זאָל אַרײַנגיין אין אַ קאַץ און אַ הונט זאָל איר אַ ביס טאָּן.
May you eat chopped liver with onions, shmaltz herring, chicken soup with dumplings, baked carp with horseradish, braised meat with vegetable stew, latkes, tea with lemon, every day – and may you choke on every bite! Esn zolstu gehakte leber mit tsibeles, shmalts hering, yoykh mit k’neydlekh, karp mit khreyn, ayngedemfts mit tsimes, latkes, tey mit tsitrin, yedn tog – un zolst zikh mit yedn bis dershtikn! עסן זאָלסטו געהאַקטע לעבער מיט ציבעלעס, שמאַלץ הערינג, יויך מיט קניידלעך, קאַרפּ מיט כריין, אײַנגעדעמפֿץ מיט צימעס, לאַטקעס, טיי מיט ציטרין, יעדן טאָג – און זאָלסט זיך מיט יעדן ביס דערשטיקן!
May you run to the toilet every three minutes or every three months. Loyfn zolstu in beys-hakise yede dray minut oder yede dray khadoshim. לױפֿן זאָלסטו אין בית־הכּסא יעדע דרײַ מינוט אָדער יעדע דרײַ חדשים.
May you drink lots of castor oil. Azoy fil ritsneyl zolstu oystrinken. אַזוי פֿיל ריצנאייל זאָלסטו אויסטרינקען.
May God help you like cupping helps a corpse. Got zol dir helfn vi a toytn bankes. ‎‎גאָט זאָל דיר העלפֿן ווי אַ טויטן באַנקעס.
May you turn yellow and green! Fargelt un fargrint zolstu vern! פֿאַרגעלט און פֿאַרגרינט זאָלסטו ווערן!
May you crawl on your belly! Krikhn zolstu afn boykh! קריכן זאָלסטו אויפן בויך!
For as many years as he’s walked on his feet, he should walk on his hands, and the rest of the time he should drag himself on his behind. Vifl yor er iz gegangen af di fis zol er geyn af di hent, un di iberike zol er zikh sharn afn hintn. וויפֿל יאָר ער איז געגאַנגען אויף די פֿיס זאָל ער גיין אויף די הענט, און די איבעריקע זאָל ער זיך שאַרן אויפֿן הינטן.
I’ll turn your intestines into a telephone cord! Kh’vel makhn fun dayne kishkes a telefon! כ׳וועל מאַכן פֿון דײַנע קישקעס אַ טעלעפֿאָן!
May he swallow an umbrella and may it open in his belly! Zol er aropshlingen a shirem un s’zol zikh im efenen in boykh! זאָל ער אַראָפּשלינגען אַ שירעם און ס’זאָל זיך אים עפֿענען אין בויך!
May he die a violent death! Aynnemen zol er a mise-meshune! אײַננעמען זאָל ער אַ מיתה–משונה!
May he become swollen and veined like a mountain. Geshvoln un gedroln zol er vern vi a barg. געשוואָלן און געדראָלן זאָל ער ווערן ווי אַ באַרג.
A sinister encounter should befall him. A vist bagegenish zol im trefn. אַ וויסט באַגעגעניש זאָל אים טרעפֿן.
One misfortune is too few for him. Eyn umglik iz far im veynik. איין אומגליק איז פֿאַר אים ווייניק.
Let no evil eye avoid him! Keyn eyn-hore zol im nit oysmaydn! קיין עין–הרע זאָל אים ניט אויסמײַדן!
Salt in his eyes and pepper in his nose! Zalts im in di oygn un fefer im in noz! זאַלץ אים אין די אויגן און פֿעפֿער אים אין נאָז!
A boil in his throat! A make im in haldz! אַ מכּה אים אין האַלדז!
His mouth should be in his rear. Dos moyl zol im fun hintn shteyn. דאָס מויל זאָל אים פֿון הינטן שטיין.
His head should fall off! Der kop zol im arop! דער קאָפּ זאָל אים אַראָפּ!
May all your teeth fall out, except one to give you a toothache. Ale tseyn zoln dir aroysfaln, nor eyner zol dir blaybn af tsonveytik. אַלע ציין זאָלן דיר אַרויספֿאַלן, נאָר איינער זאָל דיר בלײַבן אויף צאָנווייטיק.
May you go crazy and run around in the streets. Meshuge zolstu vern un arumloyfn iber di gasn. משוגע זאָלסטו ווערן און אַרומלויפֿן איבער די גאַסן.
May you have thunder in your belly and lightning in your pants. Es zol dir dunern in boykh un blitsn in di hoyzn. עס זאָל דיר דונערן אין בויך און בליצן אין די הויזן.
May he have a big store full of goods: may people not ask for what he has, and may he not have what they ask for. A groys gesheft zol erhobn mit skhoyre: vos er hot zol men bay im nit fregn, un vos men fregt zol er nit hobn. אַ גרויס געשעפֿט זאָל ער האָבן מיט סחורה: וואָס ער האָט זאָל מען בײַ אים ניט פֿרעגן, און וואָס מען פֿרעגט זאָל ער ניט האָבן.
He should be rich and have two cars. One car should rush to get him a doctor, and the other should rush to say it’s too late. Raykh zol er zayn un hobn tsvey oytos. Eyn oyto zol loyfn khapn far im a dokter, un der tsveyter zol loyfn moydie tsu zayn, az s’iz shoyn nokh alemen. רײַך זאָל ער זײַן און האָבן צוויי אויטאָס. איין אויטאָ זאָל לויפֿן כאַפּן פֿאַר אים אַ דאָקטער, און דער צווייטער זאָל לויפֿן מודיע צו זײַן, אַז ס׳איז שוין נאָך אַלעמען.
