A Non-Blog Disliked by Google
In my parent's shtetls, there is no memorial. After the war there was no one left to erect a memorial. There is a monument in Radom on the site of the former synagogue. All that remains of the synagogue itself are the capital bases of the columns at the front. In my mother's shetl the site of the synagogue was a mound of dirt. The locals used the gravestone of the Jewish cemetery to pave the barn of the kolkhoz.A couple of years ago the Germans put up a monument with the names of all the prisoners at my father's little sub-camp KZ Hessental, including that of my father and his brothers. The Germans had no way of knowing who lived and who died so the memorial features the names of all the prisoners. The Germans were meticulous record keepers so they had all the names, together with DOB and hometown. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/KZ_Gedenkstätte_Hessental.jpg.jpgI think that my father would be amused at the idea that the modern Germans were putting up monuments to him. The memorial looks very ugly - a bunch of telephone poles with little metal plaques in a field of weedy gravel. But I think the memorial is in the appelplatz (roll call area) of the camp and that what they were trying for was an eternal appel. For those not familiar, the Nazis for some Germanic reason were obsessed with keeping an exact count the prisoners day and night and made them stand and count off countless hours every day in all weather conditions. If someone was missing it was a major crisis and collective punishments would be imposed, etc.K
The Jaszbereny memorial table includes the complete list of those deported to Auschwitz who were killed there, including their ages. Males from 18 to 56 are mostly absent, because they were serving in the Hungarian Army as unarmed auxiliary units (in Ucraine, mostly) or forced labor in mines and forests. My grandfather was 56 at the time and should have been conscripted but he had earned some hero medal in WWI fighting in the AustroHungarian Army and was excepted. His chances of survival in the forced labor would have been better than in Auschwitz, where he was assessinated on arrival, and my Father used to point out the irony of his fate.
When in Jaszbereny, I made a rapid estimate of the age structure of Jaszbereny Jews (in 1944) and it seems that it was an aging community with relatively few children, already in negative growth territory. Many had titles like doctor, dentist, lawyer.
Ironies abounded - when the NKVD deported my mother's entire family to Kazakhstan in 1940, they thought it was a horror (and it was). But it turned out to save their lives from an even greater horror (the Germans). My mother's family was arrested because a fellow Jew complained to the Soviet authorities that he, a working man was being repressed by my grandfather, a capitalist. In fact it was some kind of business dispute between equals and this bastard thought he could gain advantage by appealing to the authorities and spinning it as a capital vs. proletarian thing. Later when the Germans came, that Jew (who did not survive) was heard by some survivors to have said "I should have turned myself into the Russians instead of Srulek." Karma is a bitch.K
What do the inscriptions say in the picture?Anon.
"In memory of the Jaszbereny Jewish martyrs deported to Auschwitz and the exterminated in forced labour service." (In Hungarian)The Hebrew quote is unclear to me.
Unclear to you? It looks easier to read than the Hungarian. But thank-you.Anon.
The Hebrew inscription is a difficult passage from the Bible, as follows: ״ראוה צרים שחקו על משבתה״ (שם, א, ז) ״שהיו שובתין בגולה שבתות ויו״ט ושומטים שביעית והיו העכו״ם משחקים עליהם ואומרים שוטים בארצכם לא שמטתם ועכשיו תשמטו בארצכם לא שמרתם ועכשיו בגולה תשמרו״ (יש״). יש להבין, מה מקום היה לאומות העולם לשחוק על ישראל על שמיטת השביעית ושמירת השבת בגולה, ובשל כך כינו את ישראל ״שוטים״, הא אדרבה, דוקא לאחר שנכחו ישראל וראו את חומרת העונש שנגזר עליהם עלשלא שמרו את המצוות בהיותם יושבים לבטח בארצם, לכך שבו עתה בתשובה לפני קונם ושבו להקפיד על מצוות התורה. [עיי ברמב״ן בשבת (דף פ״ח ע״א)].Free (and possibly wrong) translation: The peoples of the world laughed at them and called them "stupid" because they kept the Shabbath and the Laws, saying that when you were in your own country you did not keep the Shabbath and because of that, you were terribly punished by the exile, and now, in the exile, you keep the Shabbath and the Laws?RAMBAM explains that the opposite is the truth, that because they saw the terrible punishment they received because they failed to observe the Laws in their country, they did keep so strictly the Laws in the exile. I invite anyone more versed in the Gemara to correct me, thanks.
