“You should own a thousand houses, with a thousand rooms in each house, and a thousand beds in every room. And you should sleep each night in a different bed, in a different room, in a different house, and get up every morning, and go down a different staircase, and get into a different car, driven by a different chauffeur, who should drive you to a different doctor –and he shouldn’t know what’s wrong with you, either.”
The victim of this kind of curse must be exalted, raised to the very pinnacle of his or her aspirations, and only then, lulled into a false sense of security, be brought crashing back to earth:
“Your daughter should marry the richest, best-looking boy in the country the day after he’s become president of the United States, and you should have a front row pew in the church.”
This inversion of expectation is a major strategy in Yiddish cursing and might be called the zolst krenken in nakhes motif, “you should suffer in the midst of pleasure,” get everything you always wanted and suffer all the more for it.
“Got zol dir helfn, May God help you, zolst shtendik zayn gezunt un shtark, you should always be healthy and strong, un shtendik fregn vos far a veter es iz in droysn, and always be asking what the weather’s like outside.” What are you being condemned to: madness, an idée fixe, a lifetime in a padded cell or solitary confinement? Probably the latter, but you never know–it could be the Yid in the Iron Mask.
Below are some items for sale from eBay for those of you with an interest in Yiddish.
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