16 votes

Why did Isaac Bashevis Singer win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Because the Nobel committee felt his writing expressed "universal human conditions". According to the official Nobel Prize website: The Nobel Prize in Literature 1978 was awarded to Isaac Bashevis ...
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13 votes

What does "haidamak" mean?

Haidamaks are haidamaks: Ukrainian peasants and cossacks who formed paramilitary bands and engaged in guerilla warfare against the Polish Catholics and Jews in the Polish-occupied Right-Bank Ukraine ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Did Isaac Bashevis Singer write only in Yiddish, or also in English?

I believe he translated at least some of his works into English himself: In most cases, Singer published a story in the Yiddish press, and then used tear sheets or clippings to translate it into ...
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8 votes

Why did Isaac Bashevis Singer win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

I think there were several factors here, though of course we don't know all of them. Not really niche Firstly, I'd like to address the point of audience. While you say The audience of his brilliant ...
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6 votes

What does "pilpul" refer to in "Satan in Goray"?

The term pilpul is a term that describes a type of rabbinic scholarship. At different periods in history its contextual meaning has varied somewhat, as have the religious attitudes towards it. The ...
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6 votes

Why does the fool recite this depressing verse at the wedding in "Satan in Goray"?

While not the specific verse mentioned in the story, there was a Talmudic tradition of injecting some somberness into joyous occasions. As you can see in the below Talmudic excerpt, several examples ...
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5 votes

Why does the band follow Rechele to the bathhouse before her wedding?

This has the ring of authentic folk tradition that Singer would have been familiar with, either seeing for himself as a child in Bilgoraj or hearing about secondhand. The band would have been seen as ...
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4 votes

Why would the young scholar who was obsessed with Maimonides become an unbeliever in Singer's "The Primper"?

While Maimonides authored the most systematic and comprehensive code of Jewish ever written, which is cited in virtually every subsequent work of Jewish law, he also wrote extensively about ...
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3 votes

What's the importance of "cemetery grass" hair in Singer's "The Primper"?

This is an educated guess rather than a fully sourced answer. One of the distinguishing characteristics of grass in cemeteries particularly, is that every time they have to dig a grave they have to ...
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2 votes

Why is Professor Eibeschutz ashamed of the "religious implications" of the phrase "Thank God"?

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 ...
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2 votes

Why is Professor Eibeschutz ashamed of the "religious implications" of the phrase "Thank God"?

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 ...
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  • 4,178
2 votes

What does the name "Hodel" mean?

Behindthename.com gives, as the site you found did, ‘Hodel’ as a diminutive of Hode, but goes on to say that Hode is the shortened form of Hadassah. Hadassah is the Jewish name of Queen Esther. The ...
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1 vote

What does the culture of Europe have to do with Yasha needing to acquire a large sum of money?

It's a kind of joke. He is desperate for money. No matter what topic he considers, his thoughts return to that. Imagine: he has a beautiful new girlfriend. He reads an article in a magazine about the ...
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1 vote

Why are these biblical scenes mentioned in italics and title case in "Satan in Goray"?

The names given are not the descriptions of the scenes, but the titles of the representations. As such, they are italicized.
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1 vote

Why is Dr Beeber afraid of being forgiven in Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Dr Beeber"?

Dr. Beeber was miserable in his marriage. She provides everything for him, but she wants him to produce, and forces food and entertainment on him. With her kicking him out, he's free to once more ...
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1 vote

What's the significance of saying "thou", and where does Emilia actually say it in "The Magician of Lublin"?

Yiddish, like many European languages, makes a distinction between a formal and informal way of saying "you". The informal or familiar form is "du". The formal or respectful form ...
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1 vote

Is this instance of "little girl" a translation error in "The Magician of Lublin"?

I found the text here, and indeed, it looks like he does say something along the lines of "when I was a little girl". מײדל translating to "girl" יאשא האט אים געלאזט װײזן עטלעכע ...
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1 vote

What does "emancipated" mean in this context in Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Guests on a Winter Night"?

While I do not have the Yiddish text, I strongly suspect that "emancipated" is being used to translate the Yiddish frei or "free". This term can still be heard among observant ...
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  • 401
1 vote

What does "haidamak" mean?

In Romanian the word haidamac means thug, or less pejoratively, burly man. It comes from Turkish. Romanian dictionary
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