I believe it is from Lamentations 1-7:Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: "the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths." The Book of Lamentations mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and is recited on the mournful fast day of Tisha B'Av ("Ninth of Av"), the supposed date of destruction of both Temples (sort of the Jewish 9/11). So the quote is appropriate for a plaque mourning a destruction. I believe it is also intended as a backhanded and unintelligible (to them) slap at the non-Jews of Jaszbereny - they are the ones who "mocked the Sabbaths" of those on the plaque and did not help them.Yiddish is full of such backhanded insults. It was sort of a jive talk or rhyming slang where even if the locals spoke German and could make out the words, they could not make out the meaning. The most famous one is "nisht gehoyben un nisht gefloygen", meaning "did not rise and did not fly". When someone tells you a tall tale that you do not believe, this is the correct response, meaning "I call bullshit on your story". It refers of course (without mentioning him) to the story of Jesus, who did not rise from the grave or fly up into heaven. K
The plaque is very emblematic of the whole sad story - the Jews were playing chess when the locals were playing checkers. The locals were such simple children that they could be mocked to their faces and they wouldn't even know it. All the erudition is lost on the locals, but nevertheless they are the ones who remain while the Jews are gone. When we asked directions to the cemetery of Przytyk, one of the locals pointed us in the right direction and said something to the effect of "there are a bunch of stones with writing on them over there - nobody knows what they mean".K
ראוה צרים שחקו על משבתהThanks, K, I found it, it is from the Tisha B'Av Lamentations. " rā·’ū·hā tzā·rîm tzā·ḥă·qū al miš·bat·te·hā." "And they saw their enemies mocking their destruction."No backhanded insult but something they must have experienced. The memorial was erected by the few survivors who returned to Jaszbereny after the war, and they were not welcome, to say the least, by the natives. In Hungary, like in Kielce, there were violent pogroms after the war. The government - for obvious reasons - censured the news, but the provinces emptied of Jews in a few months: most moved to the relative security of Budapest, many moved to relatives in America and some tried to move to Palestine in war. My own parents left everything (houses, lands, etc.) and moved to Budapest in 1949 or 1950.
Unfortunately, there is no one left alive whom I could ask.
Even though the inscription was surely apt, I don't think they would have dared put it up in Hungarian (nor would it have been allowed to stay). The memorials I saw in Poland tended to blame "Hitlerism" or the like. The local role was usually not mentioned. On one memorial in Lithuania they said something about Nazis and local collaborators but usually the later are not mentioned.K
Mocking their destruction or their sabbaths? The former makes sense but most of the translations say Shabbat, which ties in with the Ramban commentary.K
the Jews were playing chess when the locals were playing checkers. The locals were such simple children Most Jews are mediocre intellects as are most Gentiles. And the Gentiles are capable of producing great geniuses (e.g. Galileo, Kepler, Leibniz, Newton, etc.) as are Jews. Yes, I am aware of the impact at the high IQ tails caused by the slight rightward shift of the Jewish average (almost all verbal IQ, btw). Even if Jewish geniuses were statistically more likely to occur, they had little impact until the last 150 years because traditional Jewish religion was hostile to geniuses in secular and scientific domains and redirected their talents into unproductive Talmud study. As for the anecdote about the cemetery in Przytyk, why would you expect the locals to read Hebrew? Do you read or speak Polish?
Do you read or speak Polish?A bit. Our Polish guide at Auschwitz could read some Yiddish.For example, I can read this:Na początku XX wieku Żydzi stanowili ponad 80% ogółu mieszkańców PrzytykaIn the early twentieth century, Jews made up more than 80% of the population of Przytyk.K
Mocking their destruction or their Shabbath? Sorry K, I have reached the upper limit of my Biblical text analysis and comprehension capabilities. I defer to the RAMBAM. When I started working in TAHAL, I was assigned as assistant of Pablo Kahan who was a MBA in charge of international bids, proposals and contracts. He had an incredible fine intelligence for interpreting texts (in English, in Spanish, we worked all over the world). Most bid requests were very obscure but he was able to understand what the natives had wanted to say and he wrote proposals that expressed what the clients should have wanted to say if they had the IQ for it. Some of our papers became Presidential speeches, platforms of political parties and even laws. We were the brains behind Nicaragua's Tachito and Costa Rica's Monje presidency. He always said that he should have been a lawyer like you.
