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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hassid vs. Hipster

This is truly nuts. Many of us have heard about the uneasy relationship between the two diametrically opposite residents of Williamsburg, NY - the Hassids and the Hipsters. This heartwarming little vignette is an example of what can happen when the two worlds collide:

Finn came back to his apartment in Williamsburg on Thursday to find this mysterious sticky-note on his door. Not recognizing the language, he did what any bright hipster would do: posted it to Flickr and Ask.Mefi and asked for help. Quite soon, the answers started rolling in, and it was bad news! He had been cursed in Hebrew:

"My guess is that it is some kind of a curse written by a native Yiddish speaker who is religious (hence the "basad" at the beginning). The curse itself is in "loshen koydesh" i.e. Hebrew but the names are written in Yiddish...the entire last two lines are a name of a person (two names actually). "hi-ku besanverim" is from the bible and literally means to blind someone. It was probably aimed at a specific tenant only they weren't sure about the apartment number."

Basically, walk through the door and you'll be struck blind. Yikes! Time to get a counter curse brewing.

"With Heaven's help, strike blind the people of this house." The two names at the end--Levy Yitshak ben Sara-Sasha and Nachman ben Feyga--most likely identify the tenants to whom the curse is directed.

Evidently, the hipster tenant of a Williamsburg building did something so offensive to his Hassidic neighbor, that the Hassid felt it warranted a curse of blindness.

One can only wonder what offense would be worthy of such punishment. A party, thrown by the hipster, on Saturday afternoon, complete with music blasting so loud that it disturbed the Hassid's shabbos afternoon nap? A frequent female visitor to the hipster's apartment that doesn't dress modestly enough? The smell of the hipster's roasting pork wafting through the Hassid's air vents?

Any other good guesses, anyone? Put 'em in comments.


Blogger and so it shall be... said...

could you translate? i'm lost after the beis samech daled.


9:15 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Um...read the post?

9:19 PM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

oh, I thought that was a worng translation and I was hoping it meant something else. Oh well. I guess people really are jerks.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

Aren't the two named people Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and Reb Nachman of Breslov? Why would their names follow a curse?

9:51 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

There's nothing worse than having a neighbor throw a wild party and not get an invite.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know hipsters still existed. Wasn't Jack Kerouac the last one?

11:02 PM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

The text of the note is Bereishis 19:11: "and the men that were at the door of the house they struck with blindness." I don't think it is a curse so much as a condemnation or a warning, as if to say (in its awkward way) "Remember what happened to Anshei S'dom." And it doesn't mean anything to say the names are "written in Yiddish," except that Feige and Sasha are Yiddish names.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the hipsters share a bedroom wall with of the hassidlings, and after one too many nights of...you know what kind of sounds coming from the Hipsters bedroom...

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you rush to judge your fellow Jew so harshly. You have absolutely no facts on the situation except for an after-the-fact note.
Maybe they were trying to sell drugs to school kids.
Maybe they started up with some girls.
Who cares? Whatever it was why do you immediately side with them?

12:12 AM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

If this note was in response to a real problem, that's even worse.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sick to have the note no matter what... but perhaps (as it's 2 men) they're gay and he objects?

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the hipster in the apartment is named Finn, then maybe the sticky note was misdelivered, and should have gone to Levy Yitshak and Nachman. Why write a mean note in Hebrew to someone you know can't read it? I don't think it was meant for the non-Jew who received it. It has no meaning for him.

3:45 AM  
Blogger my bald sheitel said...

man. why didn't i know about these curses? they sound useful.

a serious guess - curse them for ruining his shabbos atmosphere. if you live in a religious area, it can hardly escape your notice that it is indeed shabbos. who has parties on sat. afternoon anyway? sat. night is much more fun. duh.

9:44 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Yes, those are the names of the Berditcher and the Braslaver and since their mothers' names are used, that means it is a special supplication for help from on High. And since we all know what the Men of S'dom wanted to do to the three Messengers, the note could be homophobic. But why involve Rebbe Nachman except for the implication that in his life he was, er, shall we say being paid attention to in a certain way - although nothing seems to have happened - by an Arab in Haifa (see Green's book and the book Masa Eretz HaKodesh). As for Levy Yitzchak, I'm stumped.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

It's presumably an invocation of the intercessory powers of those two Rebbeim.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

Orthomom, you should revise the post. The text of the note is whatever translation you want to use for the pasuk. The BS"D is just a standard formula to write on anything, even a shopping list. So "With Heaven's help, strike blind the people of this house," is a pretty clueless way to translate the note.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

YG, while the fact that the curse comes from the pasuk certainly shows that writer knows his chumash, how does it change the intent or content of the note? Using a biblical reference is a common way o give blessings or curses (e.g., "you should be blessed with all of the blessing of the Torah").

You thihk the guy was just reminding his neighbors of their obligation of shnaim mikra?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

Krum, you could be right about the intent, but what's it going to hurt to translate accurately?

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He also notes that the stickers were left on neighbours' doors as well, and that on another floor, typed stickers with "Levy Yitshak ben Sara-Sasha" in Hebrew were stuck on door locks.

There are some interesting suggestions at the flickr site and Ask.Mefi. Someone suggests that it might be due to a gay person living in the building (using the allusion to S'dom).

Freaky. And inappropriate, to be sure.

4:55 PM  
Blogger chuck said...

Levy Yitshak ben Sara-Sasha" in Hebrew is usually used as a segula for safe keeping
i knew someone who used to put slips of paper with this name in every suitcase
never lost one

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tried that once with my luggage and it ended up in Minnesota when I was going to LA.

Oh wait, that was my name I put in the luggage, not Levy Yitshak's.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

I tried this too and it didn't work. Bags ended up with some chasidesshe guy in Williamsburg. Next time I will make sure to put the magical names inside the bags rather than on the name tags.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a local residence I was curious to know what really happened and my findings is as follows.

The landlord was expecting a building inspection and he used the note as a "Segula" that it should pass and the inspector should overlook whatever needs to be overlooked.

12:15 PM  
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8:25 PM  
Anonymous muebles en pozuelo de alarcon said...

The guy is absolutely fair, and there is no suspicion.

9:10 AM  

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