Early last week I found myself using the Yiddish phrase kosher fardint without any hint of irony. This doesn’t happen often. Although there’s no necessary reason not to use kosher fardinen (the infinitive form) to mean exactly what it appears to mean, “to earn in a kosher way, to obtain something by means of honest toil and effort,” it seems to be used more often in the sense of “it serves him right, she got what was coming to her.” Last week, though, I’d have had to say yasher koyekh had I been at the scene of the fardin.
Musically-inclined readers have probably guessed that I’m talking about the long-overdue induction of the Dave Clark Five into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
Loving the Dave Clark Five has always struck me as a secular way of fulfilling the commandment found in Leviticus 18:3: “And you shall not walk in their statutes.” If we have to do something that gentiles also do, we’re supposed to do it differently. If their hats have narrow brims, our brims will be wide. If their curses and insults focus on mothers and their body parts, ours won’t mention mothers at all. If they want Beatlemania, then we prefer the Dave Clark Five.
As I did in 1964 and ‘65; and as I still do today. History has finally absolved me. The Messiah can’t be too far off.
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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