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Humor from Jewish folklore p2

Some more gags from A Treasury of Jewish Folklore by Nathan Ausubel, originally published 1948. At the very least it should be required reading for anyone interested in learning about comedy…


“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!”

The Discreet Shammes [an official of a synagogue]

A man died suddenly in Chelm while doing business in the market-place. So the rabbi sent the shammes to the dead man’s wife.

“Be careful,” he cautioned him, “and break the news to her as gently as possible!”

The shammes knocked. A woman came to the door.

“Does the widow Rachel live here?” he asked.

“I’m Rachel, and I live here,” replied the woman, “but I’m no widow.”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the shammes, triumphantly. “How much do you want to bet you are!”

A Prayer and a Deal

Once there was a poor man, a schlemihl. He was so unhappy that he took pleasure in day-dreaming.

One day he uttered the following prayer:

‘Dear God – give me ten thousand dollars for the New Year. I’ll tell you what – I’ll make a deal with you. I swear to give five thousand dollars of this amount for charity, the other half let me keep. You say you have doubts about my honourable intentions? – then give me the five thousand dollars I ask for myself and the other five thousand dollars you give to the charity yourself.”


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