Yes, Jews had little impact - that's how they ended up owning most of the significant businesses in Hungary, dominating the universities (until pushed out by the numerus clausus), the stock exchange, etc. If you are a Talmudic genius you are a genius nonetheless.K
BTW, Jewish genius is evenly balanced between the verbal and non-verbal (unlike the Asian). Think of all the Jewish physicists, mathematicians, etc. Anecdotally, in my own family, my children and I all received scores on the verbal and math sections of the SAT that were almost evenly matched between the 2 sections. The typical Asian-American (even native born) has a math SAT that is significantly higher than his verbal.K
K,You didn't read closely. 150 years ago would take us back to 1862. I probably should have written 180 years to take us back to 1832. At that point, Hungarian Jews had only begun to modernize and weren't nearly as wealthy or accomplished as they would later be. Go back further, say to 1800, and the only Jews of importance outside of the shtetl were the bankers.
K,The IQ dichotomy is not between verbal and math. It is between verbal and "performance," which includes tasks like mental rotation of objects. Average Jewish verbal IQ is higher than average white gentile verbal IQ, but Jewish average performance IQ is slightly lower than average white gentile performance IQ. Some mathematical abilities are more related to verbal IQ, whereas others are more related to performance IQ. A Jewish IQ profile does not necessarily doom someone to poor performance in mathematics. Moreover, some Jews will be outliers and have high performance IQ's, just not as high a proportion as among white gentiles.
Having slept on it, now I am convinced that the inscription on the memorial tablet has to be translated as "they mocked our destruction". The RAMBAM interpretation is pure imagination, a moral fable, an intentional mistranslation. All the Gemara is full of this kind of fables.
It's not just Ramban. Most translations, going back to the Latin Vulgate (4C) , say "Sabbath":"deriserunt sabbata eius"The confusion is that sbt root can either mean literally the sabbath day (a cessation of work) or more broadly a cessation (annihilation).I'm with you that destruction is the sensible reading - as you say the Gemara is full of these kind of riffs where they start from a fanciful reading and take it from there.K
BTW, translation (esp. between two languages as different as Hebrew and English) can be difficult work to this day. Here in the 21st century, with all the power of technology and Brin's billions behind it, Google Translate offers complete laughable nonsense:"Show narrow, play the lockout."Ramban at least made SOME sense.K
As you can imagine, we are not the 1st to debate this point. Here is a thread discussing the issue from a Christian perspective. The main commenters point seems to be that the King James translation (which is the "classic" English translation) was divinely inspired and so is always the correct translation. Uh huh. The earlier Christian commenters seem to take the Ramban view that the heathens mocked the Jews for keeping Shabbos but they were probably not working from the original Hebrew but from flawed translations and so used "mocking sabbaths" as a starting point. It is an interesting study in rationalization - once you have take the semi-nonsensical starting point as a given, you then have to make up a "just so" story to make sense out of it. http://forums.carm.org/vbb/showthread.php?58906-Lamentations-1-7-quot-did-mock-at-her-sabbaths-quot-or-quot-her-downfall-quotK
May be the word "mishbata" is intentionally obscure and can mean both Shabbath and Annihilation or Cessation. The interpretation of RAMBAM is too fancy to be credible except for children.The Christian discussion is interesting but does not shed new light. In many cases (not here) the Protestant interpretation is the most sensible.
I think you were right the 1st time and destruction is what was meant by the original author (who might or might not been Jeremiah - it is ascribed to him but the style is different). The tie to Shabbos is just an etymological coincidence (in that shabbos is also a type of cessation). The author didn't mean to say anything about enemies mocking the observance of shabbos and there was no desire to be obscure or instill a double meaning - all that came as later gloss. Humans are so smart at detecting patterns that they detect them even when they are not there - we see whales and elephants in the clouds, etc.K
Post a Comment