May he have a hundred houses, a hundred rooms in each house, twenty beds in each room, and may fevers and chills toss him from one bed to another. Hundert hayzer zol er hobn, in yeder hoyz hundert tsimern, in yeder tsimer tsvantsik betn, un kadokhes zol im varfn fun eyn bet in der tsveyter. הונדערט הײַזער זאָל ער האָבן, אין יעדער הויז הונדערט צימערן, אין יעדער צימער צוואַנציק בעטן, און קדחת זאַל אים וואַרפֿן פֿון איין בעט אין דער צווייטער.
He should turn into a chandelier, so he’ll hang by day and burn by night. Megulgl zol er vern in a henglaykhter: bay tog zol er hengen un bay nakht zol er brenen. מגולגל זאָל ער װערן אין אַ הענגלײַכטער: בײַ טאָג זאָל ער הענגען און בײַ נאַכט זאָל ער ברענען.
I wish on him the third plague of Egypt. Ikh vintsh im di drite make fun mitsraim. איך ווינטש אים די דריטע מכּה פֿון מצרים.
God should visit upon him the best of the ten plagues. Got zol af im onshikn fun di tsen makes di beste. גאָט זאָל אױף אים אָנשיקן פֿון די צען מכּות די בעסטע.
If all curses actually materialized, the world would be done for. Az ale kloles voltn ongekumen, volt di velt keyn kiem nit gehat. אַז אַלע קללות וואָלטן אָנגעקומען וואָלט די וועלט קיין קיום ניט געהאַט.
A curse is not a telegram; it doesn’t arrive so fast. A klole iz nit keyn telegram; zi kumt nit on azoy gikh. אַ קללה איז ניט קיין טעלעגראַם; זי קומט ניט אָן אַזוי גיך.
Neither cursing nor laughing can change the world. Nit mit sheltn un nit mit lakhn ken men di velt ibermakhn. ניט מיט שעלטן און ניט מיט לאַכן קען מען די וועלט איבערמאַכן.
Envy makes your eyes crawl out of your head. Fun kine krikhn aroys di oygn fun kop. פֿון קינאה קריכן אַרויס די אויגן פֿון קאָפּ.
Anger and rage turn a man into a beast. Kas vekheyme makhn a mentshn far a beheyme. כּעס וחמה מאַכן אַ מענטשן פֿאַר אַ בהמה.
Don’t give me the honey and spare me the sting. Shenk mir nit keyn honik un gib mir nit keyn bis. שענק מיר ניט קיין האָניק און גיב מיר ניט קיין ביס.
Don’t give me a hole in the head and don’t bandage me up. Makh mir nit keyn lokh in kop un leyg mir nit tsu keyn flaster. מאַך מיר ניט קיין לאָך אין קאָפּ און לייג מיר ניט צו קיין פֿלאַסטער.
In the mirror everyone sees his best friend. In dem shpigl zet itlekher zayn bestn fraynd. אין דעם שפּיגל זעט איטלעכער זײַן בעסטן פרײַנד.
One old friend is better than two new ones. Eyn alter fraynd iz beser vi naye tsvey. איין אַלטער פֿרײַנד איז בעסער ווי נײַע צוויי.
One good friend is better than ten relatives. Eyn guter fraynd iz beser fun tsen kroyvim. איין גוטער פֿרײַנד איז בעסער פֿון צען קרובֿים.
Every pot finds its own lid. Itlekhs tepl gefint zikh zayn dekl. איטלעכס טעפּל געפֿינט זיך זײַן דעקל.‬
They are both in love: he with himself and she with herself. Zey hobn zikh beyde lib: er zikh un zi zikh. זיי האָבן זיך ביידע ליב: ער זיך און זי זיך.
Love is blind. Libe makht blind. ליבע מאַכט בלינד.
A cute face doesn’t make a good wife. Nit fun a sheyner tsurke vert a gut vayb. ניט פֿון אַ שיינער צורקע ווערט אַ גוט ווײַב.
Women are educated and can speak two languages: one before the wedding and one after the wedding. Vayber zaynen gebildet un kenen tsvey shprakhn: eyne far der khasene un eyne nokh der khasene. ווײַבער זײַנען געבילדעט און קענען צוויי שפּראַכן: איינע פֿאַר דער חתונה און איינע נאָך דער חתונה.
A young wife is like a pretty bird – you have to keep her in a cage. A yung vaybl iz vi a sheyn feygele – men muz es haltn in shtaygele. אַ יונג ווײַבל איז ווי אַ שיין פֿייגעלע – מען מוז עס האַלטן אין שטײַגעלע.
A husband is like a tight shoe: even though it’s constricting, a wife has to wear it and suffer. A man iz vi an enger shukh: khotsh er drikt, dokh muz a vayb im trogn. אַ מאַן איז ווי אַן ענגער שוך: כאָטש ער דריקט, דאָך מוז אַ ווײַב אים טראָגן.
At first you can’t stop looking at each other, later you can’t look each other in the eye. Afrier ken men zikh nit zat onkukn, dernokh ken men zikh nit kukn glaykh in di oygn. אַפֿריִער קען מען זיך ניט זאַט אָנקוקן, דערנאָך קען מען זיך ניט קוקן גלײַך אין די אויגן.
