In Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Pigeons", Professor Eibeschutz says that he's ashamed of the religious implications of the phrase "Thank God":

Professor Eibeschutz returned to his front hall, where he kept a sack of feed, and refilled his bag. 'I hope they wait,' he muttered. When he came out, the birds were still there. 'Thank God,' he said, somewhat embarrassed by the religious implications of his words.
(translated by the author and Elizabeth Shub)

I don't recall the Professor being ashamed of his Jewish roots earlier in the story; why then does he state that he's ashamed here?

2 Answers 2


Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

This is the third commandment of the ten, and the Jewish people have traditionally taken it very seriously. There's a few interpretations of what it means, but one is not casually invoking the name of God. Here, the Professor is using it as a phrase that often has little to do with God, but is rather just a general "What a relief" statement, which could be considered to be using the name of God in an appropriate way.


That would depend on his precise nature.

You mention he's not ashamed of "Jewish roots" but that does not mean he practices the religion. He may be ashamed to say something that implies a dependency on God to provide.

Or, if he is religious, he may be ashamed to be so concerned about something so little.

  • 2
    Do you have evidence to support either possibility?
    – bobble
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 1:35

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