We’ve got very religious snow this year in Toronto; it turns up every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, whenever the Torah is read in shul, and woe to the week with a two-day Rosh Chodesh that starts on Monday night.
We’ve got what Yiddish would call shney durkh tir un toyer, “snow through door and gate.” Normally, you’d say shlimazl durkh tir un toyer, “bad luck through door and gate,” but our major misfortune right now is the snow.
Durkh tir un toyer is a relatively common Yiddish expression and is roughly equivalent to af trit un shrit, “at every step, everywhere you turn.” If you say that things are going durkh tir un toyer for Mindel, you’re saying that Mindel is doing exceedingly well, she’s raking it in, whatever “it” might be. In the case of bad luck, it’s disaster that is being reaped, shlimazl mit esik, “bad luck with vinegar,” misfortune with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Imagine a supermarket of complaint, filled with aisles upon aisles of shlimazl and vinaigrette. Esik, “vinegar,” is sometimes used to convey the idea of something with all the garnishes, all the bells and whistles, on it. You can talk about somebody who is oysgeputst in esik un honik, “decked out in vinegar and honey, dressed to the nines.” Even better, though, you can say that they’re ayngemarinirt in esik un honik, “marinated in vinegar and honey.” The best-dressed person in Yiddish is the one who most resembles a herring.
This article originally appeared in The Jewish Week. Below are some items for sale from eBay for those of you with an interest in Yiddish.
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