A black cat has run between them. Es iz durkhgelofn tsvishn zey a shvartse kats. עס איז דורכגעלאָפֿן צווישן זיי אַ שוואַרצע קאַץ.
A drop of love can bring an ocean of tears. A tropn libe brengt a mol a yam trern. אַ טראָפּן ליבע ברענגט אַ מאָל אַ ים טרערן.
The heart is like a clock. Dos harts iz vi a zeyger. דאָס האַרץ איז ווי אַ זייגער.
Her heart is a clock, but with broken hands. Dos harts iz a zeyger, ober mit tsebrokhene vayzers. דאָס האַרץ איז אַ זייגער, אָבער מיט צעבראָכענע ווײַזערס.
When a man is too good for the world, he’s bad for his wife. Az der man iz tsu gut far der velt iz er shlekht farn vayb. אַז דער מאַן איז צו גוט פֿאַר דער וועלט איז ער שלעכט פֿאַרן ווײַב.
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Mit honik ken men khapn mer flign vi mit esik. מיט האָניק קען מען כאַפּן מער פֿליגן ווי מיט עסיק.
Go slow and you’ll get there faster. Gey pavolye, vestu gikher kumen. גיי פּאַוואָליע, וועסטו גיכער קומען.
Don’t look for a notch in the saw. Zukh nit keyn pgime af der zeg. זוך ניט קיין פּגימה אויף דער זעג.
Trust one eye more than two ears. Eyn oyg hot mer gloybn vi tsvey oyern. איין אויג האָט מער גלויבן ווי צוויי אויערן.
The truth comes out like oil on water. Der emes kumt aroys vi boyml afn vaser. דער אמת קומט אַרויס ווי בוימל אויפֿן וואַסער.
Walls have ears. Vent hobn oyern. ווענט האָבן אויערן.
Shrouds don’t have pockets. Takhrikhim hobn nit keyn keshenes. תּכריכים האָבן ניט קיין קעשענעס.
All shoemakers go barefoot. Ale shusters geyen borves. אַלע שוסטערס גייען באָרוועס.‎
Work is no shame. Arbet iz keyn shand. אַרבעט איז קיין שאַנד.
Still water runs deep. Shtil vaser grobt tif. שטיל וואַסער גראָבט טיף.
When the heart is full, the eyes overflow. Az dos harts iz ful, geyen di oygn iber. אַז דאָס האַרץ איז פֿול, גייען די אויגן איבער.
It’s a mitzvah to tickle a widow. An almone iz a mitsve tsu kitslen. אַן אַלמנה איז אַ מיצװה צו קיצלען.
It’s a mitzvah to pull a hair out of a pig. A mitsve, fun a khazer a hor oystsuraysn. אַ מיצווה פֿון אַ חזיר אַ האָר אויסצורײַסן.
If pigs had horns, the world would be done for. Der khazer zol hobn herner, volt di velt keyn kiem nit gehat. דער חזיר זאָל האָבן הערנער, וואָלט די וועלט קיין קיום ניט געהאַט.
If a pig had horns, it would turn the world upside-down. Ven a khazer zol hobn herner, volt er ibergekert di velt. ווען אַ חזיר זאָל האָבן הערנער, וואָלט ער איבערגעקערט די וועלט.
If the ass had horns and the ox knew its strength, the world would be done for. Der eyzl zol hobn herner un der oks volt gevust fun zayn koyekh, volt di velt keyn kiem nit gehat. דער אייזל זאָל האָבן הערנער און דער אָקס וואָלט געוווּסט פֿון זײַן כּוח, וואָלט די וועלט קיין קיום ניט געהאַט.
All of life is a war. Dos gantse lebn iz a milkhome. דאָס גאַנצע לעבן איז אַ מלחמה.
A bad peace is better than a good war. A shlekhter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig. אַ שלעכטער שלום איז בעסער ווי אַ גוטער קריג.
If everyone pulled in one direction, the world would tip over. Ven ale mentshn zoln tsien af eyn zayt, volt zikh di velt ibergekert. ווען אַלע מענטשן זאָלן ציִען אויף איין זײַט וואָלט זיך די וועלט איבערגעקערט.
The world is huge and there’s nowhere to turn. Di velt iz a groyse un s’iz zikh nito vu ahintsuton. די וועלט איז אַ גרויסע און ס’איז זיך ניטאָ וווּ אַהינצוטאָן.
The whole world is one town. Di gantse velt iz eyn shtot. די גאַנצע װעלט איז אײן שטאָט.
As long as a man lives, the entire world is too small for him; after death, the grave is big enough. Azoy lang der mentsh lebt iz im di gantse velt tsu kleyn; nokhn toyt iz im der keyver genug. אַזוי לאַנג דער מענטש לעבט איז אים די גאַנצע וועלט צו קליין; נאָכן טויט איז אים דער קבֿר גענוג.
The world is beautiful but people make it ugly. Di velt iz sheyn nor di mentshn makhn zi mies. די וועלט איז שיין נאָר די מענטשן מאַכן זי מיאוס.
The world is round like an egg. Di velt iz kaylekhdik azoy vi an ey. די וועלט איז קײַלעכדיק אַזוי ווי אַן איי.
The entire world rests on the tip of the tongue. Di gantse velt shteyt af der shpits tsung. די גאַנצע וועלט שטייט אויף דער שפּיץ צונג.

