Isaac: Schlimazel, or Something More?

Isaac: Schlimazel, or Something More?

Nov 17, 2023 By Aiden Pink | Commentary | Toledot

In his book The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines one of the most useful words in our tradition: “When a schlimazel winds a clock, it stops; when he kills a chicken, it walks; when he sells umbrellas, the sun comes out; when he manufactures shrouds, people stop dying” (347).

In the entire Torah, it seems, there is no bigger schlimazel than Isaac.

At the beginning of his life, he’s nearly killed by his father. At the end of his life, he’s deceived by his son. He barely participates in the courtship of his own wife. Isaac is hapless, passive, an eternal victim—the archetypical schlimazel.

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