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Nathan Ausubel

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. This issue features more previews of books that came out decades ago. People might not have heard about them, and they are as good as anything around today, so here are a few samples gleaned from these excellent books. 

Folklorist, historian and humorist Nathan Ausubel (1898-1986) was born in Galicia, but he arrived in Brooklyn in 1902. His anthology,  A Treasury of Jewish Folklore, went through 20 editions. Here are a few samples from a section called Droll Characters.


“Which is more important, the sun or the moon?” a citizen of Chelm asked his rabbi.

“The moon of course,” replied the rabbi. “It shines at night, when it is needed. The sun shines only during the day, when there is no need of it at all!”

Pure Science.

Two sages of Chelm got involved in a deep philosophical argument.

“Since you are so wise,” said one, sarcastically, “try to answer this question: Why is it that when a slice of buttered bread falls to the ground, it’s bound to fall on the buttered side?”

But as the other sage was a bit of a scientist he decided to disprove this theory by a practical experiment. He went and buttered a slice of bread. Then he dropped it.

“There you are!” he cried triumphantly. “The bread, as you see, hasn’t fallen on its buttered side at all. So where is your theory now?”

“Ho-ho!” laughed the other, derisively. “You think you’re smart! You buttered the bread on the wrong side!”

A Treasury of Jewish Folklore was published by Crown Publishers, New York. 1948. 741 pages.

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