Yiddish Proverbs

Yiddish Proverbs are famous for their wit and wisdom. Here are a whole lot of Yiddish proverbs that Moshe culled together, translated, and gave you the transliteration and Hebrew/Yiddish characters.

Yiddish proverbs really give you a feel for Yiddish culture – what it was like in the shtetl. You can really understand a culture through it’s humor and folk insight.

Speech and Silence

Yiddish Transliteration English Yiddish
A Beyze tsung iz erger fun a shlekhter hant. A nasty tongue is worse than a wicked hand.

א בייזע צונג איז ערגער פון שלעכטער האנט.

A gutn helft a vort, a shlekhtn helft afile keyn shtekn oykh nisht. A word to the good is enough, but even a stick won’t help the bad.

א גוטן העלפט א ווארט, א שלעכטן העלפט אפילו קיין שטעקן אויך נישט.

Redn iz zilber, shvaygn iz gold. Speech is silver, silence is gold.

רעדן איז זילבער, שווייגן איז גאלד.

A patsh fargeyt, a vort bashteyt. A smart blow subsides, the sting of a word abides.

א פאטש פארגייט, א ווארט באשטייט.

A vort iz azoy vi a fayl- beyde hobn groyse ayl. A word and an arrow in this are alike- they both fly apace their target to strike.

א ווארט איז אזוי ווי א פייל-ביידע האבן גרויסע אייל.

Ale shtume viln a sakh redn. They that are mute want to talk most.

אלע שטומע ווילן א סאך רעדן.

An ayzl derkont men on di lange oyern, a nar- on der lange tsung. Tell a donkey by his long ears, a fool by his long tongue.

אן אייזל דערקאנט מען אן די לאנגע אויערן, א נער- אן דער לאנגע צונג.

Az a nar shvaygt, vert er oykh gerekhnt tsvishn di kluge. When a fool is silent, he too is thought clever.

אז א נער שווייגט, ווערט ער אויך גערעכנט צווישין די קלוגע.

