July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the realities of Thanksgiving is that everybody talks turkey, in the most literal sense. Recipes abound for turkey and side dishes, as well as leftovers. Perhaps a look at Yiddish vocabulary words is in order to better describe the condition of many who have partaken of these Thanksgiving dinners with abandon. So, once you have begged off on the baylik (white meat) in order to appropriate another polkeh (drumstick), perhaps you could find room to digest the following terms:

Zaht (satiated) A person who is zaht, and has had his fill, is often able to find just a little more room to indulge in his favorite dessert. Doesn’t the Talmud caution us against being zaht by reminding us to eat one third, drink one third and leave one third empty?

Ohngeshtopped (stuffed). I cannot help but feel that some who partake of Thanksgiving dinner get up from the table, or at least attempt to get up from the table, long after they have become zaht. Because so many of us are unable to eat in moderation, we find ourselves ohngeshtopped.

Fressen (gorging). The difference between essen (eating) and fressen is dependent upon three variables: one’s financial ability, lifestyle and self-control. The very fact that fressen is on the table for discussion reminds us that we are truly blessed and there is much for which to be thankful.

Boichvaytik (stomachache). Lionel Bart (Begleiter) wrote the lyrics to the song, “Food, Glorious Food” from the musical “Oliver.” Had Bart reached back into his Galitzianer roots and written the song in Yiddish, he might very well have employed the term boichvaytik in the lyrics instead of “indigestion.”

Brennenish in hahrtzen (heartburn). Contrary to the translation offered in the Yiddish dictionary, I find it hard to believe that our Eastern European ancestors used brennenish in hahrtzen to describe dyspepsia. Most likely they would have used the same terminology as I did when speaking Yiddish with my Philadelphia-born internist. My remark “Ess brent by mir” (literally, it’s burning with me) was sufficient for my physician to suggest a prescription for Omeprazole. May you walk away from the Thanksgiving meal zaht, but not ohngeshtopped. If you can exercise self-control and avoid fressen, then you will hopefully be spared any boichvaytik or brennenish in hahrtzen. Partake of the baylik or polkeh or whatever part of the indik (turkey) you fancy. Enjoy!


Rabbi Shawn Zell has recently returned to New Jersey, after serving at a pulpit in Dallas. He possesses certification in teaching Yiddish. Rabbi Zell is the author of three books.

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