Az men redt a sakh, redt men fun zikh. If you talk to much, you talk about yourself.

אז מען רעדט א סאך, רעדט מען פון זיך.

Azoy lang men lebt, tor men nit redn; az men shtarbt, ken men nit redn. While you live you dare not speak; when you die you cannot.

אזוי לאנג מען לעבט, טאר מען ניט  רעדן, אז מען שטארבט, קען מען ניט רעדן.

Di gantse velt shteyt oyf der shpits tsung.  The whole world rests on the tip of the tongue.

די גאנצע וועלט שטייט אויף דער שפיץ צונג.

Eyzehu hagibor? Hakoyvesh a glaykh-vertl. “Who is strong?”- he who keeps down a wise-crack.

איזהו הגבור? הכובש א גלייך-ווערטל.

In di oygn heyst geredt, hinter di oygen heyst gebilt. What’s straight talk to your face, is slander behind your back.

אין גי אויגן הייסט גערעדט, הינטער די אויגן הייסט געבילט.

Sheyne shvaygn iz shener vi sheyn redn. Eloquent silence is better than eloquent speech.

שיינע שווייגן איז שענער ווי שיין רעדן.

“Shvaygn iz a tsoym far khokhme”- ober nor shvaygn iz kent khokhme nit. “silence is the fence of wisdom”- but mere silence is not wisdom.

שווייגן איז א צוים פאר חכמה- אבער נאר שווייגן איז קיין חכמה ניט.

Verter zol men vegn un nit tseyln. Words should be weighed and not counted.

ווערטער זאל מען וועגן אן ניט ציילן.

Az men shvaygt, krigt men dem bestn khelek. He who remains silent gets the best portion.

אז מען שוויגן, קריגט מען דעם בעסטן חלק.

Shvaygn heyst oykh geredt. Remaining silent is also considered speech.

שווייגן הייסט אויך גערעדט.

Far shvaygn kumt a mol mer skhar vi far redn. Sometimes he who remains silent receives more reward than speaking.

פאר שווייגן קומט א מאן מער שכר ווי פאר רעדן.

Vos veyniger men redt iz alts gezunter. The less we speak the healthier we are.

וואס ווייניגער מען רעדט איז אלץ געזונטער.

 Truth and Falsehood

A halbe emes is a gantse lign. Half a truth is a whole lie. א האלבע אמת איז א גאנצע ליגן.
A shlekht vayb iz nohk  tomid gerekht. A shrew of a wife may yet be somewhat in the right. א שלעכט ווייב איז נאך תמיד גערעכט.
A shlos is gut nor far orntlekhn mentshn. A lock is meant only for honest men. א שלאס איז גוט נאר פאר ארנטלעכן מענשן.
A toyber hot gehert, vi a shtumer hot dertseylt, az di blinder hot gezen, vi a krumer iz gelofen. A deaf man heard a mute tell how a blind man saw a cripple run. א טויבער האט געהערט, ווי א שטומער האט דערציילט, אז די בלינדער  האט געזען, ווי א קרומער איז געלאפן.
Az beyde baaley-dinim zaynen gerekht, is shlekht. When both litigants are right, it is bad. אז ביידע בעלי-דינים זיינען גערעכט, איז שלעכט.
Der emes is der bester lign. The truth is the best/safest lie. דער אמת איז דער בעסטער ליגן.
Der emes shtarbt nit, ober er lebt vi an oreman. The truth never dies, but lives a wretched life. דער אמת שטארבט ניט, אבער ער לעבט ווי אן ארעמאן.
A falshe matbeye farlirt men nit. A false coin always stays around. א פאלשע מטבע פארלירט מען ניט.
Far sholem tor men afile a lign zogn (ober sholem tor keyn lign nit zogn!) For the sake of good relations one may even lie (but good relations must not lie.) פאר שלום טאר מען אפילו א ליגן זאגן.(אבער שלום טאר קיין ליגן ניט זאגן!)
Iber di falshe trern kenen shoyn di emesse nit aroyf in himl. False tears keep the true ones out of heaven. איבער די פאלשע טרערן קענען שוין די אמת’ע ניט ארויף אין הימל
Itlikher hut lib dem emes, ober nit itlikher zogt im. Many people like the truth, but not many speak it. איטליכער האט ליב דעם אמת, אבער ניט איטליכער זאגט אים.
Der emes hot fis, iz er antlofn, der sheker hot nit keyn fis iz er do geblibn. The truth has feet, so  he ran away, but falsehood hasn’t any feet so he stayed here. דער אמת האט פיס, איז ער אנטלאפן, דער שקר האט ניט קיין פיס איז ער געבליבן.

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